Thursday, August 14, 2008

How to Polish Your Scratched Glossy Notebook


No brand is immune from this problem, with most manufactures offering at least one notebook with a glossy plastic exterior. Below is a small list outlining some popular laptops that have glossy finishes:

Lenovo: IdeaPad Y series, SL series
Toshiba: Satellite and new Qosmio series
Dell: New Vostros, M1730
HP: Almost the entire consumer lineup

Materials Needed

  • One scratched notebook
  • Polish (Novus 3 Step Plastic Polish, Meguiars Scratch-X)
  • Clean soft cloth (one for each step)
  • Patience

I chose Novus plastic cleaner for this guide since I had good luck with this polish in the past. You probably won't find it at your local autoparts store, but it can be easily and cheaply purchased online. I went to McMaster-Carr for this purchase, where it cost $17 plus shipping. The Meguiar's Scratch-X came from my local Advanced Auto store for $8, but it can be found online as well. The Scratch-X polish was added to the mix since it was a finer polish than the Novus cleaners and helped give the notebook a much smoother final look.

Cleaning the notebook

Before you even touch the notebook with some of the fine rubbing compound to buff out scratches, you want the notebook to be clean enough to eat off of. You need to remove any leftover dust or fine grit that might re-scratch your notebook during the polishing process, which would make it look much worse than when you started. A damp cloth sprayed with the Novus Step 1 polish (just a cleaning spray) will work, or plain soap and water.

Polishing the notebook

Start off with the Novus #3 or Novus #2 depending on how bad the scratches are. If you have a very mild scuff that you can't feel with your fingernail, start with the #2 fine scratch remover. If it is deep enough to catch your fingernail, you will need to start with the #3 heavy scratch remover. Apply the polish to a clean cloth and gently rub the surface of the notebook. A circular motion or just up and down will work fine. Continue rubbing the polish onto the surface until it starts to dry and absorb into your cloth. When barely anything is left on the surface, wipe the dried polish bits off the notebook and inspect the surface.

Don't be alarmed if you see many fine scratches. If you started with the number 3 cleaner, it will leave a mild haze. The important thing are the original blemishes on the notebook, and if they have been removed or greatly lessened. Deep scratches will be impossible to completely remove unless you polish away a good deal of the plastic layer. I prefer to just smooth off the rough edges and let them blend into the notebook surface.

Move onto the finer polish once you find the original blemish to be acceptable. Apply it in the same manner, with a gentle motion and continue until the polish completely dries and absorbs into your cloth. Continue this step until the original polished area matches the surrounding notebook surface. It might take a few reapplications before all of the haze and fine scratches are gone. If you had deep scratches when you started, you will still see them, but they should be less noticeable and blended into the glossy finish.

Below is a quick example of a line of fine scratches being removed from the lid of a glossy Acer notebook. First picture is before, second is after the #3 polish, and last is after the fine polish.

Notice how the bulk of the scratches were removed, and you are left with the deeper marks. Once the highly scuffed area is polished the visibility of the scratches is greatly reduced. You are only left with deep blemishes that are only visible under close scrutiny. Each stage of the polishing took about 30-45 seconds and the entire process took roughly five minutes. Additional polishing effort (much greater time) might yield better results.

Results may vary

Depending on the exact glossy surface and the process used you might remove all marks or be left with some leftovers from an abusive past. While our example shows the process with regular "by hand" application, some of our more adventurous readers might experiment with power buffers or additional applications. This could yield much better results, but also runs the risk of wearing away more of the surface with the possibility of damaging the glossy notebook further.

1 comment:

r4i software said...

I've used the Novus 3 step solution a few times on acrylic for my Danger Den case. If you are patient with it and follow the procedures you can get some pretty amazing results.

FYI, it is also a good way to get rid of foggy head lights. It doesn't fix them perfectly, but it does help a bit.

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