Everything You Need to Know About Polishing Pads

One of the biggest areas of confusion for a detailer is the sheer variety of pads available. There are pads of different sizes, materials, colours, brands and purposes. If you are a new detailer or someone looking to start a new studio, choosing the right pad for the right purpose is a very difficult decision.

This article will help you understand polishing pads better and also guide you in buying better polishing pads.

There are three main factors to understanding polishing pads, which are:

  • Material of the pads
  • Best suitable pad for a respective application
  • Best-matched pads with machines

Material of Pads:

Pads come in three different materials: Wool, Foam and Microfiber. Each material differs in its cutting power, application and machine compatibility. Let’s understand this better.

1. Wool Pads


Wool Pads are one of the most popular pads. They are popular because of their cutting power and finishing. These pads are ideal for one-step or two-step processes and most ideal for cars having hard paint.

Wool pads come in a variety of blends. Some wool pads are made of pure wool, while others are blended pads. The blended pads are a mixture of wool and synthetic materials, depending on their purpose. One more category is duplicate wool pads, which look like wool but are made of cotton thread. These provide a very low cut and low finish and do more harm than good.

You can choose your preferred wool pads here at

2. Foam pads:​


As the name suggests, foam pads are made of foam. There are two different types of foam pads available, which As the name suggests, foam pads are made of foam. There are two different types of foam pads available, which are:

Reticulated foam pad: for DA machines

Non-reticulated foam pad: for Rotary machines

Foam pads are very popular pads. Depending upon their hardness, these pads are available for cutting, polishing and finishing.

3. Microfiber Pads


As the name suggests, microfiber pads are made using microfiber cloths. These pads are the most aggressive pads and are only to be used on hard paints. However, they are not very popular within the detailing community may be due to their tendency to load up with residue quickly.

Best suitable pads for the respective application

Different pads are used for different purposes and to remove different defects in cars. To get the ultimate shine on the car, you need to use the right pads for each application. In general, there are different applications:

Compounding: heavy defect removal

Polishing: light defect removal

Finishing: Shine and gloss

Wax and sealant application

Each pad has been made for a respective application.

When to use wool pads

Wool pads come in coarse and medium cutting powers. Wool pads give the top-notch cutting and finish. For aggressive compounding, when you want a better finish, or when you have not done sanding, and you want better cutting and finish, wool pads are a perfect choice.

When to use foam pads?

Foam pads are popular for their hardness. The different hardness will decide whether the pad will be used for cutting, polishing, finishing, or waxing. So, the harder the pad, the more cut it gives. Softer pads are used for polishing and finishing.

When to use microfiber pads?

Microfiber pads are only used for compounding purposes and only on hard clear coats using random orbital machines.

Best matched pads with machines?

The size and type of pad will depend upon your polishing machine.

Type of machine

If you are looking for a wool pad, there are special pads available for rotary and dual-action respectively. In simpler terms, if you are applying wool on a rotary machine, use wool pads that are designed for rotary. Remember, both pads are not interchangeable.

Similarly, foam pads are also different for DA machines and rotary machines. For DA, one should always use reticulated foam pads, and for rotary machines- non-reticulated foam pads.

However, when it comes to microfiber pads, they are used only on DA machines. Microfiber pads should not be used on rotary machines due to their extremely high cutting power.


All these pads come in different sizes like 5”, 6”, and some even in 3”. Depending upon your machine compatibility, you should choose the right size of the pad. Larger pads are ideal for straight areas like bonnets as they make work quicker. Smaller pads are required to compound and polish corners and such areas.

What about the different colours of pads?

The pads differ from brand to brand. Every company designs the pads in different colours. For example, white pads in the Rupes system are Ultrafine pads used for finishing, whereas white pads in Scholl Concepts are Heavy/Coarse pads used for compounding. So, do not focus on the colour of the pad. Now that you know how to differentiate between pads, read the product descriptions well and understand the pad’s basis

  • Material
  • Hardness
  • Cutting power, i.e. application
  • Machine Compatibility

For beginners, we recommend that you stay limited in your pad choice and stay within a company’s system before exploring multiple pads from different vendors.

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