Wet Sanding Pro’s and Con’s

Due to increased pressure placed upon manufacturers with respect to the environment we have seen dramatic reductions in paint levels over the years but also an increase in the paint surface appearance.
The example below is based upon figures provided by the worlds leading manufacturer in paint DuPont. This first picture is courtesy of Dupont.



I have made the above diagram a little clearer with clear and concise measurements pasted in. The above are in mils and unclear so these have been changed to the relevant level in microns.



As you will see there are more layers of paint or surface coating than you may be led to believe, the above is a true picture of your paint surface, 5 different layers of surface coating yet only the top 3 are ever mentioned, a little scary to think that even the most technically advanced paint gauge will only read the top 3 layers, although it really is only the upper surface that is of concern a lack of experience and naivety could result in clearcoat failure.

Total typical micron=130, with 51 micron being clear coat, although this figure will vary from manufacturer to manufacturer, whether it has had any aftermarket repairs etc. So how much of this can we use to gain a perfect finish, that all depends on the surface condition but we will take great care in reducing a minimum amount with our averages for correction work being between 5 and 10 micron thus leaving plenty of clear coat to help fight against UV degradation and also eliminate the risk of clear coat failure, enhancements are kept extremely low.

With respect to paint correction there are many many ways to do this and in most cases the perfect finish can be had with little micron removal.

However some systems used can remove as much as >20 micron in the cutting stage alone, this is an approach we do not and will not take, although this may be a relatively quick and easy practice as well as being a cheap quick fix the damage to the clear coat will have been permanent and leave little clear for any further work needed to refresh the paint at a later date but also increase the risk of clear coat failure, in short a figure of more than 40% of the clear coat could be removed in one of these types of processes, this could even just be a quick enhancement, unfortunately this figure is well above manufacturer guidelines of 25% before damage could occur further down the line in such an aggressive system being used initially, it may also invalidate any manufacturer paint warranty.

We have done a little research into this to back up our theory with Porsche contacting us to confirm that they could and would reserve the right to refuse and process ANY paint warranty claim should the paint surface be less than the 25% quoted above.

The same however cannot be said for BMW, our recent conversation with BMW UK has outlined our fears and concerns over paint warranty and their paint warranty WILL be invalidated, a spokesperson for BMW said “Should the paint surface be physically altered in anyway the paint warranty will be invalidated and no warranty claim will be accepted for ANY defect arising within 36 months with a further period extending afterwards paint warranty would also be invalidated after this time, this means any bubbling of paint or clearcoat failure, what this means is that any wet sanding of the paint surface to reduce orange peel invalidates the warranty due to physical change and clearcoat compromise” she continued to relay this “Any 3rd party involvement immediately invalidates paint warranty in the subject matter of orange peel removal simply because BMW Do Not Recommend it” when asked if approved repairers would carry out this work to keep warranty in tact the answer was a stern “No, again as BMW Do Not Recommend it

Now how many BMW do you see having the orange peel removed for the perfect finish, all these would have no paintwork warranty available, however in my experience this would be totally dependant on the BMW approved network of repairers and how vigilant each individual one was.

As we have already stated we do not take the crude quick fix route to make your cars paint as perfect as possible, however this rule that we try to abide by sometimes has to be broken, simply put if wet sanding is needed to re-level the paints surface to remove deeper scratches or even to remove excessive orange peel, this can total the 20-25micron mark but this action will only be taken if we are asked for this service and that you the client are happy to go along this route.

Although the above where the term wet sanding is, highlights the amount of removal this does not necessarily equate to being bad or detrimental, we do this in a manner where we get to a point that is safe rather than suitable, please note we would only be removing a similar amount of clear coat in making your paint as good as it possibly can be with little or no surface defects than someone using the quick fix fast buck system.

In certain circumstances wet sanding will not be taken on board nor will full correction services, these circumstances or when we get a manufacturer with extremely low amounts of paint, lets take Mazda for instance, typically i have come across levels from 47micron to high 80s, i would suggest though the 47 would have seen plenty of dealership action, these low figures are not strictly limited to Mazda but could be on any manufacturer paint due to new legislation that manufacturers now have to deal with. Imagine though you take your vehicle to be corrected, enhanced etc, the person carrying this work out may give you a deadline of a day for an enhancement and 2 for a correction, this in our eyes is simply not an adequate amount of time , what if they are using the afore mentioned system that removes around 40% of the clear coat, yes they should be taking readings with the paint gauge but still these systems are quick and easy, is this the route you would like to go down, yes getting your car back looking super shiny and looking stunning for a figure of around £250 is extremely tempting, but what damage could have been done.

Any request made for a full wet sand would be taken seriously and it would be up to you the client to agree to our terms regarding the invalidation of your paint warranty.

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