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Spray paint a piano

Listed under Blog, hand-painted furniture, Martin Guest, musical instruments, Ron Taylor, spray painting Posted Jul 01 2018

Ron Taylor was asked to spray paint a piano !! It follows on from the article hand painted furniture with a difference.

black piano for painting

Can you spray paint a piano ?

Not just any spray finish, spray paint a piano with a high gloss white spray finish – in situ. Ron’s answer was “Yes”. 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!

spray painted white piano

(The client modified the brief for a high gloss finish, 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 airless 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, there is little value in painting bits and pieces. 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.

Usual rules apply when dismantling furniture: label everything and keep screws safe.

In kitchens you find plenty of instances of piano hinges, 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.

piano hinge

A piano hinge from a grand piano is not 600mm long

Let’s just say, the piano hinge was a lot easier to take off than put back on.

Masking up

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.

Out with the masking tape and masking machine. Lots of info to read around here Look out for a Mini masking tape debate in the works.

When spraying, there is no option but to mask up. And wear a decent respirator, ventilate work areas. Do keep people who have no protective equipment out the work area. And don’t spray 2-pack paints ever, in domestic situations.

piano masked up

Sealer – same principles apply

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.

In this instance, Ron scuff sanded the clear varnish, without breaking through to the timber. For belt and braces, though, in case anything bled through isolated areas, he 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.

Benjamin Moore 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.

spray painted piano

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.

Paint pianos

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.

Martin Guest is the main point of contact for hand painting your piano, and contact Ron for spraying. Tongue firmly in cheek, Ron is possibly a world leader in spraying pianos in situ with airless!

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  1. thats i great job but dont see the need for stix in this as the cover stain had already done the job of adhesion priming?if anything i would have used high hide for opacity prior to spraying the scuff- x
    just wondering why stix over coverstain ?
    and that question goes to contestant no 2 lol

  2. Good points, different ways of looking at it. Ping pong… :grinning:

    Talking over the job I believe Ron had more confidence in Coverstain as a stainblocker option than a waterborne sealer.

    Over that first sealed surface, Stix or High Hide? I see what you are saying about using High Hide, but Stix dries harder in comparison, and is the primer basecoat BM suggest to achieve the expected sheen level in your topcoats. The customer had initially wanted a high gloss but selected Ron’s satin sample, so he had to get the sheen of the sample. Is that fair comment?

  3. yes i fully agree given the material and would have used cover stain or bin depending on the paint system of course ,this must be a new thing from bm suggesting stix as pre 2012 they always suggested there products but i suppose since the acquisition or inxl things mite have changed, i personally only use stix for tricky adhesion issues but each to there own nice job regardless

  4. Shaw paints @ Slough Benjamin Moore UK

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