LAST UPDATED: February 26, 2021
The Best Orbital Polishers (Review & Buying Guide) in 2021
Polish and shine your car easily with an orbital polisher.
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PUBLISHED ON February 26, 2021
You take pride in washing and polishing your car’s paint, but no matter how much you buff and wax, you can’t seem to get rid of those pesky swirls and hard watermarks. By the time you’re done working, your arm is tired, your shoulder is sore, and your back aches. There’s an easier and better way to polish your car, and it involves the use of tools.
An orbital polisher can help you achieve a beautiful finish that’s free of marks and blemishes. These aren’t your traditional polishers that just spin in place—the orbital movement makes for an easier user experience and reduces the risk of damage to your paint. This guide will explain the best orbital polisher options on the market and how to choose the best one for your needs.
This dual-action random orbit polisher has a D-shaped handle. It comes with five foam disks for product application. It’s powered by a 900-watt motor.
- Six variable speeds
- Weighs 5.7 pounds
- Ergonomic design
- Doesn’t spin under load
You’ll love how fast you can work with the 10-inch pad on this polisher. It comes with a powerful 3,600 RPM, 120V motor. The pad is a three-layer design.
- Microfiber bonnet
- Top mount on/off switch
- Awkward handle
- Short power cord
You’ll enjoy using this random orbital polisher with its six variable speeds that range from 2,000 to 5,500 RPMs. This complete kit comes with sanding paper, polishing pads, tools, and a carrying case.
- Two sized pad backing plates
- Wool and foam pads included
- Motor gets hot
- Vibration through handle
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Benefits of an Orbital Polisher
- Safe. An orbital polisher moves in two directions, making it safer than a single rotation polisher that only moves in one. This dual movement is easier for beginners and hobbyists to use on a vehicle’s paint and not create swirl marks or damage.
- Less physical effort. Applying polishers, waxes, and other products by hand takes effort—the larger your vehicle, the more effort you’ll have to exert. This can be tiring on your arm, shoulder, neck, and back.
- Faster product application. When you apply products by hand, it takes time. You can only physically work so fast. Using a polisher is key to making the application process faster. You’ll finish polishing your vehicle in a fraction of the time it used to take you.
Types of Orbital Polishers
This is the most common type of orbital polisher that’s on the market. Standard polishers are most often found at hardware and auto parts stores. However, you won’t find many professional quality polishers in this type since they lack the polishing ability and strength for commercial use. This style of orbiter moves in a similar motion to how your hand would move while polishing your car. The pad doesn’t spin; instead, it moves in a circular motion as if it’s drawing a circle.
These polishers are a bit of a combo in how they move since they are between a standard and rotary polisher. The pad does a solid spin like a rotary polisher, then it moves in a circle like a standard polisher and does both of these movements simultaneously. The actual movement is random and generated by the momentum of the spin. It can change based on stroke strength, grip, and pad size.
This type of polisher is the most difficult to master and gain. The pad spins in a continuous circular motion that is smooth and consistent motion, creating the most amount of friction and heat. You’ll want to be careful about how you use these polishers because the heat buildup can damage your paint. It can also create holograms in the finish. However, this type is the most effective at fixing blemishes and scratches in the paint.
Founded in 1906, Porter-Cable produces high-quality power tools. The company’s more than 100-year history is full of innovation and development. Home artisans can appreciate the quality build and reliability of its products ranging from circular saws, drills, metal drill bits, and more.
The team behind Chemical Guys has dedicated themselves to building more than just a product line from its founding. The company values dedication, authenticity, and fun, and its range of vehicle products that includes leather care, glass cleaners, and polishers showcases that.
Founded in 2015, the team behind this brand is dedicated to producing high-quality tools that focus on improving the user experience. The company invests in extensive research and development to continually improve and expand its product line. The Tack Life Orbital Polisher is both effective and easy to use.
Orbital Polisher Pricing
- Under $50: You can find an affordable and decent orbital polisher in this price range. They may not be the most powerful or come with accessories, but these are perfect for occasional use.
- $50 to $100: The majority of orbital polishers fall in this price range. They will have more power, which means higher speeds. The components are more durable, and your polisher may come with pads and other accessories.
- $100 and up: The polishers that are in this price range are considered high-end. They’re perfect for someone who needs to care for several cars or plans on polishing regularly. They will come with the most accessories and even a carrying case.
The most important factor to consider is the polisher's speed—the faster the speed, the better it can create a deep polish and remove scratches. You'll need to be careful, though, since the higher the speed, the more heat, and friction that gets produced. The ideal buffer speed is between 2,000 and 4,000 RPMs.
