Paint preparation and maintenance advice

Discussion in 'Detailing, Valeting and Car care' started by BRUNBERG, Nov 25, 2010.

  1. 25 Nov 2010 at 1:30 PM #1
    BRUNBERG

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    Having spoken to Shaun, we were both getting many questions via pm from various members who wanted advice on cleaning stages and vehicle maintenance. We decided (with permission from the mods) to try and give all members an insight into good practice with car maintenence. The following list compiles the basic principles adopted by enthusiast and professional detailers alike.
    Certain areas of detailing should only be undertaken by experts however, there is nothing wrong with adopting the areas of maintenance which require little or no expert training. I strongly advise not undertaking wet sanding/flatting, compound correction unlkess you know what you are doing!

    Basic car maintenance

    1. Pre-Rinse car with water

    2. APC areas (badges/door/bonnet/boot shuts, badges and wheels etc.

    3. Foam – coating the car encapsulating dirt

    4. Wash – ideally adopting a 2 bucket method with grit guards and a lambs wool mit

    5. Rinse

    6. Clay – deep clean your paint removing all contaminants

    7. Dry

    8. Polish – restore, enhance and finish your paint for the perfect shine
    Restore – restore dull, faded, swirled and neglected paint with various compounds
    Enhance – remove lighter swirls enhancing gloss
    Finish – ultrafine finishing polishes and glazes for show car finish

    9. Protect – protect and seal your paint with various synthetic sealants and natural carnauba waxes
    Sealant – protection in the form of long lasting acrylic polymers
    Wax – pure carnauba offering best protection and concours finish

    10. Maintain – restoring gloss and finish in between wax/sealant applications

    Pre-rinse
    This loosens up dirt and wets the paintwork ready for washing. Using a hose- pipe, direct a gentle spray of water at the paintwork at a shallow angle. If you blast the paintwork with high pressure at ninety degrees to the paintwork, you'll force grit into the paint and cause scratches. Just a gentle spray of water to wet the paintwork is all that is required.

    APC areas

    To me this means areas to concentrate on prior to the foaming process or areas which can generally be cleaned with an APC (All purpose Cleaner)
    When washing your wheels using a wheel brush, the shampoo solution (or wheel cleaner solution) can spray up onto paintwork, and if you’ve just cleaned the paintwork, you'll end up needing to clean it again to remove the dirty spray from wheels which is why it is advisable to do at this stage. Don't forget to open all doors and boot/bonnet and clean the shuts and the insides of the door with APC - these areas can pick up a lot of dirt and it adds something a little extra to open the door and see the shuts as clean as the rest of the car. I also clean badges, grills and petrol cap area at this stage. I personally adopt a citrus wash stage before moving onto snow foam but i have ocd.

    Foam

    Snow foam is designed to create a thick blanket of foam when used through a foaming device/lance. It is designed to be safe on all paint types and able to be left to dwell encapsulating dirt without stripping any previously applied wax or polish. Once left to dwell the foam should be rinsed off. I personally prefer to foam my car twice before moving on to the wash process.

    Wash
    This is the major stage of the washing process, and the time when most scratches can be inflicted if care is not taken. This removes fresh surface contamination from paintwork such as dust, grit, mud, road film etc... Add the correct amount of car wash solution (according to the dilution ratio on the bottle) to your bucket and fill with water to produces suds and lubricated wash solution:

    The two bucket method as advised by the pros uses two buckets, not one. In the first bucket, you have your car wash solution as normal. In the second bucket you have clean fresh water. First off you soak your mitt in the wash solution and begin washing the car (ideally even strokes in the same direction). Then, before dunking the wash mitt back into the wash solution, you rinse it out in the second bucket of fresh water - this rinses out the dirt and grit particles from this mitt so that they cannot come into contact with your paint, reducing the number of swirls inflicted.

    A grit-guard is also a very worthwhile investment and sits at the bottom of the bucket (I have two, one in the rinsing bucket and one in the wash solution bucket). When dunking your mitt into the fresh water bucket, rub it across the grit guard to increase the amount of grit particles which are removed from the mitt. Also, it keeps them trapped at the bottom of the bucket so even less chance of the mitt picking them back up and them reaching your paintwork to inflict scratches.

