Different Types of Piano Finishes – August 2022

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, it 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 while buying one. 

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 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 to protect the wood from degradation and damage. The different types of piano finishes are as follows.

1. Lacquer 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 of pianos with lacquer finish

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 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. Pianos with a satin 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 off pianos with a satin finish in matte, which is completely flat and doesn’t reflect light. 


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 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. 

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 towards 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. Pianos with polyester or polymer 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. Polymer finish on the pianos is generally hard and is not susceptible to dents and scratches. 

Piano 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 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 a water-based pore filler.  

Piano 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 the 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. 

5. Pianos with open pore finish

The pianos with an open-pore finish is 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.

Piano 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. Pianos with satin rosewood finishes

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.

Check out: Best Digital Pianos Under $3000: High-End Pianos

Maintaining the glossy 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. 


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.


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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