Different Types of Piano Finishes – 2023

The Piano is not just an ordinary piece of furniture, but in most homes, this is an exceptional piece of furniture that fits the aesthetics of the room. The finish and look of the furniture are as important as it sounds though, the finish of the piano will not affect the sound it produces. But having an instrument at home, that you don’t wish to look, at can be a real turn-off from playing the instrument and enjoying the piano play. Pianos come in a range of styles and designs and are an important consideration when buying one. Let’s have a look at different types of Piano Finishes:

What Is Piano Finish? 

Yes, the design and style of the piano should be taken into account while purchasing one. More often than not, folks look at the things that it offers. The piano’s polish and structure are evaluated for aesthetic reasons to see if they would go well with the room’s furniture and color scheme. It is vital to be aware of the level of care and upkeep required before picking the sort of piano finish you desire. 

Different Types of Piano Finishes

Piano Finishes

People generally look at the features of the piano while buying one, but pay very little attention to the piano’s finishes. The finish on the piano is decided based on the type of wood it is made of. Different types of wood are used in making the piano. Apart from considering the cost of the wood finish and its availability, also focus on the properties of the wood before choosing your upright piano. When we consider the exterior cabinet and case of the piano, it is not uncommon to think that ebony is the material of choice. But apart from ebony, pianos can also be made of different wood finishes such as maple, cherry, oak, rosewood, mahogany, etc. 

Wood finishes in the pianos will be available in their frame, legs, and casing to render them a sturdy and durable base. This also helps in supporting the heavy grey cast iron frame of the pianos, from which the strings are tightly stretched over to render the characteristic tensile strength. Also, choose wood finishes in pianos that are great to take up the paint, polish, and varnish to render great aesthetics and protect the wood from degradation and damage. The different types of piano finishes are as follows.

Check out: List of Best Digital Pianos in the Market

1. Lacquer Piano Finish:

Pianos with lacquer finish have some type of wax sealing and it is applied to the wood directly. Pianos with lacquer finish have been in use since the 1920s and they are easy to use, they dry fast, and last longer. Pianos with lacquer finish look good but are also expensive. Lacquer finishes on the pianos could either be clear or colored and they also dry up quickly through a curing process or a solvent evaporation process. Thus, the resultant finish looks hard and durable. The lacquer finish on the pianos ranges from least shiny to shiniest and can either be glossy, high gloss, semi-glossy, or dull sheen. 

Maintenance: Pianos with a lacquer finish are considered more beautiful than other wood finishes. But it can be susceptible to discoloration or scratches over time and thus it is important to use the right type of cloth of finish to polish the piano exteriors. If you are trying to dust the piano, use a feather duster or a soft cloth to pick up the dust, followed by dry cloth cleaning to remove any moisture left. Using a dry cloth first is not advisable, as it creates marks on the piano finish. 

2. Satin Piano Finish:

The satin finish on the pianos offers them a natural and smooth look. These pianos have about 35% to 40% sheen so that it doesn’t reflect light directly. Thus, these pianos do not show any imperfections or scratches on their exteriors. Thus, they are considered to be better than pianos with a higher percentage of sheen.

However, these pianos are not likely to have smudges or fingerprints. In this type of piano finish, multiple layers of high gloss material are applied and they are left to cure, before starting the rubbing process. Pianos with a satin finish can be available in different colors such as black, walnut, cherry, mahogany, etc. An important variation of pianos with a satin finish in matte, which is completely flat and doesn’t reflect light. 

Maintenance: There are chances for the body oils to get trapped in the grooves in this piano and it cannot be removed by mere dusting. Pianos with a satin finish must be polished with utter care, to make sure that they don’t leave any waxy residue behind.  The best way to maintain the pianos with a satin finish is to clean them with a mild soap solution applied to the cloth and wipe them in the direction of the grain. It is not a good practice to wipe the piano circularly, as its grooves can get uneven, ruining the satin finish. 

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Types Of Satin Pianos

a. Satin black pianos: Satin black is the most common and accessible finish and they are not only a cost-effective finish but are also the easiest to get hold of. Satin black pianos are a common type of finish and they offer a non-glossy finish that absorbs light, rather than reflecting them as we find on polished finishes. Pianos with satin finishes are affordable and readily available. They also look stylish and are easy to clean. 

b. Satin white pianos: Similar to the satin black pianos, these pianos are capable of absorbing light rather than reflecting it. They also look incredibly modern and are suitable for most modern homes.

Satin white pianos are incredibly popular and they are more of a statement piece than black pianos. These pianos generally draw all the attention in the room toward them. They are less popular than their satin black counterparts and are slightly expensive. They are produced slightly in smaller numbers and look incredibly sleek and modern. But these pianos are more cost-effective than polished finishes. 

