What Does Wet Sanding Do to Your Car

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If you’re a car owner, chances are you’ve heard about wet sanding. The term gets thrown around a lot when talking about car maintenance but not everyone knows what wet sanding really is and what it does to the vehicle. 

In case you’re among those who are still unaware of its benefits to your vehicle, you’re at the right place. Let’s take a better look at what wet sanding does to the vehicle and why you should consider it for your car.

What is it all about?

Generally speaking, when we talk about wet sanding, what we’re doing is looking to get the perfect shine out of the paint finish on a vehicle. This is what many people like to call it “the car show shine”. 

The way wet sanding works is that it sands away a certain layer of the vehicle’s clear coat. This is done to fix severely defective paint and scratches. Of course, the process doesn’t leave the shine you want and once it has been completed, you have to apply a heavy cutting polish, which brings back the gloss and shine.

When it comes to the term itself, chances are you’re wondering why the process is called “wet sanding.” The name comes from the fact that while sanding is taking place, there needs to be some source of water or lubricant sprayed on the paint. Once the liquid has been sprayed, sandpaper is used to wash away the sanded clear coat residue. That way, you don’t have to worry about sandpaper getting clogged during the process. Most of the time, it’s best to use high-grade fine sandpaper such as 1000, 2000, or 3000 grit.

How is it different from other paint correction methods?

The reason why wet sanding gets so much attention is that it’s the most aggressive paint correction method available. Usually, it’s used to deal with paint issues and scratches that other methods cannot repair. It’s important to keep in mind that wet sanding vehicle paint includes sanding away a considerable amount of your vehicle’s clear coat. This doesn’t mean that you’ll be sanding away a lot, but it’s way more aggressive than polishing.

Essentially, wet sanding is more aggressive than polishing because its main purpose is to deal with paint issues and scratches that are generally difficult to address. It does an amazing job leveling the paint and preparing the vehicle for gloss restoration. A vehicle that has been wet sanded and polished is guaranteed to look amazing.

Professional Automobile Detailing

Why does it have to be performed carefully?

Earlier, we’ve mentioned that wet sanding is more aggressive than polishing and other paint correction methods. With that said, it’s obvious that the entire process has to be performed carefully.

The first thing to remember is that wet sanding makes the paint more susceptible to fading and discoloration when exposed to the sun. This happens because wet sanding removes a certain amount of the vehicle’s clear coat which acts as protection against UV rays from the sun. Before you freak out, we have to mention that this isn’t a reason not to wet sand your vehicle. The process can do wonders for your car and when performed carefully, you don’t have to worry about removing more clear coat than necessary.

How do I wet sand my car?

As you can imagine, wet sanding is a complex process and it’s best to have a professional detailer perform it. It’s a good idea to look for a good detailer and have them inspect your vehicle before wet sanding it. They’ll be able to tell you whether or not wet sanding will deal with the paint defect or scratches without damaging the clear coat too much. A mark of a good detailer is the ability to talk to their customer and explain the entire process to them. Good detailers will always tell you what you can expect from the process and let you decide whether or not you want it performed. Most pros have plenty of experience in wet sanding cars and should be able to get the job done with ease.

In general, wet sending a car is tough and it’s often left to the pros. However, if you’re into DIY, it’s possible to perform it yourself. You probably already know how fun car paint detailing is in general and this goes for wet sanding as well. You can find numerous tutorials on the internet and we recommend going through at least a few of them before you start. The more prepared you are, the better the results will be. Just don’t forget that sending away too much will leave your paint exposed. This means that if you have to be extra careful when starting your DIY wet sanding project. If like many other DIY detailers you’re not sure how long to wait before wet sanding a clear coat, make sure you let a fresh paint job sit for at least 24 hours before using a buffer. 

Wet sanding and dry sanding

Now that we’ve dealt with questions such as “what is wet sanding?” it’s only fair to mention an alternative – dry sanding. As the name suggests, the process is relatively similar to wet sanding but without the use of water or another lubricant. Since there’s no water between the surface and the paper, dry sanding will also give all the grit to your car’s surface. Still, when it comes to the age-old wet sanding vs dry sanding debate, many car owners prefer to go with wet sanding. This is mostly because the process is both quicker and easier.

The bottom line

Deep scratches and other issues with paint can ruin the appearance of any vehicle. So, if you’re looking to make your car look brand new, wet sanding makes a lot of sense. As long as wet sanding is performed carefully, the process will remove all paint defects and scratches, in that way even out the paint.

Now that you’re aware of what wet sanding does to your car, the only thing left to do is to wet sand your car. Turn to your local detailer or tackle the project DIY-style.

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