Sandpaper and glass don’t mix, whether you’re a professional commercial painter or a budding DIY enthusiast, chances are you’ll encounter this problem eventually. In this article we are going to have an in-depth look at how professionals perform glass scratch removal.
Firstly, we need to examine the glass and the. Check that the glass that’s scratched isn’t tinted, many times scratched glass is actually just scratched tinting! To check if the glass is tinted use a car key or similar and lightly scratch with little force on an unnoticeable edge, if it leaves a mark with little force chances are it is tinted. Replacing the tint will fix your scratch, In more mild forms of tinting scratches a plastic polish can even be used to remove or lessen the marks.
Another problem to be weary of is energy efficient glass or LOW E glass. This glass has a coating on the internal. LOW E glass has a light white haze in direct sunlight and is also not as smooth to the touch, feeling more like paper than standard glass. Feel both sides of the glass and if the internal side feels different and there is a light haze in sunlight you might want to contact a professional or your glass installers before going ahead. However, if the glass is over 10 years old it’s unlikely to be LOW E. Scratches to the LOW E side of the glass can’t be removed, but the opposite side can.
If the scratch catches your fingernail, you won’t be able to completely remove the scratch without sanding the glass, Sanding the glass is a refined skill that requires experience and it’s best left to the professionals, However you can always reduce the appearance of a scratch with polishing so it might still be worth a shot if it’s not too deep. Scratches that don’t catch your fingernail can be polished with good results. Scratches that are close to the edge of the glass are also more difficult. Polishing these scratches require more time as heat caused during the process can crack your glass, never let the glass become hot to the touch, pay extra attention around edges for this same reason.
For polishing you’re going to require some tools. You can polish by hand but it’s less likely to improve the scratch and is also laborious and time consuming. A drill with a foam pad attached or a polishing machine like a floor sander with a foam pad works well. If trying to polish by hand a microfiber or white foam sponge is ideal.
Now you require some polish, Cerium Oxide or similar is the best polishing powder for glass scratch removal, this can be purchased online. Alternatively, any liquid abrasive that is smooth to the touch like toothpaste or car polish will get some results but take longer to achieve.
Now using your polishing pad on your machine, apply your polish and work into the pad, place the pad flat on the glass and use low pressure and a low-speed work over the scratch in a grid pattern. Constantly check the glass to ensure it’s not hot, heating the glass risks cracking it and the glass should get warm but never be too hot to hold your hand on for any period of time.
Keep working over the scratch and applying more polish as required, it could take minutes or hours depending on the depth, equipment and polish being used. As a general rule, most of the significant results will occur in the first half a dozen polishes. If you’re not getting any results polishing you may need to consider sanding the glass first, this is where things can get very hairy very quickly. Glass Scratch Repairs that require sanding take time and require a lot of patience. This can’t be done by hand either. If you want to attempt glass scratch removal yourself, make sure your polishing technique actually works, you’re going to be sanding the glass causing a haze, if your polish won’t remove this haze your damaged area has expanded dramatically.
When starting to sand the glass some important things to consider, can you hold your machine flat against the glass, for extended periods of time. Do you have the safety equipment for dealing with glass dust etc.
In most cases you’ll want to start at 480 – 800 grit sandpaper, moving your way up to 2000-4000 in increments, each step removing the scratches caused by the previous sandpaper, this is where experience plays a big part as over sanding will cause distortion. It’s imperative to expand your sanding area with each pass also to avoid this. Once you have got an even haze with no visible scratches left you can use the above polishing methods to remove the haze.
There you have it, that’s the method. Anyone can polish glass, but it takes real skill to sand and polish scratches completely out. In most cases it takes 12 months to get a newly hired technician to an acceptable standard without oversight. However, if you’re confident and you have the tools handy give polishing a try! If you have no success, consider calling a professional before attempting to sand your glass.