How to Brighten Faded Paint

by Danyel Bierly

All types of paint finishes will eventually fade or become dull. This process of fading is due to oxidation. Oxidation occurs when paint has been exposed to ultraviolet light over an extended period of time. Dark color paints will oxidize faster than light colored paints due to high absorption of ultraviolet rays.

Fill one spray bottle full with tap water. Fill the other spray bottle half with water and the other half with rubbing alcohol. Mark this bottle with a permanent marker as "alcohol/water mix." Put both aside for later use.

Attach the yellow foam compounding pad to the back plate of the orbital polisher using the adapter is necessary.

Apply the 3M fine cut compound by squeezing to strips of it approximately 18 to 24 inches long and approximately two inches apart. Do not work in direct sunlight as this will cause the compound to dry faster than it should.

Spray the yellow compound pad lightly with the water bottle. Spread the 3M fine cut compound into a small square approximately 24 inches in diameter with the machine turned off.

Turn the orbital polisher on and set it at 3 1/4 or 4. Place the orbital polisher with the yellow compound pad facing flat onto the paint surface and move it in a figure 8 pattern. Continue moving the polisher in a figure 8 pattern until the compound begins to dry. Examine the work area and spray it with the alcohol/water mix spray bottle and wipe dry with a microfiber towel. Repeat steps 3 to 5 for the remaining paint area to be restored.

Repeat steps 3 through 5 with the exception of using a white foam polishing pad instead of the yellow pad and applying 3M swirl remover instead of 3M fine cut compound.

Remove the white polishing pad when finished. Install the red finishing pad and apply your favorite wax or paint sealant. Wash your used pads with soapy water and rinse them clean. Allow them to completely air dry before putting them away.


  • close Do not machine wash the pads, it will damage them and make them useless.

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