Piano Finishes and piano care

In today’s piano market you will find a variety of different materials that are used for the finish of our pianos. They range from different types of lacquers, polyurethanes, and also polyester resins. For those of you that don’t know what a polyester resin is, it is simply a plastic finish.

yamaha polyester

Yamaha Upright Polyester Piano

The very very high-gloss finishes that you see on many grand pianos. Piano finishes do a number of things, the first being they enhance the beauty of the wood, secondly and probably more important is to protect the wood of the piano. Any of the finishes do that very nicely. Thirdly it does protect the wood in the piano from humidity.

Humidity can be a major problem in pianos, as it causes the wood and the wooden pieces in the piano to swell in the summer time and shrink in the winter time. This is directly related to the humidity in the air around the piano. I humidity does cause swelling of the small wooden pieces and shrinking in the winter time when humidity is lower. If you’ve ever had sticky keys this can be directly attributed to humidity in most cases.
Over the years I have had one question asked more than any other. That question would be.

Where do I put my piano inside my house?
Can I put it in front of the window?
Should I put it in the same room as a fireplace?
Can I place my piano on an outside wall?
What about over a heating vent?

The answer to these questions can be different in every case. As for placing your piano in front of a window the answer is not in direct sunlight. Placing your piano in front of the direct sunlight can fade the piano finish badly and causing the piano to dry out.

Placing your piano in the same room as a fireplace, depends on whether or not you use your fireplace. If you use your fireplace, then it is not suggested. If if you don’t use your fireplace then it’s fine.

Last and can I place my piano on an outside wall? Years ago there was very little insulation in the outer walls of our homes. As a result the walls got cold or hot depending on the time of the year. In our newer homes we have up to 8 inches of insulation between the wall and the outside so if your walls are well insulated it’s not nearly the problem it was years ago.

Lastly you should never put your piano close to a heat vent.

There is a common thread to all of the things we just talked about, and that is the weather. Changing weather is probably the worst enemy of any piano. It affects everything from Rusty strings, to loose tuning pins. Additional problems can be broken piano action parts, and the soundboard cracking not to mention cracked pin blocks.
Constant expansion and contraction of the soundboard can also cause it to crack loosening the soundboard ribs and bridges. This can sometimes cause nasty buzzing noises and sympathetic vibrations. As you can see caring for your piano can be a rather daunting task. When you have questions about your pianos care, you should always consult your piano tuner/technician.

Ross Joyner

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