Car Care / Tech

Picking The Right Pad… Micro Fiber Vs. Foam

mf_vs_foam_thumbnailThe product development team has been on the rev limiter and new gear has been coming at us like pylons on a slalom course. Their revision of our foam pads and creation of a new line of micro fiber pads are sure to raise questions. Here’s some insights and answers to help you pick the right pad and get the amazing results you want.


Micro Fiber Pads

A micro fiber pad provides faster defect removal than foam because micro fibers polish the paint more effectively than foam. Micro fiber pads tend to grab the paint less, so pad rotation is higher and the fibers are more inclined to flow across the panel more easily. A higher rotation rate translates into increased defect removal. This, in combination with the Griot’s Garage Random Orbital which has the highest orbital disc rotation in its class, means our system offers some of the most effective defect removal available.

mf_vs_foam_mf_padFAST Finishing & FAST Cutting

We are offering two distinct pads in this new line-up, Micro Fiber FAST Finishing and Micro Fiber FAST Cutting. The major point of distinction between the two is the FAST Finishing pad’s foam interface. This interface acts as a finely tuned shock absorber, which lessens the cutting effect of the fibers, giving the pad its awesome finishing capabilities. Additionally, the interface manages the 5/16″ orbit of our Random Orbital, diminishing its energy transfer-torque, which also equates to a reduction in cutting power and optimized finishing. The cushioning allows the FAST Finishing pad to conform to intricate body contours. Other manufacturers use as little as 1/3″ of foam for their interface. Our FAST Finishing Pads use 1″ of foam. Extensive R&D efforts determined this thickness delivers a perfect balance of stable buffing action, so you’ll get a best in class finish.

Without a cushioning effect the FAST Cutting pad is an action hero of defect removal that’s designed for advanced and professionally skilled users. It delivers a more direct application of pressure and orbital energy, supercharging the correcting power of our polishes which helps give the pad its faster-than-foam reputation.

Compared To Foam…

Micro fiber pads require less downward pressure. Less downward pressure allows the pad to rotate more easily, increases disc rotation, and enhances its effectiveness. The trick is to let the pad, not the pressure, work the paint. Applying heavy pressure will increase heat generation between the backing plate and pad, reducing the life of the pad, increasing surface temperatures on the paint, and slowing disc rotation. Heavy pressure can also contribute to micro-marring of the surface. Micro fiber requires more frequent cleaning to remove compound and paint residue as well as to fluff the fibers. In contrast, foam tends to absorb the product more which helps keep the pad’s contact patch clean.

mf_vs_foam_foam_padFoam Pads

At their core, foam pads are made up of connected cells measured in PPI (pores per square inch). The higher the PPI, the finer the pad. The finer the pad, the better it is for final finishing or waxing because it excels at spreading product and has the lowest level of correction. The lower the PPI, the more aggressive the pad, resulting in more effective defect removal. Our foam line up consists of Orange Foam Correcting, Black Foam Finishing, and Red Foam Waxing.

A Tough Customer

We select premium, reticulated, open-cell foam for all our reworked foam pads. The high-quality construction of our foam increases the durability, tear resistance, and performance of our foam pads. Open cell pads allow air to flow through them, aiding in the cooling of the pad. Heat equals wear, so a cooler pad will provide superior, consistent results for a longer period of time. We have also improved the hook-and-loop attachment system which ensures optimized, long-lasting attachment to our backing plates. Additionally, we’ve converted to a thermoset bonding system to permanently hold our pads together. It is the strength of this system that also makes our new pads machine washable.

Uniform Pressure

Foam’s inherent ability to compress makes it ideal for conforming to body contours. This produces an even flow of pressure on the surface, consistent application of product, and excellent results. Foam pads are more forgiving than micro fiber pads. You can apply greater pressure without worrying about micro-marring, overworking defect removal, or super heating the pad.

Shaped For Success

Our redesigned foam pads feature a new, beveled, flat face design that encourages the even, uniform application of product, for superior results and easier wipe off.

