How to Polish a Lacquer Finished Piano

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If your lacquered piano is due for a polish, you’ll want to spend a few extra dollars on a good product. Common household furniture polishes (even those with good reputations) are not ideal for a piano, even if the piano’s finish looks similar to the finish on your expensive dining room table. Beware of the following ingredients when polishing your lacquer piano:

  • Silicone can seep into the wood and cause costly damage to delicate and (seemingly) distant parts.
  • Lemon oils are recommended by some, but can actually weaken the finish and cause a sticky buildup over time.

Some lacquer finishes are meant to have a dull sheen. Attempting to liven up these finishes with a gloss polish will produce the opposite effect. A good product for satin (lower-gloss) finishes is Murphy’s Oil Soap, which can be found in most household cleaning aisles. For high or semi-gloss finishes, look for OZ Cream Polish or check out Steinway’s line of furniture polishes.

Tips for Polishing a Lacquer Piano

  1. Use a soft cloth, and gently wipe in the direction of the piano’s wood grain. This is the direction in which the original finish was applied, and following the grain during a polish will benefit both the wood and its finish.
  2. Be extra gentle on corners and edges. These areas have the thinnest layer of finish, and too much pressure can expose the nude wood.
  3. If you have a sticky buildup of wax or polish, wipe these areas with a solution of filtered water and mild soap, and dry immediately.
  4. Do not use polishing products meant for polymer piano finishes; your lacquer piano wood has different needs.

Remember: Dusting is best; keep polishing to a bare minimum. Use these everyday piano cleaning habits to keep your piano looking its best.