Difference between Foam, Wool, and Microfiber Pads

Difference between Foam, Wool, and Microfiber Pads

Types of Polishing Pads

When it comes to machine polishing car paint, there are three main different types of materials for machine polishing pads which are wool, microfibre, and foam.

Wool Pads

Wool pads are the oldest and have been around forever. The benefit of a quality wool pad such as the Lake Country Low Lint and SDO wool pad is that it tends to have an exceptional cutting ability, especially when used with a heavy cutting compound. Wool Pads usually build up less heat, so its a great option when you are tacking heavy defects on harder paints. 

Additionally, due to there cooler running abilities, they can also be used for longer polishing cycles and at higher speeds with slightly more pressure to further increase there cutting abilities.

Although wool pads do tend to be effective cutting pads, they are also less safe for beginners due to their increased aggression and as a whole. They also don’t tend to finish very well and will tend to need an additional polishing cycle or even two after use to refine the paint. Wool pads also tend to be the messiest pads to work with as they tend to dust and shed fibres more so than any other pad. 

Though it’s also important to note that some more recent wool pads on the market such as the Rupes Blue and Yellow wool pads can, in fact, finish surprisingly well due to their newer refined wool technology which gives the wool more uniform and consistent finishing abilities that can rival and even surpass the finishing ability of many foam and microfibre pads, which only a few years ago was unheard of for a wool pad to perform like this. 

(Rupes Bigfoot LHR15 MKIII Orbital Polisher)

Microfiber Pads

Microfibre pads are the newest development in polishing pads in the industry. They are an extremely efficient material to polish with, due to their incredible superfine fibres that increase the surface area of the pad. This allows rapid results, with microfiber pads being able to remove severe defects quickly but tend to finish rather well in many cases, especially on medium-hard paint systems. 

Microfibre pads such as the Lake Country HDO microfiber pads tend to have an amazing ability to both cut and finish automotive paint like no other material before and tends to be fantastic all-round pads. Additionally, microfibre pads also come in other grades such as the Lake Country Microfibre Polishing Pad and the Lake Country Microfiber Finishing Pad. These pads focus on different areas than just cutting, providing more versatility and better finishes. These microfiber pads can amplify gloss levels, and finish particularly well on softer paint systems. 

The largest issue with microfibre pads is their increased heat production, which can skyrocket if used with improper technique, and due to their increased grip, they don’t tend to work well with rotary polishers. It’s imperative that microfibre pads aren’t worked for long periods at a time, but due to their increased performance, it’s also not necessary to work them for as long as equivalent foam or wool pads. It is also vital that microfibre pads are blown out with compressed air in between polishing cycles to remove their residue and cool them down, so an air compressor is really necessary in order to safely and effectively use them.

Although microfibre pads can be fantastic in so many ways, they are more demanding pads to work with and perhaps aren’t the best choice for a beginner. 

 (ShineMate EX605 | ShineMate T100 One Step Cutting Microfiber Pad)

Foam Pads

Foam pads are by far the most commonly used and most widely diverse pads with so many variants and grades available to suit many situations. Foam pads tend to be a great choice for beginners as they are less demanding to work with and tend to be less aggressive as a whole. 

For the purpose of removing severe defects and for working on harder paint types, foam cutting pads such as the Lake Country Blue HDO and SDO foam pads, as well as Shine Mate Yellow foam pads can be a great choice to level down or remove significant paint defects - and even finish surprising well on hard to medium paints. 

For addressing more moderate defects as well as working on medium to softer paints, foam pads such as the Lake Country Orange HDO and SDO foam pads, the Shine Mate Blue and Orange foam pads can be a fantastic choice to remove moderate to light defects while also having an incredible ability to finish with outstanding levels of gloss on almost any paint types when used with medium to fine compounds and polishes. 

For working on soft to super soft paints and just addressing very minor defects or solely focusing on boosting gloss levels, foam finishing pads such as the Lake Country Black HDO and SDO foam pads, and the Shine Mate Red foam pad are great choices to use especially when matched with fine to superfine polishes and used with a gentle polishing or even jeweling polishing technique. 

(Eureka Flexi Anti-Vibration Gloves | ShineMate EX610 15mm DA Polisher | Scholl Concepts Pad Cleaning Brush Soft | ShineMate Black Diamond Red Foam Finishing Pad)