When paint becomes dull, or in other words when the clear coat has thousands of tiny little scratches in it, the paint needs to be sanded down until the surface of the paint is completely flat with no gouges or scratches. Compound can be thought of as a liquid sand paper designed to remove the damaged layers of clear coat revealing a fresh flat surface.
But keep in mind that there is only some much clear coat that can be abraded before a repaint is required. First apply tape to any adjoining areas to protect against accidentally bumping into the trim or moldings with your pad. Next apply a micro fiber cutting pad to your favorite dual action polisher. Then apply compound to the pad, and ensure every fiber is coated in compound by massaging the liquid into the pad with your hands. Now that the pad is primed add three more drops of compound, and place the face of the pad on the paint prior to engaging the machine.
Speed settings will vary by machine and type of pad used, but a setting of three or four is a good place to start. Take note that if the compounding pad is not rotating little to any compounding work is being done to the paint. Adjustments to speed, pressure, and machine angle may be needed. Apply light to medium pressure to the machine so that the microfiber pad compresses slightly. Arm speed is moderate to slow, but keep in mind the slower your arm speed the more compounding work is being done to the paint’s surface.
Work the machine in a two foot by two foot area for approximately one to two minutes before wiping the area with a clean microfiber towel. After initial polishing inspect the area for any remaining scratches, and repeat the process if necessary. Remember when your abrading the surface of the paint, little bits of clear coat are being removed by the compounding abrasives, and then get stuck in the fibers of the microfiber cutting pad. As the pad fills up with the extra residue it interferes with the effectiveness of the cutting pad and the compounding process.
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After one or two by two sections you must clean the cutting disc with compressed air or a clean microfiber towel to dislodge the old clear coat before starting a new section. Once clean reapply three squirts of compound to your pad, and begin the next section. The compounding process will remove scratches, but leave behind a dull white-ish color. This is normal and to be expected. These compounding marks will need to be removed with a less abrasive liquid called polish. For more info on that please watch our polishing video on autoblog.com/details.
Compounding, when removing swirls, is a vital step on the road to perfect paint. But it does require a bit of practice to do it safely. I always recommend using scrap metal from a junk yard, or an old car to hone your compounding skills. Lastly, remember the goal when compounding any car is to leave as much clear coat as possible while removing the imperfection. This ensures your paint will have the most protection available when it needs it down the road.