corsepervita HalfDork
3/22/21 3:43 p.m.

I posted up some pics of the viper after paint correction the other night and several people voiced interest in a paint correction thread.  So I figured, "sure why not, let's do this."

Disclaimer: I don't do this stuff for a living.  I am a computer nerd who does car things, I'm a hobbyist, should any paint pros wish to chime in with some advice, other techniques, correct me, etc, please feel free to.  I am always open to feedback and just wanted to share how I've been doing it since people were asking.  Please heed to the advice of practicing on an old fender first down below if you are new, hesitant, and need to learn from scratch.
Here is my current list of things I used on my correction, with links to where you can get all of it: 

- rotary buffer "DoBetter CarBrand 7 inch buffer"

- claybar "Chemical guys"

- Pad kit with finishing pad, 6 inch

- 3M Wetsand paper 2500 grit

- Pad Conditioner "Chemical Guys"

- Cutting Compound "CarPro ClearCut"

- Polishing Compound "CarPro Reflect"

- Bigass pack of microfiber towels 

Total bill of the above: $188.71

Ceramic coat (optional if you prefer to use a wax of your choice): $50-100

So here's where we need to start.  If you have never done this before, at all, maybe don't practice on your car.  Instead, go to a junkyard, a u-pull it, or craigslist.  Find something being parted out, get a fender for cheap.  A small one, doesn't have to be big.  Make it a dark color and if you want a real challenge, go black.  You'll learn a lot.  When you've learned, and you can make it look good, and you're happy with the fender, go scratch it up lightly with a fork, a branch, a brillo pad, and do it again.  When you are satisfied in the results over and over, and can achieve consistent results, you can move onto your car without worry of messing something up.

First thing is first:  Wash the hell out of it (the fender, or your car).  Don't leave dirt on it, don't miss any spots, you're going to be moving a pad at very high speeds and that means that anything left on the paint is going to be moving along that paint with it.  You will be removing some clearcoat, you don't want to accidentally make that pad into sandpaper.

Step two: Claybar it, inside.  Surprisingly enough a lot of people do claybars wrong, more often than not.  This is the point where we go from simply washing the car, to prepping it for actual paint correction.  You need to keep the surface wet.  So if that means a spray bottle with water, or a hose that you can spritz a little water on it, you need to keep the surface wet.  And what you're looking for is a feeling.  That feeling should feel like glass.  You'll notice as you wet the paint, and then begin moving the claybar back and forth (think of feeling like you're sanding, but with clay), you'll feel bumps on the paint which are things stuck to it, dirt, grime, debris, whatever it is stuck to it, coming off.  Keep the paint wet, and keep at it, folding the bar now and then and flattening it out again, until the paint feels glass smooth.  Now, obviously going over natural scratches, chips, that sort of thing are going to feel bumpy but you're looking to feel for a nice improvement that means you can run your hand across that clear with your hand and not feel imperfections that are stuck to it.  

Step three: Wetsanding for stubborn areas.  (Only applicable for large scratches, skip this if you're just cutting and polishingI generally do not use harsher than 2500, you can go 2000 if you want, possibly lower, but the harsher you go, the harder it is to sand it back down with softer paper, and the more clear you lose.  More often than not, with really deep scratches, you are better off trying to improve them than get rid of them entirely since you are leaving less and less clear to protect the paint and risking that clear sooner down the road.  This is of course more of a personal choice, so you have to make that decision on "how far do we want to go?"

Similar to claybar, we need to keep the surface wet.  This means the paper, and the paint surface.  You need a very small foam pad, or block, of your choice, to keep it flat.  Wrap the sandpaper around it.  In my case, I'm a little weird and I use a glass tubo from a cigar because I like the weight of it.  The reason I mention the weight is that while you are wetsanding, you do not want to "push" into what you're sanding.  Instead, what you want to do is allow the weight of said pad to be what glides along the scratch.

I'll update this with a video later to demonstrate, but for now, here's an example of the door on my viper where a previous owner had tried to remove some tree sap with some 200-400 grit sandpaper. 

In this pictureabove , I've already wetsanded it.  But it looked a bit like this (there were 5 of these spots on the car) - as you can imagine, these types of things are REALLY noticeable on the car.

