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The Best Buffing Pads

🕚 Updated October 2021

Buffing pads are extremely effective for polishing cars quickly, easily, and beautifully. If you want the convenience that buffing pads provide, check out our top picks.

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  Best Design Best Wool Best for Household Drills Best Variety Set For Buffers and Polishers
  Chemical Guys
Hex-Logic Medium-Heavy Cutting Pad
100% Wool Polishing Pads
39 pcs Drill Polishing Pad Kit
6.5 Inch Face Buffing and Polishing Pads
Chemical Guys
6.5 Inch Hex-Logic Buffing Pad Kit
Our SummaryThis medium to heavy cutting buffing pad features Hex-Logic surface technology for good coverage.A 100% wool buffing pad with a stable base to perform consistently for long periods of buffing.This kit has what you need to buff and polish using your own drill.These buffing pads with laser-cut grid surfaces won't fall off during high speeds.A color-coded kit for dual-action, rotary, and large-throw orbital machines that comes with a pad cleaner.
ProsHex-Logic surface technology, good for medium cutting and polishing scratches, even distribution, premium foam.100% natural wool, stable surface, can be used for most electric and pneumatic grinding and polishing machines, machine washable.30 sponge polishing pads, three drill adapters, three suction cups, three woolen textured pads, washable and reusable, works with a simple drill.Comprehensive array of sponge pads, color-coded, well-suited for most types of compounds, good airflow, reusable.Hex-Logic color-coded pads, seven buffing cuts, conforms to contours of cars, works with dual-action polishers, pad cleaner and conditioner included.
ConsOnly one pad, you may not like how the Hex-Logic pattern performs.Because the wool fibers are abrasive, you need to follow up with a finishing pad.You may run into issues with the drill adapters, the kit might be more than you need.Pads might wear down sooner than desired.Pricier than similar kits, has its limitations.
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The Best Buffing Pads

A man uses a buffing pad attached to a power tool to polish a fancy orange car.

Some car owners have been polishing their cars for years and know exactly which products they like and how to use them. If that’s you, congratulations! You’re ahead of the game. If not, a brief introduction to buffing pads may be helpful. Buffing pads are circular in shape and are commonly made of foam covered in wool or microfiber. They serve numerous purposes but are most often used to polish paint and other hard surfaces or apply sealants, wax, or other coatings. During buffing, the pads keep the fine abrasives in polishes at the surface, turning the pad into a kind of ultra-fine sandpaper. Friction caused by abrasion generates heat, especially in instances where a machine buffer is used, and heat can damage the surface you’re buffing. Fortunately, buffing pads absorb heat and transfer cool air, preventing overheating. Some buffing pads are made to be used by hand, while others are designed specifically to use on rotary or orbital buffing machines and even home drills. They’re also flexible so that you can apply even pressure to curved surfaces. If you’re looking for reliable buffing pads, here are some we recommend.

Buying Guide for Buffing Pads

A row of buffing pads lined up.
John Connor Bray/Shutterstock.com

Why buy buffing pads?

Many car owners use a simple towel to apply polish to their car’s exterior. But buffing pads provide a more efficient way to work polish and its abrasives into the finish to remove defects and inconsistencies and reduce the extra work needed to correct them. Buffing pads hold polish to the surface more evenly than a towel and are easy to attach to a machine, allowing for a more even and consistent material removal, as well as less effort on your part. You also end up using less polish! Finally, buffing pads create a barrier between your machine or hand and your car’s surface, which keeps you safe and the car safe from potential scratching.

What should you look for in buffing pads?

  • Type: There are two overarching types of pads: cutting/compounding pads and polishing/finishing pads. You want to use a cutting pad to actually remove the top layer of paint or clear coat in order to remove defects faster. Cutting pads are coarser and stiffer, and the polish you’ll use contains aggressive abrasives, too. For less damaged surfaces, you may want to use a compound buffer pad, which is slightly less stiff and is used to remove a thinner layer of paint. Finally, you’ll want to use a polishing pad for the second step in the buffing process. These pads are less stiff and should be used with less aggressive compounds. Finishing pads are used to apply sealants or cleaner wax products, as they’re made with the softest foam.
  • Material: As stated earlier, most buffing pads are sponge-based. When packaged as a set, foam pads are identifiable according to color, and the more pads in a set, the more colors. The colors correspond to different compounds. Accordingly, foam pads can be used from low to high RPMs. For example, the yellow pad in a set is typically for heavy cutting, while red is for ultra-fine finishing. Synthetic wool polishing pads are aggressive and often used for cutting and polishing. They’re equipped to be spun at higher RPMs to produce large amounts of heat and friction and require a higher degree of control than other materials. A mix between foam pads and synthetic wool, microfiber pads have short fibers which create some heat and friction and are often used to polish. They’re more aggressive than foam but less so than synthetic wool.
  • Attachment: Unless you plan to polish your car by hand, you’ll need to use a drill or a dual-action, orbital, or rotary polisher. Whatever the machine you use, you’ll need a backing plate of some kind; they hold your pad in place and aid in distributing the pressure and weight of the machine evenly. Backing plates come in different sizes and require different attachments. For that reason, buffing pads are designed to work with various plates and machines. So when you’re shopping for buffing pads, you should already know the appliance you’ll use to buff, the type and size of the backing plate, and so forth.

