The Best Cut Compound For Restoring Car Paint

Click here to see examples of cut compounds.
Click here to see examples of cut compounds.
If you’ve been to a newsstand or a store that sells automotive magazines, or are a subscriber to any of the magazines that feature restored vehicles, you’ve no doubt seen the latest trend on ‘barn finds’. You know the story…someone is walking across a deserted field or into an old storage barn and sees something unbelievably rare sitting under an inch of dust with a completely unscathed and rust free body just waiting to be rescued and restored with a little bit of paint cleanup and mechanical work.

In this case, or perhaps if you are just driving an older vehicle that is a little faded and needs a little tender loving care to come back to life, you’ll need to address the paint to restore its gleam. If you just have a few spare hours to get your ride back to a shiny luster, you’ll need to choose the best cut compound on the market to begin to restore that faded paint by removing swirl marks and imperfections. There are many ways to complete the process including hand application, dual-action polishers, or rotary buffers. All will give you the results you want from the cutting compound, so it’s a choose your own adventure on how to get to the end result. The common denominator is the cut compound, so we’ve taken some time to chat a little bit about one of our favorites.

The Best Cut Compound

meguiars cut compound
When it comes to selecting the best cut compound on the market, the Meguiar’s M105 Mirror Glaze Ultra-Cut Compound (Meguiar’s manufacturer #M10532) is the benchmark to look for. The M105 compound remedies deep scratches and swirl marks while polishing out light scratches to a degree that matches what could be achieved with a 1200 grit sandpaper (aka extremely fine). Overall, it’s a tremendous product that makes a very noticeable difference in the way your car looks after a detail.

The Meguiar’s M105 is sold in three different quantities depending on how much and how often you need to use the cutting compound. The 8-ounce bottle is recommended for a one-time use on a midsize sedan, the 32-ounce size would be recommended for multiple vehicles in your garage requiring detailing or detailing one more than once per year, and the gallon size is really for professionals that detail for a living or a major hobby.

The super-micro abrasive technology will leave a best in class finish ready for a finer polish or cutting compound and quickly remove traces of acid rain, heavy swirl marks, paint defects, or scratches from day to day use of your vehicle. In other words, it takes a rather “big” cut (which is still of course very small), so you will notice the most difference if your paint is particularly faded. On the flip side, if your paint is already near perfect, you may opt for a slightly finer buffing compound so as to not remove any unnecessary paint thickness.

If you plan to do the work by hand, it’s best to work on a small area at a time and wipe of the compound before it dries. If you need more work, simply reapply the cutting compound and work it in a circular motion. If you plan to use a small dual-action polisher, again work in a small area (perhaps a 2-foot by 2-foot area) and use the polishing pad flat against the paint surface. You will likely be using a medium speed setting with the dual-action polisher, so make sure to apply a tape over any surface that you don’t want to touch with the polishing pad. Once you have the desired surface, wipe off the compound before moving on to the next section. The rotary buffer will use a slower speed than a dual-action polisher (perhaps 1,600-1,800 rpm for light scratches and 1,200-1,600 for deeper scratches but your mileage may vary depending on your tool), but the process will be the same otherwise. If the compound dries before you remove it, simply add a little more on top before trying to remove it. A microfiber towel is the recommended way to remove the compound after use. Just wipe it off before going to the next section of paint.

As far as available purchasing options, Amazon’s competitive pricing is pretty tough to beat. Meguiar’s products offer value at any level to restore your vehicle’s appearance, whether you need to start with the cutting compound or just need to finish the complete job with a fine polish. Meguiar’s offers benchmark product technology that is easy to use and doesn’t break the bank getting the level of finish you desire, which makes it one of the best cut compounds for cars around. As such, it gets a strong recommendation from us and we think it will serve you well next time you need to refresh your fading paint on your car! Happy wrenching!

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