Cory Care Products

Piano and Furniture Finish Types

What type of finish does my piano have?

This short video below provides examples with product recommendations.  Each product on our website has a video demonstration under the description.  Simply click on the product photograph and the available sizes, pricing and demonstration exists there.

How do I determine which product to use on which finish?

The first step is to determine whether your finish is high gloss (high polish) or satin (rubbed). High polish finishes are mirror like and reflect light and images. High gloss can be wood tone, black or literally any color as long as they are shiny. If the finish is high gloss, proceed to the FAQ for maintaining high gloss finishes.

Satin finishes are usually rubbed in one-direction with the grain and are dull looking. For this discussion, we will be dealing with wood tone finishes versus black. Most common household furniture fall into the satin category. If the finish is satin and wood tone, proceed to the FAQs for maintaining satin finishes.

Satin Ebony (black) finishes are treated separately and require specific polishes and maintenance. If you are dealing with a satin ebony finish, please see FAQs specifically for maintaining satin ebony finishes.

If you are dealing with unfinished or natural wood, please see FAQs for maintaining unfinished wood finishes.

Finally, if you have water damaged wood, please see our FAQs on removing water damage.

How do I maintain the high gloss finish on my piano or furniture?

Cory High Gloss polish is designed to be used on all high polish finishes regardless of the materials used for finishing. We treat finishes made from lacquer, polyester, and polyurethane the same.

As with all finishes, the surface has to be clean to be conditioned. Cory Products are special water base formulas designed for safe use on all high polish finishes. This means that any oil base polishes or cleaners that have been previously applied to the surface need to be removed before polish application. The following tips apply regardless of the material the gloss is made of……polyester, lacquer, urethane, etc.

For most circumstances, use Cory Pre-Polish Finish Cleaner to prep and clean the surface.

To remove fine surface scratches and deep clean older finishes, buff the finish with Cory Buff-Brite rubbing compound.

Test polish on inconspicuous area to check for polish compatibility. Lightly spray Cory Super High-Gloss Polish directly onto large surfaces or into polishing cloth for hard to reach areas. Two to three pumps from 6-8 inches away is enough polish to do about half of a top on an average grand piano. Excessive polish will cause buildup and be time consuming to remove. Wipe dry and buff with a clean, dry, soft cloth. If the surface cleans and shines easily than proceed to complete the job with this process.

If the polish streaks and resists the cloth than an oil and/or dirt base is still present and it may be necessary to additionally clean the surface as described previously.


Apply Cory Super High-Gloss Polish as often as desired for regular maintenance.

How do I maintain the satin/wood tone finish on my piano or furniture?

Wood finishing materials have evolved dramatically in the past fifty years. Originally finishing materials were made of varnish or rubbing oils until roughly the 1940s. The next generation of materials used was lacquer. In the mid 1970s to early 1980s, finishes became environmentally driven to water base. This history can be used as a guideline to determine what finishing material was used and the suitable polish to be used.

If your piano or furniture is brand new or relatively new, see the next article below about maintaining elegant, hand-rubbed new finishes.

Pre-cleaning is recommended for surfaces where oil-based polishes such as Pledge or similar lemon oils have been used. Use Cory Pre-Polish Finish Cleaner to clean newer satin finishes.  Should your finish be an older, worn finish with years of unknown oil build up, use Cory Coconut Wood Cleaner for deeper cleaning.   Coconut Wood Cleaner is a water based formulation and is recommended for difficult oil removal.  Test Satin Sheen on small inconspicious area to assure finish compatibility.

Satin Sheen is a water-based cleaner and conditioner that has sheen enhancers. It is not designed to add shine or gloss to the finish; instead it cleans and conditions high-end satin finishes.

Spray Satin-Sheen 6-8 inches from finish. DO NOT SPRAY NEAR STRINGS OR TUNING PINS ON PIANOS. Wipe in the direction of the grain with a soft clean cloth. Cory Satin Sheen will not cause buildup and can be used as often as needed.

If your piano or furniture is pre 1980s and/or has been maintained with oil based polishes such as pledge or lemon oil, it is best to stay with oil-based products. We recommend our fine petroleum based products such as Harmony Detailing Oil, Natural Wood or All-Brite polish for piano finishes. Use Cory Natural Wood or All-Brite polish for older fine furniture.

Cory All-Brite is a blend of a cream polish containing petroleum distillates.  Our oils or All-Brite work equally well and the only difference is a matter of preferrence.  Many customers love using the All-Brite while others use Harmony Detailing Oil.  Regardless of which product you choose, use sparingly, and allow the finish to absorb the product for non streaking results.

