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

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

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 œ500.

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:              It's time for the final inspection. Make sure you have removed all dust nibs for a

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 Electric Polisher - 110V or 240V

Set of 3M Green, Yellow and Blue cloths


STAGE 1 - Green



3M GREEN Compounding Pads

3M Fast Cut PLUS Compound


STAGE 2 - Yellow 



3M YELLOW Extra Fine Polishing Pads

3M Extra Fine PLUS Compound


STAGE 3 - Blue 



3M BLUE Ultra Fine High Polishing Pads

3M Ultrafina SE Polish


Watch the 3M Rubbing Compound Training Film

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


Our Total Paint Shop Support Team can help you with any other enquiries:

For more information, call our Total Paint Shop Support Team on 01302 856666 or email

Need advice but like watching short videos? checkout our YouTube Help Channel here


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