What’s the Difference Between a Buffer and a Polisher?

The terms buffer and polisher are different names for the same thing. As with any power too, knowing which type of polisher to use requires an understanding of the advantages and disadvantages of each.

What differentiates the different types of machines is the way in which the head moves. These machines can be either dual action or rotary.

Rotary buffers move only in a circle. The dual action machines move in circles but also make motions up-and-down and side-to-side. Both types of car buffers have variable speeds.

The way that the pad rotates around the motor is what makes them different. Choosing the right machine, polishing pads and liquids helps professional car detailers and enthusiasts get the paint correction results they want.

High speed rotary polishers spin very fast in a circle, generating heat around the edges of the buffing pad. Circular polishers can be very effective for quickly removing oxidation or other heavy defects. The main risks are the potential for paint burn and creating swirl marks in clear coat.

Check out the Rupes LH19E Rotary Buffer for a machine with high torque motor, compact design and premium ergonomics.

Orbital buffers move in a completely different way, almost eliminating the risk of swirl marks and paint burn. Also called dual action polishers, they orbit in a random pattern while vibrating at the same time. Random orbital buffers are much easier to use and even beginners can remove swirls without much practice.

Top brands include Rupes Bigfoot Mark IIIGriot's Garage BOSS and Meguiar's MT300. Because DA polishers are so user friendly, they work great as random orbital sanders, too!

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