Piano Maintenance

What are the facts about effects of central heating on a piano?

Most pianos are sturdy enough to be unaffected by central heating, providing it does not get too hot (over 25°C/77°F) nor should the humidity fall below around 35%.
Please note – problems associated with central heating usually arise in old pianos that are in poor condition. Dry & warm conditions often cause deterioration in instruments that have been damp or are already in need of professional attention.
Sometimes we hear of a bowl of water being placed inside a piano. This is largely ineffective as water evaporates quickly, and provides only limited local protection. For more information about piano maintenance, please contact us directly.

Where should I NOT keep my piano?

It’s strongly advised that you do not house a piano in areas with hot temperatures and low humidity or in cold & damp conditions. It’s best to keep them away from an environment where temperatures fluctuate wildly (i.e. hot during the day and cold at night). Avoid outside walls in older properties and keep away from direct sunlight – particularly south facing window. Never house your piano in a conservatory or place it in front of a radiator or fire. Under-floor heating is also known to be harmful, due to its drying action.

Do I need a humidifier?

Not unless the air is dry – such as central or under- floor heated rooms.
Please note – the best humidifiers are pot plants – unlike artificial methods, plants have to be watered. The leaves produce moisture and they need to be watered regularly – they are also quite attractive!

How should the cabinet (case) be polished?

If your piano cabinet has a traditional satin finish, it should be polished with a good beeswax approximately once a month. Do not polish a sheen French-polished finish or use polyester; this will make it smeary, simply use a soft duster or a damp cloth to remove stains or spillages.

How do I clean the keytops and ivories?

The safest and most practical way is simply to use a damp cloth. It is wiser to ask your Piano Tuner to do this for you and keep the fall (keyboard-lid) closed down when the piano is not in use.
Please note – we have heard that ivories have in the past been cleaned with milk! Not only does milk not clean effectively, it leaves them sticky, smelly and is fairly unhygienic.

Apart from piano tuning, what other maintenance is required?

Regulation of the touch should be carried out every 10 years (more often if used heavily), and occasionally the interior should be cleaned. Again, a qualified tuner or technician should carry out both tasks.
Please note – NEVER attempt to tamper with or try to clean or repair the interior of a piano yourself – the likelihood of damage far outweighs the saving of a professional service. At Courtney Pianos in Oxford, we can assist you with piano maintenance & piano tuning; please contact us to discuss your requirements.


H Burniston

I am delighted to have the piano back at home. It is superb, the tone and touch are superb and the case looks magnificent. I am very pleased to have such a good friend returned to such beautiful condition and am grateful for your efforts of craftsmanship and professionalism.

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Specialists in piano restoration since 1977

Call Courtney Pianos on

01865 790400

Showroom and workshop at 43 Botley Road, Oxford OX2 0BN