What Is Paint Correction?

I thought that before I start blogging about the individual cars that I’ve worked on, it was probably beneficial to not assume that everyone understands what paint correction actually is.

While some may understand that the end result of paint correction is a shiny car, it’s how we get there that I want to briefly touch on.

To understand paint correction, you must first understand the different layers of paint on a car.

Paint on a modern car is generally made up of three different layers on top of the metal, or substrate, as it’s commonly referred to. The first coat is called primer and is designed to create a sticky surface for the basecoat to stick to. The primer and basecoat are often of a similar thickness and the final clearcoat is the thickest coat that creates the rich shine that you see on a newly painted car. The main difference between modern and classic cars is that the colour and clear coat are effectively one on the latter.

Clearcoat paint serves several purposes. As well as creating gloss, it contains ultraviolet (U.V) inhibitors that protect the basecoat from fading. It also creates a sacrificial layer that can be corrected several times without affecting the base colour coat.

There are many defects that that you see in paint, but most are either swirls that are more apparent in bright sunny days, or scratches which are apparent most of the time. Swirls are caused by improperly washing the car when little bits of dirt and grit are rubbed into the paint when attempting to remove them, this is more common on cars that visit the £3 roadside car wash where sponges or wash mitts are used over and over again and thrown into a single barrel of water which has, more than likely, been used on dozens of cars.

If you look at defected pain side on, you’d see varying depths of “V” shapes carved into the paint. Scratches and scuffs are usually deeper than swirls and when light hits the surface of the paint, it bounces around within the defects rather than reflecting off a nice flat surface giving that gloss appearance we all desire.
You see the process of correcting paint isn’t actually removing defects but removing clear coat until you reach the bottom of a defect.

So, gloss is created by flattening (paint correcting) the paint so that there are no “V” shapes left on the surface for light to catch. Varying methods including wet sanding, compounding and polishing are used to achieve this.
Once corrected it’s important to protect the paint with either a carnauba wax, spray sealant or ceramic coating. Each have their own protection lengths but it’s unless you’re buying a £500+ wax, a properly applied ceramic coating is going to give you the longest protection.

So the next questions is "What level of correction do I need?"