Detailer Lingo 101


If there is one thing we can say about detailing, itís that there is a lot of detailing jargon! Fisheye, orange peel, polymer oh my! Whether you are new to detailing, arenít up to date on the lingo or just need a quick refresher, it doesnít hurt to call back on popular detailing lingo.

ABRASIVE: No, in this case itís not when you come on too strong. In this instance, it is when natural silica or synthetic aluminum oxide are used in compounds/cleaners to abrade the paintís surface to remove imperfections.

ALL-IN-ONE: Also known as AIO or Cleaner Wax, does everything you want, it removes contamination, either abrades the surface or uses fillers to correct scratches and swirls, and leaves behind a layer of either synthetic or carnauba protection.

AMPs: Not the kind you plug your guitar into, but it still stands for amperage. This is used mostly when using polishers to see how much electricity is being consumed.

BODY SHOP SAFE: When a product is Body Shop Safe, it means that it does not contain any silicone or materials that can cause harmful effects on the paint, such as fisheyes. What are fisheyes? We will get to that!

COMPOUND / COMPOUNDING: A compound (and the act of compounding) is an abrasive product that is made to remove heavy surface contamination, as well as, deep scratches. Itís important to note that compounds have the potential to leave visible marring in the paint.

DRESSING: A dressing is a product that is applied to leather, vinyl, plastic and rubber in order to give it a glossy finish and protection.

FISHEYE: A fisheye is a paint finish imperfection that occurs when there is the presence of grease, oil or silicone on the surface during the paint drying process. These materials will prevent the paint from outgassing (releasing trapped gas), thus leaving a visible mark that resembles the eye of a fish behind. To avoid this issue, It is best not to use products that contain grease, oil, or silicones on a car that was recently painted/repainted.

GHOSTING: Is a term describing the mark that appears on your surface once decals are removed. Itís called ghosting because the area that was underneath the decal, is usually well preserved compared to the surrounding areas.

GLAZE: Provides a glossy finish, by either using extremely fine abrasives or diminishing abrasives. In order to leave a marring-free finish, they must use small abrasive, thus they are not able to remove more severe defects. Usually, they are body shop safe, which we learned above means they do not contain silicone.

HAZE: This happens when a wax or sealant dries on the surface and appears dull, milky or even cloudy.

HOOK AND LOOP: This is when a certain type of fabric can temporarily connect with another similar type of fabric, with the help of the hook and loop type surface they possess. Very similar to Velcro!

HYDROPHOBIC: When a product has hydrophobic properties, it means that there is so much surface tension that the water is not able to bond with the surface at all, leaving it only able to bond with itself. This often results in either the water running straight off the panel in sheets (water sheeting) or collecting in tiny little drops that will roll off easily (water beading)

INDUSTRIAL FALLOUT: Airborne pollutants that usually come from industrial areas, highways, or railroads. These contaminants end up embedding in the carís finish and gradually turn into specks on the paint. If left on the paint, they can eventually begin to corrode away the clear coat.

MSDS: AKA 'Material Safety Data Sheets'. This what keeps you safe by describing the hazardous ingredients in a product, as well as, safety measures, first aid and more.

ONE STEP: The name says it all, you can correct the paint, polish and protect in one step!

ORANGE PEEL: Nah, not the fruit. Itís actually when your paint looks like it has the texture of an orange peel. Simple as that!

OXIDATION: The elements rears its ugly head on your paint with oxidation! In this situation, chemical substances within your vehicle's finish, collect and bond with oxygen molecules causing the paint to become dull, dry and even faded.

PAINT ETCHING: This occurs when an acidic substance rests on the surface of a paint finish, digging into the the paint. Insect remains, if not taken care of quickly, have a habit of etching onto the pain.

POLISH/POLISHING: A polish is similar to a compound, the only difference being the level of abrasive. A polish is less abrasive, meaning that it is not able to remove heavier defects, but will also not leave behind as much visible marring in the paint.

PSI: This acronym stands for 'Pounds Per Square inch'. It is a measure of air and water pressure.

POLYMER: Time to go back to science class! A polymer is a natural or synthetic substance that has a molecular structure consisting chiefly or entirely of a large number of similar units bonded together. Bringing it back to detailing, it makes for durable waxes and polishes.

RPM: When using a polisher, RPM stands for 'Revolutions Per Minute', meaning the number of complete turns it makes in one minute.

SOLVENT: Taking you back to high school science, a solvent is a substance that dissolves or can dissolve another substance.

WATER BASED: This one is easy enough! This one is when a products primary ingredient is water.

WATER SPOTS: A water spot is caused by water being left of the surface of a car. The water itself will evaporate, but the minerals contained within it will not. These minerals will look like a small white spot on your car. If left to sit there, these spots can erode your clear coat, causing ďetchingĒ.

Those are just a few of the numerous terms and phrases used in the world of detailing We will keep adding more for you to learn!


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