What is the difference between waxing applicators and buffing pads?

In addition to the fact that waxing applicators and buffing pads are used for different purposes, the material used in waxing applicators is soft, while the material in buffing pads, especially those for cutting, is stiffer and more abrasive. Another difference is that waxing applicators are handheld. You apply the wax with the applicator, then hand-buff with a soft cloth. When searching for buffing products, they will most often be made to use with an electrical buffer.

Our Picks for the Best Buffing Pads

Best Design

Chemical Guys Hex-Logic Medium-Heavy Cutting Pad

This medium to heavy cutting buffing pad features Hex-Logic surface technology for good coverage.

Pros: If you’re curious about the latest in textured surface buffing pads, Chemical Guys is a great starting point. These pads feature Hex-Logic surface technology, a hexagonal design that’s laser-cut into a honeycomb-shaped pattern. Hex-Logic works well for medium cutting and polishing scratches because it provides total coverage on flat, round, or angled surfaces. The pad is made for 5-inch backing plates for pre-wax buffing or applying wax or polish. As you run the rotary polisher across surfaces of your car, the product moves through the Hex-Logic grooves and is distributed evenly. The pad is made with premium-quality foam, which increases longevity and is safer to use on various kinds of surfaces without compromising its quality.

Cons: Honestly, we don’t see many downsides to these pads. The only disadvantage here is that the pack includes only one pad, so it won’t last as long as multi-packs.

Bottom Line: The Hex-Logic surface technology isn’t a fad; it’s an innovative design that performs impressively in common buffing projects. As you buff, the wax, polish, or other solution you use runs through the hex grooves and out, keeping your car’s surface lubricated, which reduces friction and marring. These are all desirable features in a buffing pad. To reiterate, the performance value of this product is not that it’s high-tech, but that the design works.


Best Wool

SPTA 100% Wool Polishing Pads

A 100% wool buffing pad with a stable base to perform consistently for long periods of buffing.

Pros: SPTA uses 4-ply 100% natural wool material for their buffing pads. The fiber is twisted to create a stable surface and to maintain a consistent degree of pressure for long periods of time. The wool pad won’t jump during buffing nor create too much heat. The SPTA buffing pads can be used for most electric and pneumatic grinding and polishing machines, and the product with hook and loop backing comes with a backing plate. They can accommodate both 6- and 7-inch normal- and beveled-edged backing pads. Because natural wool buffing pads are more aggressive than foam pads and even synthetic wool, it’s recommended that you begin buffing with the wool pad and finish with a foam pad for a perfect shine. So why use wool in the first place? Because it cuts deeper into unwanted scratches and marks and aggressively targets and removes oxidized paint.

Cons: Wool pads generally won’t get you through the entire buffing process. Because the wool fibers are abrasive, you may need to follow up with a foam finishing pad and polish to remove potential marring. Another drawback to wool is that it’s possible you’ll have to clean up wool fiber loss.

Bottom Line: If you’re sold on wool buffing pads and their effectiveness, we think you’ll be pleased with the SPTA natural wool buffing pads.


Best for Household Drills

Benavvy 39 pcs Drill Polishing Pad Kit

This kit has what you need to buff and polish using your own drill.

Pros: Here’s an ultimate DIY buffing kit: you get almost everything you need to get started. It comes with 30 sponge polishing pads, three drill adapters, three suction cups, and three woolen buffer pads. And that’s just the beginning!  Among the wavy textured sponge pads, the orange and white pads are the stiffest and are suitable for cutting to remove defects such as scratches, marring, and oxidized coatings. Yellow is the intermediate of the four; use it to apply compounds and polishes for swirls and light oxidation. The lightest pads (black and blue) deliver a fine finish and can be used with ultra-fine polishing products. The wool buffers and sponge pads feature a curved design and are washable and reusable. As with other quality buffing pads, the Benavvy pads soak up polishes and distribute them evenly. What really sets this kit apart from other products, though, is that it’s designed to work with a simple drill. The set can also be used in electrical or pneumatic machines.

