It’s overwhelming looking at the sheer number of buffing pads on the market. Most people are not able combine the buffing pad of their choice with the ideal buffing product. You may end up disappointed when you get more swirls instead of a flawless finish after spending considerable time on your car.
If you are a detailer, restoring the luster of your customer’s car is serious business. And if you are not well-acquainted with buffing pads, unhappy customers won’t give you a second chance. Now, with this best buffing pad guide, we aim to enlighten you on all things buffing pads. What to look for, types, and even how to clean buffing pads.
- Features to Consider in Good Buffing Pads
- Top 10 Best Buffing Pads 2023
- 1. Best Hand Polishing Pad: Viking Car Care Applicator Pads
- 2. Best Premium Buffing Pads: TCP Global Ultimate Buffing and Polishing Kit
- 3. Chemical Guys BUFX _102_HEX5 Medium-Heavy Cutting Pad- DIY Cutting Pad
- 4. Petutu Car Foam Drill Polishing Pad Kit
- 5. Best 5.5-Inch Buffing Pads: Chemical Guys BUF_HEX_Kits_8P (8-Kit)
- 6. Best Budget Wool Finishing Pad: Anytime Tools Soft Wool Bonnet and Pad
- 7. Best Lambs Wool Polishing Pad: PORTER-CABLE 18007 6-Inch Polishing Pad
- 8. Best Foam Finishing Pads: Griot’s Garage 10527 Red Wax Pads
- 9. Best for Meguair’s DA Power System: Meguiar’’s DA Polishing Power Pads G3508
- 10. Griot’s Garage 10426 FAST Finishing Pad
- Guide to Buying the Best Buffing Pads
- Bottom Line
Features to Consider in Good Buffing Pads
Polishing pads are made from three materials. That is foam, microfiber, or wool. Whichever material used on a buffing pad; it should be designed to be flexible. Flexibility not only helps to prevent uneven contact to the surface. But it also helps keep the pad in proper working condition.
A good buffing pad absorbs spent polish. It should allow ample airflow for the purpose. A porous surface holds the product and minimizes wastage.
You’ll want to invest in a buffing pad that has just the right adhesion to the backing material. This will minimize the chances of it coming off in the middle of a job.
Another often overlooked quality of a polishing pad is the color. It is important that you are able to distinguish the colors. It helps in knowing what type of pad the manufacturer destines for a particular job.
Types of Buffing Pads for Cars
Detailing pads are in three types regarding the material. That is foam, microfiber, and wool. But it’s not that simple. Every major classification branches out into other categories based on the aggressiveness of the pad.
Foam detailing pads are in three categories according to their firmness. They are graded in pores per square inch (PPI). The higher the PPI, the softer the pad. Foam pads range in PPI from 40-100. Large cells indicate that it has fewer cells. It is coarse while a large number of cells signifies small cells.
Some foam pads are designed using hex-logic construction. It is a honeycomb structure that claims to reduce friction and heat. However, most detailers can’t tell the cooling difference between regular foam and hex-logic pads.
Manufacturers also color their foam pads by the level of aggressiveness. It is a thoughtful method of helping detailers figure out the type of aggressiveness they need by picking a color.
The three foam pad categories include compounding, polishing, and finishing pads.
Compounding pads are the most aggressive. They are used to remove defects in the first stage of detailing. Usually, with an equally aggressive cutting compound.
Polishing foam pads are for the second stage of detailing. They are softer than compounding foam pads. These pads are used with a cutting compound that has a low level of aggressiveness.
The finishing foam pad is the softest of the three. It is used with a sealant or cleaner wax with the lowest aggressiveness or none at all. It polishes at the last stage leaving a flawless finish and a desirable shine.
These are common with rotary polishers. Made of yarn with different aggressiveness, wool pads are in two categories. We have cutting pads and polishing/finishing pads. Cutting wool pads are similar to compounding pads in that they are very aggressive. Finishing wool pads are soft, but not as soft as foam finishing pads. As such, you may still need to go over the last stage of detailing with a foam finishing pad even after using a wool polishing pad.
The newest entry in the detailing world is microfiber pads. They are also similar to wool in that they come in two categories, and are as aggressive as wool. Cutting microfiber pads are the most aggressive. They are used to remove much of the paint without worrying about finishing. They can still leave a good level of glow.
Finishing microfiber pads polish are like wool finishing pads. There’s still need to use a foam finishing pad to complete a detailing job.
