Wet Sanding Clear Coat: How Long to Wait before Wet Sanding Clear Coat?

More than 90% of cars manufactured have a clear finish coat applied to them as they leave the factory. As a clear coat protects your car, you need to wax it regularly. Indeed, the shine of a clear coat requires a few layers of waxing, but ultimately you need to wet sand it for regaining the original texture. Wet sanding and buffing clear coat also helps to minimize and eliminate orange peel on the clear coat.

Make sure you provide enough time for the wet sanding before moving on to the next step to get a very glossy finish. Be patient if you want a factory finish that looks like the showroom variety. Clear coating your car is a good idea, but it sometimes causes the harmful orange peel effect, which you can avoid by the wet sanding peeling clear coat off. You can remove a car’s body defects by using wet sanding; you can also improve the clear coat’s efficiency. For knowing how to wet sand clear coat and buff, continue reading the content.

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Table of Contents

  • When to Wet Sand Clear Coat?
  • How Long to Wait before Wet Sanding Clear Coat?
  • Required PPEs for Wet Sanding Clear Coat
  • Tools and Materials Needed for Wet Sanding Clear Coat
  • Wet Sanding and Buffing Clear Coat [3 Phases]
    • Phase-1: Cleaning and Soaking
    • Phase-2: Sanding
    • Phase-3: Buffing
  • Pro-Tip: Can You Use Dry Sandpaper To Wet Sand?
  • Secret! What Grit Sandpaper for Wet Sanding Clear Coat?

When to Wet Sand Clear Coat?

The most powerful way to remove paint flaws is with wet sanding. You can use this process when your car has an orange peel with several scratches.

The orange peel flaw detracts from the beauty of the overall painting. If you wax a car, you will not get the orange peel off. To reduce and eliminate the orange peel effect, wet sanding clear coat off is necessary. Before performing wet sanding, a skilled painter should use a painted scale to check the paint’s consistency.

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How Long to Wait before Wet Sanding Clear Coat?

Generally, once you apply a clear coat, blemishes can be removed with wet sanding. If you find the answer to the question, do you wet sand before clear coat, then you should know you have to start wet sanding after clear coat. Before wet sanding and buffing clear coat, allow the clear coat to settle for at least one day at room temperature.

Required PPEs for Wet Sanding Clear Coat

  • Safety Glasses or Visor
  • Ground Fault Protection Interruption (GFPI)
  • Ear Plugs
  • Gloves
  • Respiratory Protector
  • Ring Binder
  • Face Mask

Tools and Materials Needed for Wet Sanding Clear Coat

  • Electric polisher
  • Grit Sandpaper
  • Spray detailer
  • Variable speed polisher
  • A rag
  • A bucket
  • A towel
  • A low RPM buffer
  • Water
  • Buffing Pad

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Wet Sanding and Buffing Clear Coat [3 Phases]

Phase-1: Cleaning and Soaking

Step-1: Clean the exterior

Use fresh water and a dedicated washing solution. Follow instructions according to the bottle. What you’re trying to do is to get rid of is dirt and grime to get at the clear finish.

Step-2: Allow the surface to dry

After you’ve cleaned your entire car’s body, allow it to air dry.

Step-3: Soak all sandpapers

Now, you can soak all sandpapers with a bucket of water least for at least 60 minutes to avoid scratching the paint. Using wet sandpaper can be a good choice at this point.

Step-4: Soak a rag

Next, wash out a rag, dip it in soap solution. You can use one soap in one gallon of water for making a soap solution.

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Phase-2: Sanding

Sanding is the maker or breaker of any project, so there are a few things you should definitely keep in mind. Before start sanding you must read about 23 Biggest Mistakes When Sanding!

Step-1: Sanding one small section at a time

It all depends on the size of the section, but the rule of thumb aims to get one square foot done at a time; just note what you have done and what you haven’t completed. This will help reduce the amount of sanding needed on the entire car. It will also guarantee equal attention to each element of the car.

Step-2: Use a sanding block or pad

You should use a rubber pad to provide an accurate fit to your panel.

Step-3: Start sanding

The 600-grit sandpaper works well for this, then gradually use the higher-grit paper up to 2000-grit to finish it. When you don’t have the time, just go to the higher-grit sandpaper. You can follow the below steps:

  1. 1

    You should start with little pressure.

  2. 2

    When you’ve got your wet paper in one hand and a damp rag at the ready, make a series of short, cross-sloping strokes on the surface of the car from a side-view mirror to the other.

  3. 3

    Don’t forget to sand all sides of the car. Use both of your hands to maintain a moist surface. Periodically look at the results and see if things are in balance.

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Phase-3: Buffing

Step-1: Choose a rubbing compound

It is recommended that new users use a Dewalt tool. It’s designed for more seasoned use, or you can go with B & D— the choice is yours!

