There are some common misconceptions about the differences between automotive polish and wax products. Some believe that polish and wax are the same, and that you only have to do one to give vehicle paint shine and protection. There are also people that say that only car wax is needed to make a car look its best. Before we get into demystifying these topics, first let’s start off with the qualities that wax and polish do share. Most importantly, both car wax and polish are absolutely essential in working to enhance the quality of exterior paint on automobiles. Both of these products are also crucial to enhance the appearance of paint on cars, motorcycles, boats and trucks. There are varying types of polish and wax, but for the most part, they fall under two categories: polishing and protecting.
Car polish, in the simplest terms, is actually a very slight abrasive used to smooth car and truck paint. The surface of paint is inherently flawed, meaning that it is not 100% smooth, and it gets farther away from being perfect the older the paint is and the longer that it goes without being polished. Contaminants from the environment play a large part in making the surface of the paint uneven, and sometimes rough in spots. When you apply polish by buffer or by hand, it is essentially smoothing out these rough spots to make the paint level again. When you do that, the paint becomes more even, and therefore, more reflective. Think of a mirror, for example. A mirror that is not reflective has an uneven finish, and when you polish that mirror, it becomes reflective again. The same principle applies to automotive exterior paint. When you polish your paint it smooths out the rough spots and brings the surface to a more uniform level.
You could also imagine the surface of paint as if you were looking at it through a microscope. If you could see your paint on a microscopic level it resembles that of a range of mountains with valleys and peaks. When you polish your paint, you are wearing down the peaks of those mountains down toward the valleys, and therefore making the surface more even. Not only does polish create a more even and reflective appearance, but it also does a great deal in making the paint actually feel smooth.
It may be hard to believe, but those microscopic peaks and valleys are actually perceptible by human touch. If you run your fingers over untouched and unpolished paint, you will be able to feel the rough spots that seem to stick up from the rest of the surface. You’ll notice a lot of friction as your fingers pass over the paint. After polishing, the roughness will be gone and your fingers will smoothly glide over the paint with much less friction.
It is important to note that modern polish, such as Liquid Glow’s Glazing Polish, contain microscopically small abrasives that self-destruct as they work. These modern polishes are safe for your car, truck, or motorcycle’s paint because they only last long enough to remove the buildup of contamination on your paint then they breakdown into harmless byproducts.
As mentioned earlier, both polish and wax are both necessary to produce the smoothest and richest looking paint possible. Polish is the preparation step before wax, or if you prefer, a pre-wax step. While car wax is the final step, both waxing and polishing are of equal importance. Wax in the simplest terms, is the paint’s protection layer. Auto wax is applied after polishing. As with polish, it can be applied via random orbital buffer or by hand. Wax will enhance the appearance of paint on the entire vehicle. First and foremost, car wax offers protection from the elements. Car wax provides defense against UV rays, which is especially important in areas where the sun is strong and the climate is warm for most of the year.
The wax layer also helps the vehicle’s paint repel water spots, tree sap and other contaminates. If you have ever had a car parked next to a sprinkler overnight, you are well aware of how hard water spots are to get off the paint, especially if they are there for a long time between washing. But well maintained paint that is regularly polished and waxed has a smooth, sealed surface that prevents dirt, grime and contamination from getting a deep hold onto the paint. This makes it much easier to maintain the paint on your car, truck, motorcycle or boat. Because the wax makes the surface more slippery, dirt particles will want to slide off much easier than before, and the time that it takes to wash your car will be significantly less. You can see the effectiveness of wax when you rinse your car after washing, the water will bead up and run off the paint all by itself.
Wax also affects how light reflects off your vehicle’s paint. While polishing makes your paint smooth and gives it shine, wax gives it depth and even more shine. A good wax, such as the genuine carnauba wax found in Liquid Glow’s Sealant Wax, will provide a rich, deep, warm finish to your paint as well as protect it.
For any detailing application, whether it be on a car, boat, motorcycle or truck, both polish and wax are essential for a successful detail job.
Here’s a link to an interesting Bumper.com article: How to Polish a Car Yourself