We were in the middle of building our house when I somehow stumbled upon the piano of my dreams on Facebook Marketplace. It was a white upright piano, and the style was so timeless and beautiful I fell in love with it immediately. And it was only $50! I was sold. Josh isn’t too difficult to talk into a project, bless him, and he jumped right on board. Did we have a place to store it? Um, not exactly. We were living with my dad while we built our house. His house was already bursting at the seams with his stuff and ours, and we already had a ton of stuff being stored with other family. We bought it anyway, and immediately a touch of buyer’s remorse started to settle in. When we have an idea, we tend to jump in quickly! That has almost always worked in our favor, but this time we wondered if we should have thought through our purchase a little more.
Since we didn’t have anywhere else to keep it, we decided to go ahead and move it directly to our new house. The garage was finished, so we tucked it as far out of the way as possible and covered it up. It sat there for months. We finally moved in, but realized quickly the piano would need a paint job before it moved into the living room. If you’ve seen my house, you know it’s very white. Next to the freshly painted walls and trim, the poor piano looked much more dirty beige than anything, and I wasn’t feeling it at all. It stayed in the garage.
We were intimidated to paint it for awhile. I once read a blog post about painting a piano and they had discussed at great length the process of taking the entire piano apart to paint each piece separately – an idea that seemed completely overwhelming to us! Fortunately, I did some more research and found most people don’t completely disassemble pianos before painting them! We decided we had nothing to lose – a piano collecting dust in the garage wasn’t doing anybody any good. We might as well give it our best shot!
Here’s how we did it and what we learned!
- Wipe Away Dirt and Dust
We took a damp cloth and gave the whole thing a good wipe down. It was sitting out in our garage for months, after all. There was one little area that contained a bit of sticker residue, so we sanded it off. The keys were really discolored, so I scrubbed them down the best I could with a Magic Eraser. I have no idea if this is a good idea, and I feel like someone who knows a lot more about pianos is going to message me and tell me you should never use a Magic Eraser on piano keys, but hey – it worked like a charm!
- Remove any sections that need removing for easier access.
This will depend on the style of your piano. Some pianos don’t require any removal of parts. Assess your piano and see if you can reach all of the visible areas without taking anything apart. We would have loved not to take any pieces off, of course, but there were a few we decided to remove. Our piano was built to be a player piano (if we had the right set up, it’s the kind that can play by itself!) and it has sliding doors in the front. We removed them, and also the key cover (which, thanks to Google, I’ve learned is called a fall board), and painted those separately.
- Gather the right supplies.
After doing our research, we decided Annie Sloan Chalk Paint was the way to go! We chose the color Graphite. We also picked up a stiff bristle paint brush, and clear Annie Sloan wax. You’ll also need something to apply the wax. They sell wax brushes, or you can use a lint-free rag. We used an old t-shirt, because free.
- Tape off the pedals and keys.
This is pretty self explanatory – tape around any areas that you don’t want to paint. 🙂
- Get painting!
Chalk paint is awesome. I want to chalk paint everything I own now. I want to buy all the things on Facebook Marketplace and OfferUp and give them all new life with a couple coats of chalk paint. But seriously, this stuff is so easy to work with. You don’t need to sand everything down or even prime it. Just get to work brushing on that chalk paint with your stiff bristle paint brush! We noticed some brush strokes after the first coat, so we decided to do two coats. Because we did two coats and it’s a pretty good sized piano, we had to pick up a second can of paint. We let it dry overnight between coats.
- Don’t forget to wax.
For added durability (and to help the very matte chalk finish from showing lots of fingerprints) we added a top coat of Annie Sloan wax. We waited 24 hours for the paint to dry, and then started applying the wax with a t-shirt. A little goes a long way – just rub the wax into the surface evenly and remember that a little goes a long way! The advice we remembered as we applied the wax was to apply it like hand cream. I think it actually says that right on the can! The wax seemed to lighten up the color of the piano a bit. It’s still dark, but it’s definitely more dark grey than black.
- Let it dry and put it back together.
We waited 24 hours after applying the wax, and then we reattached the pieces we removed.
That’s it! It wasn’t as complicated or time consuming as we worried it might be, and we are SO glad we did it. While going through the process we discovered our piano is around 100 years old! We love having it as a part of our home, and it’s been the perfect addition to the space. If you’re considering refinishing a piano, I say go for it!