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Types of Buffing Pads for Cars & How To Choose The Right One

Types of Buffing Pads for Cars & How To Choose The Right One

Car enthusiasts need to get themselves familiar with buffing pads sooner or later, particularly when they want to retain the luster of their vehicles.

Buffing refers to the process through which you can smoothen the exterior surface of your cars, using a cloth wheel. For eliminating light scratches and oxidation, buffing happens to be one of the most effective processes. This way, you can retain the sheen and elegance of your vehicle.

Now, you will run into several colors when you explore wool pads, foam pads, and microfiber pads. Each of these pads, along with the respective colors, has some specific use.

So, let’s check the utility and function of each of these buffing pads, that can ease up your decision-making.

What are buffing pads?

Buffing pads are circular pads with a soft texture that you can use manually. However, you can also use them along with a machine polisher. You can use these buffing pads to apply sealant or wax to the outer finish of your vehicle. This way, it helps you retain the shiny and smooth look of the car.

Mostly, buffing pads come in foam. However, these are also available in wool or microfiber, or a combination of these materials. One can choose buffing pads from a wide range of shapes and sizes, depending on the purpose of the use. The circular pads, flat in nature, are the most common.

Types of Buffing Pads for Cars

Buffing pads come in three main categories: wool, foam, and microfiber. However, you will come across some categories within these classifications.

The level of aggressiveness, cut, or correction depends on the sub-category you choose. With the aggressive pads, you can remove defects or paint much faster.

However, they do not give a smooth finish. On the other hand, pads that are less aggressive are slow in removing paint. However, you would get a smoother finish with these pads.

So, it makes sense to remove the harshest defects at the outset using the aggressive pads. Later, you can obtain a nice finish using a less aggressive one. We have analyzed the utility of each broad category of buffing pads in detail.

1. Foam pads

Foam pads are not too aggressive. You can use them for finishing, polishing, and cutting. With a dense foam pad, you can accomplish cutting jobs seamlessly.

However, if you want to remove light scratches, or polish and wax car surfaces, you need a lighter applicator made of foam. These pads are available in different colors. To ensure that your car looks the best, get high-quality foam pads.

The three broad categories of foam pads are finish, polish, and compound. Besides, certain manufacturers have come up with more categories beyond these three to ensure better accuracy.

  • Compounding pads: Compounding pads are aggressive, and you can use them with a cutting compound offering a high degree of aggressiveness or cut. In most cases, people use compounding pads in their first step to removing defects on the surface.
  • Polishing pads: Generally, you need to use a polishing pad with a compound offering a lower grade of aggressiveness. Polishing pads find extensive use in the second step when you eliminate surface defects.
  • Finishing pads: Finishing pads find their application in the last step of the polishing process. car owners can use these pads along with a sealant or cleaner wax. These compounds offer zero or very little level of cut.

Based on your specific requirement, you have the liberty of mixing and matching different polishes and buffing pads.

2. Microfiber pads

Well, when you consider different types of buffing pads, microfiber pads are a relatively new entrant to the list. These pads come in two broad categories: polishing or finishing pads, and compounding or cutting pads.

For the manufacturers, there isn’t really any standard that differentiates a polishing pad from a cutting one. Besides, you will come across pads with different levels of thickness among the manufacturers.

While some manufacturers use a different microfiber, others combine both the materials. When you use these buffing pads, it would be wise to stick to one system rather than juggling different microfiber pads.

  • Microfiber pads for cutting: As the name suggests, you need to use these microfiber pads along with cutting compounds. Compared to other types of buffing pads, these are more aggressive. They can eliminate the exterior paint of your car much faster. However, they are not good at polishing or finishing.
  • Microfiber pads for finishing: Microfiber pads for finishing are less aggressive and can remove paint at a slower rate. You need to use these pads along with branded polishing compounds.

Compared to foam pads, microfiber pads are much more aggressive. Besides, the fibers serve as an abrasive agent. After using microfiber pads, many car owners use a foam buffing pad for finishing. This ensures that the polish on the surface remains flawless.

3. Wool pads

Primarily, wool pads find extensive use on rotary polishers. In case you need heavy correction, you need the ones for DA polishers. However, nowadays, car owners prefer microfiber pads to wool pads.

In terms of grading, wool pads are just like the microfiber ones. On the other hand, pads for finishing and polishing are gentle and less aggressive. Similar to foam pads, certain manufacturers have come up with pads that come between these two categories.

Wool pads fail to deliver a smooth finish on most surfaces. The fibers in these pads are abrasive in nature.