3. Polyester Or Polymer Piano Finish:

Pianos with a high gloss polyester finish make their surface look like a mirror. These pianos are the most durable among all our finishes and should be resistant to solvents and cracks. Thus, these pianos are hard to repair, even if they get damaged. These pianos are nonporous and a small amount of water spillage would generally not harm them. The polymer finish on the pianos is generally hard and is not susceptible to dents and scratches. 

Maintenance: Pianos with a polyester finish look dark and thus it is tough to spot dust on them easily. This can be remedied easily with the help of a soft duster. Clean the piano with a duster and apply the high gloss finish on a microfiber cloth and wipe the entire surface of the piano. The instrument should not be cleaned with furniture polish and the high gloss polish should never be sprayed over the piano.

4. High Gloss Piano Finish

Pianos with a high gloss finish are a must to have in every home and are capable of reflecting the image and light. These finishes also add depth and clarity to the piano. A high gloss finish on the piano can be attained by the use of shellac, polyester, or lacquer. Pianos with a high gloss finish are generally flat and smooth to reflect light. If they are uneven and if they have scratches, they could diffuse light. The pores that are present in the open grain of the piano finish can be filled with water-based pore filler.  

Maintenance: The pores should not be filled with any finish, or they could shrink later on, and leave the wood with an uneven surface. After applying the final coat, proceed with sanding and buffing. This can cut through the oil-based and water-based coating, leaving behind puddle-shaped outlines. Proper care for pianos with a high gloss finish would be to wipe them with a damp cloth, followed by a dry one. If there are fine scratches on the piano, a fine gloss finish can be brought back by using gloss polish.

a. Polished white pianos:

The polished white pianos are a striking piece of furniture and feature an enhanced shine and glare from the instrument. They are suited to most modern homes and are known for their minimalistic design. These pianos are incredibly striking and appeal to home aesthetics, particularly when they are placed against colored walls. These pianos are great for adding elegance to any room.

b. Polished Ebony:

Polished ebony is the material of choice in most digital instruments and is akin to the black acoustic piano. The shine on its polished finishes reflects light much better than the satin finishes and gives these pianos a stunning glossy feel. Pianos with a polished ebony finish look sleek, stylish, and striking and are very popular.

Pianos in this finish are also readily available and are easy to clean. Pianos with polished black finish are popular and work in most modern rooms. They are more expensive than pianos with satin finishes and could dust marks and fingerprints easily. 

Also check: Best Digital Pianos for Classical Pianists

5. Open Pore Piano Finish:

The pianos with an open-pore finish are indeed a thin layer of lacquer that keeps the natural pores of the wood exposed. These grains and pores will not be filled to create a smooth finish. The surface is not rubbed, but a sanding sealer could be used to attain the sheen on the console piano. The open-pore finish is not used as often as other piano finishes. It is a great substitute for satin in many musical instruments. It is also a material of choice in other furniture such as headboards and coffee tables.

Maintenance: It is mandatory to restore the finish on the piano, when it is worn or when it starts to show scrapes. The quality of its finish can be attained with the help of oil-based or petroleum-based products. When a conditioning polish is used, the excess should be removed to prevent the buildup of dust and grime.

6. Satin Rosewood Piano Finish:

Pianos with satin rosewood finishes are pretty common and their traditional dark brown color gives them an impression of a traditional wooden finish. They suit traditional cabinet styles and are more affordable than polished finishes. It shows less grime and dust than the pianos with black and white finishes. Though they look outdated, they still make a traditional cabinet style.

What Are Pianos Finished With?  

Lacquered Surface: The word “lacquer” is derived from the French word “lacre,” which refers to a particular kind of sealing wax used to coat wood. Since the 1920s, materials have been finished with lacquer because it is simple to use, dries quickly, lasts longer, looks nice, and is inexpensive. 

It can either be transparent or pigmented and dries through solvent evaporation or curing, producing a finish that is strong and rigid. A person’s preference for the lacquer shine might range from least shiny to most shiny.

Depending on what the manufacturer refers to as the sort of sheen on their wood finish, a lacquer finish can indeed be glossy (semi-gloss or high gloss), matte, eggshell, flat, or satin. High-gloss, semi-gloss, and satin and dull sheen lacquers are the most often applied finishes on pianos in North America. 

Although it is seen to be more attractive than some other wood finishes, with time it may become scratched and discolored. Understanding the lacquer sheen finish that was applied to the piano can help you take good care of it. The improper cloth or polish, as well as how you apply it, could cause damage. 

