What Is Detailing (detailing explained for you)


What is detailing explained

This process is an American term, it can be associated with valeting but with anything that’s American, its bigger, better and more elaborate, so detailing improves all aspects of the visual appearance using only the finest, tried and tested products on the market today.                              Detailing is vehicle appearance perfection at its best and there has been so much technology built around the products, services and revolutionary tools that builds the term ‘Detailing’. When buying or owning a vehicle it is essentially an investment and by keeping it in a better than showroom condition it will keep its residual value and therefore….              ‘Protecting Your Investment’

 It’s all about the look and finding the most ethical way to improve the look and make a vehicle better than show room condition. As a professional detailer we have to understand different paint types and how to work with them to reveal the best finish. It’s not all about the exterior painted surfaces, Interiors can also be detailed, using different techniques, tools and products, we safely clean and protect the surfaces and can even help against people suffering with allergies using stream cleaning techniques and sterilization solutions.


Steam cleaning.

As everybody knows, steam cleaning is a great way to clean without using any products, in your vehicle and in your home. It disinfects as well as having a strong cleaning action to get rid off unwanted stains and hard to move grease. The steam comes out at over 100’C, at this temperature kills bacteria which is great for people with allergies and/or are sensitive to surface bacteria. Steam cleaning the interior of a vehicle can however come with its drawbacks, some materials of a vehicles interior are very sensitive not only using the steam but for some products, to higher product on the PH scale will damage so a detailer must have a good understanding of the materials and on how to, when to, and what to use to deliver the safest but most effective way of cleaning.



Microfibers are an absolute necessity in the detailing industry, they are made up of polyester and nylon, the polyester serves to absorb oil based liquids whereas the nylon to absorb the water based liquids. A general mix for a microfiber is 80/20 poly/nylon, a more expensive manufacturer will do a mix of 70/30 poly/nylon for a superior microfiber towel.

Different microfibers serve different purposes, as in what surfaces they are safe to use on. A low budget denier of 0.02 is safe for durable surfaces such as interior plastics, glass, fabric & leather materials, this denier of microfiber is not recommended for painted of gloss surfaces. High end microfibers have a denier of 0.13 which is safe for use on all surfaces including paintwork & gloss surfaces. Generally, the safer a microfiber is, the more expensive it is.

Microfibers are not only a use once and throw away deal, they can be washed but under certain circumstances, for instance a microfiber must only be washed using liquid detergents and no softener as this prevents it from picking dirt as effectively and on a temperature of no more than 40’C. As each microfiber is used, it goes on scale of how clean it is and its purpose in life, a more expensive microfiber with need to be washed on its own with others of its kind to keep them as clean as possible, others will have been used for some of the dirty jobs like the door seals and sills so they will hold more dirt and we don’t want it transfer to the expensive microfibers. The drying of these is also a factor of their condition and life span, they can be put in the dryer on a low heat only to slowly dry without burning the delicate fibres and making them stiff.



Safe Wash (Two Bucket Method).

The wash process for a detailer is referred to as a ‘Safe Wash’ the reason for this is the whole process is to eliminate the cause of wash marks (Swirl Marks) when cleaning a vehicle. To perform a safe wash, a detailer must have a good understanding of chemicals and their relation to their different jobs, dilution and the execution. A safe wash consists of 15-20 different stages of a wash process, including the ‘Two Bucket Method’ rather than the traditional Wet-Wash-Wet-Dry scenario consisting of only 4 stages and one bucket.

As with technology advancing in modern day consumables, the traditional sponges and chamois are a thing of the past, although still sold in some stores they are not the most ethical way of washing your vehicles. Microfibers and plush deep pile lamb’s wool mitts are the weapon of choice for any detailer nowadays, a deep pile lamb’s wool mitt takes the dirt of the car and pulls it deep into the fibres of the mitt so it isn’t just pushing the dirt around and scratching, the dirt then gets washed of the mitt during the two bucket method using the grit guards in the buckets that pull the dirt out and collects in the bottom.

