What Are The Best Buffing Pads? (2021 Reviews)
Is your car’s paint dull or scratched? Repairing a less-than-stellar paint job doesn’t have to be a difficult, labor-intensive process. Instead, buffing and polishing pads can have your car looking brand-new quickly.
Not all polishing pads are the same. Not sure which pads work best for scratch-removal and which are the best polishing pads? Check out our complete guide to polishing and finishing pads for all the info you need to know. Plus, we’ve identified the best polishing and finishing pads to buy in 2021:
- See Our Picks for the Best Buffing Pads
- Best Overall – MATCC 5-Piece Buffing Pad Kit
- Best Cheap Option – Car Polishing Pads Kit by Petutu
- Best Buffing Pad for the Money – Ultimate Buffing Kit by TCP Global
- Honorable Mention 1 – Augushy 31-Piece Polishing Pads Kit
- Honorable Mention 2 – Ram-Pro Polishing Pad Kit
- Factors to Consider When Choosing the Best Buffing Pads
- Pad Flexibility
- Backing Pad
- Pad Diameter
- Pad Abrasiveness
- Paint Suitability
- Manufacturer’s Warranty
- What is a Buffing Pad?
- What are the Benefits of Buffing Pads?
- Removes Scratches
- Ensures Even Polish Application
- Reduced Heat
- Faster Application
- Better Shine
- How Do I Attach My Buffing Pad to the Polisher?
- What’s the Difference Between a Drill and a Polisher?
- What are the Different Types of Buffering Polishing Pads?
- How Do I Clean Polishing Pads?
- Final Thoughts
See Our Picks for the Best Buffing Pads
Best Overall – MATCC 5-Piece Buffing Pad Kit
A set of thick, wool pads which last long and easily attach to both pneumatic and electric polishers.
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- The set features three lamb wool pads
- Thick, durable and long-lasting
- Easily attach to most drills and polishers
- Set doesn’t include foam pads
These buffing pads from MATCC are versatile, durable, and easy to use. The lamb wool buffing pad polishes your car’s surface without scratching or leaving behind threads. Plus, they’re thick and long-lasting even with frequent use.
The buffing pad fits onto both pneumatic and electric polishing drills. The adhesive support on the back of the disk allows for easy, fast attachment to the drill. Plus, it’s equally easy to change pads.
The set includes an M14 drill, adhesive backer pad, and three wool buffing pads. The pads have a diameter of 150 mm with a thickness of 25 mm.
Best Cheap Option – Car Polishing Pads Kit by Petutu
An affordable and large pack of polishing pads which includes 16 foam pads, two wool pads, and adapters.
- Large set includes 18 pads
- Includes both wool and foam buffing pads
- Easily and quickly connects to polisher
- The adhesive isn’t as secure as hook and loop fasteners
With more buffing pads for the money than any other set, Petutu’s set is the most cost-effective option if you want a wide variety of pad types. It includes 16 polishing pads, two wool buffer pads, two drill adapters, and two suction cups.
Half of the foam pads are textured while the others are flat. All pads have a three-inch diameter. A simple but secure adhesive allows for quick pad switching, even between foam and wool.
Keeping track of each pad is simple. They’re color-coordinated by the degree of softness. You can easily choose the perfect cut for the task.
Best Buffing Pad for the Money – Ultimate Buffing Kit by TCP Global
A collection of professional-quality wool and foam buffing pads of different sizes.
- Six high quality buffing pads
- Includes backing plate
- Pads will last a long time
- Only includes one wool pad
- Doesn’t include a variety of sizes
Although the price tag is a bit higher than the other sets on the list, the pads in this kit are durable, well-made and ideal for removing difficult oxidation and deep scratches. The kit includes five waffle foam pads, one wool pad and a 5/8 inch threaded backing plate.
The foam pads have an open-cell design which allows for increased airflow and even polish application. Plus, the hook and loop backing lets you switch between pads in seconds. All pads have an eight-inch diameter, which is well-suited for quick, thorough cleaning.
Honorable Mention 1 – Augushy 31-Piece Polishing Pads Kit
Looking for maximum versatility? Augushy’s 31-piece kit includes a wide variety of pads suitable for all your polishing needs.
- A large set of 25 pads
- Pads have three texture styles
- Pads are color coordinated by type
- Includes backing pad and suction cups
- Only includes foam pads
Augshy’s 31-piece set includes everything you need to remove imperfections and keep your vehicle looking great. The kit includes 25 foam polishing pads in three different styles (flat, light texture, and heavy texture). It also includes two suctions cups and two drill adapters.
