Glossary of Detailing Terms and Abbreviations

Glossary of Detailing Terms and Abbreviations
Includes information about common materials and equipment used by Final Inspection

This post lists the most commonly used acronyms and terms used by Final Inspection detailers, categorised appropriately.  Please respect our IP by linking to this post, not stealing information from it, if you would like to use this information, please read the statement at the base of this article in red.


Paint Diagnosis

Orange peel (texture): Orange peel describes a specific texture characteristic of (usually painted) surfaces.  The texture is referred to as Orange Peel or 'OP' for its close resemblance to, obviously, the texture of the peel of an orange fruit.
The image demonstrates how the panel (below) resembles the orange peel (above) with relation to surface texture.

Orange peel is either the texture of the coating itself and can be removed completely or 'dialled in' to have a certain loose or tight type, or is a result of the texture of the substrate below the paint surface.  In the accompanying image, the texture of the painted surface is the result of the (carbon composite) material beneath the paintwork.

µm: Micrometre (or Micron).  A micrometre is one-millionth of a metre and the form of measurement of film build used by Final Inspection detailers for diagnosis of paint thickness.

Mean/Average (paint thickness reading): The mean reading is an average of a collective set of PTT readings, usually 50-100 readings per panel are taken and the total thickness is divided by either a) the number of readings (in the machine) or b) the lowest and highest readings - whichever the operator diagnosing wishes. This yields an mean/average film build thickness.

Average readings and Mean readings are not exactly the same thing, but very similar and Final Inspection detailers will sometimes seem to use the terms interchangeably, however there is a definable difference between the two terms.

Low and High readings are usually given by the diagnostic tools Final Inspection uses.  'Gates' are set-up by the technician in the Atelier which are minimum and maximum acceptable readings.  Notification of readings outside the acceptable range (outside the 'gates') i.e. super low or high readings, flag a red light and audible alarm on the diagnostic device.

When the technician is made aware to this unacceptable thickness that will not allow for paintwork correction (too low), further diagnosis is carried out or correction in that area (or on that panel) with insufficient thickness is abandoned.

Very high readings are usually a result of filler somewhere between the substrate and the top coat (usually clear-coat).

Most high-end ultrasound paint thickness testers/gauges will display how thick each layer of material is so the technician can identify the actual paint thickness, not the total film build which is the distance between the substrate and the top coat.

Actual Paint Thickness (APT): Actual Paint Thickness is the thickness of the top layers of paint after the substrate and any filler.  High quality ultrasound PTT are required to differentiate between TFB and APT.

Workable Paint Thickness (WPT): The workable paint thickness is the top layer (usually clear-coat) and the only workable layer by detailers.  Detailers need only concern themselves with the WPT as paint correction is only available as an option for imperfections within the top/last layer of paint.

Film build: This term is usually referred to when talking about paint, but refers to any and all material above the substrate (steel, aluminium, carbon, plastic etc.) panel including the final coat (usually clear-coat).

Total Film Build (TFB): The distance between the substrate (panel) and top layer (usually clear coat).  Total film build includes anything between the substrate and top layer including fillers and primers.

PTT (magnetic): A magnetic paint thickness tester/gauge will measure the TFB on any ferrous substrate.

PTT (ultra-sound):  An ultrasound paint thickness tester/gauge will measure the TFB on any ferrous and non-ferrous substrate, some detail measurements of each layer.

Substrate: A substrate is defined as the underlying layer to which other layers are applied, in detailing, the substrate generally refers to the panel to which protective treatments and paint layers are applied.  The panel is usually steel, but more commonly, plastic, carbon fibre and other composites.  Substrate can also be glass and many kinds of plastics including polycarbonate and acrylic.

Gloss metre: A machine used to remove highly inaccurate and subjective visual assessment by measuring a single surface point for gloss.  The standard measurement for gloss is gu (gloss unit) and the reading is achieved by delivering a beam at an angle of 20 degrees (the only measurement angle for high gloss surfaces) and capturing the laser, if the beam is captured at 20 degrees, a perfect, 100gu reading has been captured.  For each and every 1 degree variation from 20 degrees, the surface gloss reading is reduced by 1 gu, e.g. a beam received at 19 degrees is a reading of 99gu.

