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Painting a Piano Black – All Your Questions Answered

When faced with a large, cherry wood piano, I sat there thinking to myself, “can you paint a piano?” Well, I’m happy to say that yes, yes you can. So after a lot of research and preparation, I painted our vintage piano with a matte black paint. It’s now complete and I’m happy to say it’s one of the most rewarding projects I’ve done. I’ve already fielded a ton of questions so I’m answering those here and sharing my process for painting a piano black!

painting a piano black - questions answered and tips I learned along the way
Finished matte black piano!

At first, painting a piano was so intimidating. I mean, what if I messed up? Honestly, it was both the most terrifying and rewarding projects I’ve completed! I’d put it right up there with installing shelves on our tile backsplash.

vintage cherry wood piano
wood Piano before

1. Can You Paint A Piano?

Yep! This was one of my original questions. There are definitely some factors to consider like whether the piano is really detailed or damaged.

I think what most of us are really asking is “should I paint the piano.” I knew there would be some controversy here. I’m typically one to just let wood do it’s thing. In fact, I love a good raw wood.

That said, the piano was a HUGE piece of our living room. There was literally one wall we could put it and it set the mood for the whole space. Being a deep cherry stain it really reflected a dark reddish hue on the room.

In a nutshell, it just didn’t feel like us. And I’m in the camp of if you have something in your home, you should really truly love it.

2. What Type of Matte Black Paint Did You Use?

After a lot of research, I settled on Rustoleum Milk Paint in Eclipse. I wanted a classic, matte look reminiscent of colonial furniture but not shabby chic (no offense to the shabby chics out there!).

painting a piano black with rustoleum milk paint in Eclipse

I chose milk paint instead of chalk paint because I wanted the deep, true black that a milk paint provides. The overall effect is a very velvety yet matte color instead of a flat color that lacks depth. But it still also feels authentic and not the lustre of a late wall paint.

If you’re curious about milk paint, I wrote an entire review, Milk Paint vs Chalk Paint.

supplies for painting a piano black

Piano Paint Supplies:

black painted piano
black painted piano before wax sealer

4. How Do You Paint a Piano?

Carefully. Very carefully. Lol. Actually, it really wasn’t too difficult. Like other painting projects, most of the time is spent doing the prep work. Admittedly, I usually cut corners and probably slack off on most projects, but with painting a piano, I took it very seriously.

I think I went through a few good true crime podcasts just taping it off. If you need more painting help, there are some milk paint tutorials to watch in advance or check out 3 Painting Tips I Learned the Hard Way.

5. Did You Have to Sand Before Painting a Piano?

This totally depends on the paint being used and the piano itself. Rustoleum Milk Paint says no sanding is required but I’m always a little skeptical of instructions. Because our piano had a very shiny lacquer in some spots and very rough in others, I gave it a quick rough up with a sanding block.

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seal wax paint with soft clear wax
Real Paint Co. Clear Wax applied with soft cloth

6. How Do You Seal Milk Paint?

There are so many options! I went down a rabbit hole of recommendations and tutorials until I found The Real Milk Paint Co. (they answered my questions straight away & have a great Q & A section). Because I wanted something simple, effective, and that would not drastically alter the paint color, I went with their Clear Wax.

clear wax for milk paint

A lot of you have shared you’re thinking of painting a piano too. In general, I’d say go for it! It feels good to do something new and hard.

That said, I think more simple, less ornate pianos in fairly good shape make the best candidates. I’d also suggest investing in the time and materials to get it right. This is not a project to say, “Oh I found some leftover paint in the garage.” Overall, paint a piano black was one of the best DIY home decor projects I’ve completed!

If you decide to go for it, let me know!

Don’t forget to pin this for later!

matte black painted piano

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