A good rubbing compound is an indispensable tool for anyone who works with metal bodies like cars and boats. It is used to remove scratches, oxidization and other forms of damages to a car's or boats' paintwork and restores them, whereupon you can apply polish or a top coat to give it a smooth, new, shiny look.
Supposing you already know how to apply the rubbing compound, the main issue now is to find the right rubbing compound that is suited for your work. Rubbing compound comes in different compositions and in different forms and it is important to understand that because it is a chemical product, you have to be more careful so that you do not damage the paintwork by using the wrong kind. It is a little like choosing the right skin cream for a human; just as you would be careful to choose the right cream for the skin type it was made for, you have to know the what type of paint and damage you are going to use the rubbing compound for.
To make things easy for you, we have brought together in this article, ten best rubbing compounds, their uses, what we like or not like about them.
Our Best Pick
3M Marine Compound and Finishing Material
This product made it to our best pick because of its two-in-one action of a rubbing compound and a polisher. You will love this if you are looking for a reliable rubbing compound to use on your boat, which will not only remove the damages from your boat's external surface but also add a glossy, smooth look in the end.
Our Budget Pick
Griot's Garage 10862 Complete Compound
While being within your budget, this compound offers excellent performance even when applied by hand, without the use of an orbital. This product is suitable for being used on your car's body to effectively remove scratches and scars, with none or minimal dust.
Quick Comparison: Top 10 Best Rubbing Compounds
Choosing the right rubbing compound is difficult because there are different products available in the market and each of them has properties that make them suitable for specific types of repair or detailing work. In the section below, we will guide you through ten rubbing compounds, along with their descriptions, that we think are the best that the market has to offer.
1. 3M Marine Compound and Finishing Material
This superb product from 3M is perfect for anyone looking for a compound that would completely fix the beauty of their precious boats. The 3M Marine compound effectively removes both heavy and light oxidation. When it comes to boats, scratches are the most common type of damages, whereas swirl marks are super fine scratches that can also happen on your boat’s surface. You can use this compound to easily remove both scratches and swirl marks by applying this using a wool compounding pad or an air or electric buffer.
The great thing about this product is not only its efficiency in blemish removal but also that it acts as a polish so when you use this compound, there is no need for an extra polishing compound, which saves your time, effort and money. Due to its polishing quality, it gives your boat a glossy, brand-new look.
2. Griot's Garage 10862 Complete Compound
Are you worried about the scratch marks on your car? Worry no more, with this well-rounded compound from Griot’s Garage, you can now fix it by yourself without the need to take your car to a repair shop. This compound is easily applicable by hands or if you want, you can also use an orbital, which will give you a better finish.
The issue with some rubbing compound is that after the work has been done, it is difficult to remove them, but this compound saves you from that trouble; you can quickly wipe it off by using a microfiber cloth.
This product is especially great for you if you don't know a lot about car paint and compounds that are compatible with those specific types of coatings and paint since this product is safe to use on all types of car paints.
3. Star brite Liquid Rubbing Compound
This is a product that is highly specialized in removing oxidization and this is perfect for car paints that have undergone medium to heavy oxidization from strong exposure to sunlight. Oxidization causes cloudy spots on your car paint making it appear chalky and damaged. And you would not want to leave oxidization marks untreated on your car because the longer you leave them, the deeper they are going to go and the harder it will be to be fixed. Lighter oxidization marks can be covered up using wax polishes but this liquid compound from Star brite will take care of even the heavier ones that are impossible to remove with weaker compounds.
This product is not restricted to car paints only, it can be used on any fiberglass, metal or painted surfaces which means as long as you have this in your workstation, this will have you covered for almost any kind of damages caused by oxidization.
4. Cyclo No7 Heavy Duty Rubbing Compound
Have you ever owned a great piece of an antique showpiece or a furniture that you thought would look better if they did not look so dull? Then this is the compound for you! This does not only work on car bodies but is suitable for any surface that needs to be cleaned or needs its original shine to be restored.
You can easily apply it using your hands, without the need of an orbital or a buffer to remove even the deepest stains and scars from the surface you want to polish.
5. Turtle Wax T-241A Polishing Compound & Scratch Remover
Just as its name suggests, this product can be used to remove scratches and polish any dull surface you want to make shiny. This product is applicable starting from smaller household objects, to heavy duty polishing of your car.
It is ideal to wax your car every two months or so and this polish compound is especially good for applying between the wax layer and the acrylic paint underneath it.
6. Meguiar's G17216 Ultimate Compound
Are you looking for a rubbing compound that will give you a professional level performance? Then this is the product you are looking for. This product, as the name suggests is the ultimate solution to fix all sorts of damages on your auto motive's external surface. You can apply it by hand or by using a polisher to remove scratches, oxidization marks, deep water stains, swirls, etc.
Harsh abrasives are compounds that remove scars or damages from a surface by cutting. But the problem with harsh abrasives is that they can also cause damage to the surface you are working on, by leaving swirl marks or scratches. The great thing about this product is that it works as fast as harsh abrasives, without the damaging qualities of harsh abrasives. This product uses micro-abrasive technology which means it gives a glossy, smooth finish to your work instead of a coarse, scratchy one.