Step-2: Start using your buffer

Now, start buffing clear coat after wet sanding to refinish the clear coat after you have achieved the desired finish with sanding. To be sure, you can use a buffer compound at a strength of around 1400. Unless you know what you’re doing, don’t hold the buffer in one spot for more than two seconds. Keep the buffer moving and keep an eye on the surface to make sure it doesn’t overheat.

Step-3: Apply the Polish

Polish the buffer or apply an even coat of foam to the electric pad. To avoid overheating a specific spot, maintain a constant speed of RPM electric buffer, shift the polisher back and forth over the finish area while buffing. A circular motion should be applied for the polishing process if you are using a foam pad.

Use a polisher with a variable speed. You can vary the speed of the variable speed polisher to fit the wet sanding and polishing clear coat compound you’re using. It will allow you to achieve the best possible car finish.

Begin with a buffing pad made entirely of wool. You can purchase a Meguiar’s Ultra-Cut buffer from an auto parts shop. When you’re done, wipe away any remaining buffing compound.


The thicker the clear-coat, the slower the drying time. Use only enough buffing compound to create a smooth, even surface. If you’re just getting started, use something safe to practice on first.

 Step-4: Buffing with a Soft Pad

Scratches should be gone, but you could still see small circles or swirls. Now, you have to use a soft buffering pad and finish polishing.

During this process, the buffer can operate at a higher speed. You should continue buffering until your car gets a nice mirror finish.


Hold the buffer at a safe distance, or you can ruin the base coat. Know where to put your polish so it won’t dry out, or you’ll have to respray it.

Step-5: Clean off the Buffed Spot

Meguiar’s has a prestigious final inspection record. This will make the whole area clean and perfect and finish the job.

Step-6: Apply a Coat of Wax

This will make things more secure. Keep away from all heat sources. Use a high-quality paste or liquid wax according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

You should put away all of the maintenance kits and polishing accessories from the place. You’ve done your work. It’s arduous to buff but well worth the effort when you can see heads roll when driving down the streets with a freshly buffed-out coat of clear coat.

It’s always a good idea to keep your car looking its best, so use a cleaner and wax every week.

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Pro-Tip: Can You Use Dry Sandpaper To Wet Sand?

You should not use dry sandpaper for wet sanding the car’s clear coat. Before wet sanding clear coat off, saturate the sandpaper in water for ten minutes is a must. Wet sanding is more fun than dry sanding. Follow below rules for better results:

Follow proper sanding techniques:

Most scratches would have the appearance of being even and perpendicular. For getting the wet sanding fresh clear coat, you should keep sanding to 45 degrees with scratches. You can also sand the scratches in a parallel direction by chance if you failed to sand at a 45-degree angle.

Change sanding direction:

When you sand one side to side, swipe it in a diagonal direction. Preventing the clear coat from dripping out means holding the surface wet.

Sand with higher grit sandpaper:

If you have started with 600-grit paper, use this opportunity to finish with a finer grade, then use up to 2000-grit sandpaper for a more refined final result.

Make it dull:

As soon as the water begins to look milky, stop sanding. Once you’ve dried the area, inspect that you aren’t penetrating the clear coat.

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Secret! What Grit Sandpaper for Wet Sanding Clear Coat?

The proper choice of grits is the best way to wet sand clear coat for getting the smooth finish that you want. Start with sandpaper that is too coarse, and you can simply end up with a thinner finish or a work-in-progress coat. When you start with the lowest grade sandpaper, your arm will feel like it’s about to fall off.

Any experiments can help you to get it. At a first step, use 400-grit sandpaper is the best grit to wet sand new clear coat to get rid of those little lugs. Use 400-grit sandpaper is great for wet sanding clear coat off car surface. Eventually, the orange peel and finer scratches in the clear coat will remove easily by wet sanding.

After you’ve worked with the 400-grit paper for a while, you can switch to the 600-grit paper to make a clean, even surface when painting the car. If you’re going to start sanding clear coat to repaint the car, don’t use 400-grit sandpaper; it’ll damage the paint instead of helping it.

The key to success to a well-finished paint job could achieve by using 800 or 1000-grit sandpaper. You have two choices for wet sanding with grit sandpaper: either use 600 to 1,000-grit sandpaper or 1,200- to 2,000 grit sandpaper.

If you want the best results, start with a coarser grit and progress to a finer one. One method is to either cut and shape the sandpaper and then tie it to the sanding block or form the sandpaper after you’ve removed it from the bucket.

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Final Words

Wet sanding can give a car a silky finish like a mirror. If you can do it properly, you will get rides of your car’s problem like orange peel in clear-coat paint and scratches. Wet sanding clear coat is also known as color sanding clear coat.

To optimize your car’s look and luster, you need to perform this operation regularly. If your wet sanding is done correctly, the finish will maintain its clarity, keeping it safe and giving your car the finished look you want. You can also hire a professional mechanic if you think you can’t perform wet sanding clear coat accurately. I hope that this guide would help you a lot in these circumstances.

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