Many people confuse polishing and buffing, and when you are working in the automotive industry, it is important to differentiate between the two terms. Polishing is a process that removes a moderate amount of metal from a metal piece using coarse to medium abrasives in stages. After polishing a piece of metal, the piece will have a “brushed” type of look, and you will not be able to see reflections in the metal. Polishing removes small scratches and minor surface imperfections. During an auto body restoration or repair project, polishing will come before buffing. If you run your fingernail over a scratch on a vehicle's surface and it gets caught on the scratch, the area should be polished before buffing. Polishing a piece of metal enough will ideally even out the surface nicely during repairs.
Buffing, on the other hand, is the process that removes very small surface irregularities. Where polishing makes a metal surface even, buffing makes the surface almost perfectly smooth by removing a very small amount of metal. Just like polishing, buffing is performed in stages from coarse to fine abrasion. Buffing compound grits are very fine, so much so that you may not be able to tell the difference between them by touching them with your fingers. The difference between grits in performance, however, is significant. Buffing is the process of turning your auto body repairs and restorations into quality finished works.
To learn more about buffing and for more automotive articles, be sure to visit Eastwood.com.