Some people look at fingerprints on a piano with a high gloss finish and think they will never be able to keep it clean. Interestingly, in many ways a high gloss finish is easier to care for than a satin finish. How can this be? The difference is simple. A high gloss finish on pianos is generally a polyester finish. It is a totally sealed finish. You can actually clean it with Windex without damaging it believe it or not! Be sure to use a soft cotton cloth. You never want to use anything that has any fibers in it because as robust as high gloss finishes are, certain things can mess them up very quickly.
For example, if you take a music book and toss it on the piano making it spin, you’ll notice little tiny hairline scratches on the finish just from tossing the book on the piano. Polyester finishes were first introduced in this country from Asian Manufacturers at the NAMM music trade show. To demonstrate how robust they are, they set a piano on fire! The downside of high gloss finishes is that if they’re damaged, very few people know how to repair them. However, they are generally very strong finishes unless a metal object hits them. Hairline scratches can be buffed out by a professional furniture person if they’re not too deep.
Satin finishes are somewhat porous finishes which are hand-rubbed. They have multi-layers of lacquer, yet they’re still open finishes. You’ll see fingerprints in the finish and may wonder how to polish them out. You do not want to use cleaning products like pledge because they leave a wax residue which can build up over time and must be professionally removed. There are some piano polishes which are specifically designed for satin or high gloss piano finishes which won’t damage the piano. General furniture polishes are not advisable on pianos.
How do you clean a satin finish? It’s really simple: you take a soft cotton cloth and rub it in the direction of the grain of the finish. If there are persistent blemishes from dirty hands or even just the natural oils in your skin, take a slightly damp cloth and rub it in the direction of the grain of the finish. You should be able to get rid of all the fingerprints so long as there is nothing embedded in there or if it got dented by a sharp object.
That’s all you really need to do to keep the finish of your piano in great shape! A black, high gloss finish will show dust. So, you may have to dust the piano more often just to make it look nice. However, overall, the high gloss finish is slightly easier to care for because it is easier to rub out the finish when it is smudged with fingerprints. I hope this has been helpful! Again, this is Robert Estrin at LivingPianos.com – Your Online Piano Store! info@LivingPianos.com 949-244-3729