Top 10 Best Buffing Pads 2023
1. Best Hand Polishing Pad: Viking Car Care Applicator Pads
Buffs Interior and Exterior
Viking Car Care Applicator pads can polish in and outside your car. They come in a soft microfiber material ideal for finishing. This means they are not ideal for strong polishing or removing deep defects. They come in handy if you want to apply the finishing coat using your favorite wax. Or, complete a polishing job on the dashboard or car seats.
Fast and Easy to Use
With a 5-inch diameter, you can work fast on small sections. It is easy to get a grip and rotate the pad at the ideal speed for removing small blemishes. They are not designed to be used with a polisher. It indicates they are nice for isolated scratches. Their microfiber material helps in even distribution of polish.
While many pads are not machine-washable, Viking Car Care makes it easy. These ones can be thrown into the washer and reused as many times as you want. You don’t have to worry about Velcro coming apart since they do have any. And, you get a pack of six so you get value for money.
Viking Car Care Applicator Pads offer a simple way to get a sleek, clean finish. They are durable, affordable, and offer value for the price in the long run. Made of soft, microfiber, these buffing pads evenly distribute finishing products. However, you won’t be able to use them for deep defects as they don’t have the aggressiveness to cover such blemishes.
- Evenly distributes buffing product
- Comes in a pack of six
- Microfiber material offers consistency
- Polishes interior and exterior of a car
- Cannot be used with polishers
TCP Global Ultimate includes six, 8-inch buffing pads. They all vary in aggressiveness with each color defining the purpose of each pad. The wool pad is easy to identify since it is the most unique of the six pads. It is a coarse compounding pad for buffing heavily oxidized paint. It performs great with deep blemishes, hard top coats, and clear coats.
The blue, orange and red pads are all polishing pads. They range in aggressiveness from medium-coarse to coarse, and extra-coarse respectively. Finally, the fine pads for finishing which are black and green colored. They offer an ultra-smooth finish owing to their smooth construction.
Foam Material and Waffle Face
All foam pads boast a construction from open-cell foam. The structure promotes durability since it distributes heat efficiently. The waffle design helps to hold the product. It reduces wastage and helps to maintain the aggressiveness of the pad following the buffing product.
Also, it maintains proper contact with the surface. It delivers the desired action especially because these are 8-inch buffing pads. You wouldn’t want them creating swirls in all the wrong places.
TCP Global Ultimate Buffing Pads are the epitome of quality. Although they have a high price tag, most people agree they are worth more than the price. They perform as stipulated, offering consistency and superior results.
- Features six pads of different grit
- Includes a grip mount backing plate
- Achieves professional results
- Can be washed and reused multiple times
- Can buff every surface of a car
- Quality of the wool pad could be better
Chemical Guys BUFX _102_HEX5 is a medium-heavy buffing pad. With an aggressive cutting compound, it removes swirls, scratches, and most surface defects. And, when used with a medium-low cut compound, it can be used to polish at the second stage.
This buffing pad is a DIYer’s desire when seeking the correction of a pad that is not too aggressive. Yet it can remove defects without causing any damage to the surface.
Chemical Guys BUFX _102_HEX5 helps to hold product and distribute pressure evenly. It can be used to polish curved surfaces. This is because it is super flexible. You won’t risk removing paint on areas that you are not working on.
It also guarantees an accurate finish since only the right amount of product moves along the grooves.
The unique hex-logic design is important in reducing friction. It allows movement of air as you spin the rotary hence reducing the amount of heat it produces. The result is a cooler surface. It protects the surface and also the pad from disintegrating prematurely.
Speaking of premature disintegrating, this pad also features a super durable backing plate. It uses Poly-Urethane-Reactive Bonding (PUR+) which is resistant to heat. It is also why you can wash and reuse this pad in the same great condition as new for a long time.
Chemical Guys BUFX _102_HEX5 is not your typical cutting buffing pad. It is easy to mix and match products according to the type of blemish you are dealing with. As such, it is versatile and flexible since it deals with moderate to deep scratches. It all depends on the buffing product. But I wouldn’t depend on it for finishing.
- High-density improves longevity
- 5 inches diameter covers large surfaces
- Washable for reusing
- Hex-logic design evenly distributes pressure and product
- Cannot be for super-heavy detailing
If you need a versatile polishing kit, then this is for you. These pads can be used with a pneumatic or electric polishing machine.
With this kit you can carry out all kinds of car detail polishing, painting and waxing. You can also use these pads for seal glazing. If you apply product or wax your car using these pads, you’ll notice a significant improvement in the paint’s lightness.
The small size of the polishing pads means you can easily clean those small areas of your car—like headlights—effectively.
You can also use these polishing pads to remove even the most difficult car oxidation coating and stubborn scratches.
These polishing pads are made using a combination of prime quality wool, sponge and foam. Thanks to this material, they’re easy to bend for increased cleaning flexibility.
