How to spray paint a piano
Ron Taylor was asked to spray paint a piano. It follows on from the article hand painted furniture with a difference.
How do you spray paint a piano?
Not just any spray finish, spray paint a piano with a high gloss white spray finish – in situ. Ron knows how. The project was not without its challenges, but after drawing on a lot of specialist experience within the Traditional Painter group, this is the end result!
(The client modified the brief for a high gloss finish, to be mentioned later.)
Ron Taylor has been spray painting furniture, kitchens, walls, ceilings and trim for a lot of years now. He is particularly experienced with water-based paints. His articles on acrylic paint spraying are some of the most well read on this site, and Ron has long been the one we turn to here for spraying advice. But here is an example of the importance to never stop learning!
I don’t think it is any secret that the global knowledge of how to spray paint a piano in situ with an airless spray gun is somewhat limited. It is a big responsibility, so not something you just want to have a go at blind. However one of the benefits of the Traditional Painter network is the depth and breadth of knowledge within the group. After a good chat with Martin Guest, our resident hand painted piano specialist and music aficionado, Ron was clear on how to apply his spraying skills to this task.
Dismantle a piano
Like a kitchen, you also have to paint the pieces you can’t see. When you open doors, surfaces have to look as painted as when the doors are shut. The same with pianos, and you need to work hard to gain access to paint all the visible areas on a piano.
Usual rules apply when dismantling furniture: label everything and keep screws safe.
In kitchens you find plenty of instances of piano hinges. They are the hinges that run the full height of some corner unit doors. Most doors will be about 600mmm.
A real piano hinge is not 600mm, and a very different proposition.
Let’s just say, the piano hinge was a lot easier to take off than put back on.
Masking up before spray painting a piano
There is much to think about when tackling a painting project: suitable products, logistics, timings… Also high on the painting list is what NOT to paint on a piano.
Out with the masking tape and masking machine. Lots of info to read around here
When spraying, there is no option but to mask up and be aware of your surroundings. And wear a decent respirator, ventilate work areas. Keep people who have no protective equipment out the work area. And don’t spray 2-pack paints ever, in domestic situations.
Preparation before painting a piano
In this instance, Ron scuff sanded the clear varnish, without breaking through to the timber.
As with a walnut chest or pip oak kitchen doors, mahogany contains resins. These might cause staining if they were to come in direct contact with conventional oil and water based basecoats or topcoats. So, as long as the lacquer is sound, you should scuff not sand down to the bare timber
For belt and braces, though, in case anything bled through isolated areas, Ron elected to use high adhesion oil-based primer Coverstain, which has stain blocking properties too. This was applied by brush.
Filler was needed in parts, which again was applied by hand and sanded carefully by hand with dust under control.
Then out with the airless spray unit.
Spraying with Benjamin Moore paint on tune
Ron has been using Ben Moore products for a good while now. His review on Scuff-X explains why it is a reliable alternative brand to Tikkurila.
The spec was initially for a high gloss spray finish. But when Ron showed the clients a sample of different sheens, they actually went for the satin Scuff-X.
Therefore the next coat was water-based Instl-Stix primer undercoat, sprayed. When dry it was checked for blemishes. The 2 top coats of Scuff-X were also sprayed.
Airless is Ron’s choice for spraying acrylic paints. Paint can be sprayed almost unadulterated, the piston pump is so powerful. Compare that to HVLP spray units, where “decorator” paints have to be thinned significantly to get the paint out through the nozzle. And airless is much cleaner, less overspray.
A piano is a stunning piece of furniture. At Traditional Painter we receive regular enquiries for painting pianos. Over the last 18 months, Martin Guest, who covers the W Midlands and Worcester/Shrops areas, has put his mind to ironing out the pitfalls and developing an approach that seems to appeal to clients who are understandably very precious about their pianos.
Painting in situ can deliver great results, but this is definitely not a DIY job. Professional furniture painting skills are obviously a good starting point for this specialism. Add in a lot of care, attention, thinking, awareness and sympathy for pianos, plus some mental steel to deal with the responsibility of working on a piece of nostalgia…
We are now finding that our piano painting service is growing in demand, with about half a dozen completed so far, including a grand piano.
Our piano painting services are currently on offer in the Midlands and Oxfordshire and E Anglia. We will update as we cover more areas.
Barrie Thompson is our main contact for Hand Painting Pianos London & Home Counties, and contact Ron for spraying. Tongue firmly in cheek, Ron is possibly a world leader in spraying pianos in situ with airless!
Please share it on Twitter, Facebook, or print it out for reference. Thanks.