     
    Last edited: Nov 25, 2010
  2. 25 Nov 2010 at 1:31 PM #2
    BRUNBERG

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    Rinse

    This is a simple process of rinsing off all remaining suds and shampoo from the previous foam and washing steps. If using a hose I first of all use a light spray of water to wet the paintwork, just like the pre-rinsing step. Then follow this up with a flow of water from the hose. Most shampoos are free rinsing and require this flow of water to make the rinsing water "sheet" off of the paintwork. (This sheeting effect will work best on well sealed and waxed paintwork). On a sealed/waxed car, keep rinsing until the water sheets cleanly off the paintwork and leaves behind only water beads and not flat regions of water. This makes the car essentially self drying! Rinse from the top of the car down.

    Clay

    This is simply the process of using a well lubricated bar of clay to remove all contaminants from the paint surface which would usually be invisible to the naked eye. This process is very simple although i suggest getting advice before undertaking it yourself. I prefer to soak the clay bar in warm, soapy water before moulding it into my preferred workable shape. The clay bar must be well lubricated at all times as should the surface of paint being worked on. The clay should glide across the paintwork in the same direction for each pass.

    Clay can be purchased with different levels of aggression relative to the severity of contaminants which require removal.

    I always prefer to start with a mild clay, beginning with the top of the car and working my way down.

     
    Last edited: Nov 25, 2010
  3. 25 Nov 2010 at 1:33 PM #3
    BRUNBERG

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    Dry

    Another high risk stage as far as scratching the paint is concerned. First off, I find that using a waffle weave drying towel is far safer and more effective than using a chamois leather. I personally prefer to use a leaf blower to have as little contact with the paintwork as possible.

    If using a drying towel it is advisable to pat the car dry rather than drag/pull the towel across the paintwork


    Polish

    Unless you have good experience i would advise using products which are designed to be applied by hand. The next step up is a DA (Dual action) polisher. This is a very safe machine which contrary to what the pros tell you can be used to achieve fantastic correction and shine assuming the correct pad and product combination are used.

    A DA does not build up anywhere near as much heat as a rotary polisher and is therefore very safe. Personally, i would not advise any form of correction without a PTG (paint thickness gauge). This is a digital device which informs the detailers how many microns of paint are on a panel. You cannot know the full history of every vehicle you work on, if a panel has been repaired or re-sprayed you can easily damage the clearcoat and suffer “strike through” resulting in the repair only available at a bodyshop.
    You would be surprised how many people advertise detailing services without first examining the paint and knowing what they have to work with, this is a result of all good quality PTG’s being so expensive. Either way until very very experienced irrespective of which machine you are using you should always begin with the least aggressive product and pad combination

    This is the best guide to DA polishing on the net imo and i cannot explain it any better but am happy to answer any questions on it to the best of my ability.

    http://www.detailingworld.co.uk/forum/showthread.php?t=63859

    Rotary polishing is a natural progression from DA polishing but should not be undertaken lightly. A rotary polisher is an excellent tool for correcting paint defect and imperfections. With the correct polish and pad combination the possibilities are truly endless.
    Before considering a rotary i would advise getting scrap panels from a local breakers to practice on.
    The best Rotary polishing guide can be found on the following link

    http://www.detailingworld.co.uk/forum/showthread.php?t=66024

    The DA and rotary are ideal for the restoring and enhancing stages of paint revitalising. The last polishing stage is glaze. I would carry out a wipe down to ensure all imperfections have been removed before glazing but for the purposes of this thread we will move straight on.
    Glazing is the process of creating a mirror finish shine over your now perfected paintwork. Various types of glaze are available relative to the type of shine you want and the colour of your vehicle etc
    I prefer to apply my glazes with my Da using a finishing pad.
     
    Last edited: Nov 25, 2010
  4. 25 Nov 2010 at 1:34 PM #4
    BRUNBERG

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    Protect

    Sealants help protect your cars paintwork from the elements. Unlike waxes they are formulated using synthetic or polymer technology to create a durable protective layer. Sealants are man- made and therefore tend to degrade far less than waxes which are primarily made from natural ingredients.

    Waxes can be made from a natural wax, usually Brazilian carnauba, or synthetically made of polymers and acrylic resins. In addition to coating your paintwork with a layer of protection they are designed to reflect light which is partly why detailed cars look so impressive.
    When detailing, my personal preference is to apply 2-3 coats of good quality wax, maintain the car using snow foam and the 2 bucket method washing process. All i do to maintain the finish is apply a good quality sealant every time i wash the car. Following this routine generally means the car will not require attention for up to a year at a time.



