"Rubbing Out" is a process to improve the finish on painted surfaces by removing surface imperfections, such as "orange peel". While this may improve an indifferent paint job, the only way to get a really good result is to put in the time in the first place.
Apologies for the long delay in publishing this - but the last couple of hard bodies I've done have been in white - which just doesn't show up well enough in photos to be a useful example.
As well as some fine grade wet & dry paper, you'll need some polishes - some sort of cutting paste, a slightly aggressive polish, and some sort of finishing preparation - I used the "Novus" 3-step plastic polishing set here, but I used various products in the Autoglym range in the past - look at their "Paint Renovator", "Super Resin Polish" and "Extra Gloss Protection" for example.
Personally, I wouldn't use T-Cut (especially on fresh paint) due to the solvents in it.
Here's a body I painted earlier... it looks pretty good - and it ought to: it had a rub down, guide coat, fill, rub down again, prime, rub down, colour coats, and finally clear coat (have a look at the earlier articles on paint prep here and
For example, although it's quite shiny, reflections are a little fuzzy ...
... shadow edges are a bit wobby, point light sources are spread out ....
... and, in extreme closeup, there's evidence of an "orange peel" finish.
Moving on to the actual method, the first step is to go over the accessible areas with a fine grit wet & dry paper, wet, with a little washing up detergent for lubrication.
1200 grit paper is probably a little too harsh, but 1600, 2000 and 2500 grit paper should be easily available. Remember that the finer the grit, the more time it'll take, but the less danger there is of rubbing through the clearcoat &/or the paint.
I used previously-used 2000 grit paper, being extremely careful on any edges, and ignoring any potentially difficult, small areas ...
For example, this pic shows another angle - I rubbed down the rear wings (fenders, right of pic), roll bar loop (lower centre & left of picture) and engine cover top (left of centre) - but not the sides of the engine cover, or the fiddly area around the raised "vents".
This is after the first stage of polishing (Novus "Heavy Scratch Remover") - the orange peel has now gone, but the surface is a little streaky, and reflections & point light sources are not as sharp as they could be...
This is after the second polishing (Novus "Fine Scratch Remover") - shadow edges and reflections are a lot sharper...
... and this is after the final step (Novus "Plastic Clean & Shine"), making it very shiny indeed. Do be cautious about when you apply your final polish/sealer - if it contains any wax, that may well interfere with detail painting or decal adhesion.
Written by TB member Jonny Retro