How To Use Rubbing Compound Correctly!

A lot of people wonder how to use rubbing compound on their projects. We’re going to give you some quality and helpful advice to utilizing rubbing compound correctly.

Rubbing compound can be applied in a few ways. The correct way to use it though is to buff it into the surface you are working on and remove it, it’s very similar to applying wax to your vehicle.

Applying rubbing compound yields excellent results and if you are not using one, you probably should. This is why…

Compound Makes Surfaces Like New!

If you are trying to achieve a showroom shine from a fresh paint job or even an older one, rubbing compound will always be needed.

Rubbing compound is very similar to wax in a lot of ways. The way it’s applied and that extra showroom shine all come from compound, polish and wax.

The compound specifically restores paint and removes scratches though.

Some paints hide scratches and other contaminates easier than others but just look at a black car. It’s much easier to see swirls and scratches in black than other colors. Long story short, rubbing compound is going to remove those scratches/swirls.

By applying it correctly and using it correctly, this will actually restore paint making it look like new again. However that being said there is a couple of nice ways to utilize your rubbing compound.

How To Use Rubbing Compound – Applications!

Applying your rubbing compound can be done in all sorts of different ways. The best results are done through a Dual Action Polisher, Orbital Buffer, and then finally by hand. Let’s take a peak on how to use rubbing compound correctly with these 3 different methods.

By Hand:

Applying rubbing compound by hand is the hardest, but it is the most forgiving and safe method. Rubbing compound is essentially incredibly high grit sand paper. What you are doing is heating up the surface and essentially “sanding out” the imperfects leaving a flat and even surface.

Take a scratch as an example, you get a light surface scratch that is driving you crazy. Using the rubbing compound, you can actually remove those small non deep blemishes. Additionally the rubbing compound will also bring back like new paint look.

Rubbing compound can be applied by hand using a microfiber towel and a ton of elbow grease.

Just like wax you are going to “wax on, wax off”. Applying a pretty good amount of pressure in a circular motion, apply some compound to your towel and buff it in using a clockwise rotational movement.

As the compound starts to smooth out and starts to dry out, remove the excess residue using another clean microfiber towel.

NEVER let the rubbing compound dry and always do this in a well shaded area. Dried compound can and will be significantly harder to remove the longer and hotter it sits.

Also make sure the towel you are using also is slightly moistened as well for good lubrication!

By Orbital Buffer!

The orbital buffer moves in one direction and is commonly used with a wool pad. This will get you great results and its pretty close to the same thing as applying it with a towel. Only this time the machine is doing the movements for you and you are just “guiding” it.

Keep your machine at a low-medium setting, moisten your pad, apply about a dime sized drop of compound to it and get ready to buff! 3 dime sized drops should be enough to work in a 5×5 inch area. You want to keep your work areas small and consistent.

This ensures each part of your panel gets a quality compound treatment so you don’t have old/new looking spots.

With compound and pad moistened, apply the orbital buffer to the panel and keep moving. Don’t move incredibly fast but don’t move slow either. Move a steady consistent pace and just guide the orbital buffer around.

As you see the color and scratches start to lift, make sure you wipe away excess residue and keep the panel clean. Remember do not let the compound dry out. It may take multiple passes to get the like new finish you desire, but keep at it!

As always keep your panel cool and moisturized as well, the problem with orbital buffers is that they can burn your paint if sticking in one area for too long.

By Dual Action Polisher! how to use rubbing compound

The dual action polisher hands down gives you the best color clarity, streak removing, and scratch removing experience. A DA polisher is also much safer than a traditional buffer because of heat purposes.

The dual action spins and jitters around at the same time reducing the amount of heat and significantly reduces your chances of burning your paint.

Your application process is the exact same as the orbital buffer only this time it will probably be a foam pad.

Dual action polishers help with getting those awkward angles and such without the risk of burning your paint. Start on a low-medium setting again, prep your pad using a spray or light misted water, and get going again.

With the dual action polisher though  you can spend a little more time in each area. Move consistently but a little slower and allow the polisher to do the work for you. Make sure you utilize an actual compound pad and not a polisher/finishing pad.

Buff the compound in and come back through with a towel once again to remove the excess residue.

Final Notes!

You should no longer be wondering how to use rubbing compound. It’s a super simple product but it just takes some time to adjust to. Rubbing compound isn’t just used for automotive though. Rubbing compound can be used on a ton of different metals.

Never go cheap on rubbing compound, big companies like 3M, Meguires, and Chemical Guy’s all specialize in that industry and you should use their standards of detailing products. The differences really are noticeable and will change your life!

Keep detailing out there guys and gals and don’t forget to check out our guide to making a vehicle look like new!