Pre-cleaning is recommended for surfaces where oil-based polishes such as Pledge or similar lemon oils have been used. Use Cory Pre-Polish Finish Cleaner or Coconut Cleaner to clean wax buildup and oils from all oil-based finishes. Test polish on inconspicuous area to check for polish compatibility. Apply either polish liberally with a clean, soft cloth.

Maintaining elegant, hand-rubbed new finishes.

Newer finishes typically need little maintenance other than dusting and fingerprint removal.  Should you have a newer elegant, hand-rubbed satin ebony finish, we’ve found more often than not the best product is Pre-Polish Finish Cleaner.  Pre-Polish is a gentle yet very effective cleaner and fingerprint (oil) remover.  Simply spray about 4 pumps into a Cory Cleaner cloth and wipe evenly in the direction of the grain.  Turn cloth over to absorb remaing product and residue for stellar results.

How do I maintain the satin ebony finish on my piano or furniture?

Satin Ebony finishes have evolved through the years. They have gone from varnish to lacquer to the latest water based poly finishes. Our approach is to maintain these unique finishes with water-based technology. Satin Sheen is excellent for both lacquer and the new poly-stain finishes.

Satin Sheen and Satin Polyester Conditioners are water-based cleaners and conditioners that contain sheen enhancers. They are designed to add little shine or gloss to the finish. Instead they clean and condition high-end satin finishes. Pre-cleaning is recommended for surfaces with heavy wax build up or surfaces maintained with oil-based polishes such as Pledge or similar lemon oils.

Use Cory Pre-Polish Finish Cleaner to deep clean all satin ebony finishes. Test Satin Sheen on small inconspicious area to assure finish compatibility.

Spray polish 6-8 inches from finish. DO NOT SPRAY NEAR STRINGS OR TUNING PINS. Wipe in the direction of the grain with a soft clean cloth. Use as often as needed without build up. Use Cory’s professional lacquer touch-up markers to color finish the edges and blemishes.

Some of the older satin ebony finishes have deteriorated too much for the Satin-Sheen to be effective. If your cleaning cloth is turning extremely black, this could be an indication that the clear coat has broken down leaving only a thin layer of color coat. It may still be possible to rub this finish lightly with steel wool and Satin Rub but we recommend you have some experience doing this procedure. If there is no workable finish left, you can use Cory Harmony Detailing Oil or All-Brite polish to clean up and add a little luster to the finish.

How do I maintain my unfinished or natural wood piano or furniture?

Cleaning unfinished wood is vitally important to maintaining its original color and beauty. Deep clean unfinished wood with Cory Coconut Wood Cleaner. Apply either Harmony Detailing Oil or Natural Wood polish liberally. Allow to soak in and buff to sheen.

How do I repair water marks on pianos or furniture?

Here area few helpful steps for dealing with white rings commonly caused by wet glasses or spills on lacquer, shellac, or varnish finishes. Analyze Damage: The extent of damage can be estimated by analyzing the color of the rings. White Ring: Generally a temporary condition. If the finish is in good enough condition this mark can be removed without stripping. Yellow Ring: Indicates more serious damage resulting from prolonged water contact. These occur often on older, brittle, or deteriorated finishes. Although more difficult, some are repairable with simple measures as the moisture has not yet penetrated the wood itself. Black/Gray Rings: Occur when the moisture has penetrated through to the wood itself. Refinishing, bleaching, and sanding are usually needed here.

General rule of thumb is to use the gentlest means possible and progress from there.

  • STEP ONE: Would be to do nothing. Many times a ring will repair and dry out itself, so give it ample time. Next, try putting the damaged piece in direct sunlight or use quick passes with an electric hair dryer to speed up the process.
  • STEP TWO: Moisten a soft cotton cloth with mineral spirits or naphtha lightly wiping the area. If this has no affect try denatured alcohol next. Be sure to test on an inconspicuous place first as the alcohol will remove shellac.
  • STEP THREE: If the stain persists, it’s time to try rubbing with mineral oil and rottenstone or baking soda as an abrasive. Be careful not to rub through the finish. If the spot disappears, you’ll probably need to rub the sheen back with 0000 steel wool and Cory Satin-Rub and re-wax the area to blend.
  • STEP FOUR: If there’s still no progress you’ll probably have to strip. Mask off the undamaged areas at the joinery breaks and strip the finish just in the spotted area. Try to keep the stain or patina in tact if you can and avoid sanding as this will require staining. Care should be taken with antiques as the stain is often viewed as character defining or a true indication of age.

Before you strip…

  1. Be patient…the problem may resolve itself.
  2. Try drying the spot in direct sunlight or with a blow dryer.
  3. Still there? Wipe the blush spot with some solvent.
  4. Didn’t work? Move on to rubbing out the finish.
  5. Still see your spot? Strip the damaged section only.
  6. Sorry, you are out of options. Strip the entire piece.


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