SSM (surface smoothness mapping): A surface smoothness map is taken by an SSM machine that essentially carries out constant gloss metre readings, (Final Inspection's machine captures via ultrasonography) to map (and record) any and all surface imperfections (at micron level) allowing detailers to diagnose surface smoothness with high precision and visualise surface topography to better correct surface imperfections, inconsistencies and irregularities including orange peel.  Final Inspection use an SSM machine to deliver a three-dimensional image of a paint surface and determine where, if any, raised sections of film build exist in order to determine how much film build can and should be removed in order to restore or correct surface smoothness.


1. Indicates orange peel texture
2. Indicates raised area that is correctable 
3. Indicates a recessed area that is not correctable with detailing methods and is usually an imperfection such as a fish eye.

Surface mapping requires extensive labour to carry out and Final Inspection only map surfaces as part of diagnostics for vehicles receiving a Concours Detail.

Substrate: Atelier Detailers refer to the panel underneath paintwork as the substrate, which is usually steel or aluminium, but can be anything, a composite material, plastic (usually bumper bars, mirrors etc.), carbon fibre or Kevlar.  An Ultra Sound PTT is required to test on surfaces that aren't ferrous.


Paintwork preparation, correction and protection

Paint decontamination: Defined by Final Inspection as the permanent removal of above-surface and sub-surface contaminants in automotive paintwork, glass and plastics.

Chemical decontamination: Any and all removal of contaminants via chemical reaction.  Chemical decontamination is usually carried out post mechanical decontamination utilising products such as Cleanse STRONG.

Mechanical decontamination: Any and all decontamination via mechanical action.  Mechanical decontamination at Final Inspection is usually carried out via an Eraser, some detailers still utilise clay bars.

Paint Correction - Final Inspection Car Care


Paint correction: Defined by Final Inspection as any and all permanent rectification of surface imperfections in automotive paintwork, excluding decontamination, usually by polishing using abrasive polishes.

Sealant: Any inorganic protective coating, for example, Full Metal Jacket Paint Protection.

Wax: Any organic protective coating.

Hybrid wax: Any protective coating that contains raw ingredients that are organic and synthetic, for example, Dark Matter.

Polish: Any material that corrects imperfections in materials such as paint, glass, chrome and plastics.

Dedicated wash / body shampoo: Any maintenance washing product that does not contain waxes.

Water Beading - Final Inspection Car Care


Beading: Any water above a surface regardless of the contact angle.

Sheeting: Characterised by water moving across a surface, sheeting is commonly referred to by detailers and is the removal of water from a surface.

(Super) Hydrophobic: A hydrophobic surface is a surface that resists wetting.  Hydrophobic surfaces are characterised by beads forming on the surface, resembling the lotus effect.  A super-hydrophobic surface is characterised by a surface encouraging beads of water with a contact angle of less than 10 degrees.  A properly prepared painted surface coated with Full Metal Jacket Paint Protection yields superhydrophobic beads which promotes self-cleaning.

Cutting-in - Cutting-in is the term Final Inspection detailers use for detailed (correction) polishing (usually with a 90mm or smaller pad) to be able to correct areas not possible (without unacceptable risk) by larger pads/machines.  Cutting-in is usually only carried out for very intensive paintwork correction jobs.  Cutting in is usually carried out around details such as door handles and badges.  It removes the necessity for a large pad (135-150mm) to attempt to correct in detailed areas.  Cutting in is not 'spotting'.

Spotting - Spotting is the term Final Inspection detailers use for detailed (correction) polishing, usually with a 90mm heavy cutting pad to correct heavy localised imperfections.  Spotting is usually only carried out for 'intensive' and 'transformation' paintwork correction jobs.  Spotting is not 'de-nibbing' as spotting is removal of marring, not inclusions.

De-nibbing - Removal of inclusions, usually by wet-sanding, usually with 2000 to 3000 grit paper of between 50 and 100 millimetres in diameter and usually with an air or electric powered random orbital polisher/grinder.  De-nibbing is a process carried out on the production floor of most auto manufactures and by panel repairers / body shops.  Detailers will often remove inclusions with de-nibbing processes for inclusions not removed at the vehicles manufacture or repair/body shop.

