I’m thrilled to finally share my latest project with you! I’ve had the opportunity to team up with the wonderful folks at The Deseret Industries to bring you The Piano Project. I got my hands on a gorgeous piano that needed a lot of love and today I’m going to show you how I transformed it and gave it new life with a step-by-step tutorial along the way.

Let me show you what it looked like when I very first saw it at the thrift store. It had water damage, spilled paint, chipped wood, dents… and oh my goodness that bench needed help, too!

The Piano Project

However, can we just take a minute, sit back and admire this piano? Look at all the wooden detail and the character this piece has. I could not wait to get my hands on this!

I knew I wanted to paint the piano and give it a new look – something bright, but not too bold. I debated painting it a light aqua color or maybe going with a white and leaving the top sections stained.

Okay, on to the fun part!


SUPPLIES: (now your supplies will be slightly different than mine depending on the style and condition of your piano)

  • wood filler (Elmer’s wood filler)
  • scraper
  • painter’s tape (Frog tape)
  • coarse and fine sanding blocks
  • chalk paint (Valspar Chalky Finish Paint in the color Kid Gloves)
  • sealing wax (Valspar Sealing Wax in clear)
  • paint brushes/rollers
  • wood stain conditioner (Minwax pre-stain wood conditioner)
  • gel stain (Minwax gel stain in color Hickory. I love this stuff because it doesn’t drip and is not near as messy as regular stain)
  • rags for staining and wiping down dust


Wipe down the piano and bench with a rag to remove any dust.

Next you’re going to want to protect those keys! Grab your painters tape and carefully cover each one.  I press the piano keys down while I tape so I can get that little space behind the keys with a small brush. DIY TIP: “double” tape the piano keys to give that added protection from any dust or paint drips.  If you have the knowledge and feel adventurous, feel free to remove each piano key and replace them when finished.The Piano Project at U CreateMake sure to tape up the pedals and wheels while you’re down there.The Piano ProjectCheck for any major dents/scratches and fill them in with wood filler and a scraper. Don’t forget to check the piano bench, too! Follow the directions on the package and let dry completely. I know this might sound funny, but I actually used a butterknife because it’s small and easy to get into those tight spaces! The wood filler is NOT PRETTY. Later you will sand these off and you’ll never know the wood filler was there.The Piano ProjectWhile that’s drying, scrape off any build-up or major imperfections such as drips, damage, etc.The Piano ProjectNow you can begin sanding the wood filler. I like to sand and feel it with my eyes closed so I can tell if it’s smooth enough. If you are staining areas, make sure to lightly sand those areas, too. Take a clean rag and wipe down the piano to remove any sanding residue. The Piano Project at U CreateNow we’re ready to prep for painting/staining. Since I’m painting and staining, I’m going to tape off the areas that I’m not going to paint. Tape off any areas you’re not going to paint.The Piano ProjectNow you can start painting! Follow the directions on the can of paint you are using because each paint brand is different. If you are using chalk paint, keep in mind the first coat isn’t going to look very good. You will need at least 2-3 coats. I used three. I begin with a small brush to get into tiny places that a roller or big brush cannot reach.The Piano ProjectNext I used a medium-sized brush to “cut in” the corners and edges, similar to painting a wall. This is also the brush I used to paint the piano bench.  For the sides and large parts of the piano, I used a cabinet roller (this covers large areas with a smooth finish)! Let paint dry completely between each coat.The Piano ProjectWhen your paint is completely dry and looks how you like it with a couple of coats, put on a layer of the clear wax to protect it. Let dry completely according to directions on the can.

Now we are ready to move onto staining. I like to use a pre-stain conditioner by Minwax because it gives the stain a beautiful, smooth finish. I used a medium sized brush and applied the conditioner over all the stain areas. Let it soak in and completely dry.The Piano ProjectNow onto the gel stain. I like to use a kitchen tea towel to rub on my stain (you can use any non-piling rag). Generously wipe onto the wood. If wanted this piano to have a darker stain so I added another coat.The Piano Project

Let the piano dry completely. I sanded the edges of the piano very lightly because I wanted the little details of the piano to pop and I love the character the lightly, distressed look gives.

The final result? I have to tell you this is my favorite project that I’ve ever done. ever.

The Piano Project - How to Paint a Piano

How to Paint a Piano by U Create

This piano got to star in a Deseret Industries video short! Check out the video here.


Another cool thing about this piano is that I’m not keeping it and neither is Deseret Industries—we’re holding a DIY contest to give it away! Learn how to enter on the Deseret Industries website.

Lastly, you can also see a video tutorial of my piano restoration on the Deseret Industries blog.

How to Reupholster a Piano Bench

POST BY: Kari Sweeten

The Piano Project

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