The pads are available in different colors and each color provides a different softness. This means you can pick the sponge you want depending on the type of surface you want to clean; be it rough or smooth.
Make sure you clean these polishers immediately after use and dry them in a cool place.
What we don’t like
The Velcro tends to detach from the disc which makes its durability questionable. And though the colors represent varying softness levels, there’s no clear label indicating which color is best for which purpose or surface.
- Can be used in tight spaces
- No clear labels regarding usage
- Quality of Velcro questionable
5. Best 5.5-Inch Buffing Pads: Chemical Guys BUF_HEX_Kits_8P (8-Kit)
Superior results don’t come easy. But with a premium design, Chemical Guys BUF_HEX_Kits_8P delivers a glossy shine. The honeycomb face allows product to move evenly. Not to mention conforming to the surface. This feature allows working on round and angled surfaces.
These pads are extremely easy to maneuver. You get to use the correct amount of polish, sealant, or wax. The design helps to keep the pads lubricated and maintain contact with the surface. As such, you don’t risk removing pain unevenly.
This kit comes with seven buffing pads and a citrus pad cleaner in a 16-ounce bottle. The pads including heavy cutting (yellow) and heavy polishing (green). There’s also a swirl and scratch remover (orange), and polishing pad in white. For light polishing, the blue is your pick. And finishing with black and ultra-fine finishing (red).
All these pads cover just about every aspect of getting the luster back to your car. Most people attest to their ease of use since they can work with all buffers and polishers. We are talking dual action polishers as well as hook and loop backing plates.
Most people compromise between polishing power and surface size. A 5,5-inch pad is the sweet spot in polishing. These pads have powerful polishing action and cover a large surface area. You won’t be making any compromises since even the height is standard for buffing pads.
Chemical Guys BUF_HEX_Kits_8P are easy to use. They deliver maximum results while providing versatility and durability. These pads offer a chance at quality performance. From the first heavy cutting stage to ultra-fine finishing. DIY enthusiasts and professional detailers can rest easy with Chemical Guys.
- Comes with an every-stage polishing pad
- Uses a hook and loop interface
- Includes a pad cleaner
- Hex-logic design distributes product evenly on the pad
- An isolated complaint about consistency in quality
6. Best Budget Wool Finishing Pad: Anytime Tools Soft Wool Bonnet and Pad
Performs Light Work
Wool buffing pads are known for their aggressiveness. As for our Anytime Tools Models, the combination kit comes with two woolen pads and a woolen bonnet. They offer low-cut aggressiveness meaning they are used for light polishing and finishing. You can’t use them to get the best possible finish since the woolen fibers are a bit aggressive.
You will want to get a flawless finish with a foam pad.
These pads can be used on paint surfaces, gel coats, and even bare metal surfaces. In conjunction with a high-quality finishing product, it can create the most lustrous look achievable with a woolen pad.
Ready to Start Work
You get one backing pad with this kit. It has a standard 5/8” 11 TPI thread to be used with the same size spindle. You are ready to start work as soon as your package arrives. No need to look for spare backing plates to go with the pads.
With a flat face and woolen material, these bonnet and pads are your choice for a fast mirror-like finish. They are quite affordable seeing that you get a bonnet, pads, and a backing pad to start you off. Synthetic wool can last a considerable time and we trust that Anytime Tools can stand the test of time.
- Can polish without causing damage
- Lightweight and easy to use
- Velcro backing for easy swapping between pads
- Wide diameter for light work
- Not ideal for curved and round surfaces
7. Best Lambs Wool Polishing Pad: PORTER-CABLE 18007 6-Inch Polishing Pad
High-Quality Lambs Wool
This 6-inch in diameter PORTER-CABLE 18007 pad can work on a variety of surfaces. It is the least aggressive in the classification of wool pads; hence it can produce a glossy finish. Because of its fast polishing quality, this pad generates less heat. It leaves the surface cooler.
With this pad, you can count on it to remove a considerable level of oxidation. Also, you will like that it conforms to the surface. Although it has a flat face, it can polish round surfaces without leaving haze marks.
Hook and Loop System
PORTER-CABLE 18007 is designed to go with a wide variety of random orbit sanders. They have to accommodate hook and loop backing pads which are typical of most sanders. The pad is ready for use out of the box. With its wide 6-inch diameter, this pad is a nice addition to any polishing kit. It can polish wide surfaces thus saving time.
PORTER-CABLE 18007 is a top of the line when it comes to quality and efficiency. Its lambs wool construction and flexibility will get car ready to face the outdoors. However, there are some inconsistencies in quality as some models don’t last as long as they should.