The foam pads are color-coordinated by softness. Each also has an adhesive backing so you can change pads quickly. They fit most electric polishing machines. The wide variety is great if you want to both remove scratches and polish your vehicle.
Honorable Mention 2 – Ram-Pro Polishing Pad Kit
A high-quality kit with both wool and foam buffing pads to remove stubborn scratches and add brilliant shine.
- Set of four high quality buffing pads
- Includes two lamb’s wool pads
- Includes high-density foam pad
- Closed-cell foam pad
- The orange foam pad isn’t as durable as the others
Ram-Pro’s professional-strength polishing kit includes four pads, a backing plate, and a quarter-inch drill adaptor. Two pads are made from foam while two are made from wool. All pads have a three-inch diameter.
The genuine lamb’s wool pads are abrasive enough to remove heavy oxidation and deep scratches. The orange pad is made from high-density foam, which is ideal for polishing. Finally, the black, closed-cell foam pad is perfect for the final buff. All pads are easily switchable on the backing plate thanks to the hook and loop backing pad.
Factors to Consider When Choosing the Best Buffing Pads
Buffer pads aren’t usually exciting to look at, but small differences in the materials and construction can have a large impact on its effectiveness. Here are the major features to consider:
The material used is by far the most important aspect of the pad. You’ll find three options:
There’s no one material which is better than the others. Instead, each has specific benefits. Generally, foam polishing is best for even finishing, wool is ideal for compounding, and the microfiber is best for polishing uneven surfaces. (We dive into the details below.)
All vehicles have unique contours and angles. A flexible pad allows you to hug these curves, so you reach every part of your car’s exterior. Additionally, a flexible pad ensures the polish is applied evenly.
Gently flex the pad in your hands. It should bend somewhat without strain. Wool and microfiber pads have the most noticeable flexibility. Foam often feels a bit more rigid, but it moves more subtly against the vehicle’s surface.
Most likely, you’ll want to connect the pad to a polishing machine (usually a drill). The backing pad is the part which attaches to the polisher and holds the pad.
Make sure the backing pad attaches to your polisher securely. The manufacturer should list which types of polishers are suitable for their product. However, compatibility isn’t usually a major issue for most polishing pads unless you have an unusual polisher.
Most use hook and loop fasteners to hold the pad, which allows for quick pad changes.
Pads range in diameter from two inches up to ten. For general purpose use, most people choose pads with a diameter of four, five, or six inches. Larger pads can be unwieldy to use, so they’re best for larger SUVs and commercial vehicles.
Of course, you don’t have to use a single pad on your entire car. Many sets are available which contain a wide range of pad sizes. If the backing pad allows for quick changes, you can easily use multiple pads of different sizes when polishing your vehicle.
Pads have different levels of abrasion, also known as the pad’s “aggressiveness” or “cut.”
Highly abrasive pads excel at removing deep scratches and major imperfections. However, they can scratch the paint if applied with too much pressure.
A less abrasive buffing and finishing pad leaves a smoother finish. However, they do take longer to finish the surface. Pads with minimal cut (or even no cut at all) are ideal for a finishing pad and for waxing surfaces without imperfections.
The level of cut determines the type of polish compound used. Different types of polish are designed for varying levels of pad abrasiveness. Match the type of pad to the correct polish for best results.
Many pads are designed for use on standard car paint. However, certain types of paint require specialty buffer pads. A standard pad can damage Fiberglass, clear coat, and darker paints. Check the pad’s product description for material recommendations to protect your clear coat, etc.
Pads are usually reasonably priced. However, you still don’t want to be stuck with pads you can’t use or don’t like. Fortunately, many manufacturers offer limited warranties. It’s an easy way to try before you buy, especially when buying a large pack of pads.
What is a Buffing Pad?
Also called a buffer pad, polishing pad or buffer, it’s a soft, durable and usually circular pad. Specifically made for use on motor vehicles, the pads are used to apply polish, wax, sealant and similar protectants.
Pads are typically made from:
Each material has different benefits and uses. We’ll elaborate below.
What are the Benefits of Buffing Pads?
These little pads have plenty of big benefits for your vehicle.
They’re primarily used to remove scratches. The coarse surface of the pads buff away imperfections found in the exterior paint. Even deep scratches can be removed with coarse pads.
Ensures Even Polish Application
Applying polish by hand results in an uneven coating. However, pads and a polisher apply a consistent layer of polish to the entire vehicle’s surface. An even coating of polish provides the best level of protection because no sections are left too thin.
An even coating also keeps you from wasting polish by applying needless amounts. You’ll use less polish overall, which helps you save over time.