Before any hands on washing of a vehicle takes place, a multitude of different pre-wash methods are used to pull as much dirt off as possible before actually having to touch the vehicle, as the less you actually touch it, the less you scratch it.

The drying of the vehicle also comes in 3 forms, first is depending on the job in hand after the wash process, a rinse aid is used to try and repel and water on the surface, a hot air blow dry using a hand held blower to blow out all the seams where water will sit and the last is a plush microfiber drying towel with an added benefit of a few sprays of quick detailer to aid the pickup process, reduce streaking and helps the towel glide along safely, no hydrablades are never used by a professional detailer as this can catch any possible dirt particles on the paintwork and trap them between the two flat surfaces and cause a scratch.



Polishing & Paint Correction.

The aim of paint correction is to remove as many paint defects as possible while retaining the level of clear coat on the surface. The enhancement services can consist of a single pass with a one stage compound that cuts through to eliminate the swirl marks and holograms and refines as it go’s along using the smart diminishing abrasives that are found in modern, up to date compounds.

From a single stage machine polish, there are also multi stage polishes which cross over the line to full correction of a vehicles paintwork, this consists of heavy compounds and polishing pads, although still diminishing abrasives they don’t leave as good a finish but cut hard to remove any of the deeper defects or random isolated scratches. As this is a multistage process the cutting stage needs to be refined using a less abrasive compounds to deliver a better than showroom finish.

Although this is the most effective and best looking, it can take in excess of 5 days to complete depending on which correction package has been chosen, a single stage however takes only 1-2 days to completion and can enhance the gloss levels tremendously but can leave some deeper scratches in the paintwork, this is a choice up the customer to determine how defect free he/she wants their vehicle to look and takes pride in their investment.




The protection of a vehicle is a crucial aftercare necessity, after any paint correction or paint work of any kind where the vehicles paintwork is bare or otherwise has been stripped of any protective layers, a sufficient protection package will preserve the finish that has been achieved. There are lots of different manufactures of protective coatings from Poorboys World (cheaper wax’s), up to £800 a pot of SwissVax Crystal Rock for the ultimate in wax protection. Nearly every manufacturer nowadays has brought out their own version of a wax, and it is up to the detailer to provide the best wax in his/her own opinion to supply to the customer, this way there is no wrong choice when choosing and will provide a professional look the customer will be proud of.

Wax is not the only protective coating for vehicles, we also have      Nano-Sealants, Ceramic Coatings and Paint Protection Film.  A Nano-Sealant (polymer) does not give as deep a lustre or gloss as wax but in turn, is more resistant to the elements. If looked after properly, can last 6-12 months.

Ceramic Coatings are among the best in protective layers as these can have a medium-high gloss level while being very durable, a high level of resistance to the elements and U.V. light, chemical, and physical resistance. This product, as hard as it is, spreads a thin, extremely hard chemical resistant layer over the paintwork and protects against swirl marks that a Nano-Sealant cannot- possibly protect against. Ceramic products almost always need to be applied by a professional as it can easily be done wrong and require sanding and machining to remove. When maintained properly, Ceramics can last from 2 years up to 5 and require no more polishing while this protection is bonded with the paintwork.

To apply this product, the surface must be as close to perfect and defect free as this hard coating will lock in all the defects and be visible if not performed correctly.

Paint Protection Films has a similar degree of protection as a Ceramic but has a low gloss level, it is essentially a layer of plastic over your vehicle and from this is a little thicker and can protect against stone chips and low-medium scratches, this product also has some cons, it is susceptible to swirl marks from bad washing or the £3 car washes, however there is a way around this, if a Paint Protection Film is still the route you want to go down. There has been so many technological advances in the detailing industry that they have created a Self-Healing Paint Protection Film that will make disappear light scratches and swirl marks by introducing some heat onto the film right on top of a vehicles surface.



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