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What is Paint Correction, How Much Does it Cost, Do I Need it?

Updated: May 24

I want to be very transparent on what I talk about here in hopes of educating the consumer public on the subject of paint correction. My goal is to educate customers so they make good decisions when hiring a company to perform paint corrections on their vehicles.

Man holding an Adams Polishes Swirl Killer buffer on red paint. Paint Correction
Tommy Trenton Jr Owner of NitPickin Mobile Detailing

What is Paint Correction? Paint correction refers to the process of removing the imperfections such as lite, medium, and deep scratches from a vehicle's finish and restoring it to a better than new finish.

Before and Aft6er of paint correction on black paint
3 Step Paint Correction on a 2010 Camaro SS 6.2 Liter

Let's go a little further in-depth about what paint correction is.

A professional paint correction will remove those ugly imperfections (factory swirls, light scratches, medium scratches & deep scratches) and will leave your vehicle's paint looking better than new. Not only will it remove scratches and marring, paint correction will also restore your car's clear coat and create that shine and luster people often drool over. Like this photo above. That is a 2010 Camaro SS 6.2 liter that we did a 3 step paint correction on back in 2021. It took 3-1/2 days to remove the years of neglect and damage from improper washing techniques. We removed 90% of the scratches and imperfections from its paint. That is true paint correction right there. After it was complete, we applied a 7 Year Ceramic Coating to protect the hard work we performed! 2 Years later it is still looking very good!


How Much Does Paint Correction Cost?

I'll get right to the answer. Paint correction will cost you anywhere between $200 to $2500. $200 is around 10% of imperfections removed and $2500 is right around 90-65% of imperfections removed. How much does this average out hourly? For professional paint correction specialists, the average is between $100 to $150 hourly. NitPickin is right at $100 per hour.


Why Is Paint Correction So Expensive?

This can be broken down into four categories. 1) Experience, 2) Tools, 3) Labor Intensive,

and 4) Time.

  1. Experience: Paint correction involves a lot of risks, therefore requiring more knowledge of different types of tools, chemicals, techniques, and paints, all while understanding the circumstances of each individual vehicle and the wants and needs of the customer. This knowledge only comes with experience.

  2. Tools: Professionals use professional tools and they are not cheap. Here is a list of the paint correction tools we use and how much they cost.

  • TORQ22D 21mm Polisher - $330

  • TORQ15DA 15mm Polisher - $250

  • Swirl Killer 15mm LT (backup) - $230

  • Adam's Swirl Killer MINI 12mm LT - $150

  • Rupes iBrid Nano Micro Polisher - $600

  • Adam's SK Pro Micro Polisher 2.0 - $250

  • Polisher backing plates (12 total) - $210

  • Dremel Paint Polisher - $200

  • Various Pads on hand -$700

  • Compounds and Polishes - $150

  • LUTEC 6290MAX 11000 Lumen light -$180

  • 7000 lumen Head Light - $40

  • Paint Depth Gauge -$150

That totals out to right around $3,680 after Florida sales taxes. And this is per employee. In our case, I, "Tommy" am the only one who performs paint correction and Julia assists me. All of those items will get used up, worn out and will need to either be repaired or replaced.

3. Labor intensive: Performing paint correction is not for the faint of heart. It is a job that requires both mental and physical endurance. Our polishers weigh anywhere from 2 pounds to 6 pounds each. Now hold 2 - 6 pounds and move your arms up and down and side to side while squatting, standing up, and squatting back down all day long (Summer or Winter inside or outside) without letting muscle soreness and exhaustion damper the quality of paint correction that needs to be done. Fact is, it takes focus, physical endurance, and a little bit of strength to perform high-quality paint correction consistently!

4. Time: Paint correction takes time and patience. The time it takes depends on the job and desired results by the customer. As an example, see the video below. I did a 2 stage paint correction that took right around 11 hours and produced about an 80-85% paint improvement for $1,200. Cars that are in worse condition could take longer for a two-stage correction. In some cases, it may need a three-stage. Which means it will take longer and cost more.