After cutting, in step 5, you'll end up with this:

This is one pass, after 2 or 3 passes, this became an even haze, which was later cleaned up entirely with polishing step.

In wetsanding, it's important that you aren't "swirling" but instead using a technique across from the scratch where you go straight, and then slightly diagonal as you pass along it.  In this case, since the scratches were actually swirled, I did this technique, rotated my block 90 degrees and went the other way to cover it in more of a cross hatch pattern.

Here's a E36 M3ty ms-paint example with the arrow pointing the direction of the pass.  I'll get a video here at some point soon to demonstrate, but you get the idea.  Now, when you are doing this, again, you do not want to "push" into it, you will gouge the paint.  Instead, allow the water on the pad and the paint to act as a lubricant to use just the slightest of the weight of your block, or pad, to glide it.  Do one pass at a time, wipe the surface off with a microfiber towel, inspect, and do another pass or two if necessary.  You will notice the water turn into sort of a white milky color slightly, in seeing this, know that you are now removing clear.  So be careful.

I would not do too many passes because you are removing clear every time you do it.  Keep in mind you will remove more through cutting and polishing.  So be mindful.  If you really want that scratch out and you're willing to take clear down quite a lot, that is on you.  I generally choose to sand and improve them to make them hard to see and keep the paint in as good of shape as possible.  

Step 4.  Claybar again.  We just sanded and mixed up things in the air, got dust on the paint.  Spray down the paint, wipe it down with a microfiber, then clarbar.  Once you've done this, we are ready to start the real paint correction.

Step 5.  Time to start cutting.  I generally will use a blue pad or an orange pad from my buffer kit.  you're ultimately looking for a pad that is not a finishing pad for this step.  Remember that in cutting, you are going to end up with a horrible hazy look because cutting compound is not polish, it is a cutting compound.  You're essentially removing a small layer of clear without polishing it, that's what the polishing compound is for is to clean that up.  If you've ever seen bad holograms on paint or buffer trails there are a few possibilities on this.  Someone is using a compound for cutting and not polishing after, or they're using a medium compound that's inbetween cutting and polishing that isn't polishing enough, or they are running their buffer till it's entirely dry and marring it.  If you follow these steps and take your time, you should be trail/hologram free.  But do NOT freak out when you get done cutting and see it hazy, that is normal.  Remember though if you have wetsanded, it is imperative to work on that area until your wetsanding scratches are out and those areas are part of the even haze with no noticeable wetsand marks remaining.  Polishing will generally not take those out all the way.  That's what cutting compound is for.

I'll add a video to this again later, and probably use my little 924 as my test mule for you all since it's just plain gross.  But here is a few tips on doing this.

For starters: Before applying any compound, spritz the pad down with your conditioner.  Only 1 or 2 sprays.  Spritz spritz, great, good to go.  Apply about 5 or 6 little dabs of compound to the pad.  Then, in the area you want to start buffing, lightly pad the buffer without it on to that area.  I use this as my "guide" so to speak.  I'll do an area, pad the buffer on it to get some compound on it, and then I can visually see the area I'm working in.  For cutting, especially with carpro clearcut, I keep my buffer at about a speed 2.5-3.  Keep the buffer flat on the area, and I keep a mental count on a pass.  I use the 3-5 second rule.  On a small area, it should take me 3 seconds for a soft pass, 5 seconds on a hard pass left to right, up or down across the area.  Moving left 1, 2, 3, and I'm on the right side of the area, doing smaller areas.  If the paint is really scratched up and I'm doing a deeper scratch, 5 second rule.  I use the weight of the machine as the pressing force, I do not push hard on it.  The harder you press, the more you will heat up the pad and the paint.  I am more on the conservative side of buffing and try not to go aggressive.  I would rather remove less material over time, and inspect inbetween, than remove more material than I wanted and end up with less clear.

Do not under any circumstances run the buffer back and forth in thin areas.  For instance, if you have a fender that takes a sharp curve, what you want to avoid is digging the pad into those areas as it will cause uneven cutting and leads to those horrible buffer trails you see on cars, and can cut the clear down much faster.

