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Does Colour Of Paint Affect Automotive Polishing Compound

There's nothing like a clean, shiny, and gleaming car to make you feel that everything's right in the world. Naturally, we can't not love that showroom-like mirror finish, as your car flaunts its waxy bodywork. But it turns out that there's a lot of chemistry that goes into properly cleaning and thus detailing any car. For the average Joe, there is a lot to learn on this topic.

A bucket, some warm water, and soap aren't going to be enough. Maybe you'd like that extra glossy look to your car. Of course, polish is the first thing that comes to mind. It works well for your shoes, so why shouldn't it have the same effect on your car? Well, some have indeed wondered if the colour of their paint can affect the results from common automotive polishing compounds?

What Is Automotive Polishing Compound?

First, let's look a bit deeper into the polishing compound, and how it works at making your car look that bit nicer. Before that, we should at least understand the common misconception that people can make between 'rubbing compound', and 'polishing compound'. These are very distinct products altogether, and you should be wary the next time you go to buy detailing products..

Getting them mixed up could have detrimental effects on a car's paint. Either way, they both apply to freshen up your car's paintwork, such as removing any excess dirt or grime that might've been missed by a good wash. Or, it could be towards trying to make it less dull, or otherwise buffing out damage altogether, like tiny stone chips or scratches. 

Both rubbing and polishing compounds are inherently abrasive materials, and they work to rub into your car's paintwork in order to restore their finish. More specifically, it mostly has an impact on the upper clear-coat layer of your car's paintwork. This clear coat is a transparent layer of resin with no pigments, and only serves to brighten up and make your car's appearance glossier.

Rubbing Vs. Polishing

The key difference between the two is how abrasive they are. Rubbing compound is significantly more abrasive, with large particle sizes and a highly aggressive chemical formula. The intention of using rubbing compound is as a start to automotive detailing, which can then be followed up by polishing and then waxing. It's sometimes known as 'levelling compound', and it's a hint of what it does.

Rubbing compound essentially shaves down your car's paint, to then level and smooth it out. In doing so, this aggressive compound - which can be found between 1,000 to 5,000 in grit - can level down deep scratches, or imperfections in the car's paint. It can restore the shine and vibrancy of the old paintwork underneath. But in all, rubbing compound is used to fix sub-surface level damage.

Meanwhile, polishing compound is a lot less abrasive and is mainly used after the rubbing process to bring the glow and sheen of your car's paint by smoothening it out. In short, this mild abrasion allows polishing to work at a finer level than rubbing compound. Although it can still be used to remove scratches and imperfections, it'll only be effective on lighter damage.

Deeper defects in your car's paint can't be solved with a polishing compound. Moreover, polishing in itself isn't the final end-all solution to keeping your car's paint looking perfect. After the polishing is complete, you'll still need an additional layer on top. This is where compounds like waxing come in, which leaves a protective surface to protect the paint from climate and contaminants.

Can Paint Colour Affect Automotive Polishing Compound?

So does it... Does the paint colour on your car have an impact on the effectiveness of the polishing compound? In short, no, it doesn't. Your car may be black or white, the hottest of reds, the glitziest of purples, or the deepest of blues - it won't have an impact on your polishing compound. However, the type of finish on your car may inversely be affected by common polishing compounds.

For example, some unique types of automotive paint, such as matte or satin finishes - which doesn't shine like glossy of metallic paints do - are a big no-no for polishing. Applying any sort of abrasion to this sort of paint through polish can not only alter the look of the paintwork but could also cause damage to it. Some detailers even recommend against using wax on matte or satin paints.


In conclusion, then, the question that we posed right in the title has a very simple answer - no. The choice of colour that you paint your car in will not affect the final appearance once you've added some polishing compound onto it. However, what sort of paint finish, be it glossy or matte, will no doubt be affected massively by whether or not you choose to apply polish.

On the bright side, most cars in the world are glossy or metallic, of which both paints could certainly do with a bit of detailing every once in a while. There's also another important point to remember in our little guide here, and that's the type of compound that you use. Note, all of the aforementioned materials are necessary when it comes to deep cleaning or detailing your car.

Rubbing compounds are important in removing deeper scratches or flaws in the paintwork, though some damage that exposes the bodywork underneath could only really be fixed with special kits like paint touch-ups. After that, a quick polishing will do wonders to softening the paint and restores its glow. After that, the protective layer on top, applied a couple of times a year with wax will help it stay that way.