Satin Surface: A satin finish has a more smooth and more natural appearance. It has a 35% to 40% sheen, which means that it does not directly reflect light and does not reveal scratches or other flaws as readily as materials with a higher proportion of sheen. 

However, because body oils can become caught in the grooves, it is probable to have fingerprints or smudges on them that cannot be removed by simply dusting. It will need polishing, but use caution when applying materials like common furniture polish that can leave a wax residue. 

A specialist would probably be needed to remove it because it will likely continue to accumulate over time. You can use a cloth and a light soap solution, to wipe against the grain. Avoid cleaning in a circular motion since it could make the grooves uneven and destroy the smooth sheen. 

This kind of finish involves applying several coats of high gloss material, allowing them to dry, and then beginning the rubbing process with steel wool or another abrasive substance, such as 600-grit sandpaper, combined with rubbing lubricant and water to act as a buffer. 

To create microscopic grooves in the hand-rubbed finish that will scatter or diffract light, it is handled in one direction or the direction of the grain. Once the high sheen is gone, the finish is rather drab but still attractive. Any color is acceptable, including black, mahogany, walnut, and cherry. A satin finish variant known as matte is fully flat and does not reflect light. 

High-Gloss Surface: High-gloss surfaces of pianos would reflect the light and images, adding depth and clarity. This kind of finish uses lacquer, shellac, or polyester. For light to reflect, the surface must be flat and smooth; if it is uneven or contains scratches, the light will be dispersed. After applying one layer of coat, the open grain’s pores are often filled with water-based pore filler. 

If the pores are sealed with a finish, the finish will eventually shrink, leaving the wood with a rough surface. After the final coat has dried, the next stage is sanding and polishing. This can remove most water- and oil-based coatings, leaving what is known as puddle-shaped outlines, but lacquer or shellac would simply melt with the previously applied layer, leaving one thick layer with no obtrusive lines. 

A high-gloss finish should typically be cleaned by first cleaning it with a damp cloth and then a dry one. A high-gloss polish can be applied to restore its luster if it has minor scratches.

Finish in Polyester (Polymer): A polyester high-gloss coating transforms the surface into a mirror. This finish for the piano is reputed to be the most lasting of all because it is immune to cracks and solvents, which accidentally makes them more challenging to repair in the event of damage. A few water spills would not affect it because it is non-porous, but it is better to clean it off right away if it happens. 

Due to its hardness, it is resistant to dents and scratches. Given the darkness, dust would be simple to see, but this may be readily avoided by using a soft duster. After that, use a microfiber towel to wipe the surface after using a high-gloss piano polish. This should not be done with furniture polish, and you shouldn’t spray directly on the piano. 

Piano with Open-Pore Finish: An open-pore finish is just a thin coat of lacquer that leaves the tone woods’ natural pores visible. The grain or gaps are not filled to produce a smooth surface, in contrast to the other piano finish. Additionally, the polyurethane or lacquer is not rubbed; rather, a sanding sealer is applied, giving it a finish that falls somewhere between matte and satin. 

Oil-based or petroleum-based products can be utilized to preserve the finish’s quality. To avoid the accumulation of dirt and dust, make sure to wipe away any extra conditioning polish after use. When the finish starts to seem old or has scrapes, there are various options available to restore its condition. Compared to the other piano finishes, it is not as frequently utilized. 

Nevertheless, it is utilized in place of satin on musical instruments created in Europe and other furniture, like coffee tables and headboards. 

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How To Give A Piano A Glossy look? 

Both lacquer and varnish work well for this purpose and provide superb high-gloss finishes. Their drying durations and consistency, meanwhile, may necessitate using different application techniques. Whatever option you decide on, the goal is to make a film that is thick enough to allow naked wood to be exposed to polishing. 

For optimal results, while working with lacquer, use a sprayer to apply it. It might not be best to brush the lotion on because it dries very quickly. However, applying it quickly and getting the necessary coverage is possible when using a sprayer. Spray your project with the initial lacquer coat, then wait for it to dry. Usually, it takes 15 to 20 minutes for the surface to dry enough to recoat. 

However, for optimum drying, it’s preferable to keep it on for up to 30 minutes. Add at least two additional coatings of the product once it has dried, allowing each coat to dry for around 30 minutes. After it has dried, check the surface for any lumps and scuff sand it using ultra-fine 320- to 400-grit sandpaper. Be sure to carry out this procedure again between each additional coat. You need additional coats of lacquer for greater coverage because it applies thinly. 

Varnishes dry more slowly than lacquer, so you can apply it with a paintbrush. Additionally, it implies that you will need to wait longer for it to entirely dry. Typically, it should dry in three hours. Varnish is thicker than lacquer, so you will only need one or two applications. Once the surface has dried, check to make sure there are no lumps or other obvious flaws.

