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Thread: Hard and soft paint (clearcoat)

          
  1. #1
    Registered Member Blueline's Avatar
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    Hard and soft paint (clearcoat)

    Everyone once and a while I read a thread about soft paint. Is there any difference in GM and Ford paint (clearcoat) with regard to hardness or softness.?
    Thanks.

  2. #2
    Administrator Michael Stoops's Avatar
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    Re: Hard and soft paint (clearcoat)

    Yes and no.

    Both GM and Ford (and pretty much everyone else for that matter) builds vehicles in different plants and those plants don't all use the exact same paint. C6 Corvettes are notorious for having super hard paint (although we've worked on some that were quite easy to correct) but our company Chevy Tahoes have fairly soft, almost delicate paint. You can expect the same variables with Ford paint: I've worked on late model Mustangs that were a dream to correct, and I've worked on late model Mustangs that were a pain. Different model year Mustangs, but still Mustangs. So it's quite possible to work on a specific GM vehicle with harder paint than a specific Ford vehicle, but the opposite can (and will) also be true.


    For anyone else wondering about paint hardness/softness/delicateness....................

    As you're probably aware, paint systems are all over the place with regard to hardness/softness or, perhaps more accurately stated, polishability. This usually has very little to do with scratch resistance (although it can) but rather describes how easily a given paint system lends itself to correction. Paints that are considered "hard" are very resistant to correction and often require very aggressive processes to remove swirls and other defects. "Soft" paints are just the opposite and tend to correct very easily. There is another dynamic here, however, and that's what we like to refer to as "sensitivity" or the propensity for marring while buffing. This is most common with soft paints but it can happen with harder paints as well.

    How these variable manifest themselves can be described like this:

    • Hard paint: the typical techniques and products recommended (DA buffer, foam polishing pad, Ultimate Compound, speed setting 5, moderate pressure, small work area) yields virtually no change in surface appearance. Any swirls that were there before you started are still there. In extreme cases, you'll get zero defect removal. Frustration will set in. You'll curse the paint.
    • Soft paint: the typical techniques (as described above) obliterate all defects in a single pass and the paint looks great. You look like a hero, a detailing master, you become the envy of the neighborhood. We did an Audi TT during a Saturday Class a couple of years ago with horrible rotary holograms inflicted by the dealership. A single pass with the above process resulted in gorgeous black paint, even when buffed by the car owner who had never held a DA buffer in his life prior to this session.
    • Delicate paint: this is the really tough one, and it's often referred to as "crazy soft", "stupid soft" or "that terrible paint that scratches when you look at it". Typical buffing processes may or may not remove all the existing defects, but either way it will haze the paint, especially when using a DA buffer. Delicate paints are prone to DA hazing, which results in very tiny little "tick marks" that are most noticeable on non metallic black. Of course. In extreme cases you may need something fairly aggressive in order to correct the defects, but that process will turn black paint to gray. Or, like the 2011 non metallic black Toyota Prius that's a regular at our TNOGs, anything more aggressive than a cleaner wax will haze it. While an aggressive approach may be needed to remove initial defects, you will be forced to follow the initial correction step with a less aggressive follow up (sometimes a super gentle approach is needed and even then you may struggle a bit). I've worked on some new Porsche 911s in non metallic black, and a certain Mercedes SL65 AMG in non metallic black, that haze easily during correction but clean up nicely with some M205 on a black foam finishing pad used at low speed with light to moderate pressure.
    Michael Stoops
    Internet Technical Specialist | Meguiar's Inc.
    (800) 854-8073 xt 3875
    mstoops@meguiars.com

    Remember, this hobby is supposed to be your therapy, not the reason you need therapy.

    Please post technical questions directly to the forum rather than emailing or PM-ing me. You
    will get a faster response on the forum, and your question could help someone else, too!


  3. #3
    Registered Member Blueline's Avatar
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    Re: Hard and soft paint (clearcoat)

    Thank you Michael. Very, very informative as usual.

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