Painted Piano

May 19, 2009



The piano looks so good! If you’ve been thinking about painting your piano, then run, don’t walk, to your nearest paint shop and get yourself a quart of high-gloss enamel. You don’t have to paint it green, or any particularly bright color. But if you feel like your piano needs a fresh start, this is the cheapest, fastest way to go.

I had been wanting to do this project for 9 years and kept getting intimidated by it. But there was no need for fear. It was actually very straightforward and is one of the most satisfying projects I’ve finished in ages. Here are my notes, in case you’re considering a paint job.



The best candidate for something like this is a piano that’s not worth restoring. Ours was perfect. It was the piano I grew up with and it was pretty beat up when my parents originally picked it up for a bargain $300. By the time I inherited it, it was even more war-torn and the first thing I did was get 3 bids on having it refinished and restored. All three refinishers told me it would be about $2000 to restore the inside and $2000 to restore the outside and that the inside was just old, and even if it was restored it wouldn’t be as good as new. All 3 recommended sending this one to the junk yard and buying new.

But new was out of our budget. And so was a $4000 restoration. I got some other opinions, and it was decided that the piano was good enough for lessons for the kids (the kids were babies at the time), and that we could get a more serious piano when and if our kids became serious piano students.

So we just kept the piano as it was and I dreamt of at least giving it a shiny coat of paint — for 9 years. Some years I thought a glossy black would be lovely. But then I felt like black would seem like I was trying to make the instrument more formal than it really was. Later I thought maybe a white coat that we could sand down and make sort of rustic would be nice. Then for about the last 3 years I decided turquoise would be the right thing to do, but I never made it happen. When we were moving, the piano was so depressing I almost left it behind. But Ben Blair said we should bring it to Colorado.

Saturday morning I was craving a challenge so I decided to finally tackle the piano paint job. When I got to the paint store I had a vision: go big or go home. I decided on Grass Green then and there. I bought one quart of hi-gloss enamel, one quart of primer, tinted to match the paint, and a paint brush. Grand total: $40.

By Saturday afternoon I had primed it and painted 2 coats of paint. At that point, I decided the green was a little too yellow, so I took the remaining paint back to Guiry’s and asked them to green it up a bit. They spent a half hour with me (as the store was closing) getting the color just right. And they didn’t charge me. (I will be a customer for life.)

Saturday evening, I added one more coat and then came back to the project on Monday. Monday I did two more coats. Tuesday I did some touch ups. And tada! It’s finished.

Unexpected thing: I can already see this will be the signature piece in our home. I had never thought about a signature piece for our home, but because I went with a bold color, now we have one. Every person that comes in the house is drawn to it. Everyone wants to touch the keys. It’s been played more in the last two days than it has been in years. Ben Blair wants to host a recital and call it Variations on the Green Piano.

Other unexpected thing: a piano is big. Physically and visually. It’s not just a small accent piece. Once you have a green piano, you basically have to design the room around it instead of just work it into the existing space. Which means I need to talk to the landlord about painting the walls…

Seeing our newly painted piano makes me super happy. I think the only thing that makes me happier is when I watch my kids playing it while they’re standing on books (wink). Green wouldn’t be right for every home, but it’s perfect for ours. I feel like I just bought this piano 10 more years of life. Next up: time to get it tuned.

Edit. To answer some of your questions.
1) The color is Benjamin Moore Yellow Green (but in my mind it looks more like grass green).
2) I didn’t use oil-based paint.
3) According to the paint store: yes, you should sand off any existing hi-gloss finish before you prime.
4) I don’t have any “before” pictures to share. I did have some. But they are gone. Because I am an idiot and mistakenly erased them.
5) Yes, I painted the bench as well. When I have the room more put together, I’ll share a photo tour.
6) I did not disassemble the piano, but an expert or less-lazy person would have. I painted with the keyboard closed. Once the paint was dry, I opened the keyboard and painted around it with a smaller brush.

Happy painting!


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{ 17 trackbacks }

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{ 132 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Amber Van Schooneveld October 2, 2009 at 9:15 pm

A friend just gave me a piano that looks a lot like yours (except not green), and I really want to paint it. Thanks for the inspiration!

