If you have a piano that you don’t like the color- you can paint it! It only takes a few hours to transform a piano into a masterpiece with some paint. I’ll show you how to skip sanding and update the piano without moving it to create a piece you love. Keep reading for step by step instructions for how to paint a piano.
Growing up, my mom had a beautiful upright piano in our home. She had traded an afghan she knitted for the piano (what a trade!). It was in our living room and she’d play it while we sang.
As we grew up, my sisters and I all took music lessons- my oldest sister Kate learned the piano and the rest of us played the violin. I remember that piano being such a beautiful addition to our home.
Since my sister Kate was the only one who knew how to play the piano, my mom passed the piano on to her when she got a new player grand piano.
My sister has always wanted to paint it a fun color. So I volunteered to help her. I am excited to share the transformation here.
should I paint my piano?
I know that when I shared on my Instagram stories the process of painting the piano, a few people were concerned. If you have a piano that you’re uncomfortable painting, I totally respect that. Here’s what I found out (and the reason I felt totally fine painting this one):
does painting a piano ruin the sound?
The short answer is no, painting a piano won’t cause a big enough of a change to the sound to notice. That is, as long as you don’t paint the sound board (the back piece in the piano’s case).
From what I’ve read from pianists and tuners, painting a piano won’t hurt the sound at all.
does painting a piano ruin its value?
So the next concern I had (and heard) is that painting a piano will ruin its value. However, unlike other antique pieces of furniture, a piano does not increase in value over time. The reason for this is that pianos have lots of pieces and the wear from the constant use means that older pianos aren’t worth much.
isn’t it wrong to paint over wood?
So you won’t ruin the value or the sound, but is it wrong to paint over the original wood? Don’t you ruin the history of the piece? I’ll admit, with the first few strokes of paint, I felt a little bad covering up the old wood. To be honest though, some of the wood was beautiful, but this piano was super beat up!
The bottom line is your house is yours and yours alone. If you want a fun piano, paint it! My sister never felt like this piano was “hers” even though she has had it for years. It sat at the entry of her house and has felt heavy. You do you in your home and don’t worry about what others think!
- Haint Blue Chalk Paint 32 oz.
- Fluff White Chalk Paint 32 oz.
- Paint Brush
- Painter’s tape
- Sand Paper (if you want to distress)
- White Wax
- Grey Grunge Wax (if you want to accentuate the distressing)
- Lint Free White Cloth
how to paint a piano
step 1- clean it
Make sure the piano is nice and clean so that the paint will adhere to the surface. Since pianos are usually old and lots of hands touch, this is a key step.
To clean, mix 2 Tablespoons of White Lightning or TSP in 1 gallon of hot water. Use a rag dipped in the solution to clean the entire surface of the furniture you’ll be painting. Wipe the piece clean with a damp rag to remove any residue from the cleaner. Let dry prior to painting.
If you’re using chalk paint, there is no need to sand (though you can, if you’d like).
step 2- protect the parts you aren’t painting
To keep paint where you don’t want it, use painter’s tape to cover up the pedals. We used tape and paper to protect the keys. My sister’s piano has beautiful brass hinges- there wasn’t a way to tape those so we painted them and scraped the paint off at the end. My niece and nephew helped with the painting, so paper was laid on the floor and between the piano and the wall.
step 3- use chalk paint for the first coat
Now that the piano is all prepped for paint, start painting your first coat! If you’re going from a super dark wood piano to a light paint, just know that the first coat will be streaky and not look great. Don’t worry! We did Fluff White Chalk Paint for the first coat.
step 4- complete a second and third coat
One of the beauties of chalk paint is that it dries quickly (I share the benefits and disadvantages of chalk paint in this post)! Since a piano is so large, by the time a first coat is done, you can start on the second. We mixed Haint Blue Chalk Paint with Fluff White Chalk Paint for the final coats. Two 32 oz. containers will be plenty for a whole piano (but one 32 oz. container won’t be enough- I know because we actually used two 16 oz. containers of paint and it wasn’t enough for a few areas that’ll be finished later- the back of the music stand and by the keys).
step 5- distress
I’m not much for distressing paint in my home, but it is totally my sister’s vibe. So we distressed the piano- and I’ll be honest, this was the most fun part of the whole project (besides chatting with my sister for hours)! We used a combination of sand paper and then Popsicle sticks to remove the paint on the edges. The distressing highlighted the beautiful details on the piano. I’m so glad we did it!
At this point, I cleaned off the hinges of paint.
step 6- wax
The final step in painting the piano is to add wax. We did a combination of White Wax for the majority of the piano and Grey Grunge Wax to accentuate the carvings and distressing. I applied a light coat, waited 15 minutes for it to dry, and then wiped it off with a clean cloth.
It looked terrible before the the wax was wiped off (the finish looked super uneven and the grey was overwhelming), but when it was wiped clean, it looked amazing.
how long did it take?
We prepped and painted the piano in 4 hours. The distressing and waxing took 3 hours. I’d plan for 8 hours. We did it in 2 days, but you could definitely spread it out more than that.
Guys, I am so, so happy with how it turned out! It feels like the perfect fit for my sister’s home. Most of all, I’ve thrilled that my sister loves it! She picked out the color and it was fun to make her vision a reality. My sister has a beautiful home (I was lucky enough to redo her guest room last year) and it was fun to help to paint the piano with her.
How cute is the piano with her wallpaper in the foyer?!
I cut some roses for these photos. They were practically dead, but I still think they were pretty!
If this is a project you are wanting to tackle, let me tell you, you can do it! Yes, it takes time and the waxing takes a bit of elbow grease, but it is worth it to have an item in your house that is both beautiful and functional.
This post contains some affiliate links for your convenience. Click here to read my full disclosure policy.