The two most common piano finishes are lacquer and polyester. Either material may come in clear, black, white, or other colors. Check your piano’s owner information booklet to determine the type and recommended care of your piano’s finish, or ask your technician or dealer for help if you’re not sure.


Most, but not all, American-made pianos have lacquer finishes. They may be satin (dull sheen), semi-gloss, or high gloss.

  • Cleaning — For general dusting and cleaning of lacquer finishes, see items 2 and 3 preceding. Be especially careful to avoid scratching high gloss finishes by using only very soft, clean cloths and wiping with light pressure. For satin finishes, always rub in line with the existing sheen.
  • Polishing — Satin finishes are intended to be dull and will normally have a poor appearance if a gloss-producing polish is applied. If desired, a polish may be applied to gloss or semigloss finishes. Two common products are Guardsman Furniture Polish and OZ Cream Polish. Your technician may carry these or other products especially recommended for piano care. Note the precautions under item 4 regarding selecting and applying polishes.

When cleaning or polishing a lacquer finish, avoid hard pressure on sharp corners and edges since the finish can easily wear through to bare wood.


Most Asian and European pianos have polyester finishes in satin or high-gloss (called high polish). This material is harder and more scratch-resistant than lacquer, and best maintained by simple dusting and cleaning.

  • Cleaning — Use the same procedure as for lacquer.
  • Polishing — Satin polyester looks best when simply kept clean. Avoid gloss-producing polishes, which leave satin finishes looking shiny but scratched. High-polish polyester finishes need only be kept clean to maintain their gloss. However, high-wear areas such as the music desk may eventually develop a hazy appearance caused by many fine scratches. These areas can be buffed back to a high gloss using a product designed to remove tiny scratches from fiberglass boats or plastic windows in convertible cars. Two such products are Meguiar’s Mirror Glaze #17 Plastic Cleaner, and Meguiar’s s Mirror Glaze #9 Swirl Remover–available from marine supply, auto-parts, or automotive paint supply stores. Your technician may carry special products for this purpose, or can recommend a local source.

The preceding article is a reprint of a Technical Bulletin published by the Piano Technicians Guild, Inc.It is provided on the Internet as a service to piano owners.Tags: LacquerPiano CarePiano FinishPiano TipsPolyester