The iconic ‘Cut and Polish’ is a term that you may have heard your Grandpop or Dad say when you were young.  Many people think this is what their car needs when the paintwork starts to look a little dull, feels rough or maybe it has some nasty scratches.  Unfortunately, the interpretation of the phrase is vastly different depending on who you talk to.  Some people think they can ‘Cut & Polish’ their car by hand, others think only a panel beater can do it and some may say it is no longer required or too dangerous.  It is critical to note that there is a lot of risk involved when performing your own machine polishing on your vehicle.

Well, we are going to help you out by giving you the facts in a language you can understand!

What is a Cut and Polish?

That is a really good question and many people have varying definitions as to its meaning.  This comes down to how people have been taught and learned through their own experiences.  Originally, a Cut and Polish was when the paintwork was machine polished with a coarse/aggressive abrasive compound to remove deep defects (scratches, swirls etc) and then polished to make the car ‘shiny & smooth’ restoring the factory shine.  Theoretically it is a two-step procedure.   When done correctly, this type of service restores your paintwork to showroom condition removing defects and harmful contamination.  Unfortunately, over the years it has moved away from its original nature of being time consuming, attaining close to perfection and needing to be done by a professional.  Now it is recognized as an easy DIY and an efficient service anyone with a slight interest in cars can do with a $15 bottle of polish. Sadly, this has devalued its original purpose.  Nowadays, the Cut and Polish is recognised as a one-step procedure that anyone with two feet and a heartbeat can do, simply by watching a YouTube video and running the buff over their car – but it is not that simple.

Professional Detailers have always provided this service on a much more sophisticated and superior level of detail.  For the Pro Detailer, this is not a quick hack or something that can be done in Uncle Frank’s barn out the back or on your driveway.  With the wide range of polishing products at your local auto store, many people are encouraged to do it themselves without any experience or knowledge of the craft.  Although the gap between the passionate DIY and Professional Detailer may have gotten smaller and smaller over the years, there is still a big difference. To raise the bar to differentiate between a ‘DIY detail’ to a Professional Detail, a new term, Paint Correction has been coined. This new term has only been created within this decade.

What is Paint Correction?

Think of it as a Cut and Polish – On Steroids.  This is where the DIY weekend warrior must take a break and let the pro take over.  Paint Correction is a very advanced and purposeful form of the ‘cut and polish’ as it focuses on the tiny details that are often missed or overlooked.  You should expect an improvement in shine and smoothness with a standard Cut and Polish, however you can expect near perfection with a Paint Correction service.  A professional will utilize multiple polishing machines varying from dual action, rotary, 8mm or 12mm and throw buffing machines to achieve the perfect result.  As paint is different on all vehicles, a wide range of buffing pads are required ranging from wool, synthetic wool, foam, waffle or crosscut, microfibre, velvet and more.  A professional Detailer will also have a selection of varying solvent based or water based cutting and polishing compounds to suit the paint being worked on.

Is it something I can do?

In short, yes.  Although keep in mind, there is a lot to learn first, and you can’t really do this by working on just one vehicle.  You could end up investing a considerable sum to purchase all the equipment and products you require to do Paint Correction, only to discover, due to lack of experience and knowledge, you have risked making your paint look worse than it was. Or you could bite the bullet and hire a professional who has years of experience, insurance and most likely has worked, several times, on the same model vehicle as yours.  Watching videos online will only get you so far, and as we know, it always looks easier in videos!

How much does Paint Correction cost?

The cost of having Paint Correction on your car will vary depending on multiple factors.  Firstly, the type of paint and colour is very important to understand.  Secondly, the condition of the duco and to fully understand what your expectations are.  The price could range from $300 to $1000. If you are wanting to remove paint texture or peel, this could be considerably more – but that’s for another time.  Some can say that it is too expensive, but you are paying for a professional’s experience, not just their time.  A professional has most likely experienced situations you would hate to be in, such as burning clear coat, spending hours figuring out which compound/pad works best on particular paint and so on.  Your Professional Detailer has done the hard yards and understands the needs of your vehicle, probably better than you do!

Next time when you are walking into car supply shop, think twice before outlaying a few hundred bucks on car care.  Do some research and find a professional in your area with the right credentials and allow them to do the heavy lifting.  Once they have done the ‘cut and polish’ or paint correction, ask for the best products required to maintain your paint specifically.  Take the time and finances to invest in the upkeep, so the hard work that has been completed, is well spent and totally worth it!