Find a polisher that is small enough to make it easy to move around your vehicle. It also needs to have a large enough plate to give you plenty of polishing surface. The larger the polishing pads, the more coverage you get, and the faster you can polish your vehicle. Too large of a polishing pad may make it difficult to polish smaller areas, though.
Since you have to hold your polisher the entire time you’re using it, a polisher that seems lightweight in the beginning can become very heavy by the end. Don’t choose a polisher that will fatigue your arms and cause you to quit before you’ve completed your vehicle. Lightweight polishers are comfortable and allow you to polish more in one session.
- Ergonomics. Despite your polisher speeding up the compound application process, it’s still going to take some time. You’ll want the tool that you choose to be comfortable to hold in your hand. Some polishers come with an adjustable handle, while others have an ergonomic handle that’s shaped to fit your hand. Look at where the controls are located and how easy they are to reach while holding the handle.
- Maintenance. Look for a polisher that’s easy to care for to reduce the amount of maintenance and ongoing care you need to give your polisher. Check the manufacturer’s instructions and recommendations for ongoing care. This will help you determine the level of maintenance a polisher requires. Expect to have to oil the moving parts occasionally.
- Price. It isn’t smart to buy the most expensive polisher that you can find. Instead, it’s better to determine your budget and then find the best polisher that fits within it. This way, you can ensure you buy a polisher that works for your vehicle and your wallet. Don’t go for the cheapest polisher either, since you still want one that’s durable and reliable.
Best Orbital Polishers Reviews & Recommendations 2021
This compact polisher is comfortable to hold and easy to maneuver. It’s a smaller size and only weighs 5.7 pounds. Two handles give you the ability to customize how you hold it. The motor is 7.5 amps and 900 watts that can achieve 2,000 to 6,400 RPMs. There are six-speed settings to choose from. What makes this polisher stand out is that it comes with five polishing pads, so you can start using your polisher right away without having to buy any additional supplies.
Unfortunately, this polisher vibrates a lot and is quite loud. It also stops spinning if you push too hard. However, this is a standard feature of orbital polishers: they stop spinning to ensure you don’t push too hard while polishing.
This affordable polisher may be a compact size, but that doesn’t stop it from having an oversized pad: the pad plate fits 10-inch pads. It has a 120v motor that produces 3,600 RPMs. The round shape of the polisher and the finger indentations make it comfortable and easy to hold. The top of the polisher has the on/off switch, so it’s easily within reach. Included with the pad is a three-layer foam pad with a moisture barrier. There’s also a microfiber removal bonnet to protect your car’s finish.
This polisher's downsides are that the handle can be a bit awkward to hold, and the power switch is also hard to reach while holding the handle. The pad isn’t the most durable, either.
This kit has everything that you need to use this polisher in a wide variety of applications. It comes with a 780-watt motor and two pad plates that measure 5 and 6 inches, and the orbit size is 8mm. It has six variable speeds that range from 2,000-5,500 RPMs. There’s a large D-shaped handle on the top and a removable side handlebar. What makes this polisher stand out are the accessories: you get a carry bag, tools, sanding paper, wool pads, and foam pads. Your kit also comes with a wool washing mitt, microfiber cloth, and cleaning brush.
Unfortunately, this polisher isn’t the most durable, making it ideal for the weekender but not the best option for someone looking to use it daily. The pad plates are also small in comparison to other polishers available.
Make your car’s paint shine with this complete care and polishing kit. It comes with a heavy-duty and powerful polisher along with a strong motor that’s 120v and 700 watts that can run at 2,800 to 7,800 RPMs. Beginners will find this polisher easy to use with its streamlined controls. You can use this polisher to remove the defects, swirls, and scratches from your car’s paint.
One drawback of this polisher is that it can have a strong vibration at lower speeds. You may also find that the power switches are in awkward places or hard to reach. The pad on this polisher is also smaller than other polishers on this list. However, this is also an advantage for precise work and defect removal.
If you've never used an orbital polisher, this option is a smart one to start with. It's constructed of durable plastic for the housing, and the pad plate is an impressive 10 inches in diameter, so it will significantly cut down on your polishing time. The impressive motor spins at 3,200 RPMs. The power button is conveniently located on the handle, and the large dual handles make it easy to control and maneuver. There are also replacement pads available.
This polisher's downside is that it doesn't have variable speeds, so you're stuck with one speed. The power cord is also relatively short, putting the plug near the polisher and likely to hit your car if you aren't careful. While the handles are large, they aren't ergonomic.