The varnished surface should next be softly sanded with fine 320-grit sandpaper to make it entirely smooth to the touch. Add one additional coat of varnish after wiping away the sanding dust, and let it dry. Always sand by hand when applying lacquer or varnish; a sanding sponge may produce the best results. Finally, give the lacquer or varnished wood one more day to dry before re-sanding it with 400-grit sandpaper. 

  1. Does the piano finish help the piano sound better? 

As a piece of furniture in many households, piano finishes are more than simply a matter of color. The look of the space is just as crucial to the piano’s performance! Although the piano’s finish has no bearing on the music it produces, possessing a piano that you do not like might make playing the piano a genuine chore. 

  1. What kind of material is used for a piano finish? 

High-gloss surfaces of pianos would reflect light and images, adding depth and clarity. This kind of finish uses lacquer, shellac, or polyester. For light to reflect, the surface must be flat and smooth; if it is uneven or contains scratches, the light will be dispersed. 

Maintaining the glossy Piano finishes in the piano

Thinking that regular furniture polish can be used on the piano to maintain its glossiness is not correct. When you have a piano or planning to buy one, make sure that you inquire about the type of finish that the piano has, to plan its care and maintenance. It is not a wise idea to attempt to polish the piano, without having good knowledge of the type of finish used. 

Before attempting to apply polish on the furniture, apply a mild soap solution to remove the dirt with the help of a soft cloth. This also helps in removing the previously applied products. If your piano has a shiny finish, it will reflect the light and image. You thus have to choose a high gloss polish that is water-based to attain the high gloss on the piano. Make sure that the piano polish that you choose, doesn’t have any harmful addictive. 

For pianos that are not very glossy and are a bit dull, then use a mild cleaner that is specific for the finish used. It is good to avoid over-wiping and over-polishing the pianos as this will get them to lose their original luster. For pianos with an open pore finish, it is optimal to use an oil-based conditioning polish. 

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When we consider piano finishes, ebony is the most commonly used finish. Generally, the pianos are made of cherry, walnut, oak, or mahogany wood. If you wish to have pianos with exotic woods, choose pianos with rosewood and Bubinga, available in many styles and colors. Considering the color options, you can find pianos that are painted in ivory or white. In some special cases, we can find pianos that are painted in red, blue, and other original colors.

Apart from wood finishes, pianos are also available in high gloss or satin finishes. Pianos with high gloss polish create a near-mirror-like quality, whereas satin finishes are slightly dull and might reflect light and not images. Choose piano finishes appropriately to match your needs and your home aesthetics.


Cory Super High-Gloss Piano Finish or Polish 

It is the simplest and safest polish to use if you want a high gloss piano finish. It is uniquely developed to quickly and effectively clean and protect high-gloss polyester, polyurethane, and lacquer finishes. Use Super High-Gloss Polish as frequently as required to get rid of dust-attracting static, fingerprints, and smearing. Fading and surface degradation is prevented by special UV Shield protection. 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) 

How It Is Recommended To Apply High Gloss Paint for Piano Finish?

The pre-treatment of the surface is crucial when using a high gloss paint. To get the desired sheen, the surface must be perfect and immaculate. Then, as a crucial step, make sure you apply an appropriate primer before the paint. Prior to painting, sand the surface with ultra-fine sandpaper after applying the primer, thoroughly clean the area to get rid of any dust. To obtain a smooth, glossy finish, use a brush or a sprayer to apply numerous thin layers. 

What Is The Glossiest Coat For Wood? 

Polyurethane is the clear coat for wood with the most luster. To achieve the smoothest finish possible, the application process may take some time, but it is simple and does not call for any specialized tools or abilities. 

Why Is It Advised To Use Wood Conditioner? 

Wood conditioner can increase durability while also helping the wood finish adhere better. This is important when working with paint or wood stains. Instead, concentrate on layering lacquer or varnish after using a good wood grain filler. 

What Is An Important Tip That Can Be Used While The Process? 

The process of getting a flawless surface always includes sanding. It generates a level surface by assisting in the removal of any surface irregularities. The majority of the labor is done by sanding; applying the finish and buffing it are simply minor tasks. Make sure you use the proper sandpaper grain and work gradually by alternating between rougher and finer grits. 

What Are The Advantages Of A Glossy Finished Piano? 

High gloss surfaces are simple to maintain and keep clean. To clean the shining surface, all that needs to be done is give it a quick wipe with a moist cloth. Glossy surfaces can make a small area appear larger by reflecting more light, highlighting its size. 

Being in love with music, Larry started this website to help piano lovers get the most detailed and accurate information with his 5 Years of experience of working in a music store.

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