the art of PAINT CORRECTION
Paint correction is a multistep machine polishing process that requires a lot of skill, experience, time, and patience. With the help of special compounds and polishes we are able to remove swirl marks and fine scratches from your vehicles painted surfaces revealing a flawless finish. Below are some examples of this.
In this photo we have an uncorrected finish. What you see are swirl marks and scratches from years of automatic car washes and improper washing technique.
This next picture shows a before and after. One side remains unpolished while the other side is a perfect finish. Clarity is completely restored making the color look deeper, glossier, and better than new.
After the car is finished the next step is to add a solid layer of protection whether it be a standalone sealant or a ceramic coating to protect and keep it looking new for years to come.
Why paint correction and ceramic coating is so important, is it costly?
You just bought yourself a new vehicle which given today’s pricing, was a major expenditure. Whether it is right off the showroom floor or pre-owned, you notice that it has swirl marks, light scratches, and other defects in the paint. You want all of this fixed because you are someone who desires perfection and you want to protect your newest asset. All of this can be accomplished without the need to absorb costly body shop repairs and new paint. Your existing paint can be repaired to perfection.
Where do you start? Most people jump on Google and start searching for local professional detail shops that offer machine polishing services to correct these defects. Once you select one that possesses the skill level to perform a quality paint correction, it simply comes down to a matter of price.
Many people will often question “is paint correction costly and what about ceramic coating protection? I heard it can be expensive.” The answer is this; the process to perform paint corrections and coatings is long and laborious, requiring the professional to pay the utmost attention to every contour and detail of your vehicle. The process requires patience, experience, and above all, skill. Correcting and coating is literally an art, requiring the right artist to paint your “Mona Lisa”.
The Process: Any professional detailer is going to take the proper steps to prep the vehicle before any machine polishing is done. This will often include a thorough, but safe, wash (two bucket method) to remove all dirt, brake dust, and grime from all of the vehicles exterior surfaces. Then the paint is clay barred to remove embedded contaminants that could not be removed during the wash process. After this is performed, and the vehicles exterior is completely dried of water, all of the exterior trim is taped up to prevent damage or staining from the compounds and polishes.
As you can see so far, there is a lot of work involved to just prep the vehicle. On average this takes about 3-4 hours. Once all of that is complete, machine polishing (correcting) can begin. The actual paint correction portion of the detail can take anywhere from 12-25 hours. The length of time will vary from one car to the next. It is entirely dependent upon the color of the vehicle and how much damage needs to be corrected to reveal a perfect finish.
After the paint correction is complete the vehicle can then be prepped, yet again, for the ceramic coating protection – this entails removing all the polishing oils from the surface of the vehicle. A ceramic coating adds more depth and gloss to your vehicles painted finish, while adding a layer of protection to keep the finish looking great for years to come. Professional ceramic coatings can only be purchased by a factory authorized and certified installer in your area. Ceramic coating tends to be expensive as the manufacturers have invested significant capital in developing, testing, and taking their product to production. The application/installation process is also lengthy – typically most ceramic coating brands will take about 4-6 hours to install with the addition of a 24-hour cure time before the vehicle can be delivered back to the client. The detailer must be very precise and experienced when handling ceramic coatings, paying close attention to remove excess product carefully so that high spots do not develop.
Now, when choosing a professional detailer you want to be looking for someone who has experience with paint correction. Look closely at their portfolio; do they have clear, high-resolution pictures and videos of before and after shots under intense LED lighting or in the sun? One of the most important things a detailer can do is show their work! Read reviews from other clients. Do they have high ratings from other people who have used their services? If they don’t have the proper tools or technique, they can and will, seriously damage your paint and you will end up paying even more money to fix their mistakes, which finally brings us to the price.
Pricing: It is not unusual to pay upwards of $500-$1000 for paint correction plus another $500-$1000 for ceramic coating. This is the industry standard for true professional detailing and high quality paint correction and ceramic coating.
If someone is offering paint correction way below this pricing, this is the proverbial “too good to be true” – “buyer beware.” As discussed, the amount of time, product, tools, and equipment it takes to produce a quality paint correction cannot be accomplished for this price. Remember, your car represents a significant investment and you should choose wisely when selecting a professional detailer to work on your vehicle – trust and reputation are the key to ensuring your vehicle will not be damaged in the process described above.
The most important thing you can do when choosing a detailer is to do your research. Inform yourself as best you can about the detailer and their products. Ask questions about their process and their product offering. If they mention all or more of the things discussed above and they don’t try to upsell you or make promises about the coating that simply are not true (like it lasts forever or it can’t be scratched), but instead give you package options so that you can decide what best fits your budget, then they are a quality professional detailer who you can trust. The customer should decide what is best for their investment once all options have been presented.