- Washable and reusable
- Fits most sanders with hook and loop backing pad
- Conforms to car’s surface
- Finishes with fewer swirls than other wools
- Cannot be used with mixed and matched polishing products
8. Best Foam Finishing Pads: Griot’s Garage 10527 Red Wax Pads
Flawlessly Smooth Finishing
Griot’s Garage 10527 Red Wax Pads have no cut. They are perfect for removing light defects, fine swirls, and scratches on delicate paint surfaces. They apply the softest touch when applying sealant and waxes for the deepest, wet shine. They are capable of achieving the smoothest finish.
Griot is keen on the impact their pads have on any surface. Thanks to the reticulated foam surface, these pads can release heat efficiently. Thus, reducing heat buildup. The open-cell structure increases its efficiency in absorbing spent polish. The structure also comes in handy to improve the durability of the pad.
These pads have a chamfered edge. They increase stability and the surface area. You can cover a large surface in a short time. Better still, the flat face is crucial in producing consistent results. Whether on a random orbital or by hand, you will always get a satisfactory shine.
Micro-Hook and Loop System
Never waste time attaching and detaching your pad. Griot has made a higher-quality micro-hook and loop system. It gets your pad on and off your polisher effortlessly. With the help of thermoset bonding, these pads can be cleaned in the washer. The glue won’t delaminate when exposed to heat.
Griot’s Garage 10527 Red Wax Pads are premium-quality pads. They are designed to promote even application, consistent results, and durable performance. They apply a unique combination of features to give you a deep shine every time. All you have to do is apply proper care to receive the full benefits of these pads.
- Beveled, flat surface for even product distribution
- Can be used by hand or random orbital polishers
- Micro-hook and loop system for fast attaching and detaching
- Open-cell structure promotes durability
- Can use up lots of product
9. Best for Meguair’s DA Power System: Meguiar’’s DA Polishing Power Pads G3508
Mild Defect Removal
Meguiar’’s DA Polishing Power Pads G3508 will remove mild defects. We are talking light swirls and scratches. They are not aggressive hence you can depend on them to remove hazy marks. Their 4-inch diameter is perfect when you want to get lots of attacking power on a particular spot.
They don’t cover large areas. But with a DA Power System, these pads can help work on a car much faster than relying on some elbow grease. The small size is also crucial in reaching those tight spots. It is that good when you want to achieve specific results.
Smooth Foam Technology
The soft foam on these pads guarantees smooth buffing. The foam also helps to distribute product evenly while minimizing wastage. The foam covers even the edges such that you won’t scratch the wrong areas when attached to a polisher.
You’ll find that this pad is intricately patterned. This design helps to reduce heat accumulation. This way, it leaves the surface cool. This feature helps to maintain the pad’s Velcro so that it won’t come off before its time.
Meguair’s is a force to reckon with in the auto detailing world. These pads only prove that they make dependable products. The fine foam is perfect for smooth polishing since it is less aggressive. Its quality surpasses that of most foam pads. That’s why we feel it deserves a place on our list.
- Smooth surface for even product application
- Reduces heat accumulation
- Removes light swirls without leaving haze marks
- Easy to put wax on tight spots
- Some products have poor-quality Velcro
The combination of microfiber and foam couldn’t get any better. Griot’s Garage 10426 FAST Finishing Pad has microfiber and foam design. It is intended for use with a low or medium cut polish. This means it is good for swirls and light defects that do not require aggressive action power.
The pad’s foam’s interface is quick to provide consistent results. It conforms to your car’s surface which increases contact with the surface. The results are a uniformly polished surface each time. With the pad’s stout 10mm nap, it can remove defects much faster than most foam pads.
Griot’s Garage 10426 FAST Finishing Pad is complete with an open-cell foam design. It reduces heat which improves the pad’s longevity. The chamfered edge is effective at suspending liquid. It increases the time you spend polishing without the constant addition of product.
Griot also uses their thermoset bond which improves the durability of the glue. It prevents untimely delamination due to chemicals and heat. As such, you can expect decent longevity on its attachment system.
Griot’s Garage 10426 FAST Finishing Pad will make your polish pop. It is sophisticated. All thanks to the combination of microfiber and foam in its construction. It is the go-to pad for light finishing and maintaining a radiant paint job.
- Does not suffer from fiber matting
- It is machine-washable
- Open-cell foam increases durability
- It uses a premium loop attachment
- Suspends liquid better than some foam pads
- Customer support could be better
Guide to Buying the Best Buffing Pads
Car care should not be a frustrating experience. At least not with the right products. Buffing pads provide immense benefits to every car owner. All you have to do is know how to choose the right one. And combine it with the right buffing product.
