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How to paint an old piano

Old pianos can be given a fresh new look with a quick coat of paint. If you want to take more time, you can create an intricate work of art that is as agreeable to the eye as the piano’s melodies are pleasing to the ear. Your design can be influenced by anything that interests you, from historical events to futuristic fantasies.

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  1. Close the fallboard, which is the hinged cover for the keys. This will prevent dust and old varnish getting between the keys. Put down the lid of a grand piano, for similar reasons. Cover the pedals and wheels with newspaper and masking tape. Do the same for any ornamental parts of the piano that you wish to keep as they are. Fill any major holes or dents with wood filler and allow it to dry.

  2. Sand down the piano lightly to provide a key for the paint. Sand the top, sides, upper panel and bottom panel of an upright piano. Sand the lid, sides and legs of a grand piano.

  3. Remove all the dust and varnish flakes with a vacuum cleaner. Paint the sanded wood with wood primer. This will provide a sound surface for further painting. Apply two coats if advised to do so by the instructions on the can. Allow the primer to dry between coats.

  4. Apply a topcoat of white to emulate the famous piano John Lennon gave to Yoko Ono. Use other colours like blue, green and red to achieve a different, one-colour effect. Gloss paint will give a durable, shiny finish. Matt paint will give a less tough surface and subtler sheen. Vinyl silk will give a semi-gloss finish.

  5. Be inspired by pianos like the one played by pianist Alexandra Silocea and let your imagination run riot, if you are brave enough. This design represents a combination of artistic elements inspired by Diaghilev. Draw your design in pencil first. Rub out any bits that go wrong and start again. When you have a design that you are happy with, start to apply paint with a fine brush. Don’t rush the work -- take your time. If you make a mistake, allow it to dry and paint over it with primer. Imagine the mistake never happened and take care to get the details right this time. To protect delicate artistic work that has taken a long time, cover the whole area in varnish.

  6. Tip

    Paint the piano stool in the same style to achieve a harmonious combination.

    Get the piano tuned after painting it so it sounds as good as it looks.

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Things You'll Need

  • Newspaper
  • Masking tape
  • Wood filler
  • Sander
  • Vacuum cleaner
  • Primer
  • Paint brushes
  • Paint for topcoat
  • Pencil
  • Rubber
  • Varnish

About the Author

Frank Luger had his first educational resources published in the early 1990s. He worked on a major reading system for Cambridge University Press, became an information-technology adviser and authored interactive whiteboard resources for "The Guardian." Luger studied English literature and holds a Bachelor of Education honors degree from Leeds University.

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