How to Use 3M Rubbing Compound (and Why You Should)

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The 3M rubbing compound 3-stage system is a must for paint shops who finish products by hand. Suitable for use on any surface, it's an easy-to-use system that is fast and produces a professional finish. And if you're a DIY polisher, it's an affordable way to achieve professional results, with the full kit coming in at around £500.

What makes the 3M rubbing compound system so easy to use?

Global giant 3M has demonstrated that it knows its stuff when it comes to simplifying the compounding and polishing. Their 3-step system colour codes each step to make sure that you use the right kit at every stage of the process.

For each phase of finishing, you have a specific colour pad, compound/polish bottle cap, and cloth.


  • To make the process easy to follow
  • To prevent contamination between the different compounds and polishes
  • To prevent you from using the wrong grade of cloth at the final stages


The system

Use 3M compounds with the lightweight and powerful 3M electric polisher, which is suitable for both vertical and horizontal panels.

STAGE 1 - Green (fast cut)

This first stage removes fine abrasive scratches from the spray booth/paint rectification process.

Step 1:           Attach the GREEN compounding pad to the polisher.

Step 2:           Apply 3M Fast Cut Compound (GREEN cap) to the pad and spread it evenly.

Step 3:           Before switching the polisher on, hold the pad against the panel to prevent compound slip. Polish the panel.

Step 4:           Wipe off any excess residue with the GREEN high-performance cloth.


STAGE 2 - Yellow (fine cut)

This stage uses an extra fine polishing compound to further refine the finish.

Step 1:           Replace the green pad with the YELLOW pad.

Step 2:           Follow the same process as for Stage 1, but using 3M Extra Fine Compound (YELLOW cap) and the YELLOW cloth.

If you're polishing a light colour panel, stages 1 and 2 may be enough to give a high-gloss, end finish. However, your surface may have developed holograms and swell marks, especially if you're working on dark coloured panels. Follow Stage 3 to remove these.


STAGE 3 - Blue (final polish)

Step 1:           Swap the yellow pad for the BLUE pad.

Step 2:           Apply the 3M Ultrifina SE Polish (BLUE cap) to the pad. Unlike other compounds and polishers, this product remains in a liquid state. 

Step 3:           Wipe away excess residue with the ultra-soft BLUE cloth. Using the yellow or green cloths may introduce scratches at the final stage. 

Step 4:         Time for a final inspection. Ensure to check that all denibs have been sorted for a premium finish.

Buy the complete system

Ultrimax supplies the full 3M rubbing compound system. Contact our sales team for further information or click on the links below to buy online:



3m fast cut plus polisher


3m polish compound heads

3M Electric Polisher - 110V or 240V


Set of 3M Green, Yellow and Blue cloths



STAGE 1 - Green



3m fast cut plus polisher


3m fast cut plus polisher

3M GREEN Compounding Pads


3M Fast Cut PLUS Polish


STAGE 2 - Yellow



3m extra fine polish


3m fast cut plus polisher


3M Yellow Compounding Pads


3M Extra Fine PLUS Polish


Stage 3 / 4- Ultra Fine Polishing



3m ultrafina polishing pads


3m ultrafina polish


3M Ultra Fine Compounding Pads


3M Ultra Fine Polish



Watch the 3M Rubbing Compound Training Film

Buff like a pro with the 3M Perfect-it Polish system guide.


3M Polish Syetem vs Mirka Polarshine


Need More Help With Polishing and 3m Compounds?

If you can’t find a fix for the issue you’re experiencing or you need more advice, drop us a line and we’ll get your paint job on track.


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For further information on 3M systems or specification products and which you should be using contact us below.

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