This is not mine, it belongs to Mike Phillips on Detailing World. I'm copying and pasting it here via a link E39MSport posted. I thought it would be a good idea to have it as a sticky.
Word Definitions - Compounds, Polishes, Glazes, Paint Cleaners and Waxes
There's always a lot of confusion when it comes to words and terms used in the car detailing industry and hobby.
Part of the reason for this is because there's no governmental ruling authority that regulates or has oversight over the language used to describe and market car appearance products. Manufactures, marketers and distributors of car care appearance products can and do name their products using whatever terms they like regardless of the confusion it may cause or any historical precedents.
Because there's no universal or industry accepted standards for definitions for words and terms used in the car care appearance world, my practice and recommendation to others is to judge a product not by the name on the label but by what function the product serves. For example if a product is referred to as a polish but acts as a paint sealant, then the product is in fact a paint sealant and not an abrasive polish in the historical use of the word.
If a product is referred to as a glaze but acts to seal the paint with any type of water insoluble paint protection ingredients, then the product is a wax or a paint sealant or some hybrid variation of a wax and/or paint sealant and not a glaze in the historical use of the word.
Here's a list of commonly used words in our industry and my attempt at creating some type of standardized definition for each word.
A very aggressive liquid or paste that uses some type of abrasive technology to cut or abrade paint quickly. In the body shop world, compounds are used to remove sanding marks. In the detailing world, compounds are used to remove deep below surface defects like swirls, scratches and water spot etchings. Depending upon the abrasive technology and the application method and material, some compounds can remove down to #1000 grit sanding marks. Topcoat hardness is an important factor that affects compound effectiveness at removing below surface defects.
Historically, the more aggressive the compound, the more follow-up polishing will be required to restore a defect-free finish. Due to major advancements in abrasive technology, the trend is for very aggressive compounds that finish out like medium and even light polishes.
In most cases an aggressive compound should be followed with either a medium polish or a light polish to refine the surface to a higher degree of finish quality than the results produced by only the compound. Most compounds are dedicated products in that their function is primarily to abrade the paint. For this reason, after the compounding step further polishing and then sealing steps are required. Most compounds are water-soluble so that they can be washed, (dissolved with water and soap), off body panels and out of cracks and crevices.
A liquid or paste that uses some type of abrasive technology to cut or abrade the paint but is less aggressive than a true cutting compound. Depending upon the abrasive technology and the application method and material, some medium polishes can remove down to #2000 grit sanding marks and finish out to LSP ready. Topcoat hardness is an important factor that affects a medium polish's effectiveness at removing below surface defects.
Most medium polishes are dedicated products in that their function is primarily to abrade the paint. For this reason, after the polishing step further steps are required, which may include another final polishing step depending upon the results after using the medium polish and the expectations for the end results. At a minimum, the paint should be sealed with a wax, paint sealant or coating.
A liquid or paste that uses some type of abrasive technology to cut or abrade the paint but is less aggressive than a true medium polish. Depending upon the abrasive technology and the application method and material, some light polishes can remove down to #2500 grit sanding marks while still finishing out LSP ready. Topcoat hardness is an important factor that affects a light polish's effectiveness at removing below surface defects.
Most light polishes are dedicated products in that their function is primarily to abrade the paint. For this reason, after the light polishing step further steps may be required. This could include another final polishing step depending upon the results after using the light polish and the expectations for the end results. At a minimum, the paint should be sealed with a wax, paint sealant or coating.
Ultra Light Polish
A liquid or paste that uses some type of abrasive technology to cut or abrade the paint but is less aggressive than a true light polish. Depending upon the abrasive technology and the application method and material, some ultra light polishes can remove down to #2500 grit sanding marks while still finishing out LSP ready. Topcoat hardness is an important factor that affects an ultra light polish's effectiveness at removing below surface defects.
Most ultra light polishes are dedicated products in that their function is primarily to abrade the paint. For this reason, after the ultra light polishing step at a minimum, the paint should be sealed with a wax, paint sealant or coating.
Historically, the term glaze is used to describe a bodyshop safe, hand-applied liquid used to fill-in and mask fine swirls while creating a deep, wet shine on fresh paint. It's a category of products used on fresh paint in body shop environments, which will not seal the paint surface by depositing a long lasting sacrificial barrier coating like a car wax, paint sealant or coating.
