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When to Glaze and When to Compound / Polish Away Defects?


While you are sitting in your garage, out in a parking lot, or at a car show, you may notice paint imperfections such as swirl marks all over the paint.  Then, you wonder how you should go about removing these imperfections.  Should you remove them completely, remove most of them, fill them in and conceal them, or not do anything at all?  Here is a little summary of your options:

Compounding away defects:  This process will remove the defects rather quickly, but at a cost.  With each compound pass, more and more paint is being removed from the car.  You only want to use a compound when the damage to the paint is significant, or deep.  If you have never had the car detailed before, a compound would be the first step to a rich and deep gloss.  If you have had the car compounded on more than a few occasions, it might be best to leave some defects in the paint unless a repaint is an option down the road. If you don’t have access to a paint thickness guage to monitor how much clear coat has been removed over time, you may want to opt for a less aggressive method.

Polish away the defects:  This process is less aggressive to an extent compared to compounding.  While you are still removing clear, it is not happening as quickly, and you are not cutting as deep as a compound would be.  Also, while the polishing step can remove minor defects, it is also enhancing the gloss levels from the paint, where a compound will leave the paint hazy.  So, in a sense, you are “killing two birds with one stone” – polishing away defects, and improving the gloss in the car.  Of course, there are polishes with very minimal cut like Menzerna 85rd that will cut very little, if any at all, but leave behind one glossy finish (provided proper previous steps were performed).

Filling in defects:  This a very important decision to make.  If your car has been subjected to more than a few compound details, and lots of paint correction work, the paint may be wearing thin to a point where it is no longer safe to compound or polish without removing too much.  This is where glazes come into play!  Glazes will do a pretty good job at concealing and hiding the paint defects for a while when removal is not an option.  In this case, you work in a glaze until it “disappears” into the paint, and the swirls will be “masked/hidden”.  This is also a great option for prepping cars for car shows and those cars in need of a “wetter” look!

Leaving the defects alone: ….who wants to do that?  No one really, but sometimes it is necessary to do!  If there is very little paint to work with, or the specific defect is too deep, it may be best to leave it alone and live with it resting in the paint.  If you cut too deep, you will end up doing more damage than good, leaving yourself with a repaint necessary to fix a now prominent defect where before it was just a subtle imperfection.  Deep RIDS (Random Isolated Deep Scratch) should be left alone and concealed in the situation where the paint has had its share of paint correction work!

Eric Schuster Envious Detailing
Eric Schuster
Envious Detailing
Orange County, CA

6 comments on When to Glaze and When to Compound / Polish Away Defects?

  1. Scott says:

    Great article, I find that some people think that glazes are taboo and that filling is uncool. This article explains why glazes are use and shows that they do have a time and place when it makes more sense to glaze and fill than to risk a clear coat failure.

  2. Kaleb says:

    How would you be able to tell if the car had been compounded or polished too much where you would want to use a glaze? If you did not have a paint thickness gauge?

  3. Kaleb says:

    One more question. When would you want to use a sealant?

  4. Jorge says:

    Can you compound and then uses an all in one to remove the haze ?

    • Reece @ DI says:

      Jorge – This is possible, but hard to say 100%. What I would recommend is compounding and then testing an AIO on one of the worst areas of haze. Inspect those results and go from there. If you think you need more power, try a finishing polishing like the Sonax Perfect Finish or something else that will help remove more haze. If everything looks good, continue to use your AIO on the rest of the vehicle.

  5. Danny Medina says:

    I performed a full detail paint correction on my car a few months, I did everything from the clay bar process to using medium/light polishes, with glaze, sealant and wax. If I only want to glaze, seal, and wax my car now, do I have to start from the clay bar process again or can I start with a glaze without scratching or damaging the paint? Do I have to prep the paint in any way if i’m only doing glaze/sealant/wax?

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