Cons: You may run into issues with the drill adapters. More specifically, the screw adapters may loosen when you stop your drill while buffing. If you already own a good chunk of the items included in the kit, you may find this large kit superfluous.

Bottom Line: The sheer variety and number of buffing pads, in addition to other desirable tools included in the Benavvy kit, are impressive. It’s often the case that a higher quantity is associated with a loss in quality. However, the Benavvy kit won’t let you down. If you like and need the tools included in this generous kit, we think you’ll be pleased.


Best Variety Set

SPTA 6.5 Inch Face Buffing and Polishing Pads

These buffing pads with laser-cut grid surfaces won't fall off during high speeds.

Pros: SPTA’s buffing pad kit delivers a comprehensive array of sponge pads, color-coded according to the type of cut. The yellow pad is the heaviest cut and works well for removing oxidation and scratches. On the lighter end of the spectrum is the black pad, which is suitable for finishing and waxing. The front of each buffing pad is 6.5 inches, while the back measures 6 inches. This design works to protect the pad itself, the backing plate, and the surface from abrasion, and it’s well-suited for most types of compounds. There’s a laser-cut grid design on each sponge’s surface to improve airflow and achieve a smooth finishing polish. Velcro covers the backside of the buffing pads as well as the surface of the backing plate for security. Use the sponges for waxing, polishing, and sealing glaze. They’re easy to wash and reuse.

Cons: These pads may not last as long as others. Some users have found that they wear down from the friction rather quickly and don’t last through as many uses as wanted.

Bottom Line: The SPTA sponges have a lot to offer, from the soft, bendable quality, to the grid-textured surface. But they won’t crumble under the force generated by dual-action, rotary, or orbital polishers. They won’t damage your car’s surface but bring out that shine that’s been hiding beneath the grime. The Velcro detail provides security, keeping the pad and plate together and protected.


For Buffers and Polishers

Chemical Guys 6.5 Inch Hex-Logic Buffing Pad Kit

A color-coded kit for dual-action, rotary, and large-throw orbital machines.

Pros: You get a range of 6.5-inch Hex-Logic color-coded pads which correspond to seven buffing cuts. The kit includes one of each pad: heavy cutting (yellow), swirl and scratch remover (orange),  heavy polishing (green), perfect surface polishing (white), light cleaner foam pad (blue), finishing foam pad (black), and an ultra-fine finishing pad (red). The surfaces of the pads feature the Chemical Guys trademark Hex-Logic design, a hexagonal laser-cut pattern that conforms to contours and angles of your vehicle’s surfaces. Whatever product you use will flow through the grooves of the cut design evenly and accurately. The buffing pad kit works with most buffers and polishes and hook and loop backing plates. Also included is a 16-ounce bottle of Chemical Guys’ citrus-based pad cleaner and conditioner that’s effective in breaking up oil and removing residue.

Cons: This option does have a higher price. And it has its limitations, of course. For example, the pads won’t fit backing plates smaller than 5.5 inches. If you have 4-inch or 3-inch backing plates, you’ll definitely want to look elsewhere.

Bottom Line: Chemical Guys has a great reputation among car supply companies, and this buffing pad kit doesn’t deviate from the company’s gold standard. If you have the cash, you likely can’t go wrong with this kit. The solution contains a citrus degreasing agent that works to break up oil and remove residue completely. The degreaser takes care of wax, compounds glazes, polishes, glazes, compounds, and even product and paint residue lodged deep inside foam, microfiber, and wool polishing pads.

Final Thoughts

As a proud car owner, you know that taking care of your vehicle’s exterior is critical. As you put on miles and possibly park outside at work or home, your car is exposed to contaminants every day, from UV rays to grime and debris from the road to defects such as scratches and oxidation. Your car’s paint wears out over time. To protect the exterior (and your wallet from future repairs), get into the habit of waxing and buffing your car. The car buffing pads we reviewed here are just a part of the at-home car care process, but one of significance.

Britta Kallevang Britta Kallevang
Britta is a professional writing tutor and freelance writer that is trained in journalistic, technical, and creative copywriting. At LifeSavvy, she researches products, writes about the items, and shares what she's uncovered with readers. Her writing is comprehensive and sometimes a bit silly. Read Full Bio »
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