Therefore, car owners need to go for a foam finishing along with a proper polish. This eliminates the micro-marring that the wool fibers leave behind.

What are glass polishing pads?

Glass polishing pads are special pads that you can apply only with special polishes like cerium oxide. This helps in eliminating scratches from surfaces such as glass.

Each manufacturer has come up with specific ways to polish glass surfaces.

Therefore, experts recommend following the suitable system rather than trying out other variations. Make sure not to apply these pads on other materials. The reason is, glass pads are not so thick or safe for other surfaces.

What are the other types of foam pads?

We have mentioned flat foam pads earlier in this article. However, certain manufacturers have integrated specific features in foam pads for a better-personalized experience.

Therefore, you will come across some other types of foam pads. These pads come with textures that prevent heat from building up. The heat can dissipate through the high or low spots, or voids. Besides, each of these pads comes with specific features to address particular issues.

  • Waffle pads: You will come across a waffle pattern in waffle foam pads. When it comes to eliminating light swirl marks, towel marks, or light haze from the compounding, you should use waffle pads. They can seamlessly work with a good finishing polish. In the process, you get a swirl-free finish and high gloss on the paint surface of your car.
  • Hex pads: These foam pads derive their nomenclature from the hexagonal pattern. The raised patterns in these pads provide more aggression and are capable of removing scratches, swirls, or severe oxidation.
  • CCS pads: Collapsed cell structure (CCS) pads have the capacity to moderate the procedure in which you release a product on the surface of your car. Besides, the structure is such that it can collect excessive polish and retain the same until you need it. Therefore, it mitigates wastage of your products, but takes more time.

What type of buffing pad is best used in automotive finishes?

When it comes to obtaining proper finishes in your automobile, it would be logical to go for microfiber buffing pads. Although they are good for cutting and compounding, you can go for the softer variant that would be good for polishing.

Professional detailers recommend using microfiber pads for finishing over wool or foam pads. They can quickly help you accomplish your task, delivering an impressive sheen and gloss. Besides, the shine looks smoother when you use microfiber pads.

There are millions of individual fibers in each pad, which are very tiny.

These fibers are capable of delivering a better polish, enhancing the finishing of your car. Considering these benefits, professional detailers highly recommend microfiber pads to be the best choice.

Types of buffing pads based on colors

1. Yellow buffing pad

Yellow buffing pads are ideal for cutting and compounding. These are aggressive, which makes them a great pick for oxidizing finishes, cutting, eliminating severe oxidation, and heavy compounding.

Besides, you can remove extreme swirls and scratches from your car using these pas.

You need to use them on gel-coated surfaces or fiberglass, but not on automotive paints. After applying yellow pads, you need to follow up the process using white or orange pads to ensure a good finish.

2. Orange buffing pad

These are light-cutting pads. The foam is of high density, and it is also foam. Cars with moderate issues should go for orange buffing pads to remove low defects or light scratches.

Besides, you can use additional compounds with these pads to remove the marks. While fixing the damaged paints, orange pads can also polish the surface.

3. White buffing pad

The white pads for buffing are much softer and you would need them during the polishing stage. With this pad, you would need light compounds like cleaner wax products and micro-fine sealants. White pads are necessary to remove the hazes after you apply orange pads.

4. Green buffing pad

This is a foam that professionals consider to be a versatile product. It is capable of protecting the surface of the car as well as polishing it.

The green padding provides an impressive compression ratio that easily conforms to the contours. It also offers limited spot heating, so that it can remove swirls and scuffs. Ideally, it helps to balance polishing and finishing.

5. Black buffing pad

You should use the black buffing pad only with carnauba wax as it comes with a firm composition or tiny polishing properties. The design has no cut, which enables it to hold high pressure. This helps in applying thin layers of sealants, glaze, or wax products.

6. Blue buffing pad

When you apply a compound on light surfaces, you need a soft material. Blue buffing would be ideal for this purpose, that would go well with liquid waxes, sealants, polishing products, and glaze. During the final stage of correcting the paint, you need to apply blue buffing pads.

7. Red buffing pad

Red buffing pads are ultra-soft. These are ideal in case your car has sensitive paint coatings. You can combine the red pads with waxes and sealants.


The function of buffing pads is to absorb abrasives that become ultra-fine. The flexible design of the pads prevents them from damage when you apply pressure to the surface of the car.

Besides, the flexible nature of the pads brings a natural advantage when it comes to eliminating paints and stains.

Every car owner loves to see a damage-free and shiny surface. With the right choice of buffing pads, you can retain the elegance and sheen of your vehicle for long.