Just The Tip: Episode 2; Pad & Polish Testing

Welcome to episode two of ‘Just The Tip’


In this episode we explain our abrasive pad and polish testing method.  We exercise this procedure to determine;

  1. Cutting power
  2. Resulting gloss
  3. Surface temperature
  4. Film build removal speed
  5. Dust and sling type and amount
  6. Scratch pattern type
  7. Particle uniformity
  8. Product efficiency
  9. Particle efficacy

for polish and pad combinations and record the results for comparison with other combinations. 


This data helps us determine the ‘best’ polish for the job.  As professional detailers we prefer fast working times, removing imperfections quickly leaves room for more correction, so customers enjoy more bang for buck with quicker turnaround times and we fit more jobs into every week with results that are better than they could be using less efficient processes.

When we want to test a new pad and polish combination we can go back to a previous test for comparison with the knowledge that the new and old tests were carried out with almost all variables removed.


  1. Speed
  2. Pressure
  3. Contact Angle
  4. Surface Material Type


  1. Pad
  2. Polish

Devices Required;

  1. Drill Press
  2. Common analogue household scales
  3. Working surface (painted sheet metal, acrylic, polycarbonate, chrome etc.)
  4. Thermometer (infra-red recommended)
  5. Glossmeter (20 degree) 


  1. SSM (Surface Smoothness Mapping machine)
  2. Thickness tester (ultra sound preferred)


Setting up the drill and having the test material on top of some household scales allows you to maintain a 90 degree polishing angle providing for more accuracy than can be achieved repeatedly by hand with downward pressure that can be monitored (we use 30 kilograms).


Consistency of working time and diagnostics is easily maintained with a timer.  We keep the working time to 5 seconds.

Exactly five seconds after correction we capture a temperature reading.

Thirty seconds (25 seconds after temp reading) we capture a gloss reading

The timing is important for temperature obviously, but also for gloss readings, some paint types will yield different gloss readings at differing temperatures.


1. Cutting power

Cutting power is obviously important; the potential for a detailer to be aware of a compound to remove a specific set of imperfections is super useful.

2. Resulting gloss

Cutting power is one thing, but if you’re leaving a matte mess behind it’s possibly too inefficient a routine.  This is determined by glossmeter.

3. Surface temperature

A quick working polish and pad combination is great, but it’s useless if you reach an unsafe temperature before the combination can fulfil its potential.

4. Film build removal speed

This is similar to cutting power, but different enough.  Some pads (or polishes) like to remove more film build (paint) than others in any given amount of time.  This is determined by measuring film build thickness before and after with a thickness tester.

5. Dust and sling type and amount

Some polishes like to dust or sling more than others.  As do pads, usually wool pads and new NanoFibre pads can unfortunately lint making a mess.  Any mess needs cleaning and that is time which must be taken into consideration.

6. Scratch pattern type

Similar to gloss, every polish and pad combination creates a scratch pattern where the abrasives and fibres of the pad dig at the working surface.  The more consistent and fine the resulting marring, the easier and quicker refining will be.  This is determined by measuring surface characteristics before and after with a surface smoothness mapping machine.

7. Particle uniformity

Similar to scratch pattern, a uniform finish is easier/quicker to refine.  This is determined by measuring surface characteristics before and after with a surface smoothness mapping machine.

8. Product efficiency

How much/little product can be used to achieve correction.  Less is obviously better.

9. Particle efficacy

Similar to efficiency, how efficient abrasives are at correcting materials.


1 comment



Interesting and informative. Your claim of world’s best detailers is backed up by your scientific approach to product validation and improvement.
Love your products. Love your work.

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