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Expert Shopper Automotive

Best buffing pad

Which buffing pad is best?

If you are serious about car care, hand polishing is inferior to using a buffer. While the quality of the machine is certainly important, ultimately, it is the buffing pad that determines how your vehicle looks. If you want the best finish, purchasing quality buffing pads is essential.

The best buffing pads are flexible, durable and offer the degree of abrasion you need for the job. Our top pick is TCP Global Store Eight Inch Black Extra Fine Finishing Grip Pad for its ability to produce a high-quality, swirl-free finish.

What to know before you buy a buffing pad

Compounding buffing pad

This is the most aggressive buffing pad. It is used to remove surface defects, such as scratches in the paint.

Polishing buffing pad

This buffing pad is the intermediary pad in a three-step process. It is not as aggressive as a compounding buffing pad, but it is still abrasive, so it should not be used for the finishing step.

Finishing buffing pad

The third and final step to restoring the surface of your vehicle requires a finishing buffing pad. This type of buffing pad does not (or should not) cut the surface of your vehicle. Instead, this pad is used to apply wax and sealant.

What to look for in a quality buffing pad


There are three types of materials used in the manufacturing of buffing pads. Foam is the most common and versatile material. It is affordable and can be manufactured to produce specific results. Microfiber is versatile and more durable than foam, but results may be inconsistent among manufacturers as there is no real standard yet. Wool is more aggressive and is not recommended for a novice as it may damage the vehicle's surface.


The size (diameter) of a buffing pad should be 1/2 inch larger than the diameter of the backing plate on your buffer. Larger pads cover larger areas, but also require more down pressure to use. Smaller pads reduce the amount of down pressure needed, but are best for polishing smaller sections.


Typically, a consumer will find what they need in the $10 to $20 price range. If you drop much below $10, the quality may be questionable. On the other hand, if you move above $20, you may simply be getting more than is necessary for occasional-use needs.

Buffing pad FAQ

Why do certain companies have different-colored buffing pads?

A. If a manufacturer offers similar-looking buffing pads in a variety of colors, it is so you can quickly identify how aggressive each pad is. For instance, yellow may mean the pad is highly aggressive and should not be used for finishing, while blue might be best for polishing and sealants.

Why are buffing pads so soft and flexible?

A. The stiffer a buffing pad is, the less able it is to apply even pressure to the curved surfaces of your vehicle. You want a buffing pad to be flexible so it provides an even finish.

What's the best buffing pad to buy?

Top buffing pad

TCP Global Store Eight Inch Black Extra Fine Finishing Grip Pad

What you need to know: This black extra-fine foam finishing pad works best with waxes and sealants.

What you'll love: This 8-inch pad is designed to deliver a swirl-free finish. It is manufactured using open-cell foam to promote better air flow, which can help keep the buffing pad cooler.

What you should consider: A few users have noted that while these are excellent pads, they might not hold up as long as some other options.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Top buffing pad for the money

Petutu Polishing Pad Kit

What you need to know: An economical purchase, this kit gives you a great deal of buffing options for a low price.

What you'll love: This 22-piece pack includes everything you need (except the drill) for a DIY home buffing set. The combination of foam and wool pads makes this a highly versatile little kit.

What you should consider: These pads are only 3 inches in diameter, so they may be a little small for some.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Worth checking out

Chemical Guys Buffing Pad Kit

What you need to know: This set of three 6.5-inch buffing pads is packaged with a thoughtful polishing-pad cleaner that can help keep your buffing pads in top shape.

What you'll love: The hex pattern on these buffing pads helps increase air flow. Their hook-and-loop technology makes the individual pads easy to change. Customer service goes above and beyond to help ensure you have the best experience with this product.

What you should consider: Just remember, each of the three included pads has a different purpose. Finishing with the wrong pad can have less-than-desirable results.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon


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Allen Foster writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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