Instead, follow the lines of the car, and instead of going back and forth against them in the thinnest areas, you will go the opposite way which will give you the most coverage with the pad.  This will ensure a more even cut, or polish.

In this case, I have a fender from the side and the front.  The blue circle on the top represents from the side where the crease in the fender is.  On the front image, the line demonstrates where that is.  The orange represents the pad.  If you go across that crease you'll see the pad is staying across that area, biting into one area more than the other for longer if you go back and forth side to side on the fender.  Instead, we use up and down strokes that work to contour to the curve of that fender, ensuring we can keep our buffer more flat, and fight the fender less, and spend less time in those spots cutting harder.

As you do this, you want to keep the trail of the buffer with a 25-50% overlap.  If you're using a large buffer with a big pad that's along the lines of 7" then 25% overlap is fine.  Smaller pads, closer to 50%.  If you do no overlap, you risk missing areas.  Once you've done an area, wipe it down with a microfiber cloth, inspect.  If you need another pass, do so, after you've wiped it down.  Keep in mind that some cutting compounds will kind of clot up on the pad and dry out, when this happens, use an air compressor to clear it off best you can.  Then re-apply your conditioner, more compound.  Otherwise you'll get chalking on the pad.

Remember that what you are looking for is an even haze across the areas you did it.  You will end up with a hazy look to the cutting areas because it is an abrasive compound, but it should look evenly spread.  Generally when cutting, you are doing it till the compound runs dry, but you are looking to see the compound decrease on the surface and still look lubricative.  If it feels like it's dragging across the surface, you're either far too dry, pressing too hard, or lacking compound.  Keep it where it still moves across the surface easily.

Step 6.  Clean all of your compound off the paint.  It's generally a good idea to do it while you are doing it anyway after each run, but remember that cutting compound is an abrasive.  So if you are trying to go over remnants over it with polish, you'll end up with an ever so slight light haze.  Keep your pad clean, the paint clean.  Get the old compound off.  

Step 7.  Time to polish.  Polishing is not much different than doing cutting.  However, you're using a more more fine compound, and depending on how aggressive your cutting was, it may take a bit more effort to get the haze out.

The same rules apply to how you hold your buffer.  But we're going to use the finishing pad, which in the links above, is the black pad.  It is important to remember that in polishing, we are trying to keep things SOFT.  Using a cutting pad with a polishing compound will probably results in trails, and what you might often see as that car in the distance that "looks pretty nice till the sun hits and then WHOA WTF IS THAT?" and you can just tell it hasn't been done right.

So use a polishing pad.  Spritz with the conditioner, apply the polishing compound.  Keep in mind, a polishing compound is very find, and therefore, can and likely will take several passes to get all the haze out from the cutting compound.  In this case you'll want to do a pass or two, wipe it down with a microfiber cloth, and inspect.  In the event you are worried about trails, keep a bright light on you, shine it on the paint, look at it from several angles, and if you still see haze in it or trails, do another pass or two.  At this step in the paint polishing process, your paint should end up looking like glass once finished.  Now, polishing will take a lot of the fine scratches out that cutting did not.  I would say though work on improvement, and not "removing every imperfection" because if you get greedy with clear, down the road you'll end up being sad when it starts missing.

Keep in mind the 3-5 second rule.  In polishing, you want less pressure, and want to be less aggressive.  So if you are lifting UP on the buffer, instead of letting the machine rest down, you reduce that friction zone, and allow the compound to work more lightly.  So if you have very soft clear that seems to somehow trail with medium pressure, try lifting up a bit, keep the pad flat.  Use more compound, and use the 3 second rule.  If your clear is very hard and you find that a few passes makes little difference, go with the 5 second rule and allow the buffer to use the machine weight as the pressure.  Remember to keep body lines in mind, not to bite into curves, don't use the edge of the buffer to "get those stubborn areas" because that will cause trails and holograms.

Take your time, wipe off inbetween passes, shine a light on it, rinse, repeat.  Don't stay on an area for long periods of time, pads will get hot, so will paint.  3-5 second rule left to right.

