by Joshua Thomas
Has your car's paintwork started to fade off due to increased swirls and scratches? Well, you should try buffing the surface using a polishing pad.
Basically, a polishing pad is a circular-shaped buffer that is designed to be used with an orbital or rotary sander and a polishing compound to scrub through the uneven finish, resulting in a polished, shiny surface that looks as good as new.
The pad can also be used to wax painted, leather and other surfaces for protective purposes. However, you need to invest in high-quality buffer pads if you want the best results and here is a closeup look at 7 best polishing pads that you should consider buying.
1. Viking Car Care 862400 (Best Overall)
2. Porter-Cable 18007
3. Chemical Guys BUFX_104_HEX5
4. Meguiar's WRFP7
5. TCP Global 5864125919
6. Griot's Garage 10426
7. DeWalt DW4985CL
Viking Car Care's 862400 is the top-rated polishing pad in our review due to a number of reasons. For starters, it is the most affordable product and despite this, you get a 6-pack of microfiber pads, which are quite gentle to paint and clear coats.
Each piece is designed to promote a uniform application by distributing polish, dressing, protectants or wax evenly on the applied surface, which leads to optimal results in the form of an evenly renewed surface.
The pads are actually ideal for interior or exterior application, which makes their use very versatile, and after use, they can be easily machine washed for clean reuse.
On the downside, the units are not designed to be used with rotary or orbital sanders but with a 5-inch diameter size, they are fairly easy to handle by hand.
This 18007 stands out as the best wool polishing pad because it is made using fine lamb wool that is very soft and has a thick, pliable texture that enables it to polish surfaces to have the shiniest and glossiest finish without causing any damage.
Additionally, this material makes the pad quite versatile because it can be used on multiple surfaces, while its relatively wide 6-inch diameter size gives good maneuverability so as to reach hidden corners quite easily.
Another benefit you get with the 18007 is a universal fitting design that can be used in a wide variety of standard orbital sanders, and actually has a hook and loop design for easy and quick mounting onto the sander. However, you only get a single buffer pad per pack.
If you are a car detailing professional, then this polishing pad from Chemical Guys should interest you because it has a hex-logic design that keeps it constantly lubricated, thereby reducing any friction that may damage clean, unscratched surfaces.
These hexagons are actually laser cut, which helps in distributing the product evenly for uniform application, while also conforming to the shape of the car's surface so as to maintain 100% coverage on all surface contours, be it flat, rounded or angled.
Other than this, the piece is made of a durable fine foam material that is long lasting and ideal for heavy-duty cutting compounds with a grit count of 1500-2000.
The pad measures 5.5-inches in diameter, but there are 3 other different sizes to choose from, which are 4, 6 and 6.5 inches. However, you only get one pad per kit regardless of the size you choose.
Meguiar's WRFP7 is quite easy to use because it features a recessed backing that allows for easy centering when fitting it into a backing plate so as to install it into
Other than this, the piece has a hook and loop attachment system, which makes pad changes very quick and easy.
An improved foam technology is used in the making of the pad's foam material, and this helps in eliminating minor surface defects so as to restore the glossy finish, while at the same time improving the piece's durability.
On the downside, you only get a single pad in the kit, but with its 7-inch size, the unit is quite effective at reaching deep into the hidden parts in corners so as to create an evenly smooth finish.
Though expensive, TCP Global's polishing pad takes the best kit title because it practically contains everything you need.
Basically, you get five 8-inch waffle-designed polishing pads that are made of foam and a single 8-inch wool pad, with all having a hook and loop attachment system for quick changing.
A 7-inch backing plate is also included, and it has 5/8-inch standard polisher threads that provide a non-slip grip while also enabling quick pad changes.
As for the polishing pads, their waffle faces are built to maximize contact with the surface being polished, resulting in smoother buffing while generating less heat.
Additionally, these pads are color coded for different uses, with black being for extra fine ultra-smooth finishes, green for fine final cut finishing, medium blue for removing light oxidation and scratches, and coarse orange for mildly aggressive sanding.
The wool pad also has a coarse texture for polishing hard topcoats while extra coarse red ends the list on the coarsest end for deep scratches and peelings.
As a 6-inch polishing pad, this 10426 stands out from the rest because it is dual-sided, with one side having plush, nap heavy-grade microfibers for applying sealants, wax, and polish, while the other side has a reticulated foam material.
However, this foam side is not meant for buffing but rather, it helps push the microfiber side to the car's body surface so as to align with the contours as you push through using your orbital sander.
Speaking of the sander, the pad is equipped with chamfered edges that maximize the unit's footprint as you spin it using your sander, which increases productivity especially in reaching tight corners, while also improving on safety.
Other features include a high-tech thermoset bond between the foam and microfiber layers which does not delaminate under heat or chemical reactions, and two other size options to choose from, which are 4 and 5 inches. However, you only get a single pad in the kit.
DeWalt's DW4985CL comes with a backing pad for fitting it into a sander without having to buy anything extra. A 5/8 - 11-inch arbor is also included, giving you some extras at your disposal.
