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How To Paint a Piano | Tips on Chalk Painting a Piano

How to makeover an old piano with chalk paint!

I've seen multiple ways to paint a piano on the internet - with a sprayer, with an angled brush and latex acrylic paint and primer, with lacquer/enamel paint used on kitchen cabinets, and of course, with milk or chalk paint.

Here's what I did to bring to life a 60 year old piano we acquired over the weekend - followed by my tips at the bottom of this post -

*If you want to see what chalk paint and materials I used, plus the "story" of the green piano, you can check out the previous piano post here.


After wiping down the piano with a gentle cleanser a couple times, I lightly ran sand paper over the water marks in the wood on the sides and top of the piano for a couple minutes (*note - I did not sand it down by any means, just gave it a once over to barely rough up the old finish) and then wiped off the little bit of dust with a microfiber cloth.

First, apply painter's tape to anything you don't want painted.

I only taped off the front of the keys and the sides of the 2 end keys.

I did not tape off the pedals or brass handles because I used a small flat paint brush around those areas instead... and you might have a steady enough hand to not need painter's tape!

Next, I started with a thin first coat of paint by using a cheap chip brush and watering down the chalk paint.

I added some water to the paint in the dish and off to the side so that I could go back and forth dipping my brush in both.

This thin coat helps the paint to adhere well AND I didn't need to sand after each coat.

2" chip brush and watered down paint. You can see the blue undertones in the paint.

To apply around the harder to reach places and hardware, I used a small flat artist's brush.

And instead of taping the back of the keys to paint behind them...

... (here's the trick) I held the keys down with my left hand as shown below, and worked along the back of the keys like this. It was very easy to get the paint exactly where I wanted it with very little clean up -

As soon as I finished one coat, I could start on another, and ended up doing 3 coats because I kept the paint thin.

Chalk paint dries so quickly that as soon as you finish one coat, you can go back and start on a second.

You can see how matte and "flat" the finish is here before sealing it -

Lastly, I sealed the piano with a natural colored furniture wax and a wax brush, applying a consistent layer of wax on a smaller area, moving in the same direction as the wood grain, and then I vigorously buffed it, going back and forth over the wax with a cloth.

I waited over night to let the wax cure to push it back against the wall. And here it is afterwards:

I think the wax gave it the sheen and inconsistencies of the "old world charm" look I was going for and I just love the color against the navy wall!

And that's it! See below for my list of tips and remember to hop over to the previous piano post to get the details on the paint color and materials I used.


  • Use a cheap chip brush instead of a regular paint brush. This brush doesn't hold as much paint, which is what you want!

  • Paint in thin layers. The first coat should be a light coat and don't worry about "great coverage" initially. This keeps you from having to sand after it dries and will allow for the next coats of paint to adhere to the piece better. The chip brush and adding water to the chalk paint every so often helped with this too.

  • Thin out the paint a little bit with water if it's too thick. I poured a little bit of water into the paint and dipped the brush into the paint and then water every so often to make sure it wasn't too thick.

  • Instead of using painters tape at the back of the keys to paint behind them, I found it much easier to use a small flat artist's brush and push down on the keys with my left hand to paint.

  • I used clear wax to create more of a sheen with some inconsistencies in the finish to give it some old world charm, but if you don't want that look, I recommend using a matte polycrylic.

  • If you don't paint over the hardware, I suggest using Bar Keeper's Friend to restore the metal.

Have you ever wanted to paint a piano? Is this something you'd try? If so, I hope this was helpful and remember that chalk paint is a great way to give an old piano a beautiful face lift.

See you soon, friends!


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