Step 8.  Protect.  I prefer ceramic coat, but if you prefer wax, now it's time to wax your car.  You should not leave a freshly polished clear unprotected as it will very easily get back to the previous state of swirled and damaged.  So use a nice wax, or a ceramic coat to protect it for a long time.


Once you've taken the time and patience, used the right materials and got the technique down you can go from this:


TO this


Extra steps: Ceramic Coat

Now, the car above was ceramic coated after I did this buffing job because after you polish a car, you should 100% apply something to protect it.  If you don't want to ceramic coat it, put your favorite wax on.  In this case, I've grown to really like Ceramic coat for my cars.  I've been using Avalon King on my cars (no affiliation, I just really like their stuff), and on my 997 it's been coated nearly 2 years now and is still holding up fantastic.  The viper was coated with it as well, and as you can see above the light reflection has a different look to it where you get almost a black oily halo effect in really shiny areas.  it coats easily, buffs easily, cures easily.  

If you choose to go with a ceramic coat, follow the directions that comes with it, but before you apply it, you need to use a prep spray.  i've been using this spray, since it does a great job.  After polishing the car, you need to basically wipe it down with a microfiber one more time with prep spray, and when it's COMPLETELY clean, you can apply ceramic coat.  Keep in mind you want the paint to be as nice as you want it prior to it since before you can correct paint with ceramic coat the coating must be buffed off to get back down to the clear.



Dusterbd13-michael (Forum Supporter)
Dusterbd13-michael (Forum Supporter) MegaDork
3/22/21 5:34 p.m.

I just saved this thread. Its very informative and information dense, and ill need to read a few times with more coffee before even attempting any of this.


Thank you so much for spending the time and effort to write this up for guys like me.

Mr. Lee
Mr. Lee GRM+ Memberand PowerDork
3/22/21 6:19 p.m.

Seconded^^^ TY!

Floating Doc (Forum Supporter)
Floating Doc (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand UberDork
3/22/21 8:05 p.m.

Awesome post. I wish I had read it before I did my truck. I spent about 40 hours on it over a week. 

Also saving this post. 

pinchvalve (Forum Supporter)
pinchvalve (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
3/23/21 1:33 p.m.

Amazing post. Funny enough, it has convinced me to spend $ on letting a pro do it. I know my limitations, I'll buy a fender and practice before trying on my car.  

CRK400 None
3/23/21 6:36 p.m.

Awesome post! I agree with the Avalon King ceramic coat. I feel like I'm am a beginner with ceramic coating or any detailing for that mater but that stuff works awesome. I definitely give it a 5 star rating for what it is.

03Panther SuperDork
3/24/21 3:27 a.m.

In reply to pinchvalve (Forum Supporter) :

I'm with pinchvalve! I have to study up to understand several things you said. I will have to read A LOT more times. Thanks for taking the time to "detail" it for us. (I know, bad pun...)

corsepervita HalfDork
3/30/21 6:49 p.m.

Here's some pics during a photoshoot the other day.  This paint is now so clear I can see the contrails of a plane on the trunk.  I am happy.  (the 370 is a friend's car)

Look at that crisp reflection.


Dusterbd13-michael MegaDork
8/23/21 12:41 p.m.

thanks again for this thread. The truck was wetsanded and buffed and left with horrendous holograms. 

The bedside is one round down, and much better! Think next round of polish will be with the da instead of the buffer.


NermalSnert (Forum Supporter)
NermalSnert (Forum Supporter) HalfDork
8/23/21 6:53 p.m.

Thank you!

yupididit GRM+ Memberand PowerDork
8/23/21 7:08 p.m.

Oh man. Something I don't trust myself with doing because I'll lose interest before I'm halfway.  


Very few people I trust to pay to do it too. 

slantsix Reader
1/1/22 11:45 a.m.

Thank you for sharing your Techiques and Ideas with us!

slantsix Reader
1/12/22 8:29 p.m.

How much of this can be applied to non clear finishes?

Many of the old cars in my fleet have non clear coat finishes so cutting / w. sanding and Polishing is directly on the color.


Javelin GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
1/12/22 8:55 p.m.

Oh wow, what a write up!

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