Sometimes, rubbing compounds can only be applied on the surface after multiple stages of painting, but this compound can be applied even on single-stage paint, which is another reason to love this product.
7. Mothers 08612 Professional Rubbing Compound
If you are a professional car detailer, this is a product that will be worth looking into. This high-quality rubbing compound from Mothers offers industry-proven formula and ensures effective cleaning of scars, scratches and swirl marks. It can also be used to burnish surfaces that have been sanded to give a smoother surface.
Just because the name says professional, don’t be intimidated to try it if you are not a professional detailer. It can easily be used at home using a buffer and you can achieve a brand-new look for your car without having to take it to a repair shop.
8. Meguiar's M6732 Marine/RV One Step Compound
This product from Meguiar’s provides a one-step solution to fixing surfaces on your marine vehicles or RV. A great thing about this product is that it combines cleaning and waxing actions into one compound, meaning you require only one step, instead of two, which is the general case with other compounds.
A very convenient thing about it is that it comes in a 32 oz. bottle compared to most other products of the same category that comes in smaller amounts.
You can use it to remove oxidations, water stains, scratches and other blemishes from any kind of fiberglass gel coat surfaces, making it suitable for a wide range of applications.
It also allows you to choose between applying it using your hands or a machine so you can choose between what works best for you.
The polishing action of this compound means that the surface you finish working with will have a mirror glaze after it’s done. Whether it be your RV, a canoe, a boat, a trailer or a ski boat, go ahead and consider this product for your repair work.
9. Turtle Wax T-415 Premium Grade Rubbing Compound
This excellent rubbing compound from Turtle Wax can be used to remove blemishes on your car paint like heavy swirl marks and 1500 grit sanding scratches. These types of damage marks are extremely common and better to get rid of them as fast as possible.
You can apply it using hands, orbitals or rotary polishers, which allows you to get the job done by yourself rather than having to spend a lot of money at a car repair shop. If you are applying it with your hands, you can use cotton, microfiber or foam pads to prepare your car for the next stage of polishing with wax.
As the name suggests it is premium in the sense that unlike many other products in the market, it is silicone-free, which is an important factor in auto-detailing works. When you rub a car surface using a product that contains silicone, it may give rise to paint adhesion problems. Also, it can create smear marks on the painted surface.
10. Perfect-It 3M 36058 Perfect-It EX Rubbing Compound
Do you live in a region with high temperatures and humidity which makes it hard to do car-detailing? Are you a professional car-detailer looking for a rubbing compound that will give you showroom-grade results? Or, are you looking for a rubbing compound that will be easy to use with least amount of mess and will avoid slings while working on your car? If you fit into any of the categories mentioned above or if you are simply looking for a reliable compound to remove the damage marks on your auto motive’s surface, you will have to take a look at this product from 3M.
At the core of this product's formula is Aluminum oxide which allows it to remove fine sand scratches and leave a smooth finish. When it comes to repairing the external surfaces of cars in order to prepare for the next waxing stage, it is very important to choose the perfect compound to get the job done. Grit scale, which is used to measure how fine the sanding scratches are, is an important thing to consider. This product removes sanding scratches that are 1200 grit fine or finer and this makes this compound a great choice for the pre-polishing stage.
Another thing that makes this product stand out from other products is its ability to be used to extreme conditions of heat and humidity. These are two big enemies of car-detailers because they affect the paint and other chemicals that are used in car-repairing work. But this product will endure these kinds of extremities and allow you to work in any environment.
Things to consider before buying the best rubbing compound
Now that you have become familiar with the ten best rubbing compounds out there, we hope that you have a better idea of what your options are. But to give you a more summarized insight into the factors you should carefully consider before buying the right one for your repair work, we have prepared this section of the article for you.
How the rubbing compound can be applied
This is an important factor since many rubbing compounds require to be used in combination with a buffer or with certain kinds of applying tools like foam pads, wool pads or microfiber. Check the requirement of applying tool and make sure you have them close by before starting your work.
In the table, we provide a row that mentions the quantities the products come in and it is useful to assess how much you will need to do your work. There are compounds that come in bulk size like 32 oz. which are suitable for doing large surfaces like RVs or trailer surfaces. Also, if you wish to clean an isolated surface or a small piece of furniture, a product that comes in small quantity like 10 oz. might be better.
What kind of damage are you trying to fix? Blemishes come in all sizes and forms: Swirl marks, sanding scratches, deep or shallow scratches, heavy or light oxidation, water spots, and the list goes on. There are products that cover all kinds of damages and there are products that are specialized in removing certain kinds of marks. Especially with sanding scratches, it is important to check the grit scale.
Choosing the right rubbing compound is a process that requires a lot of experience and specialized knowledge but once you have assessed the work you are going to use the rubbing compound on and have compared the available options that are available, you will be able to choose the best rubbing compound to restore your automotive, boat or any kind of painted surface back to newness.