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2 Anonymous January 1, 2010 at 7:07 pm

Great idea, I've wanted to paint my free piano for a couple of years now, and after seeing yours I did it!! Green too, funny, because I had to repaint it after the first coat, too yellow! I have a tuner coming soon, we'll see what his reaction is! Thanks!!

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3 Carole March 24, 2010 at 4:25 am

Thank you so much. We are an oldie, that is good for the piano lesson (Grade 4 & 5), but not worth investing in… I’ve been wanting to paint this bugger for a while, and you just convinced me! I will go bold, as you and our piano tuner suggested. Apparently, painting it black is a let down, makes it look like a cheap ”wannabe” rendering of formal pianos… he’s seen a few black glossy paint job like that: he claims it just plain looks awful.

We will be moving in the fall, looking for a warm eclectic look for our new family room. I’m think red or orange… I also like the wicker lamp instead of a stuffy piano light. I might just coy that too!

THaNK YOU! cb

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4 Julie March 26, 2010 at 2:37 pm

I love this! I am following you now and can’t wait to see what else you will come up with. Great job!!!

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5 Brandi April 3, 2010 at 9:09 pm

I LOVE IT! I just bought an old piano and I have to refinish it that is how I came across your blog I am looking for ideas! But now I am convinced I want to paint it! Just not sure what color. My walls are painted kind of a yellowy mustard color but I want something bright and old like this any suggestions??

PS I am linking this on my blog hope you dont mind! :)

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6 Becky April 10, 2010 at 5:43 pm

My friend just painted her piano and linked to this blog about a week ago. I was out at garage sales and lo and behold, I came across a piano for a measly $150, professionally tuned and in pretty darn good condition, structurally. It’s not very pretty to look at, and doesn’t have much decorative elements to it. And as I decided to buy it, I immediately started remembering this post, and getting excited about painting my own piano. I think a turquoise color is calling my name. :)

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7 Kristen April 11, 2010 at 3:28 pm

I just googled “painted piano” and this is what I found. This is awesome! You have given me the inspiration to go for it. Our piano is old and shabby (not in a good way), and we’ve gotten similar quotes. I’ve also been warned against painting a piano, but really, we’re not classical pianists, I just want something the kids can enjoy. I love this, and I’m gonna go for it, too. Was originally contemplating a mustard yellow but this green is tempting me.

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8 stephanie April 18, 2010 at 2:54 pm

I love this idea. I too googled painting a piano. I have a shabby chic room and was considering doing an aged white paint or going bold with a red color. I’m still on the fence. I love your green choice!

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9 sandi b. April 19, 2010 at 8:36 pm

You’ve cemented my idea. I am going to paint the piano…and yes, i’ll go bold! Deep, dark, red…that’s my color! Thank you for the inspiration.

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10 KC April 21, 2010 at 6:27 pm

Hi, and I really enjoyed reading this article. Could you tell me if you noticed and change in the sound of the piano after you painted it? Thanks

KC

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11 CJ May 4, 2010 at 11:10 am

Going to paint my wife’s piano for Mother’s Day. Thanks for the inspiration. It’s a shame, because the piano is in excellent condition, but we are more modern and want to use traditional elements and design with a mdern high-gloss solid color. THANKS!!

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12 Ann at Singing Teaching in Paradise June 6, 2010 at 4:19 pm

As a professional musician, I tnk this piano looks fantastic! If it makes peopl want to play on it then it really has done the trick! Well done, and what a pity with a very expensive ‘working’ piano one feels unable to give it that sort of treatment!

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13 Ann at Singing Teaching in Paradise June 6, 2010 at 4:21 pm

Sorry, but my laptop keyboard is having a tricky day…..I can spell!

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14 Jenny July 21, 2010 at 2:18 pm

LOVE THIS!!!! I am inspired to paint one for my 2 yr old daughter! One day she will give beautiful concerts on one! Yay music!! Thanks AGAIN for the inspiration!

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15 Leslie August 25, 2010 at 11:38 am

I have my piano from my childhood as well. I’ve moved three times since and the piano is still with me because I just can’t let it go even though it’s such an eyesore in my house! I’ve thought about painting it so many times but I was scared to. Your piano looks beautiful! Thanks for your inspiration.

