An insight into a “simple cut and polish”, why $200 jobs are NEVER the answer

An insight into a “simple cut and polish”, why $200 jobs are NEVER the answer


We have recently had an influx of enquiries regarding our paint correction (cut and polish) services, (no doubt due to our recent results!) and almost every time our customer has been “quoted $200-$250 for a full cut and polish and interior”, now when we are quoting $400+ for just the cut and polish you might think we can’t compete, but a “cut and polish” is not so clean cut as you think.

Step one – What are you working with?

Paint is paint, right? WRONG! The detailer’s first job is to figure out what kind of paint job is on the vehicle…

There are loads of different types of clear-coat (top coat) out there, 2 vehicles from the same manufacturer, from the same year but manufactured in different plants will have varying top coats.

Recently companies have tried “self-healing paint” (Infinity – turned out to be disastrous and was discontinued!) and “ceramic-clear” (many European manufacturers e.g. BMW and Mercedes – Very, very tough paint) amongst many others. Each of these coatings has different properties which means they react differently to different techniques. Knowledge is power here.

Many “old heads” of the detailing industry still use old techniques such as “going hard” on the paint with aggressive pads, compounds, and buffers. These techniques are out of date (in 99% of cases) and often leave vehicles covered in holograms, buffer swirls and more like in the picture below (courtesy of


Step 2 – Prepare the paint.

Anyone that knows me will be fed up of me talking about clay bars… but I love them for a reason, it is ESSENTIAL to decontaminate your paintwork before buffing/polishing… for more info check out our POST HERE.

This is a step that pretty much all shopping centre/cheap fixes skip – just look at their price list, they often have a clay bar separate to a cut and polish, the clay bar is an essential part of the cut and polish process!!!!

Step 3 – Correct the defects (the cut and polish)

So now you just buff the paint right? WRONG AGAIN!

Correcting paintwork is an art form requiring a lot of knowledge and patience. A detailer’s approach is made up of three parts;

MACHINE     –>     COMPOUND CHOICE            –>               PAD CHOICE

Rotary                    Meguiars or Menzerna?                     Lake country CCS or Hex?
Dual Action                Heavy Cut                                                       Yellow

                                  Medium Cut                                                      Orange
Light Cut                                                         White
Finishing Polish                                                    Black

This is a tiny fraction of the options available, there are many more brands than Meguiars or Menzerna, many more grades of compound/polish and hundreds of pad companies/structures out there. Each and every single combination will have different attributes and results. Then it is a matter of trial and error (with a certain approach) to find the best results, this might take 1 combination or even 4 or 5 combinations one after another.

When correcting paint we are REMOVING clear coat, now clear coat is a protective layer over your base paint so we obviously don’t want to remove too much. (real) Detailers will live by the motto “Least aggressive first” – this means finding a combination to remove as little clear coat as possible to fix the defects and no more. Of course, we could just blast your car with the strongest cut and polish it up to make it look pretty but this would leave you with less clear coat (and therefore less protection) than we need to. Thus increasing the risk of clear-coat failure and the need for an expensive respray (see below)

So now we’ve done our correction…. (we aren’t even going to go into the actual buffing/polishing techniques that should be used e.g. not edging, wiping down with IPA, working the polish correctly etc)

It’s time for Step 3 – Protect the paint.

Now that we have removed clear coat it’s time to add some protection back on. Many “detailers” (and I put this in “ as a lot of people who have worked at a car wash like to call themselves detailers, trust me… I read the resumes!) will just slap a coat of cheap wax (we will be discussing different waxes soon)  on and hand the car back. This will look good for a short amount of time but often the wax will evaporate and leave the paint unprotected.

The key to longer lasting protection is to add a sealant before the wax, these are formulated to bond with the paint and offer longer lasting protection (6 months+) from UV rays, bird droppings etc.
The real detailer will then follow that (after letting it cure) with a quality wax to add the depth and gloss to the paint, they may even add numerous coats after curing.

Does this sound like a long process? IT IS! It’s very hard to do a proper cut and polish in less than 8 hours unless you get very lucky with nice paint to work with and not too serious defects. If you ran a company would it be viable to do that for $200 (AND do the interior as well? –  in 4 hours?!), I think you can agree it definitely isn’t……

In this industry, you definitely get what you pay for.

“If you think it’s expensive to hire a professional to do the job. Wait until you hire an amateur”
– Red Adair
An Insight into Paint Protection – Car Detailing’s biggest talking point.Two Reasons Why Your Sponge Could Be Costing You THOUSANDS of Dollars

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Latest Post
Most Commented
Text Widget
Primus elit lectus at felis malesuada node ultricies forte uno ligula sande. Porta an urna vestibulum commodo convallis laoreet enim.

Cut and Polish Quick Quote

Headlight Repair & Restoration
Quick Quote

Window Tinting Brisbane Quick Quote

Pet Hair Removal Book Now!

Fleet Detailing Quick Quote

4WD Services Book Now

General Detailing Enquiry

Service Area Free Quote


Swirl marks are microscopic scratches in the surface of paint that show up like cobwebs in bright light. They are caused by incorrecting washing and drying where dirt particles in the sponge and chamois leave microscopic scratches in the clear coat.

Solution – Single stage correction package will remove approximately 60-70% of swirl marks, dual stage 70-85% and triple stage 85-95%.


Lack of Colour depth is where the colour has faded but isn’t classed as oxidised, typical on one stage paints that don’t have a clear coat.

