The idea for this article came after two recent detail get-togethers I was fortunate enough to attend. About a month ago, I hosted a local detailers meet at my shop and everyone in attendance had questions on what products are good, what products are great and what products are a complete waste of time. Then, more recently, I was fortunate enough to be invited as a guest instructor by Todd Cooperider to his Esoteric Elite Detailer Acadamy. During Todd’s classes, one of the very main points was using and properly utilizing products that work well, all while avoiding too much experimenting with the hundreds of other products on the market. Don’t get me wrong, experimenting with products is great and it allows us to see what’s new and what’s better in the detailing industry. However, as a business owner, especially a busy business owner, or as a detail enthusiast who doesn’t have the money to try out numerous products out there, it is much easier to buy a single product that comes highly recommended by reputable sources in the industry.
Considering the questions asked and information gathered throughout the two events, I wanted to write an article that helps those in search for the “right” products and eliminates spending too much money to find them. In other words, this is a very short list of products meant for polishing paint, which I have chosen based on my experimenting with many other products over the years and my experience with the listed products that I use on pretty much every detail job. I have found that these products are not machine dependent, so while I won’t be recommending any polishers, I want to state that I use a Flex XC 3401 VRG for 95% or more of my detail work.
That said, here are the products that I have come to find absolutely necessary when doing paint correction and products that allow me to do great work on well over 95%+ of paint finishes. The other 5% are what we like to refer to as nightmare paints. These include the very soft jet blacks (on BMWs, Porsches, and VWs for example) that are extremely difficult to properly finish polish, as well as the extremely hard paints found on some Audis, Mercedes and Corvettes, which require good ol’ “sand in a bottle” :). Aside from those few random hard jobs, these products should allow beginners and professionals alike to get the high quality results we all seek. In short, these are the products every beginner should buy when getting into polishing work because I assure you all of them will stay in your arsenal for many years to come and will be used on a regular basis.
As many already know, Meguiar’s Ultra-Cut Compound M105 was a game changer the moment it hit the market. It is capable of fairly heavy correction when used properly and paired with an aggressive polishing pad, but considering how aggressive it can be, it still leaves a very fine finish. M105 is extremely versatile as well in that it can be used effectively with a rotary, dual-action, random orbital and by hand. Regardless of the method used, it does great work at removing deep defects. When performing a 2 stage paint correction job, I mainly like to use M105 with the orange Lake Country cutting pad on my Flex because it takes out a majority of defects even on harder paints and leaves a finish that can easily be refined with just one additional step of polishing. M105 is the first step in doing proper and safe correction when doing machine polishing and should be in every detailer’s arsenal, whether beginner or professional.
Meguiar’s D300 Compound is another great product that came out together with their microfiber pads. It’s focus was to enhance paint correction via dual-action and random orbital machines, making the gap between rotary + wool and dual-action machines even smaller. While not as aggressive as M105, D300 is capable of doing some serious correction and almost always provides a very clear finish, which needs only one finishing step to fully refine. D300 can also be mixed with M105 in order to get more correction from D300 and also cut down on the dusting from M105. For more information about mixing the two, creating what I like to call “WGCI” :), you can refer to my article listing A Few Pad and Polish Combinations I Use Regularly. D300 is also something I use mainly with the orange Lake Country cutting pad, as well as the DA Microfiber Cutting Pads. The main purpose of D300 in my business is to be used on softer paint jobs where M105 might be a bit too aggressive and require 2 finishing steps, whereas D300 only requires one.
Yet another Meguiar’s product that does great work and is used on a regular basis. For the description of Meguiar’s Ultra Finishing Polish M205 I’ll simply copy what I wrote about it in my article Ivan Rajic’s 10 Favorite Detailing Products. M205 stands apart from it’s competition in many, many ways. It’s easily one of the most versatile polishes out there, having the ability to correct fairly severe defects when paired with an aggressive pad and also finish down great with a finishing pad, such as a Lake Country Black or Crimson Finishing Pad. It can even finish down without marring on most of those nightmare, jet black paints when used with the right pads and techniques. This makes it perfect for those one-step polish details where the goal is to get as much correction as possible without leaving any additional marring in the paint. Finally, when used in tandem with it’s aggressive counterpart, Meguiar’s Ultra-Cut Compound 105, it’s a part of the most advanced two step system the detailing world has seen in a long time, providing great correction and a fine finish in only two steps.
I started using this polish before the name change, so I will still refer to it as PO85RD. That said, PO85RD is the finest polish of the bunch and allows for refining of those hard-to-deal-with paints after a compounding stage. It is very easy to use and a little bit goes a long way. In my article “How much product do you put on the pad? Do you prime it?“, I show 3 small dots of PO85RD on the pad, but it will vary quite a bit depending on what machine is being used and how large of an area is being polished. For beginners, I would suggest using the 3 small dots only on the first section, then only 2 dots so as not to have too much product for the section being polished. The only negative of PO85RD, if you can call it that, is that due to its oily nature it may be difficult to remove after polishing a section, especially if too much is used.
The Lake Country Orange Light Cutting Pad is my go-to pad when doing 2-stage correction detailing because it can remove defects very well while still leaving a great finish. As stated above, I typically use this pad with M105, D300 or “WGCI” and always get great results, usually only requiring 1 stage of finish polishing after the compounding. I believe this is a must have pad because it’s much finer than the Lake Country yellow cutting pads and a bit finer than DA Microfiber Cutting Pads, but can still do some serious correction on any type of paint. In short, it’s a great correction pad that normally leaves a very fine finish.
Last, but not least (actually my favorite :)), is the Lake Country Hydro Tech Crimson Ultra Fine Finishing Pad. This pad is my favorite pad because it is one of the best finishing pads I have worked with over the years and it never disappoints. I like it a bit more than the Lake Country Black finishing pad because it’s a bit firmer, which makes it quite a bit easier for me to work with during the polishing process. When paired with PO85RD it finishes down perfectly on pretty much any paint out there. I also like to use it quite a bit with the SONAX Nano Technology Paint Cleaner during light machine polish detailing.
Well that’s about it. With these six products, I believe anyone out there can accomplish great results without having to buy other products in order to fill a certain role. If I wasn’t focusing on pure polishes and paint correction in this article, I would surely add in the SONAX Nano Technology Paint Cleaner (NTPC) as a must have product. NTPC takes care of finish polishing on any of the harder to deal with paint jobs and it’s a great all-in-one polish that cleans well and protects.
I’m hoping this helps out everyone and anyone, mainly the beginners looking to dive into paint correction but are undecided on which products can do what and which should be purchased. I encourage everyone to leave any questions or comments below and, as always, thanks for reading!