Other than this, the polisher is composed of a wool surface, which is very durable and gives good buffing performance
This pad is 7-inches in diameter and once fitted into your sander, the large size easily reaches into the farthest corners so as to create a uniform shiny and glossy finish across the entire surface.
The only issue is that you get a single pad in this kit, but it is very soft and smooth due to its wool material composition.
First things first, you should look at the polishing pad's diameter before anything else because different sizes are designed for slightly different uses.
For instance, large diameter pads (typically 6 inches and above) are better for exterior use, especially when using a sander or dual action polisher for the job.
However, when using such a polishing machine, ensure that the backing plate has a slightly smaller diameter than the pad so that it does not protrude more outwards.
On the other hand, small diameter pads can be good for interior use, especially when you are hand polishing because they fit better in the hand.
Foam pads are very common and can be split into 3 types according to the aggressiveness or cut level.
Compounding foam pads are the most aggressive and should be used with high-level cutting compounds as the initial step for removing surface defects.
Finishing pads come at the last step for applying wax or sealant while polishing foam pads lie somewhere in between these two, with mid-level aggressiveness.
Wool & Microfiber
Wool and microfiber pads are usually graded as either compounding or finishing pads, with the former being more aggressive and the latter being less abrasive.
Buying Guide : Even though some may claim that wool or microfiber is better at polishing than foam, generally, each material can be used to achieve the same results. However, wool is more expensive than the other two but has a high-end feel to it.
It is important to check the technology used in each pad. For instance, a hex-logic design promotes better airflow for reduced heating as you polish the surface, and also distributes the product evenly for a better outcome.
CSS technology has its own benefits and such pads should be considered more than the other plain ones because the polishing results afterward will be better and glossier.
This factor has to do with compatibility. You should check if the pad can be used on the specific surface that you want to polish, which could have a clear coat, plain paint or even have an unpainted surface such as fiberglass. Make sure to get a compatible buffer pad for your job.
A backing pad is required if you are to detail your car using a polishing machine. If this is the case, then at least make sure that the kit you buy contains a backing pad that is the same size or smaller than your polishing pad.
Also, the polishing and backing pads should have an easy changing system (such as a hook and loop system) for quick switching, say from a compounding pad to a finishing piece.
TCP Global Ultimate 6 Pad Buffing and Polishing Kit with 6-8" Pads; 5 Waffle Foam & 1 - Walmart Link
CASOMAN 7-Inch Buffing and Polishing Pad Kit, 7 Pieces 7" Polishing Sponge, Waxing - Walmart Link
3M Perfect it Foam Buffing Compounding Pads 5723 5725 5733 - Walmart Link
Meguiar's DMCKIT6 DA Microfiber Correction System Kit - Walmart Link
RUPES 150 mm (6 inch) Foam Pad 4 Pack - Walmart Link
Chemical Guys HEX_3KIT_6 6.5" Buffing Pad Kit,4 Items, 16 fl. oz, 4 Pack - Walmart Link
3M Finesse-It Buffing Pad - For Finesse-It Compound - Paint Shop Coating and Surface - Walmart Link
Meguiar's WRFF7 Soft Buff 7" Rotary Foam Finishing Pad, 1 Pack , black - Walmart Link
Meguiar's WRSBP Soft Buff Rotary Soft Backing Plate, 1 Pack - Walmart Link
TCP Global Ultimate 6 Pad Buffing and Polishing Kit with 6-8" Pads; 5 Waffle Foam & 1 - eBay Link
CASOMAN 7-Inch Buffing and Polishing Pad Kit, 7 Pieces 7" Polishing Sponge, Waxing - eBay Link
3M Perfect it Foam Buffing Compounding Pads 5723 5725 5733 - eBay Link
Meguiar's DMCKIT6 DA Microfiber Correction System Kit - eBay Link
RUPES 150 mm (6 inch) Foam Pad 4 Pack - eBay Link
Chemical Guys HEX_3KIT_6 6.5" Buffing Pad Kit,4 Items, 16 fl. oz, 4 Pack - eBay Link
3M Finesse-It Buffing Pad - For Finesse-It Compound - Paint Shop Coating and Surface - eBay Link
Meguiar's WRFF7 Soft Buff 7" Rotary Foam Finishing Pad, 1 Pack , black - eBay Link
Meguiar's WRSBP Soft Buff Rotary Soft Backing Plate, 1 Pack - eBay Link
As you get into car detailing, you can clearly see the importance of a good quality polishing pad such as the ones listed above. Basically, after compound buffing, a polishing pad comes in to tidy up the job for smooth finishing.
With the detailed list above, you should be able to pick the best polishing pad that suits your need so as to restore your car to its original shiny look.
About Joshua Thomas
Joshua Thomas just simply loves cars and willing to work on them whenever there's chance... sometimes for free.
He started CarCareTotal back in 2017 from the advices of total strangers who witnessed his amazing skills in car repairs here and there.
His goal with this creation is to help car owners better learn how to maintain and repair their cars; as such, the site would cover alot of areas: troubleshooting, product recommendations, tips & tricks.
Joshua received Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering at San Diego State University.