Easy To Clean

Reticulated foam releases polishes, waxes, and sealants for easy cleaning. With a quick spray of Micro Fiber & Foam Pad Cleaner, a little kneading, and a thorough rinse with warm water, foam pads are ready for the next job. Thorough air drying is recommended for the best results as added moisture can affect how your car care products perform.

Compared To Micro Fiber…

The previously mentioned forgiving nature of foam pads help make them better than micro fiber when it comes to final finishing and last step applications like waxing or sealing. Conversely, foam pads are traditionally not as effective at removing defects compared to micro fiber. Their soft edge is not as adept at removing defects near emblems, body lines, and panel edges.

The Bottom Line

It is best to evaluate your paint finish both visually and tactilely before you begin your work. The most important consideration is to do no harm. When addressing defect removal we recommend starting with the least-abrasive polish or compound and buffing pad, observing your results, and if you still see blemishes either re-apply the same combination or step up to a more aggressive combination. Also consider that extreme scratches may be beyond help and filling, in lieu of removing, may be a better option. You can do this with our Paint Glaze or the glossier Paint Sealant. A quick way to determine this is to gently run your finger nail across the scratch. If it significantly catches the scratch, a realistic goal would be to diminish the scratch, as complete removal may diminish film build to a level which may cause premature paint failure. When your nail barely catches, the scratch may be corrected to an undetectable level by the naked eye.

There are many variables that affect how a paint will respond to your detailing efforts, so picking the right pad may actually mean picking the right pads. Considerations such as paint softness, thickness, and type, the abrasiveness of the product you plan to use, the type and severity of the defects, and the amount of time and effort you are willing to invest in the process all impact your pad selection decision. Here a few recommended combinations that serve as good starting points.

Surface/Paint Condition: Moderate to heavy defects
Step 1) Micro Fiber FAST Cutting Pad and Machine Polish 2
Step 2) Micro Fiber FAST Finishing Pad and Machine Polish 3
Step 3) Red Foam Waxing Pad and Paint Sealant

Surface/Paint Condition: Light to moderate defects
Step 1) Micro Fiber FAST Finishing Pad and Machine Polish 3
Step 2) Red Foam Waxing Pad and Paint Sealant

Surface/Paint Condition: Light to moderate defects, soft paint w/hazing potential
Step 1) Black Foam Finishing Pad and Machine Polish 3
Step 2) Red Foam Waxing Pad and Best of Show Wax or Paint Sealant

Surface/Paint Condition: Light defects, quick, easy application
Step 1) Micro Fiber FAST Finishing Pad and One Step Sealant

Click here to download a PDF cheat sheet outlining the different pads along with the products they are normally used with.

Have fun in your garage!


  1. I need a little more info on the fast pad

    • Depends on the condition of the paint and what you’re trying to do. I use microfiber ones for cutting MF doesn’t heat up like foam pads and save product with MF pads too! Save time as well….I still use Foam pads as they finishes better with the finishing polish. Read more on Micro Fiber FAST Cutting Pads at

  2. Are microfiber pads meant for machine use only?
    I have been using your Fine Hand Polish with black pads. Would the combination of FHP and orange pad be the next step up in terms of aggressiveness for hand application?

  3. I love what microfiber pads can do, but I dislike the maintenance required during polishing.

    Traditional foam cutting pads are very stiff. They have too much surface contact, too small pores, and are too dense to contour to surface variations. They rely on downward pressure, and back plate rotation. Downward pressure reduces rotation, so right off the bat, you’re fighting yourself. Also, due to the density, and small pores the residue gets trapped on the polishing surface.

    So I looked for a pad that offered some resistance, but had larger pores. What I found was 60ppi green foam buff and shine polishing pads. Low heat build up, maximum pad rotation, easy clean up. It’s designated as a polishing pad, but I consistently pick up more paint with the green pad than I do with an orange or yellow – all thing being equal, and when giving the orange and yellow pads the advantage of the more powerful Flex 3401 machine.

    Lake Country pink CCS foam is a similar design, and an absolutely fantastic pad.

    I sold off all of my orange, and yellow pads, and now only use the green buff and shine (or hex logic), or pink Lake Country CCS. I also haven’t touched a microfiber pad in a long time.

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