Inclusion(s) - Debris trapped during painting within the top layer (usually clear-coat).  Inclusions are particles that evade filtration systems and are 'included' into the painted finish.  They are characterised by raised 'dots' in paintwork and removed with a process called 'de-nibbing'.

Atelier: The term given to authorised workshops in which Final Inspection detailers carry out the highest level of vehicle presentation.  Atelier is only given to authorised detailers that have a workshop that conforms to the exacting standards for vehicle presentation as outlined by Damian Angelucci at Final Inspection head office in 2010.  The definition of Atelier is 'Artists Workshop' and is a French term adopted by Final Inspection.


Microfibre / NanoFibre

Yarn denier: The size of each fibre in any fabric.  For Final Inspection products, it refers usually to the NanoFibre fibres.
Technically, the denier is the linear density (or weight of a specific length of fibre).  Thicker fibres weigh more, thinner fibres, less.
Thinner fibres can be (but aren't always) stacked closer (which raises the Density) and usually improves cloth performance (cleaning power or absorption, usually both).  High quality microfibre uses yarn no thicker than 0.02 denier.  Final Inspection insist on 0.01, or finer, denier.  The difference can double the amount of fibres (density) in a cloth and significantly increase performance.

Yarn type: Yarn is treated and Final Inspection use 'Multi Split' yarn which is chemically split in order to further improve fibre efficiency by effectively creating more fibres per yarn.

GSM: Grams per square metre

Density: The amount of fibres, usually measured in f/mm² (fibres per square millimetre) by Final Inspection.
Most high quality microfibre can feature 25,000 to 50,000 f/mm² Final Inspection insist on a minimum of approximately 100,000 f/mm² for all NanoFibre products.

Weave type: Tight or Loose Hook, Open Ended, 'Piqué Waffle' and 'Moquet' Weave are types of patterns that fibres are woven into to construct a cloth.  Different weaves assist in different duties.  Piqué Waffle is excellent for collecting water quickly and why you will commonly see the waffle weave pattern appearing on drying towels of all sorts, robes, tea towels etc.  Moquet weaves are useful for washing, removing large amounts of debris from surfaces, bring them into the deep pile away from the surface to avoid marring.  Open end fibres woven into a Moquet weave are absorbent and rinse/clean easily.  Tight Hooks or Tight Loops have aggressive cleaning power.

Linen tester: A device which is basically a microscope that companies such as Final Inspection use to look at cloth at fibre level in order to determine approximate fibre size as a quality control method.

Edge (fibre): The type and material a NanoFibre cloth has to avoid unravelling.  Types can be nylon, polyester, polyamide, cotton, silk -anything.  The best material for edging that isn't concealed is NanoFibre.  An organic fibre such as cotton will not have the anti-mar properties of NanoFibre and whilst silk is soft, it isn't as forgiving as NanoFibre.  Silk edging is usually not silk and usually advertised incorrectly.  It is most common to edge in rayon and advertise as silk.

Edge-less edges are created by heating fibres until they fuse together, creating a seal to stop unravelling.  Edge-less treatments are not recommended unless the edge is completely concealed as it creates a hard area that may mar easily.  If the edge is concealed, a robust over-locking is recommended, not 'edge-less' sealing.

Robust over-locking (for strength) is common in very high quality products, although sometimes with nylon or polyester, over-locking in anything but NanoFibre is not recommended unless the edge is concealed.  Only edges stitched in the cloth material itself is acceptable to Final Inspection unless it is concealed and not to come into contact with the surface at any time.

Colour (Cloth/Edge): Colour coding cloths is an intelligent way to reduce the chance of cross contamination.  Edge colour is a cosmetic procedure and usually only for colour coding or branding purchases.


All the information, including images contained within this document is the Intellectual Property of Final Inspection and is not to be used in part or full by any person or company without the written consent of Final Inspection, although Final Inspection welcome linking to this post by anyone.

This post will be constantly updated, however, if there is something missing or a definition or explanation isn't mentioned and you would like the information, please contact us and we'll amend this post.  If you have any questions, please leave a comment and we will provide you with an answer as soon as possible.



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