The good thing is that they don’t cost an arm and a leg. But when used wrongly, your detailing repairs may cost much more than you are willing to pay. With this guide, you can now attune to the important considerations before buying a buffing pad.
Why Use a Buffing Pad?
You can polish your car using old-fashioned towels. But a buffing pad yields maximum results. A pad works in polish to your car efficiently. It removes defects, scratches, and other imperfections. It also reduces the time you spend polishing.
Buffing pads provide consistency. Unlike towels, they attach easily onto a polisher. Hence, they can work evenly on the desired surface.
Another advantage is that they do not use as much polish as towels. They can hold abrasives against a surface better. In the end, you use less polish. Since buffing pads have a standard thickness, you’ll never risk damaging the car’s surface.
Buffing pads not only keep a safe distance from the machine to the surface, but they also run cool. This feature allows them to protect the surface of the pad from damage.
How Buffing pads Work
Polishing pads hold the abrasives in polish paste at the pad’s surface. The abrasives stick to the surface turning the pad into fine sandpaper. In the polishing process, the polishing pad absorbs used oils from the polish since the pad is porous.
Since the polishing process creates friction, a buffing pad helps to move cool air to the surface. Hence, it reduces the risk of damaging the car’s surface and the pad itself.
How to Clean a Buffing Pad
A clean pad gives you consistency, even, smooth buffing, and a high-quality finish. We clean buffing pads according to the type.
To clean a foam pad during use, you’ll need to hold a thick microfiber towel against the polishing pad. Then, turn on the polisher at the lowest setting. Spin the pad against the towel and let it absorb spent polish. You can then use a nylon bristle toothbrush to remove the rest of the spent polish.
NEVER use a screwdriver or spur to clean a foam pad. These items destroy the foam pad immediately. Instead, you can use a padded brush if you don’t have a towel.
Also, you can use a pad washer. It is usually a special bucket containing a cleaning solution. You submerge the pad in the washer and then turn on the pad against the grate. The machine also has a mechanism to draw out excess liquid to dry pad.
After use, ensure you clean your pad when it’s still wet. You can soak the pad in a cleaning solution and then rinse it out. If it has a stain from using synthetic waxes, scrub the pad using a mineral spirit. After, use isopropyl alcohol to finish the cleaning.
Again, NEVER, soak foam pads in hot water or dry them in a clothes dryer. Heat is not a friend of buffing pads and too much of it will cause glue that joins the Velcro to the back to delaminate. Unless the manufacturer states it’s okay to machine-wash the foam pad.
Wool pads are the easiest to clean using a pad spur. It uses the same technique as that of cleaning a foam pad during use. All you have to do is hold the wool pad against the spur. Turn on the polisher to help dislodge spent polish from the pad.
You can also use the pad washer in a similar way as that of the foam pad.
After use, soaking the pad in a cleanser will perform the same cleaning trick.
Microfiber pads soak up spent polish fast. They need frequent cleaning than wool and foam pads. Their cleaning is like that of foam pads. You can use a microfiber towel and a nylon bristle brush but never a spur, a screwdriver, or a countertop edge.
Still, it should NEVER be soaked in hot water.
All pads should be kept completely dry after use. This procedure keeps them in good shape. It also helps to prevent them from peeling prematurely from the Velcro.
Other Considerations When Buying a Buffing Pad
Although all polishing pads are circular, you’ll find that they have different shapes. Honeycomb faces reduce heat by the distribution of air. There are also waffle-faced pads. These are ideal for reaching into a car’s body lines. And finally, flat pads that perform finishing for a glossy effect.
Buffing pad size affects detailing. They range in size from 3 inches to 8 inches. You’ll want to consider whether your choice fits your platform. There are dual-action and rotary machines that accept various size buffing pads. That is with the help of interchangeable backing plates. Always go with the largest buffing pad that will fit your buffer.
Large polishing pads have a wide diameter. They, in turn, absorb a high level of orbital movement. It creates a bit of a drag which in turn helps to a cover a large area. But the polishing action reduces.
Small thin pads are for deep polishing. They cover a small area with high polishing power. Hence, they do better at compounding small areas at a time.
Every buffing pad works with its corresponding buffing compound. That’s why manufacturers match the color of the buffing pad to the color of the buffing product’s cap. Paints are not built the same. You should aim to understand what each buffing pad does when combined with the polish you choose.
Buffing pads are the most efficient way of removing defects and applying polish to your car. They are much easier to use than towels and reduce the time it takes to achieve a rich, glossy finish. As long as you know what each buffing pad does, you are clear to start polishing away all eye-sore defects.