Painting a piano is a fun DIY project that anyone can do at home if they have the right supplies. Use chalk paint for the easiest process and the best results.
Follow the guide below to learn how to paint a piano.
How to Paint a Piano (Step-by-Step)
Here’s how to paint a piano using chalk paint. Chalk paint is the best paint to use because sanding the piano isn’t necessary when you use this type.
Get the Right Supplies
Having the right supplies is essential for painting a piano successfully. You will need:
- A bucket
- Dish soap and water
- Clean rags
- 2 quarts of chalk paint in your chosen color
- Wood putty
- Wide paint brush
- Small paint brush
- Painter’s tape
- Petroleum jelly
- Cotton buds
- Wax brush
- Lint-free cloths
- Old sheet
Step One: Place the Piano in a Suitable Position
To protect the floor, place an old sheet on the ground in the center of a big room, away from any furniture. Place the piano on top of the sheet.
Step Two: Fill Holes and Cracks
If there are any small holes or cracks in the piano’s wood, fill these with wood putty. Leave the wood putty to dry.
As soon as the putty is hard, sand that area gently with fine sandpaper to smooth out any bumps and create an even surface.
Step Three: Clean the Piano
The piano needs to be completely clean for the paint to adhere properly.
Fill a bucket with warm water and 1 teaspoon of dish soap. Wet a clean rag with soapy water and wipe the entire piano down, removing all traces of dust and dirt.
Dry the piano with a lint-free cloth and repeat the process if necessary.
Make sure the piano is completely dry before beginning the next step.
Step Four: Cover the Parts That Shouldn’t Be Painted
Use painter’s tape to cover the piano’s pedals, keys, and any other parts that you don’t want to paint. The tape will prevent paint from coming into contact with these parts.
The hinges are too narrow to cover with tape. Dip a cotton bud in petroleum jelly and spread a thin layer of jelly on the hinges, taking care not to touch any of the wood with the cotton bud.
Once the hinges are covered with petroleum jelly, any paint that inadvertently gets on them will wipe off easily.
Step Five: Apply the First Coat of Paint
Using a good-quality paintbrush, apply the first coat of chalk paint to the piano in a thin layer. Try to use even strokes, but don’t worry if the paint looks streaky and uneven. The coverage will even out after the second and third coats of paint.
Use a narrow paintbrush to paint the smaller parts and difficult-to-reach bits.
Step Six: Apply Coats Two and Three
Chalk paint dries almost immediately, but you should allow the first coat of paint to dry fully before applying the second coat. Using the same technique, apply a second coat of paint, let it dry fully, and then apply a third coat.
After the third coat, the piano should be fully covered with an even layer of paint. If you are happy with the result and don’t want a distressed look, skip the next step and move on to step six.
If you prefer to give the piano an older look, continue with step five.
Step Seven: Distress the Piano
Using a small piece of fine sandpaper, gently sand the paint off a few places where you want the original wood to show through. Sanding the edges or the beading gives the piano a quaint, old-world look.
You can decide how much of a distressed look you want to give the piano and sand off the paint accordingly.
Step Eight: Apply Wax
Chalk paint has a matte finish. Applying wax on top of the paint gives the piano a glossy sheen, finishing off the look professionally.
Use clear wax for a sheen that allows the natural color of the paint to shine through. Use a tinted wax to darken the shade slightly, and use both types of waxes on different areas of the piano to create an attractive dappled effect.
Use a good-quality wax brush to apply the wax in even strokes over the piano’s surface. Leave the piano to stand for 15 minutes, allowing the piano to absorb the oils from the wax.
Using a soft, lint-free cloth, buff the piano in a circular motion, rubbing the wax in well and making sure there are no thick streaks of wax. Continue buffing, repeating the wax application if necessary, until the piano is gleaming.
Step Nine: The Finishing Touches
Remove the painter’s tape by carefully peeling the tape away from the covered piano parts. Use a cloth to wipe off any paint that may have inadvertently gotten on the hinges. The petroleum jelly will make the paint easy to wipe off.
Painting a piano with no mess was almost too scary to tackle, but knowing I could easily clean up our mistakes gave me the courage I needed to learn how to paint a piano and make it happen. I can’t even begin to explain how different this piano looks now!
(Photography ©A Subtle Revelry by Erin Holland).