Refinishing a Steinway is Satin vs. High-Gloss

Posted by: srgyydm

Refinishing a Steinway is Satin vs. High-Gloss - 02/04/13 09:55 PM

I just purchased a used Steinway that is approximately 50 years old and the outside needs to be refinished. I found someone who is supposed to be excellent at refinishing but now I have to decide whether to have it refinished in high-gloss or satin. Right now the piano has it's original satin finish. I should tell you that I have 4 kids and hope that at least some of them end up playing! Any thoughts on what finish I should use?

I planned on doing satin because I feel like that will fit with the style of my home better but now I’ve been reading that it really doesn’t stand up as well. I also wonder if anyone has any thoughts on resale value? Particularly, in regards to a Steinway. If there is any impact on the resale of a glossy vs. satin Steinway?
Any help would be appreciated!
Thanks!
Posted by: Steven Y. A.

Re: Refinishing a Steinway is Satin vs. High-Gloss - 02/04/13 11:08 PM

I would say glossy is mire common these days but I would just go with my personal preference.
Posted by: beethoven986

Re: Refinishing a Steinway is Satin vs. High-Gloss - 02/04/13 11:21 PM

Satin lacquer finishes hold up just fine, and won't show finger prints, dust, or scratches as easily as high gloss. If that is what you prefer, get it. Steinway offers high gloss instruments, so this shouldn't affect resale value.
Posted by: 4evrBeginR

Re: Refinishing a Steinway is Satin vs. High-Gloss - 02/05/13 01:19 AM

Yup, I saw some recently. They are nice. The current NY high gloss has satin black inside rim (instead of wood veneer inside rim from Hamburg). The belly of these newer NY models have glossy neutral wood, no color including the beams. I think that's how the Hamburgs are as well. The NY shoulders remain square instead of curved. If you want this new look, you should check one out, take photos and tell your rebuilder to do it just like those.
Posted by: pianoloverus

Re: Refinishing a Steinway is Satin vs. High-Gloss - 02/05/13 06:57 AM

Until quite recently NY Steinway was only available in satin abony except by special at a big extra cost. So except possibly for the last few years almost all ebony Steinways were satin. I'd guess the proportion of non satin ebony has increased but that satin is still the huge majority.
Posted by: Morodiene

Re: Refinishing a Steinway is Satin vs. High-Gloss - 02/05/13 07:57 AM

From a purely decorating standpoint, I think a more casual decor would match a satin finish, whereas for a more formal look, go with the high gloss.

From a practical standpoint, go with the satin finish as it will show fingerprints much less, and with all those kids, it will be hard to keep it looking clean in gloss.
Posted by: BerndAB

Re: Refinishing a Steinway is Satin vs. High-Gloss - 02/05/13 08:58 AM

Knowers of old pianos know that high gloss polyester does not belong to a NY Steinway (min. not on pianos built until 2010/2011).

Knowers of old pianos know that high gloss polyester does not belong to pianos if they were built before 1960, neither in America nor in Europe.
Posted by: Minnesota Marty

Re: Refinishing a Steinway is Satin vs. High-Gloss - 02/05/13 09:12 AM

Steinway has traditionally used lacquer for all of the finishes. With the development of the synthetic products, this has now changed and polyester has become an option. It is something worth considering when having the casework refinished. The poly is a more "forgiving" finish and with young children, might be the best option.

Since, for all practical purposes, we are talking about a piano as furniture, it is best to go with your own taste. Both satin and gloss ebony are popular so I doubt it would affect resale.

Without knowing anything about the piano, other than it is approximately 50 years old, there is no way to give even a ballpark evaluation. A 'core' S&S-M from this period would usually sell for ~$6-7K.

Good luck with your decision.
Posted by: joe80

Re: Refinishing a Steinway is Satin vs. High-Gloss - 02/05/13 01:59 PM

Stick with the satin finish! it's much easier to keep clean, it lasts longer, it doesn't show up dirt and scratches, and is just, generally better.
Posted by: Frito

Re: Refinishing a Steinway is Satin vs. High-Gloss - 02/06/13 08:44 PM

But isn't the satin finish much more delicate? It seems to scratch very easily.
Posted by: PianoWorksATL

Re: Refinishing a Steinway is Satin vs. High-Gloss - 02/06/13 09:01 PM

Originally Posted By: Frito
But isn't the satin finish much more delicate? It seems to scratch very easily.
It's not the satin, it's the material. Steinway's satin finish is lacquer. Most gloss finishes are polyester. Each material has advantages and disadvantages for long-term wear. Also, gloss piano finishes are so common among current pianos of most brands that the idea of casual or formal look is also breaking down.