A bodyshop safe glaze is used in place of a wax, sealant or coating because it won't interfere with the normal out-gassing process of fresh paint for the first 30 days of curing. The function of a bodyshop glaze is to hide rotary buffer swirls while giving the paint a uniform, just waxed appearance to ensure customer satisfaction. After 30 days cure time its normal to the seal the paint using a wax, paint sealant or coating.
A true bodyshop glaze is non-abrasive. If an abrasive product is needed then the technician should be using one of the above polishes. The purpose of a true bodyshop glaze is to make the paint look beautiful, (without sealing it), not remove defects. Just like a sugar glaze on a plain donut makes the donut look delicious, a hand-applied glaze to machine buffed, (and probably swirled), fresh paint gives the paint a deep, wet shine while masking or hiding the swirls.
There's a number of reasons why historically body shops use a glaze on fresh paint to hide swirls. Most body shops are production oriented and perform a limited number of machine buffing steps due to time restrictions and profitability. This would include machine compounding with a wool pad and machine polishing with either a wool finishing pad or a foam polishing or finishing pad, both steps using rotary buffers.
The end results are normally excellent shine but with rotary buffer swirls in the paint, also called holograms and/or rotary buffer trails that can be seen in bright light. The glaze is normally hand-applied to fill-in and hide the swirls as hand application is fast and relatively effective as long as the swirls are shallow. This glazing procedure produces a finish that customers will accept at the time of vehicle pick-up. The results are somewhat misleading however because bodyshop glazes are water soluble and as such will wash off after a few car washes or repeated exposure to rainy weather and then the swirls will become visible. This is the standard and accepted practice for the majority of the body shop industry.
Note: Because there are no rules or regulations governing the definition or the use of the word glaze, manufactures and sellers of paint care products use the word glaze as a name for all types of products that are not true glazes in the historical sense of the word. Most common is the use of the word glaze in the name of a car wax or paint sealant.
A liquid, paste or cream that relies primarily on chemical cleaning agents to remove any light topical contamination or surface impurities to restore a clean, smooth surface as part of a process to prepare a painted finish for application of a wax, paint sealant or coating. Paint cleaners are for very light cleaning and not normally intended to be used like an abrasive polish to remove below surface defects.
Similar or the same as a paint cleaner. Most pre-wax cleaners are complimentary products in that they are part of a specific brand's system in which the pre-wax cleaner is matched to a wax or paint sealant. There's a chemical synergistic compatibility to ensure maximum performance between products that might not be achieved using products from outside the brand.
Generally defined or at least thought of by the masses as a product that contains some type of naturally occurring waxy substance intended to protect the paint while creating a clear, glossy finish. Carnauba wax is the most commonly used naturally occurring wax found in car wax formulations. This category of traditional waxes will wear off under normal wear-n-tear, repeated washings and exposure to the environment and should be reapplied on a regular basis to maintain a protective coating on the surface of the paint.
Generally defined as, or thought of by the masses, as a product that contains man-made or synthetic protection ingredients to protect the paint while creating a clear, glossy finish. Perception on the part of the public is that a paint sealant is made from synthetic polymers with no naturally occurring wax type substance or other naturally occurring protection ingredients.
General consensus among car enthusiasts is that because the protection ingredients are synthetic that a paint sealant will protect better and last longer than a traditional car wax made using naturally occurring waxes. Paint sealants will wear off under normal wear-n-tear, repeated washings and exposure to the environment and should be reapplied on a regular basis to maintain a protective coating on the surface of the paint
Even though most people think that the words car wax refers to a category of products that uses naturally occurring wax ingredients for protection and beauty and paint sealant refers to a category of products that uses synthetic polymers for protection and beauty, the fact is most products are a blend of both natural and synthetic ingredients and are thus hybrids.
Dedicated waxes and sealants
There are dedicated car waxes and dedicated paint sealants in cases where each product does in fact rely primarily on either naturally occurring ingredients for protection or all man-made, synthetic ingredients for protection. The marketing materials or label copy will usually share this information or you can contact the manufacture to get their official statement on the matter.
There are many factors that affect how long a wax or paint sealant will last so the only meaningful comparisons are when testing is done using strict controls. Instead of relying on a wax or paint sealant to last a specific amount of time a better practice is to simply re-apply the product to the paint on a regular schedule and to do so before all of the previously applied product has completely worn off.
