Once you’ve chosen a car wax or paint sealant, you’ve got a couple of application options. You can apply it by hand or with a polisher. Even paste car waxes can be applied with a polisher.
Apply car wax or paint sealant in the shade. If the product dries too quickly or sits on the vehicle too long, it may be difficult to buff off.
Always apply car wax or paint sealant to a dry vehicle. Droplets of water on the paint will cause the product to streak and it will be unnecessarily tough to buff off.
Thin, thin, thin! Apply the thinnest coat you can. If you want more shine and depth, you’re not going to accomplish it in one thick coat. It just makes the wax or sealant difficult to remove and streaky. Buff one coat off before applying a second extremely thin coat. Check the label to see how long one coat has to cure before applying another (usually 12-18 hours).
Poly foam wax applicators are the best for achieving a thin, even coat. They’re absorbent, durable, washable, and reusable. They’re also inexpensive, so don’t be afraid to throw them away when they get really soiled.
Buff the haze away with microfiber. A quality microfiber towel, like the Miracle Towel, will buff your paint to a stunning shine as you remove the wax residue. The static-charged, woven fibers grab wax residue so there is less dusting, if any. Microfiber does not shed lint and the tiny, manmade fibers polish the paint while you buff. Rotate your towel frequently to reveal a clean side. Keep an extra Miracle Towel lying around in case the first one becomes caked with wax.
Select a foam finishing pad to apply wax.
This pad is soft and absorbent, but firm enough to withstand the pressure
of the machine. It’s perfect for any type of wax, even paste wax. A Lake
Country gray finishing pad is shown to the right.
If you are using a paste wax, spread it onto the
pad like you’re buttering a piece of bread. You can turn the jar of wax
upside down and slide the wax out into a plastic sandwich bag to rub it
onto the pad, or you can use a clean putty knife. If you’re using a liquid
wax or sealant, dispense three 3” lines of wax around the edge of the pad.
If you’re using a liquid wax or sealant, press the
polisher to the paint and spread the wax over a panel before turning the
machine on. This will lessen the likelihood of splatter.
Set your dual action polisher to a maximum speed of
3. Check the label of your particular wax for specific directions, but
generally this is the fastest speed you need to apply wax. Spread the wax
over the panel until it is evenly covered. Turn off your machine before
lifting it off the paint.
Buff with microfiber. Again, the Miracle Towel is
your best friend. Some products allow you to apply wax to the entire
vehicle before buffing, but many do not. If your wax does not, buffing by
hand may be most efficient. If your wax can be applied to the entire
vehicle before buffing, you might prefer to buff by machine using a microfiber or terry cloth bonnet over a lambswool pad for cushioning. Microfiber
doesn’t shed lint like terry cloth can, but the choice is up to you.
If you really want to amplify the shine, apply a layer of carnauba over a layer of sealant. The sealant will create a glossy, hard coating while the carnauba wax will enhance the depth and dimension of the paint. A popular combination in the forums is Klasse All-In-One under Pinnacle Souverän Wax.
Glossary of Terms
Wax – a protective coating usually made from natural carnauba wax and polymers that provides a deep, reflective shine.
Sealant – a completely synthetic blend of polymers that provides long-lasting paint protection and shine.
Bonnet – made from terry cloth or microfiber, it fits over a lambswool pad on a dual action polisher for buffing purposes.
Dual action polisher – the head moves in two ways; it spins the pad and the pad orbits around an eccentric offset. The motion is often described as jiggling. A DA polisher, like the Porter Cable 7424XP or FLEX XC 3401 VRG Orbital Polisher, will greatly improve the appearance of paint imperfections with minimal risk of burning the paint.