1. Home
  2. How-To Guides
  3. Test Spot Guide

Test Spot Guide

Are you unsure on what polish to use, and what kind of pads you’ll need?
Want to preserve as much paint as possible whilst also getting a good finish?

Here is what you need:

  • 1 pad in each hardness (finish, medium, heavy, wool/microfibre (optional), in case heavy doesn’t cut it you can order it later.
  • All the polishes you want to try (finish, medium cut, heavy cut)
  • Paint inspection light
  • Panel prep spray (PPS)
  • Towels for polish removal

Firstly, we should only want to look for defect removal – for some deeper scratches it’s better to leave them in, as removing them would take away way too much clearcoat and you could run into the risk of cutting far too deep and removing the clearcoat entirely, without proper measurements taken beforehand.
For your test spot, you should choose somewhere that is a good representation of the average condition of the overall paintwork. If you have a few places that are much better or worse, do another test spot on them, with the aim of preserving as much of the clearcoat as you can.
The same goes for panels that have been resprayed, they also need a separate test spot as they can behave completely differently to the factory paint. If in doubt, do an extra test spot.

To do the initial test spot:

  1. Do a full pass on the chosen test spot, using the least aggressive combination first: finishing pad and polish.
  2. Remove the polish residue from the paintwork using the PPS.
  3. Inspect the area with your light. If you are satisfied with the defect correction, then that is the pad/polish combination to go with (buy more pads of that type).

If you are not satisfied with the level of remaining defects, the order you should follow is this:

  1. Finishing polish on a:
    • a. Finishing pad
    • b. Medium cut pad
    • c. Heavy Cut pad
  2. Medium cut polish on a:
    • a. Finishing pad
    • b. Medium cut pad
    • c. Heavy cut pad
  3. Heavy cut polish on a:
    • a. Finishing pad
    • b. Medium cut pad
    • c. Heavy cut pad

So as an example, start with a finishing polish on a finishing pad (1.a.). If you’re happy, great! If not, stick with the finishing polish, but use a medium cut pad (1.b.) and so on and so forth. Think of the polish as the primary source of “cut” with the pads being the fine-tuning in-between.

Once you’ve done your test spot:

1. If you’re still not satisfied with the results, buy a wool/MF pad, and start with a medium cut polish.

2. If you are completely happy with the amount of defect removal, check the finish. Can you see haze?

3. If so, you can do what’s known as a two-step: using a finishing polish and pad, do a run over your test spot and see if that gives the desired outcome.

One important note is to not mix polishes; clean the pads out before changing to a different polish. Also, with experience, some of these combinations can be skipped, and you can go directly to the combination you think is probably right for the first test spot. Until you gain that experience though, this method will help you preserve as much paint as possible.

Updated on 17 July 2023

Was this article helpful?

Related Articles