Solution – Single stage correction will improve colour depth however dual stage correction is recommended if you want to remove swirls at same time.


Finger nails, rings and car keys scratch the paint around the door handle and leave unsightly marks.

Solution – Spot machine polishing, although these scratches are usually too deep for 100% correction our spot correction can make these marks almost invisible. Great add for people trying to sell their car. Price $ 20 per panel when added to a detail or $75 call out fee + per panel.


Ghosting refers to the outline or visible stencil left on the paint after stickers/decals are removed. It is the contrast between the fresh paint that was protected under the vinyl sticker and the exposed paint that has faded and appears dull in comparison.

Solution – Spot dual stage machine polishing is the most affordable solution, $45 per panel and $75 call out fee. Depending on the colour of your car spot polishing may not be advised. The polished area will vastly contrast the unpolished paint. Lighter coloured cars can get away with single stage polishing at $20 per panel. Full dual stage paint correctionis recommended on darker coloured cars with these defects.


Oxidised paint is where the paint appears chalky and dull, it’s caused by breakdown of the paint from exposure to sun,water and oxygen. More common on single stage paints and white, red, and black cars.

Solution – Single stage correction can be effective on white or lighter coloured cars with light oxidation. On heavily oxidised cars, dual stage correction is highly recommended. Spot polishing is not applicable and only full correction packages should be considered.


Caused by vegetation and scrub rubbing against sides of the vehicle that leaves visible scuffs. These marks range from swallow to quite deep scratches.

Solution – Dual stage polishing is recommended as the first stage orbital polishing is better suited at resurfacing the affected areas with its more effective cutting action. The second stage of polishing restores gloss and further rounds off the deeper scratches.


Bird droppings are very acidic and start eating into your paint the moment it hits, heat and dry weather will amplify the reaction, it’s important to clean any droppings off as soon as you see them. If you still see a ghosting outline after washing you have an etching mark where its has eaten slightly into your paint. If the mark looks like the one in the picture sourced from meguiars online you only have light etching and this can be corrected with machine polishing.

Solution – Spot dual stage machine polishing is the most affordable solution, $45 per panel and $75 call out fee. Depending on the colour of your car spot polishing may not be advised. The polished area will vastly contrast the unpolished paint. Full Dual stage paint correction is recommended on darker coloured cars with these defects.


Paint transfer is occurs when a car panel comes into contact with another painted object with force and leaves a layer of paint behind. Common paint transfers are yellow paint marks left from bollards or garage door frames. The actual paint transfer can be polished off with great success, however there are usually a few deeper scratches that are left behind. The polishing stage will reduce the appearance of these scratches but if you can see the undercoat on your car, it’s time for respray.

Solution – Spot dual stage machine polishing is the most affordable solution, $45 per panel and $75 call out fee. Depending on the colour of your car spot polishing may not be advised. The polished area will vastly contrast the unpolished paint. Full Dual stage paint correction is recommended on darker coloured cars with these defects.


Bird droppings that have been left too long can eat all the way through the clear coat. If the mark is crazed, or cracking as shown in the pictures this is unfortunately clear coat failure and can only be fully repaired by repainting. The clear coat has been penetrated and no amount of polishing will remove all traces of the defect.

Light crazing and cracking can be vastly improved and is much more cost effective than painting, many customers still opt for an improvement by our Dual Stage spot paint correction. Although we can not guarantee restoration we can make the marks less visable for a fraction of the cost of repainting. Is a popular option for clients trying to improve their cars for sale.


Random deeper scratches are very common and depending on the depth will determine if they can be polished out. The general rule of thumb gives you an instant idea if the scratch is correctable. Run your thumb nail over the scratch and if a indentation is felt then generally the scratch is too deep to successfully correct by polishing. Normal wear and tear will see your car pick up a few deeper scratches over time. If the scratch is a different colour and you can see bare metal or primer, only repainting is your option. Where deeper scratches have not penetrated all the way through the clear coat you have more options.

A popular choice is to get the area polished to reduce the appearance of the marks first and then determine if you can live with the result. Alternately if chasing 100% correction respraying is your next option, remember that respraying just one door panel can cost $350-600. Dual or even triple stage paint correction package may give you a great outcome and permanently reduce appearance of those scratches without the expense of repainting your car.


There are actually three types of water spots but we will only focus on two of the most popular. The first is mineral deposits that sit on top of your paint and is usually a combination of magnesium and calcium. These minerals are soluble in your town water and when the water evaporates from the surface the minerals are left behind causing unsightly water spotting. This type of water spot can be removed with specific chemicals and light polishing.

See our single and dual stage paint correction packages to restore these spots. The other type of water spotting is where the same minerals have been left on the paint for some time and has started to eat into the paint. This causes deep etching and proves very difficult to remove. Due to the excessive time involved to polishing out these defects we do not offer this service in a mobile sense as it takes more than one days labour. Keep posted for our workshop location at the end of the year.


If there is paint missing and the scratches show the undercoat or even the base metal then repainting is your only option.


Clear coat failure is caused by long term exposure to the elements. This comes in the form of bubbling, blistering and peeling. Nothing can be done to fix this apart from repainting. See your local body shop for a quote.


Throwing eggs may seem harmless but cause irreversible damage to car paintwork. The small hard shell fragments cut into the paint at the point of impact and can only be fixed from repainting. A premium quality paint protection like our Modesta Liquid Glass has been know to prevent damage in some circumstances.


It makes my blood boil when I see senseless vandalism. If your car is keyed unfortunately respraying those panels is your only solution.