Single versus Multiple Benefits and Features
For what it's worth, if you use a product formulated using only one type of protection ingredient then you only get the benefits and features of the single ingredient. If you use a product formulated using multiple protection ingredients then you get the benefits and features of multiple ingredients. Depending upon the quality of the chemistry behind the formulation, either type of product could be best-in-class or mediocre-at-best. This is where trust in the reputation of the brand comes into play as well as the expertise of chemists creating the formulas.
Generally defined as any paint protection product that contains man-made or synthetic protection ingredients that are intended to permanently bond to the paint to both provide a barrier-coating of protection as well as create a clear, high gloss finish. The products available in this category are considered permanent coatings because like your car's paint, they cannot be removed unless you purposefully remove them or you purposefully neglect them.
Definition of the word permanent in the context of sealing paint
This is kind of tricky just because the nature of discussion forums is for some personality types to read super-literally into each and every single word, in this case the word permanent.
Definition from TheFreeDictionary.com
1. Lasting or remaining without essential change: "the universal human yearning for something permanent, enduring, without shadow of change" (Willa Cather).
2. Not expected to change in status, condition, or place: a permanent address; permanent secretary to the president.
In the context that we refer to a coating as being permanent it means that once the coating is properly applied and allowed to cure and set-up, it will not come off under normal circumstances or via normal wear-n-tear such as careful washing. So in this context, a coating is permanent in the same manner your car's paint is permanent.
The paint on your car is not going to come off unless you abrade it, chemically dissolve it or in some other mechanical means, purposefully remove it. In this same way, legitimate paint coatings are not going to come off unless you abrade it, chemically dissolve it or in some other mechanical means, purposefully remove it.
Traditional car waxes and paint sealants will wear off under normal use circumstances or via normal wear-n-tear such as careful washing. So in the context of and in comparison with traditional car waxes and paint sealants, paint coatings are permanent.
A term used to describe the condition of paint that is ready to be sealed with a car wax, a paint sealant or a coating. A paint finish that is LSP ready means that any above surfaces bonded contaminants have been removed and the majority of below surface defects that can be safely removed have been removed leaving behind a predominantly defect-free surface that meets the car owner's or the detailers expectations for finish quality.
Products that are bodyshop safe mean they contain no ingredients that could contaminant a fresh paint environment by introducing substances that would cause surface adhesion problems on body panels to be sprayed with fresh paint.
Any ingredient or substance that will cause surface tension will cause surface adhesion problems, the most common problem talked about is Fish Eyes, which is where some type of contaminant on a body panel prevents paint from bonding to the paint where the contaminant is and instead forces the paint to pile-up around the contaminant causing what looks like a round, bulbous looking fish eye.
A simple example would be any product that causes water to bead-up on the surface, (causes surface tension), would cause adhesion problems or Fish Eyes.
Bodyshop Safe is also a term used interchangeably with the term, fresh paint safe. That is, a fresh paint safe product is any product that can safely be applied to fresh paint, (less than 30 days old from time of spraying), without sealing the surface and thus interfering with any outgassing process.
Bodyshop safe products tend to be water soluble as anything that is water insoluble tends to include ingredients that can potentially form a barrier coating that seals paint.
Car waxes, paint sealants and coatings are not by definition, bodyshop safe for recommended for fresh paint before 30 days cure time. Some people will argue this point because most modern clearcoat paints are chemically cured via catalyzation. While this is probably true, it's always best to follow the paint manufactures recommendation as they know their products best and to my knowledge there is not a single paint manufacture that has an official statement where they recommend sealing their paint systems before 30 days have passed.
The 30 day waiting period comes from the age of solvent-evaporation paints, where the paints would dry and cure as the solvents used to make the paint thin so it can be sprayed out of a spray gun needed time to fully evaporate out of the paint. Modern, catalyzed paints cure due to a chemical reaction somewhat akin to mixing together a two-part epoxy where the epoxy dries and hardens chemically, not via exposure to the air.
The 30 day waiting time for catalyzed paint is for the most part just carry-over form of an insurance policy to help Bubba-Proof the re-finishing industry by allowing at least 30 days to pass before the vehicle owner applies anything to the surface that could potentially have a negative effect on fresh paint.
The process in which solvents and other additives which are mixed into automotive paints before spraying work their way out of the paint, (after spraying), to the surface where they can evaporate.