     
    Last edited: Nov 25, 2010
  5. 25 Nov 2010 at 1:34 PM #5
    BRUNBERG

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    I receive many pm’s from people who are confused with timescale. They read up on various forums and get confused. This is my opinion for standard maintenance. Obviously i carry out the procedures more frequently but as said, i have ocd

    Foam/wash – Weekly

    Clay – annually

    Standard polish for shine - 3-4 times a year
    Polish with correction – ever 12-24 months

    Sealant – 3-4 times a year

    The information i have given in this guide is based on my personal opinion and experience having spent many years and a lot of money learning/researching and practicing.

    I have purposely avoided divulging brand and product names as i feel it may result in debate. Ideally, use the products which work for you and suit your budget. I am happy to give opinions on products via pm should you wish.
    I, like others on here Try to detail to a high standard and as such invest heavily in products as i require longevity in the finish. Maintenance for your personal vehicle does not require such financial outlay.

    Obviously areas of my preferences will no doubt come under scrutiny.

    Obviously many guides will seem different to the one posted here but, you have my guarantee that if followed correctly the principles above will cause minimal damage to your paint and increase the longevity of the finish.
     
    Last edited: Aug 7, 2011
  6. 25 Nov 2010 at 1:35 PM #6
    BRUNBERG

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    We hope you have found this guide useful. feel free to ask any questions you may have and both Shaun and myself will do out best to answer them.

    If anyone would like a guide to engine bay and interior cleaning im sure we can put something together for you
     
  7. 25 Nov 2010 at 1:48 PM #7
    BRUNBERG

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    I have chosen to use videos by Paul Dalton. As owner of Miracle detailed he is considered to be one of the best detailers in the world.
    You may find these interesting









     
  8. 25 Nov 2010 at 1:58 PM #8
    jamie123

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    top man cheers for that!
     
  9. 25 Nov 2010 at 2:12 PM #9
    alpina527

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    Blimey, what a great write up. I will have a look at the vids when I have time.

    Top man!:peace:
     
  10. 25 Nov 2010 at 3:15 PM #10
    M3 VUN

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    Top work Bruno!
     
  11. 25 Nov 2010 at 4:37 PM #11
    scottdow

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    Good write up.
    Would an APC remove wax/sealant?
     
  12. 25 Nov 2010 at 4:47 PM #12
    mocha99

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    wow what a detailed, detail write up, just looked at how dirty my car is now feel guilty for not cleaning her on my day off:thumbsup:
     
  13. 25 Nov 2010 at 4:51 PM #13
    BRUNBERG

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    Pc won't strip anything if diluted to around 4:1 mate
     
  14. 25 Nov 2010 at 5:48 PM #14
    Myuran

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    Good stuff Bruno.
     
  15. 25 Nov 2010 at 7:06 PM #15
    Faz

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    Nice one bro...a very good read
     
  16. 26 Nov 2010 at 7:24 AM #16
    Big Bri

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    Outstanding Bruno,,,,,As said before

    CLASS FELLA,CLASS

    BRIAN...
     
  17. 26 Nov 2010 at 9:38 AM #17
    IanM3

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    Excellent write up Bruno, tyhanks for taking the time.

    Also from Paul's vids I've a couple of new products to try!!
     
  18. 26 Nov 2010 at 9:53 AM #18
    BRUNBERG

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    Mate, Paul Dalton is massively endorsed by 3M now. Their backing plates rotary pads and correction polishes and sanding discs are excellent. As for the rest of the range, hmmm you can do better for your money IMO. Feel free to PM me for any product info you need as I've tried most
     
  19. 26 Nov 2010 at 12:24 PM #19
    MoOriginal

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    very interesting!

    a random question

    when applying top coats of wax for layering as you mentioned to me before

    its harder to apply coats in cold weather like now - but does the cold weather allow you to apply thicker coats of top wax rather then when weather is warm and wax is softer...

    not sure if i explained that well
     
  20. 26 Nov 2010 at 12:27 PM #20
    Sinth

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    Excellent write up Bruno. What's your opinion on wheel brightener by meguiars?
     

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