Marring can be one of the worst errors to happen during a coating application. How can we reduce the chance of marring?
What causes marring?
Marring can be an issue in a coating application. This would be the number one thing watched out for at all the professional coating installation centers during the process. Marring is very fine, light scratches to the paint work caused by something abrasive. Towels are the number one cause to marring paint while coating a vehicle. The number two reason we will get to later.
In the picture below I applied a coating to this test panel and wiped it off using a standard All Purpose Microfiber Towel that I have washed numerous times now and has seen better days. The results: marring, and with very little effort the panel was severely scratched and we now needed to go back to square one. Just as if it was a car I was working on, I did what was necessary in-order to fix it. Cleaned it off, re-corrected it and we will try again (Not something a paying customer would want to see).
Even a brand new towel can mar the paint surface, it does not take much. Some technique in the wipe down is required in order to avoid marring. The number one thing I would encourage would be over-lap your wipes and don’t stop half way through a wipe.
The first initial wipe is so very important. Always overlap and extend this wipe past the applied area. Continue to try and do the same with every wipe after as well.
If I applied a coating to a 1’x1′ area I would work my wipes in a 2’x2′ area. Really trying to move the coating around so it does not build up.
Coating Build Up:
Or “The Tidal Wave Effect” as I like to call it.
If we put a lot of the professional grade coatings under the microscope after “half wipes”, it would look like a tidal wave is building. The coating is not just building on the paint surface it is also building up in the brand new MF towel as well. Most of the time this could be very hard to recognize or see and feel with the human eye during the process, however it’s still occurring.
I’m not a chemist and couldn’t say this to be a fact. But when you condense coating products after it’s suggested set time (through that first initial wipe and every one after) it begins to flash very fast and or harden, activate etc. This is exactly why we switch that first towel out immediately. However, if you don’t follow through with full over-lapping wipes these little lines will occur (aka the tidal wave). Now much like the towel that was switched out, we have the same problem but on the paint (excessive build up). The coatings are doing their thing, they’re setting themselves. This picture below is obviously excessive and done so purposely, but it shows even if we cant see it. Excessive build up if missed in the application process is what we commonly know as high-spots, and they show up once the coating has fully cured.
The Tidal Wave: Can and will cause marring to the paint. With this tidal wave of condensed product caused by half wipes (not a good wiping technique), condensing the coatings causes the coatings to harden very fast.
Even if we locate it and use a brand new towel, we still hold the risk of marring the paint surface when trying to knock it down. That condensed tidal wave will very quickly get into the towel or pressed along the paint work. I’ve seen people do circular motions and even go at it vigorously trying to catch it before full flash happens. Yes we want it off the paint, however sometimes trying to work too fast without thinking about the manner in which we are wiping will cause disaster. Before getting ready to knock the coating off (the first few initial wipes), have a wiping strategy in mind and towels ready. I prefer to go with the grain if that makes sense (back and forth also up and down). The idea is to overlap your wipes so that you do not create these tidal waves. Obviously there are a lot of things to think about at once (towel pressure, motions, consistency and speed). Towel pressure alone in the first initial wipe could result in few or many high spots.
This is kind of a crazy example but I think it works in order to paint the picture. I took some 3M emblem adhesive and made 2 lines on the test panel. One thick and one thin. If we were to picture these lines as condensed coating build up, which one would be easier to remove? Obviously the thinner (smaller tidal wave) one would have less of a chance to mar the paint surface. As the thicker line (large tidal wave) would need more finessing in order to level it back out. You would need more towels in order to do so as well, which is very similar to the paint coatings.
How to Prevent Marring
The idea of this article would be to apply your coatings without causing any tidal waves. This will reduce the chance of any marring.
We do so with smooth even wipes and the proper towels. If I coated and entire drivers side door for example, I better be ready to extend my wipes the full length of the door without stopping mid-way and to overlap the door on both sides. This technique in removing coatings is key. They are very easy to wipe on, but it’s the removal that matters.
- All the examples in my article here were extremely excessive in the amounts of product build up. Giving the nature of most paint coatings and the strength they can produce once condensed, this go’s to show it doesn’t take much to marr the sensitive paint surface.
Picking the right towels to use will depend on which coating is being applied and is crucially important (Follow the manufactures suggestions or try new things). I can’t necessarily say an exact towel to use, but for this test I used a standard all purpose microfiber towel brand new right out the bag. Clean brand new towels have the ability to cause marring. They have the ability to pick up what we can’t see and move it around. Take the brand new towel, fold and wipe, fold and wipe etc. with minimal pressure or apply more product to that area to level it back out (if time allows).
Note: This article does not apply to every paint coating
This was a tough one to explain guys and gals, so I hope this makes sense and helps in your coating applications. As always thank you for viewing! If you have questions, I’ll do my best to answer with the best of my knowledge.