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16 Ali, mom to Halley August 25, 2010 at 10:11 pm

I also did a Bing search for “painted pianos” and found this post. So happy too… because (1) I’ve had vivid dreams of buying and painting a piano for my daughter to learn on and (2) your post gives me encouragement to dive in and make this a reality. Plus the fact my daughter was born a full day after your May 7th baby… well, it just makes your post all the more serendipidous (which should be a word, if it is not already). Thank you. :)

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17 Lauren September 27, 2010 at 8:44 am

As much as it would kill me to paint my piano, I kind of think this is brilliant. Nothing would entice a little one to learn to play more than a green piano.
Gorgeous darling!

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18 ~ ShArOn January 12, 2011 at 11:17 am

i got on here looking for an idea for painting mine…I LOVE IT!!!

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19 Nixida July 14, 2011 at 11:59 pm

What a strange coincidence. I googled painting a piano and your post came up. As I read your about me, I realized you Must be the Gabrielle that was recently featured on HGTV, who had a large family of 6 children and ended up renting a beautiful home! This is such a great post, the color choice is great and it definately makes me a little less intimidated to get to work on mine.

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20 The BabbyMama September 10, 2011 at 6:33 pm

Oh my gosh, we just bought a piano with the intentions of painting it…

and now I’m frightened!

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21 Megan October 14, 2011 at 10:42 am

I am so glad you posted this! I have a cute little piano that I’m dying to paint. I’m totally motivated now thanks to you!

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22 Crystal January 22, 2012 at 8:49 pm

I have an older piano I am considering painting white or a robins egg blue. I am s-c-a-r-e-d!!!! Did you notice if the sound changed after painting it? After all this time, are you still glad you painted your piano? Thanks!!

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23 Katrina February 2, 2012 at 11:53 pm

I recently painted our piano and I love it! I am so happy I did.

http://www.restorationhousewife.com/piano-reveal/

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24 ellen February 22, 2012 at 3:45 pm

can we say amazing? or inspirational? :) we too inherited a piano and it only cost $120 to move…and naturally with my love of color or rather my aversion to oak lol, my husband knows I”m totally thinking painting it. We just haven’t “discussed” it :) but I LOVE your green piano…should be called envy green lol.

my fav line of yours is: “now we have to think ab painting the walls…” so funny!

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25 Sherri February 23, 2012 at 9:19 am

What a beautiful job! Besides the gorgeous piano, I love your wicker lamp and I have to tell you, I have the same one! I bought mine thrift last year and put a new drum shade on it. Did you buy yours new and can you tell me where it comes from?

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26 ellen February 23, 2012 at 1:16 pm

just did a post ab painting “unique pieces”… mentioned ya :)
and thx for the email —- I’m def encouraged :)
ellen

http://shimmerandtulle.blogspot.com/2012/02/painting-from-women-perspective.html

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27 Sierra April 27, 2012 at 10:58 am

I love that I just stumbled upon this! I just finished mine last night! It’s powder blue and today I’ll be painting off white tree branches with little birds perched on the branches all up the side and across the front. It’s been so fun!! :D

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28 MomHomeGuide May 18, 2012 at 11:54 am

The paint job came out great! We have an old piano, and maybe a new paint job might be the answer.

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29 K Walker January 15, 2013 at 8:54 pm

I absolutely love your bravery. Your piano is very unique and FABULOUS. We were just given an old piano. I am planning on painting it a bright and beautiful colour. Thanks for the inspiration.

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30 Clay Barnhart July 20, 2014 at 10:06 am

Your piano is beautiful! My new one is being delivered today. A 20 year old upright I bought for $100. I’m planning on painting it and was curious how your paint was holding up? I’ve heard about using chalk paint. But I really want a glossy finish. Did you wax it at all? Or put a protective covering on it?

Thanks for a response. I appreciate it!

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31 Design Mom July 21, 2014 at 12:13 am

The paint has held up great! And no, I didn’t add wax or a protective coating.

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32 Carolyn Brodersen October 7, 2014 at 1:59 pm

I think it’s just beautiful and I love that you shared this with us!

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