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View Full Version : What is difference between polish and wax? (more)

Dakar Doug
07-21-2002, 01:44 PM
When should each be used and what is better for the finish? I have heard conflicting theories regarding the use of each and want to find out the truth. Thanks.

07-21-2002, 06:32 PM
Simply put, polish removes and wax adds. Polish does it's work by removing a small amount of the top layer of paint (usually a clear coat in most modern cars) to acheive it's result. This is sometimes required if you have small hairline scratches (swirls or "spider webs") that can only be removed by reducing a small amount of paint.

Wax on the other hand *adds* a protective layer over top of whatever is there. By adding this thin extra layer, it protectes the paint from any stuff that falls on it and can be (in theory) removed easier than if it is falling on bare paint or clear coat. Wax also adds a layer that is more reflective to give additional shine.

'98 Z3 2.8L Arctic Silver

07-21-2002, 08:34 PM
Good definition; the only thing I'd add is that most polishes have some filler added to them to help hide swirls and minor imperfections. I think that some confusion comes from Zaino Brothers products because they call all of their "protectants" "polishes".

Polish cleans and shines
Glaze fills and shines
Wax protects

07-21-2002, 10:43 PM

07-22-2002, 02:43 PM
Does Zaino protect? It's not a wax, so is there a middle ground here?..Thanks.

07-22-2002, 05:52 PM
Yeah, Zaino is only a protectant. Some will argue that Z5 "can" hide minor swirls and scratches, but for the most part it doesn't deliver in that department. Prep your surfaces well, then apply the Zaino and you'll be shocked by the protection...amazing.

Anyway, Zaino is the only one that calls it's protectant a polish. I wish they'd change the name to something other than "polish" because it doesn't do the product justice (description wise).

Mike Phillips
07-23-2002, 08:33 PM
They contain NO ABRASIVES AT ALL. None, nada, zilch.

Meguiar's uses "Paint Cleaners" to remove paint and polishes to make it look good.


07-24-2002, 06:31 PM
Since you are saying there's no mechanical action taking place with those products, how do they do their job? Chemical action? If so, what chemicals?

Mike Phillips
07-25-2002, 10:47 AM
Meguiar's "Pure" polishes are for creating depth and gloss, i.e. they make the paint look good. For this reason... they don't have any chemical cleaners or mechanical cleaners. This is the purpose of a "Cleaner/Polish" or a "Paint Cleaner" (In the Meguiar's line).

Over the years everyone and their brother always refers to "Polishes" as being products with "abrasives". Does this mean it's true?


That is just their "interpretation".

Meguiar's pure polishes contain no abrasives or chemical cleaners because their "purpose" is to create beauty, not remove paint.

Does that make sense?

The problem with the world of "Automotive Appearance Products" is their is "No Legal Ruling Authority", (to borrow a term from Al Gore).

That means anyone can call their product anything they like. That is why there is so much confusion when topics like this come up.

What's a polish, a glazes, a wax a protectant etc...

What I do is place products into "Categories" by what they do... not what the label says,

Example... the label on Zaino #5 claims it to be a "Polish", but what it does in fact is "Protect", like a wax be it natural or synthetic.

So it is in the category of "Protectants", not "Polishes".

Meguiar's defined and refined what is called the "Paint Care Cycle".

That is there are 5 basic things you can do to paint,

Wash it --> Soaps
Clean it, --> Meguiar's makes Paint cleaners (some people would use a rubbing or polishing compound)
Polish it --> Restore Gloss through specific oils, (regardless of what others say, paint is made from "resin", i.e. a type of oil
Protect it --> Waxes, whether natural or synthetic
Maintain it --> Quick Detailer Spray wax

For these 5 things, there are 5 groups of products

Paint cleaners (or compounds
Polishes, including cleaner/polishes
Maintenance products

You can take anybody's product and using a little common sense place it into any one of these groups and determine "What it is" according to "What it does", not what the label says.

I go into all of this in complete AR Detail in my upcoming how-to book for polishing paint.

Hope this helps...

Mike Phillips

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