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Paint Finishing & Detail Shop

Pursuing the perfect finish with 3M

The Full Potential of Paint Finishing and Detailing in Collision Repair

Each time a vehicle rolls out of the shop, it’s a chance to showcase your dedication to auto finishing. You’ve worked to ensure the vehicle has been sanded, compounded and polished back to the way it was when it came in. But to your customer, it’s now somehow even better, more exciting – like it was when it was brand new. This is among most powerful endorsements you can deliver for your collision repair operation, and it represents the full potential of your paint finishing and detailing shop. To help you achieve a finish free of defects and swirls, 3M provides these standard operating procedures (SOPs) and technical tips. You’ll also find the well-known brands behind them, such as Trizact™ and Perfect-It™, to help your pursuit of the perfect finish in auto repair.

  • Paint Finishing and Detail Shop SOP icon

    Standard Operating Procedures for Paint Finishing & Detail Shop

    Here you will find simple yet detailed 3M standard operating procedures for some of the most important jobs in collision repair. Included are small area (denibbing) and full panel paint finishing, as well as procedures for finishing without compounding and final vehicle clean-up. 3M SOPs for paint finishing and detailing, including headlight restoration.

  • Paint Finishing and Detail Shop Tech Tips icon

    Technical Tips for Paint Finishing & Detail Shop

    Any auto detailing and finishing job can present challenges – problems like haze, fading, nibs, swirls and paint runs can make even the simplest processes and procedures much more time-consuming and costly. The answer: technical know-how. 3M tech tips for paint finishing and detailing can help ensure not just a consistently excellent finish, but also one that’s repeatable and efficient.


  • Important Note
    There are of course many factors and variables that can affect an individual repair, so the technician and repair facility need to evaluate each specific application and repair process, including relevant vehicle, part and OEM guidelines, and determine what is appropriate for that repair.

Featured 3M Standard Operating Procedures for Paint Finishing & Detail Shop


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Technical Tips for Paint Finishing & Detail Shop

At 3M, our technical staff shares your goals in paint finishing and detailing. Here are some tips for creating the ideal automotive finish every time, and for improving overall efficiency in the paint finishing and detail shop.

  • Preventing Haze and Loss of Gloss
    • Customer Challenge: Our shop is experiencing too many instances of dieback, where the finish appears hazy after compounding and polishing. What can we do?

      Technical Tip: Dieback following compounding and polishing is usually the result of sand scratches or swirls not being completely removed during each critical step. For example, if your scratch refinement process leaves 1500, 3000 or even 5000 grade sand scratches on the surface before compounding, the compound can fill in the scratches and cause hazing.

      To prevent this, it is a best practice to apply an inspection spray after each scratch refinement step as well as between the compounding and polishing steps. This will help highlight the remaining scratches and swirl marks that you otherwise may not notice. Also, be sure that you have adequate light – as close to actual daylight as possible – for the most accurate inspection of the compounded finish. A light source that replicates natural sunlight such as 3M™ Sun Gun™ II is a good option. Be sure to carefully inspect after each step, including compounding, polishing and ultrafine polishing. If you find remaining scratches or swirls, continue compounding or polishing until they have been completely removed.

  • Effective Swirl Removal
    • Customer Challenge: In our busy paint finishing shop we find that compounding and polishing are perfectly effective for swirl removal. What is the purpose of using ultrafine machine polish?

      Technical Tip: Though compounds remove sand scratches left over from the scratch refinement steps and polish is formulated to remove swirls after compounding, both compounds and polishes will typically leave swirls in the vehicle surface. The ultrafine machine polish is vital for removing hologram swirls left from the polishing step, resulting in the perfect finish.

      To avoid potential dieback, you should always use dedicated premium pads and microfiber detail cloths at each step. Compounding and polishing pads are usually designed specifically for each job, and often colored accordingly to make the process fast and efficient.


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Need Help Finding the Right Solution?

These 3M resources are meant to help you save time, save money and get the most out of your collision repair operations. If you have additional questions about paint finishing, compounding, polishing, buffing, detailing, swirl elimination or anything related to 3M collision repair products and solutions, we’re happy to help. You can send us a message at the right. Or, if your needs are more immediate (or if you just want to talk shop), we’re ready to chat. We look forward to working with you!

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