Using a towel to apply polish typically generates an excessive amount of heat. If too much heat is generated, both the paint and the pad can potentially be damaged. A buffering pad generates far less heat, making it safer for contact with the paint.
Even if you love your car, you don’t want to spend all day polishing. A buffing pad connected to a polisher or similar machine is the fastest way to polish your car. It’s also easier on your arms, shoulders, and entire body.
Buffing pads aren’t just the easiest and fastest way to polish and buff your car; they also produce the best results. Your vehicle will have an eye-catching, fresh-off-the-lot shine.
How Do I Attach My Buffing Pad to the Polisher?
Although buffing pads work well when used by hand, attaching them to a tool is a better option. Motor-driven polishing is faster, easier, and more thorough. Buffer pads can attach to a drill, sander, or polishing machine.
The buffing pads connect to the polisher with a backing pad. A backing pad is a rubber or plastic pad with a center hole. It screws into the spindle on the device (the drill, sander, etc.).
The buffing pads connect to the backing pad with Velcro (or a generic hook-and-loop fastener). It’s secure but also easy to take pads on and off. Most pads, especially sets, include a backing pad. If not, the pads should at least include a hook-and-loop backing.
Check specifics from the buffing pad for compatibility details. However, most popular pads should work fine with standard corded or cordless drills, sanders or polishers.
What’s the Difference Between a Drill and a Polisher?
The term “polisher” tends to be used fairly generically to refer to drills, sanders and other tools used with a pad. But you can also buy a tool called a “polisher” which is made specifically for polishing vehicles.
You probably already have a drill which will work with a pad. Will the drill do a good job or should you buy a polisher?
Polishers are easier to control. They’re held horizontally, which gives you precise control over the pressure applied and speed. Because a drill has to be held vertically, control can be a bit more awkward.
A polisher will give your vehicle the absolute best shine. Plus, it’s also the easiest to control, making it a good choice for polishing delicate paint.
However, polishers cost around $40 to $60 or more. They don’t have any other use besides polishing your car, either.
What are the Different Types of Buffering Polishing Pads?
Three different types are available:
Foam pads are the most common and versatile type of polishing pad. They can be used to both remove scratches and polish the exterior.
Generally, the stiffer the foam, the more abrasive the pad. Larger cells on the pad create a coarse surface useful for polishing away scrapes and scratches.
Many foam pads have a hex or honeycomb design. It reduces heat and friction during use. Plus, the hex designs help apply polish evenly. However, the textured pattern can make the polisher a bit harder to control compared to flat pads.
Foam pads are often a great choice if you want to use different levels of cut on a single vehicle. Many sets include pads with various colors, each indicating a degree of aggressiveness.
Wool pads are soft and smooth. They have varying levels of abrasion based on the type of yarn used. However, all wool pads are somewhat naturally abrasive.
They’re commonly used to remove imperfections. But they’re not ideal for the final polish because the fibers tend to come loose when scrubbing. Many people use a wool pad to remove scratches followed by a foam pad to create a final polish.
Microfiber is a thin synthetic fiber which can trap dirt and debris on a microscopic level. They’re mainly used to remove abrasions and for finishing work. Microfiber cloths vary in abrasion level by manufacturer, so make sure you know the cut before using. They can potentially leave behind small marks in the paintwork.
Are you looking for microfiber cloths to use on your car? Check out our list of the Best Microfiber Towels here.
All pads are further divided into three categories based on the job:
A cutting pad (aka compounding pad) is the most abrasive. It removes paint scratches and similar imperfections. While a cutting pad is great at removing damage, it can leave the surface of your car looking rough. A cutting pad is the first type of pad used.
After removing scratches, you’re ready for a polishing pad. It’s relatively non-abrasive with a mild cut. Polishing pads remove small defects. They also smooth the surface and improve the finish.
Finally, you’ll use the finishing pad. They have no cut. Used with a finishing wax or similar compound, the pad adds the final coat of shine to your vehicle’s paint.
How Do I Clean Polishing Pads?
Pads need to be cleaned both during and after use.
First, you’ll want to prevent the buildup of polish and paint. Clean the pads fairly frequently during use. Using the low setting, spin the pad gently against a microfiber towel.
When you’ve finished using the pads, clean them thoroughly with soap and water. Try to clean them quickly after use. Otherwise, the polish can harden and become difficult to remove. Store them with the hook-and-loop side facing up in a dry location.
The right pads let your car shine! A set of buffering polishing pads allow you to remove deep scratches and other imperfections. Plus, you can add a professional level of polish to your vehicle’s exterior, revitalizing even the dullest paint jobs. Add a set of polishing pads to your garage today!