Each paint correction job will vary in time. It depends on the type of paint and the condition it's in. Is it hard, medium, or soft paint? Are there just light scratches or are there light, medium, and deep scratches? Is the paint lightly oxidized or heavily oxidized or not at all? Is the paint covered in mildew and fallout stains like road tar, paint overspray, artillery fungus, etc that need to be removed in the paint decontamination process? A good rule of thumb is, that the worse condition it's in, the longer it will take and the more it will cost. In some cases, the paint cannot be fixed at all. That usually means new paint. Ok, moving on!


What Does it Mean, 1 Stage, 2 Stage, and 3 Stage Paint Correction?

  • 1 Stage is the polishing stage that makes the paint super slick and very shinny. A vehicle that is subject to just a 1 Stage Paint Correction would be a new or newer vehicle with typical factory swirl marks or an older vehicle that has been very well maintained with minimal/very light surface scratches. Expect 10% to 50% Paint Improvement.

  • 2 Stage is for removal of light and medium depth scratches. 2 Stage is first cutting, then polishing, "hence 2 Stages". The first step is a medium to medium-heavy cut that does exactly what it sounds like. It cuts the clear coat down. This process is done by creating tiny thin scratches on the surface of the clear coat using a medium-cut compound with a medium-cut pad. This process will file down light & medium scratches until they are gone. This process does leave behind tiny micro-scratches from the cutting compound and pad but once the medium and light scratches are gone, the next step is polishing. The polishing stage will remove the micro scratches left behind by the cutting compound and pad. If your vehicle has light and medium scratches and you want them gone leaving the paint super shinny, it will take a 2 Stage Paint Correction. Expect 80% to 85% Paint Improvement.

  • 3 Stage is for the removal of slightly deeper than medium scratches. A more abrasive compound is used with a more abrasive pad to cut the clear coat down faster and more aggressively. This stage has to be done if you expect those deeper scratches to be removed. This is called heavy cut. Heavy cutting will mow right through the clear coat to help level out those deeper scratches. The next step needs to be the removal of the light/medium scratches we just created with the heavy cut, then the next step is the final step, polishing. 3 stage refers to, it takes 3 stages to get the paint super shiny with little to no scratches left behind. Expect 85% to 95% Paint Improvement.

Sometimes it is not worth risking the removal of deep scratches. A professional can tell when a scratch is to deep to be removed and will communicate this with the customer.


How Did My Paint Get So Messed Up?

This is always my favorite question when discussing paint correction. Three things; neglect, improper washing techniques and wear n tear from driving in environments like dusty dirty muddy roads, woods, construction sites etc. Of course all sorts of things can happen to your vehicles paint but those are the most common reasons. Well, improper washing technique is the most common cause of paint damage. Improper washing techniques also includes touch and touchless car washes. Even touchless car washes can damage your vehicles paint over time. The chemicals that drive through car washes use on your paint are very strong and will damage ceramic coatings, remove any type of wax and if its a touch "brushed" car wash it will scratch your paint period. Do that once a week for just 6 months then see how your paint looks in the sunlight. Most people don't even realize how scratched up their paint really is until I point it out. BUT people will always notice how shiny it is driving down the road all beautiful and glossy.


Do I Need Paint Correction? Well the question is, does it matter to you? Do any of these apply to you?

  • Do you care about the condition and longevity of your vehicles paint?

  • Do you like having a shinny car?

  • Do you want your paint to be super slick to the touch?

  • Does your image matter to you?

  • Yes you need paint correction if you are getting a ceramic coating.

  • Are you planning on selling your car and you want a higher price on it?

If you answered yes to enough of these questions than Id say its safe to assume you not only need it, you want it.

The bottom line is, if you value the appearance and longevity of your vehicle, having a paint correction done by a professional is absolutely worth it. There is no better way to make you and your vehicle stand out from the crowd and get some serious attention – even from people who know nothing about cars. Personally I love how shiny my truck is. It makes my business look better and more approachable. As soon as I bought it I spent 9 hours doing paint correction then I put a ceramic coating on it! I get stopped in parking lots just to tell me how shinny my truck is and most of the time they ask for a business card. Its simply a good look to have and it helps.

If any one has comments or questions about paint correction, feel free to post in the comments section and start a conversation.


That about wraps it up. If you are reading this post because you're interested in getting paint correction done by a NitPickin professional, please feel free to visit our website. Either create a profile or go to the contact page! We are more than happy to assist you.

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