Pad on Certain Tools? How to Choose the Right Buffing Pads

by Joost Nusselder | Updated on:  June 19, 2022
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What’s that little thing on some tools? Is it a part of the tool or just a useless add-on?

A pad is a small piece of material attached to a tool for polishing, buffing, or cleaning. It’s used for a variety of applications including flooring, painting, and automotive.

In this article, I’ll explain what a pad is, how it works, and why it’s important. Plus, I’ll share some useful tips on how to use one properly.

What is a buffing pad

Buffing Pads: The Secret to Achieving a Flawless Finish

Buffing pads are circular tools used for polishing and cleaning hard materials such as paint, metal, and granite. They come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and materials, making them incredibly versatile and suitable for different types of work depending on the surface and the desired result. Buffing pads are commonly referred to as pads and are attached to a machine or power tool to produce a consistent and even finish.

How Do Buffing Pads Work?

Buffing pads work by producing a polishing action that removes dirt, grime, and other imperfections from the surface of the material. The circular motion of the pad allows it to cover a large area quickly and evenly, making the work easy and efficient. The pad’s foam, wool, or microfiber backing contains a sheet of abrasive material that helps to remove any damage or imperfections on the surface of the material.

The Different Types of Buffing Pads

There are many different types of buffing pads available, each suitable for different materials and applications. Some of the most common types of buffing pads include:

  • Foam Pads: These pads are best for applying wax or sealant and are suitable for use on paint and other delicate surfaces.
  • Wool Pads: These pads are best for removing scratches and other imperfections from hard surfaces such as metal and granite.
  • Microfiber Pads: These pads are incredibly versatile and can be used for a variety of applications, including polishing and cleaning.

The Benefits of Using Buffing Pads

Using buffing pads has many benefits, including:

  • Maintaining the safety of the material being worked on by producing a consistent and even finish.
  • Allowing for easy and efficient work, reducing the time required to complete the task.
  • Producing a flawless finish that is free from damage and imperfections.
  • Changing the center of the pad allows for small areas to be worked on easily.

Overall, buffing pads are an essential tool for anyone working in construction, painting, or other industries that require the use of hard materials. By using the best pad for the job, you can achieve a flawless finish that is sure to impress.

Choosing the Right Floor Pads for Your Buffer

When it comes to floor pads, there is no one-size-fits-all solution. Different types of floors and finishes require different types of pads. Here are some of the most common types of floor pads:

  • Light Cleaning Pads: These pads are designed for regular cleaning and are mildly abrasive. They are ideal for removing light dirt and scuff marks.
  • Aggressive Cleaning Pads: These pads are designed for heavy-duty cleaning and can remove stubborn stains and dirt. They are more abrasive than light cleaning pads and should be used with caution.
  • Polishing Pads: These pads are designed to create a smooth, polished finish on your floors. They come in a variety of materials, including nylon and other synthetic materials.
  • Burnishing Pads: These pads are designed to provide a high-gloss shine to your floors. They are typically used after polishing and can help to extend the life of your floor finish.

Tips for Proper Pad Maintenance

Proper pad maintenance is important to ensure that your pads last longer and perform properly. Here are some tips to follow:

  • Clean your pads regularly to remove dirt and debris.
  • Use the correct pad for the job to avoid damage to your floors.
  • Make sure your pads are properly attached to your buffer to avoid any accidents.
  • Buy a variety of pads to match the different types of floors and finishes you work with.
  • Ask for help if you’re not sure which pad to use for a specific job.

Choosing the Right Buffing Pads: A Simple Guide

Step 1: Determine the Type of Surface You’re Polishing

Before you begin, it’s important to know what type of surface you’re working on. Different surfaces require different pads, so make sure you’re using the right one for the job. For example, a foam pad is great for paint cleaning, while a wool pad is better for removing grit and dirt.

Step 2: Consider the Material You’re Working With

The material you’re polishing is just as important as the surface you’re working on. If you’re working with a delicate material, like thin paint, you’ll want to use a soft pad that won’t damage the surface. On the other hand, if you’re working with a tougher material, like metal, you’ll want to use a more abrasive pad to get the job done.

Step 3: Choose the Right Pad for the Job

Now that you’ve considered the surface, material, and polish, it’s time to choose the right pad. Here are some commonly used pads and their main uses:

  • Foam pads: Typically used for applying polish or wax. They come in different levels of firmness, from soft to firm, and are great for covering large areas quickly.
  • Microfiber pads: Designed to hold more polish and distribute it evenly across the surface. They’re great for removing swirl marks and leaving a high-gloss finish.
  • Wool pads: Typically used for removing heavy oxidation and scratches. They’re more abrasive than foam pads and can be used with a rotary polisher for faster results.
  • Backing plates: These are used to hold the pad in place on the polisher. Make sure you choose the right size for your machine.

Step 4: Properly Store Your Pads

To keep your pads in great condition and ensure optimal performance, it’s important to properly store them. Here are some tips:

  • Always clean your pads after use to remove any polish or wax residue.
  • Store your pads in a cool, dry place to prevent mold and mildew.
  • Keep your pads locked in an airtight container to prevent them from drying out.
  • If you’re going to be storing your pads for a long time, it’s a good idea to soak them in water to keep them fresh.

Remember, choosing the right pad is the secret to a great polishing job. By following these simple steps, you’ll be able to utilize the nature of the pad to achieve the best results possible.


So, that’s a pad, a circular piece of material used for polishing, cleaning, and buffing. 

You can use a pad on a power tool to polish and buff hard materials like paint, metal, and granite, and you can use a pad on a machine for cleaning purposes. 

So, don’t be afraid to try it yourself now that you know all the ins and outs!

I'm Joost Nusselder, the founder of Tools Doctor, content marketer, and dad. I love trying out new equipment, and together with my team I've been creating in-depth blog articles since 2016 to help loyal readers with tools & crafting tips.