Cutting, Polishing, and Waxing

Updated: 6 days ago

This isn’t quite a “tomayto, tomahto” sort of thing. Knowing the difference makes a world of difference to your car’s paintwork and its maintenance later on.

In order to gain a fundamental understanding of the difference of these three, let’s first take a closer look at the different layers that make up your car’s paint.

Paintwork Layers

Car Panel

This also referred to as the metal substrate and is the bare metal surface layer of your car’s body.

Primer The primer helps the coloured or tinted layer of paint (or even other primers) to adhere to your car’s substrate. Primers, sometimes also called Sealers, offer your panels protection against rust and corrosion. They are also used to fill in surface scratches and smoothen out imperfections to be sanded out later on.

Base Coat This is also called the Colour Coat. It’s the actual paint of your car which can be applied as a single layer or in multiple ones depending on the effect to be achieved.

Clear Coat As its name suggests, it’s the clear coat made of paint or resin that’s applied as a varnish to seal in all the layers of coating underneath.

With all that in mind, let’s break down the difference between cutting, polishing, and waxing and how these effect your car’s paintwork.

Difference Between Cutting, Polishing, and Waxing


Cutting is done to remove hard to remove scratches, swirl marks, and holograms (micro scratches) on the clear coat. If the damage extends beyond the clear coat, then going for a scratch removal first is ideal.


This process, very much like cutting, of makes use of an abrasive material to smoothen out scratches and imperfections on your car’s clear coat and restore its shine. The only difference is that it’s less invasive to cutting as it’s only used for moderate scratches or medium level scratches on the clear coat. Also, polishing doesn’t offer any protection for the car’s paint since it strips away material from the surface.

Cut and Polish

These terms are often used in-tandem since both processes are needed in order to effectively restore paintwork that’s in really bad shape (e.g. dullness or chalkiness, oxidation, deep scratches and swirls).


Waxing is the process of smoothening out the clear coat surface by filling it in with a layer of protective material which in this case is usually Caranauba wax or Brazil Wax. It enhances and seals in the smooth and reflective finish of Polishing. It’s important your get your newly polished paintwork to be waxed so as to protect it from minor surface scratches (which can be waxed away) and including even UV rays.

One last term that you need to know is the term ‘Buffing.’ Buffing is the term used to describe the use of a buffing pad and buffing compound to restore car’s paint. Buffing can be done using a handheld machine called a buffer or by hand which is more time-consuming and requires more physical effort.


Cut for deep (heavy scratches and damage to the clear coat) Polish to sweep (out imperfections with abrasive material) Wax to keep (the shiny finish protected and sealed).

These three procedures ensure that your car’s paintwork looks, feels, and stays fresh. The frequency of getting them for your car however, depends entirely on its usage, environmental damage and its existing paintwork quality.

We hope this simple guide helps you identify what type of service you need for your car. If you have any further questions or concerns about maintaining your car, please feel free to contact us at To get a free estimate of our services, go to

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