February 08, 2019

3 Paint Defects that Affect Surface Finish

Paint defects can originate from countless sources. They can be symptomatic of poor refinishing processes, or environmental factors may reduce the quality of the surface finish. Correcting some of these issues will require sanding and repainting, but an abrasive polish is often sufficient to remedy the most common paint defects impacting a daily driver.

This blog post will explore three common paint defects that noticeably affect a vehicle’s surface finish. It will also highlight some of the abrasive particles suitable for rapidly and reliably correcting these unsightly optical variations.

Swirls and Micro-Marring

Swirl marks are irregular patterns of microscopic scratches imparted into clear coat, which refract visible light imparting an undesirable finish to the paint system. This type of defect is readily seen in the reflection of a light source and often referred to as a spider web. This form of paint defect is most noticeable on black vehicles, as the microscopic scratches reflect light more readily than the paintwork itself. Although visible on lighter colors like whites and glossy surface finishes, swirled paint defects are more apparent on darker cars

The common sources of these defects are automated car washing systems and simple everyday wear and tear. When dirt and other particulates on the surface of a car’s bodywork are rubbed in by environmental elements or during improper cleaning, the abrasive nature of these actions can abrade the clearcoat, leaving unseemly micro-marring. It is common for swirls to be imparted during buffing, but with the proper abrasive products, these defects can be removed during the subsequent polishing step.

Light swirls can be eliminated using an ultra-fine abrasive particle like IDEAL Finish small-grain alumina (Al2O3), which offers an effortless swirl-free surface finish. Swirls that are more deeply embedded may require a preliminary polish with a more aggressive abrasive solution before using IDEAL Finish to reach the highest quality surface finish.

Hazy Surface Finish

Haze refers to the cloudiness or foggy effect in paintwork that makes a vehicle look worn or dirty. This is often confused for color fading caused by prolonged exposure to ultraviolet (UV) light, although the two can be combatted through similar methods.

Typically, haze arises due to poor or inefficient polishing with an aggressive abrasive compound. It can be caused by several factors, including an excessive amount of polish, rushed buffing, non-uniform levels of pressure applied to the rotary pad, and more. The surface finish can usually be corrected through a subsequent polishing phase using a compound with a finer particle size distribution (PSD).

IDEAL Finish and IDEAL Hybrid are suitable for eliminating haze and achieving a high gloss surface finish that is free of both haze and swirls.

Car Polishing

Scratched Surface Finish

Scratches vary in severity, from extreme defects caused by lateral collisions to minor abrasions arising from poorly maintained washing equipment. Minute scratches can be caused by standard car washing equipment such as brushes or microfibre towels. This should be treated in a similar manner to a swirled surface finish.

Deeper scratches require a more aggressive solution. IDEAL Super is a high-grade abrasive that can rapidly level surfaces to remove scratches created by even 1000 grit sanding. This is often the first step in a series of polishing phases to correct paint defects, and a subsequent phase is typically required to reach the optimal levels of surface finish.

Saint-Gobain Surface Conditioning: The Ideal Surface Finish

Saint-Gobain Surface Conditioning offers a range of tailored abrasive particles and slurries to suit your compounds and unique polishing compositions. We specialize in synthesizing custom alumina particles with discerning control over the product’s PSD and morphological structure. This ensures that your polishing compound can bring every surface finish up to scratch, every time.

If you would like more information about our IDEAL range of alumina particles, please do not hesitate to contact us directly.