This dual-action orbital polisher comes with a durable carry bag to make it the most portable option on this list. It has a powerful seven amp 850-watt motor that can produce speeds of 2,000 to 6,400 RPMs. There are six speed settings to give you complete control of how you use your polisher. It has a 6-inch pad plate for universal compatibility with replacement pads. The side handle is removable so that you can switch it from the left or right side. To increase the comfort of this polisher, the handle is coated in TPE shockproof material. Three pads come with your polisher: wool, wave, and flat pads.
Unfortunately, this polisher is louder than others. The pads are also a bit flimsy, so you’ll want to replace them with your preferred pads, but thankfully, the pad plate's standard size makes this easy.
This 5-inch dual action orbital polisher has six variable speeds to choose from. The motor can achieve a range of 1,500-6,400 orbits per minute, giving you more usability and versatility with your polisher. Included with your polisher are two handles that you can adjust for the greatest amount of comfort while polishing: one is a sizeable D-shaped handle, and the other is a side handlebar. There’s also a 5- and 6-inch pad plate. You’ll get four pads total — two for each size plate. Everything neatly fits into the included carrying tote.
Unfortunately, this polisher can get hot when running at higher speeds. You’ll want to be sure you only use pads meant for these speeds, or the heat generated can make them melt.
This random orbital polisher is user-friendly and perfect for the beginner. Included is a 6-inch pad, which makes it ideal for working quickly. The motor is a 4.5 amp and is capable of moving at 2,500 to 6,800 orbits per minute. What makes this polisher stand out is that the handle is removable so that you can position it on the right or left side, letting you customize the polisher to your comfort.
One drawback of this polisher is that it doesn’t indicate the OPMs when adjusting the speed, leaving you guessing the exact level. You may also find it hard to cold-start it at first. Overall, it can take some practice to get comfortable with it.
This 6-inch orbital polisher operates at 4,400 orbits per minute. The 10-foot cord is nice and long, making it easier to work with and maneuver. The unique two-handle design makes it easier to control—you’ll find that the handles are cushioned and comfortable to hold for the entire polishing job. The polisher only weighs 5.3 pounds, making it lightweight to reduce arm fatigue. Included with your polisher are one foam applicator pad and two polishing bonnets. You can use this polisher to apply wax, buff, and polish your vehicle’s paint.
Unfortunately, the included foam bonnet isn’t the most durable, which can result in it tearing during use. However, most car enthusiasts buy pads anyway. This polisher doesn’t have a variable speed option either, which can make the application of compounds limiting.
You can depend on this polisher for the long haul with its heavy-duty, durable construction. It’s powered by a 12-amp motor that generates 600-3,500 RPMs. The pad plate can fit 7- or 9-inch diameter pads. You can move the handle into three positions, making it comfortable to use and easy to control your polisher. What makes this polisher stand out is the wool ingestion shield, which prevents your wool pads from getting caught up in the polisher while it’s spinning. You’ll appreciate how lightweight the polisher is at 6.7 pounds.
One drawback of this polisher is that the speed control can malfunction, leaving your polisher stuck running at one speed. There’s also poor button placement, which can result in you accidentally hitting them while polishing.
- Don’t mix the types of products that you use a buffing pad for. Dedicate each pad for each specific compound to ensure a clean application and prevent unexpected chemical reactions.
- Never let your buffing pads touch the ground since they will accumulate dirt and grime in the material. It will be hard to fully remove and can potentially scratch your car’s paint.
- Always apply your product or compound to the buffing pad and not your vehicle to give you a better application and optimal results.
Q: Can you use an orbital sander to wax a car?
Yes, you can. You’ll want to make sure that it’s orbital and has a variable speed, and be sure to replace the sandpaper with a buffing pad. Apply a product, turn on your sander, and accelerate it up to speed as you work.
Q: What is the difference between a dual-action polisher and a random orbital polisher?
They are the same thing. A dual-action polisher moves in two directions and rotates while also moving materially. An orbital polisher also has this type of movement. Both of these machines have a free rotating spindle that prevents you from accidentally burning your paint or creating swirls.
Q: Can I use an orbital sander as a polisher?
Yes, you can. The orbital action is important because it makes it easier to apply your compound without risking your car’s paint. If you push too hard, the movement action will stop, and it will only vibrate. Change the sanding pad to a buffing pad, and you’re ready to go.
You’ll be pleased with how the Ginour Polisher has two adjustable handles, five foam polishing disks, and six variable speeds that give you complete control. For a more affordable option, the Auto Spa Random Orbital Polisher has a powerful motor and is an easy-to-maneuver compact design.