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How to Polish a Piano

Learn How to Polish Lacquer or Polymer Piano Finishes


How to Polish a Piano

To polish a piano without causing damage to the finish or instrument, be sure to read the basic guidelines for cleaning a piano.

It’s also very important to keep wood polish off the keyboard; there are special methods for cleaning piano keys.

Lacquer and Polyester Piano Finishes

Before you polish your piano, you need to find out whether it has a polymer or lacquer finish; these two finishes must be polished differently to avoid damage and possibly irreversible eyesores.

Here’s how to distinguish lacquer from polymer piano finishes:

  • Lacquer: Lacquer is most common on North American pianos, and will resemble most other pieces of wooden furniture. You can usually see the wood grain under the finish, and the surface will seem easily scratchable.

    Most Tell-Tale Problem: A waxy buildup is common on lacquer finishes, as is a softening of the varnish. Lacquer can also dry out very quickly depending on cleaning habits and local weather.

  • Polymer (or Polyester): Polyester finishes are hard, and are usually dark and reflective. It’s annoyingly easy to spot fingerprints, and difficult to see the wood grain.

    Common Annoyances: Polymer finishes rarely dull, and can hold their own against spills, deep scratches, and dents fairly well. However, that same stubborn shine can highlight otherwise miniscule flaws, and improper cleaning can allow a pattern of hairline scratches to take over the piano’s surface.

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