One caution...I would not want to maintain a high gloss lacquer finish. This has a beautiful look but with the disadvantages of both lacquer & poly and with none of the benefits.
Posted by: Ed McMorrow, RPT

Re: Refinishing a Steinway is Satin vs. High-Gloss - 02/07/13 12:01 AM

I vote with Sam on this one.
Posted by: BDB

Re: Refinishing a Steinway is Satin vs. High-Gloss - 02/07/13 12:10 AM

I am curious why a 50 year old Steinway would need to be refinished, rather than just repairing the existing finish. Is there something specifically wrong with it? The strong point about the Steinway lacquer finishes is that they can be repaired without a lot of trouble.
Posted by: Supply

Re: Refinishing a Steinway is Satin vs. High-Gloss - 02/07/13 12:20 AM

As a musical instrument, a 50 year old Steinway would probably benefit more from an investment into the inner workings instead of a new finish. Re-finishing is not cheap, and for the thousands it would cost to get a good new finish on the outside, you can get a lot of 50 year old parts replaced and working like new.
Posted by: Ed McMorrow, RPT

Re: Refinishing a Steinway is Satin vs. High-Gloss - 02/07/13 12:36 AM

If greasy sweat is left on the finish the uric acids will soften the lacquer to the point it cannot be recoated over.
Posted by: JoelW

Re: Refinishing a Steinway is Satin vs. High-Gloss - 02/07/13 06:30 AM

SATIN.
Posted by: srgyydm

Re: Refinishing a Steinway is Satin vs. High-Gloss - 02/10/13 11:28 PM

You guys are all amazing! All great advice. The piano was originally used in a school (and then used by a family) and is pretty beaten up on the outside. The family has owned it for about 20 years. They did some internal work on it a few years ago. There's a new action and new hammers. In pretty decent shape inside. I’m having a little work done on some of the base keys and having the piano voiced.

I read in some past posts that satin can get scratched easily and shows fingerprints. I was told the opposite by the refinisher and my piano technician: that the satin is better for kids because it doesn’t get as scratched and does not show as many fingerprints. While looking for a used piano I kept coming across satin Steinways. Very few gloss. If I were to purchase a Yamaha I would have kept it glossy because that is what seemed to me to be more authentic and that satin was more authentic to a Steinway. I could be totally mistaken and please correct me if I am wrong.

The price is the same for either finish. The refinisher said, if I am correct, that he used a 60% shine to achieve the satin and that he can take it up to 100% if I want to make it glossy. Opinions?
Posted by: sophial

Re: Refinishing a Steinway is Satin vs. High-Gloss - 02/11/13 10:55 AM

no brainer-- keep the satin lacquer finish. It's beautiful, classic, and fits the piano best, as well as being quite easy to maintain.
Posted by: Nash. Piano Rescue

Re: Refinishing a Steinway is Satin vs. High-Gloss - 02/11/13 11:05 PM

Satin is really the way to go for re-sale if needed. The product we've used for eons is still made. Mohawk M625-0207 Satin Black Nitro-cellulose lacquer. The last 4 digits are merely the can size that is a gallon size but we use 5 gal cans. You can clearcoat over it but I think kids can throw PBJ sandwiches at this finish all day long without effect.

J Christie
Nashville Piano Rescue
www.NashvillePianoRescue.com
Since 1918
Lascassas TN
Posted by: srgyydm

Re: Refinishing a Steinway is Satin vs. High-Gloss - 02/14/13 06:27 PM

Does anyone know anything about refinishing in acrylic? That's what the refinisher wants to use. He says it'll be much more durable than polyester or laquer.
Posted by: Ed McMorrow, RPT

Re: Refinishing a Steinway is Satin vs. High-Gloss - 02/14/13 08:53 PM

Acrylic laquer is much harder than nitrocellulose lacquer.

You cannot build up the thickness to help fill the grain with acrylic because it cracks when the coat becomes too thick.

Polishing the finish for the final rub-out is difficult because getting the satin lines to an even depth is more difficult with a harder top coat like acrylic than nitrocellulose.

I know some refinishers who do excellent satin ebony acrylic finishes because they time the rubbing and spraying to allow for rubbing before the top coat is completely hard.

They hold up well and look good if well done.

Have you seen one of the finishers acrylic jobs?
Posted by: srgyydm

Re: Refinishing a Steinway is Satin vs. High-Gloss - 02/14/13 10:56 PM

I haven't seen a piano that he's finished but my piano dealer always uses him and he obviously has seen many pianos that he's refinished. I have been to his shop and I've seen other things that he has refinished and his work is impeccable. He said he used acrylic unless the owner requests something else. He said that polyester doesn't hold up well because if something hits it, it can crack and you need to refinish the entire piano to fix it. I asked him if someone could tell the difference between polyester/lacquer/acrylic and he said absolutely. I do want to keep the integrity of the piano. Would acrylic be an appropriate material for this piano? Would using it effect the resale value?
Posted by: Ed McMorrow, RPT

Re: Refinishing a Steinway is Satin vs. High-Gloss - 02/15/13 12:40 AM

I buy, sell and rebuild Steinway grands. I would not have any problem selling a Steinway with a rubbed, satin acrylic finish. He must have a customers piano that you could see to make the final determination. He certainly sounds skilled at this point.
Posted by: victor kam

Re: Refinishing a Steinway is Satin vs. High-Gloss - 08/04/13 06:50 AM

I realize this thread is from February....it just caught my interest. Has the harp got to be taken out of the piano in order to do a cabinet refinishing?
Posted by: Msnyder01

Re: Refinishing a Steinway is Satin vs. High-Gloss - 08/05/13 08:07 PM

Because it is going to be a piece of furniture first...secondly a musical instrument.