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Why Wet Sand?

Sometimes the only way to remove or lighten a heavy imperfection is by sanding the paint surface. This can be a fast and effective way to remove a heavy scratch or scuff, if you are skilled and very careful. On the other hand, this method may lead to a trip to the spray booth if you are over enthusiastic and not aware of when to stop! 

Another reason people come to us for wet sanding is to create a flawless, show car finish over the entire vehicle. A finish that is completely clear and/or defect free. A wet sanded finish offers exceptional depth, clarity, gloss and shine.

In order to create these characteristics, the paint must be completely flat and free from any orange-peel as well as any other above/below surface paint defects. When we use the term “flat” to describe paint we don’t mean as in a ‘matte’ or ‘low gloss’ finish, we mean the surface is completely flat like a piece of glass. When the finish is completely flat, it will reflect crisp, clear images like a mirror with no distortion; this is referred to as D.O.I. or Distinction of Images. To get an automotive finish completely flat or level, the paint must be sanded flat and then buffed to a high gloss.

During the process of wet sanding we are actually “shaving” a microscopic layer of clear coat off the paint surface, eliminating any imperfections along with it. The process therefore can remove scuffs or marks, however it’s also used to eliminate:

  • Runs or Sags

These are beads, droplets, larger globules or “curtain effect” in the paint finish on vertical surfaces. This is caused by paint mixture too slow (hardener, thinner), viscosity too low (too thin), paint applied too thick, paint technician application error etc.

  • Dry Paint

Granular texture normally with no gloss at all, this defect is usually limited to small areas. Commonly caused by spraying too fast, air pressure too high, spray gun too far from surface etc.

  • Orange Peel

One of the greatest imperfections. Due to new paint technologies, many new vehicles can suffer from this bad paint finish, otherwise known as orange peel. Orange peel is the name given to a slightly rippled effect on the paintwork… similar to what you find on an orange.

There are other differing factors that contribute to causes of orange peel, but normally it’s as follows: when a vehicle is sprayed at the factory, the build up of multiple wet layers of paint combined with the spray guns pushing out a lot of air cause the airstream to leave a visible rippled effect finish. Think of these ripples like waves, consisting of peaks and troughs on your paintwork surface. A highly experienced wet-sander is able to carefully shave down the peaks to the level of the troughs, which means that the orange-peel is fully removed without reducing the thickness of the clearcoat from its original lowest point at all.

  • Dirt/Dust Contamination

Usually small, irregular particles in the paint film caused by foreign matter (e.g. dust/dirt) which can occur in different sizes, shapes, types and patterns.

  • Silicone Marks

Marks/defects that are caused by contamination of oil, grease, silicone and wax products still present on the sub surface before applying the fresh paint. The defects are what looks like perfect small dots, also known as “fish eyes” in the trade.

  • Blend Lines

Blend lines in paint are where the original paint meets the new fresh paint, a technique is used to overly thin down the paint (lacquer top coat) at the location of the join area, which in turn results in a poorer finish with time around this area. This technique is widely used within the smart repair industry as it’s not normal to paint entire complete panels.

In many cases wet sanding can be more effective than trying to machine correct (polishing /compounding) these imperfections out . Wet sanding will not create the heat associated with machine correction if carried out correctly, and will be less aggressive than machine correction, but special care and measurements must be taken throughout the entire process. If done correctly, wet sanding will actually remove LESS lacquer (top clear coat) than heavy machine correction (as done in body shops).

Key Factors

All imperfections in a paint surface are different and different methods will be used to remove or lighten them. Skill level, knowledge and expertise will determine if the problem can be fixed or improved without refinishing the area. You would not choose to sand something that may be removed by the use of clay or light polishing. On the other hand you would not try to polish out a deep key scratch. Machine correcting the area may be an option if the scratch is not too deep, but it’s important to remember the heat and friction it will be creating and the aggressiveness of both the buffing pad and the compound used. Sometimes this method will rub through the paint quicker than wet sanding.

The colour of the car will often determine how bad a scratch appears and therefore how well it can be repaired. Clear coat will always look whitish in appearance when it is scratched. The two key elements are how deep is it and what colour the vehicle is. A scratch on a black car will always look worse than on white because of the background or the basecoat. A scratch on black will have to be sanded more deeply to totally remove it.

Some people say factory finishes do not have enough clear coat to sand and that you will not have enough protection if you sand. If the lowest point of the clear coat is enough to protect the car, then should you sand to that point and no further your car will look its best and still be protected. The secret is to not sand any more than the lowest point of the clear coat. See illustration below:

How much does it cost?

The packages below are inclusive of the necessary machine polish correction time after wet sanding has taken place. This includes the end results as per our D&P Valeting and Detailing option 4 package 

  • Window screen coating with Glassmaxx
  • Ultimaxx Ceramics Signature Pro 9h 5 year coating
  • Wheels Ceramic Coated and Refurbished 
  • All Leather and or Cloth Protected
  • Paintwork checked with 3M sunlight and 2 other light sources
  • Final Full inspection to make sure your car meets our high standards