How to Restore a Piano's Finish


If you find a piano at a bargain price, you may need professional assistance to get the internal workings of the piano in shape, but restoring the finish is a job you can undertake yourself. This restoration will take a long time and requires a lot of patience, but if you are willing to commit yourself to this project, you will have a beautifully restored piano for a fraction of the cost of a new one.

Things You'll Need

  • Drop cloth
  • Oil-based paint-stripper
  • Paint stripper
  • Putty knife
  • Lacquer thinner
  • Denatured alcohol
  • 0000 steel wool
  • Paper towels
  • Tung oil
  • Place the piano on a drop cloth and apply a single thin layer of oil-based paint stripper over the entire piano casing with a paintbrush.

  • Scrape the stripper off of the casing with a putty knife. Push the blade of knife away from you, causing the paint and stripper to pull away for the piano.

  • Remove all of the stripper from the piano and check whether any paint remains on the wood. Apply another thin coat to any spots of paint that remain and scrape off again.

  • Make a solvent cleanser by mixing equal parts lacquer thinner and denatured alcohol.

  • Dip 0000 steel wool into the solvent and scrub the wood vigorously. You need to remove every drop of finish that runs through the grain.

  • Wipe away the solvent as you finish scrubbing an area. Use clean paper towels to dry the wood as you work.

  • Buff the entire casing with dry 0000 steel wool. Use long, steady strokes and rub the wood until it has a smooth sheen to it.

  • Douse a paper towel with denatured alcohol and rub it all over the piano. You should remove all of the dust created when buffing the wood.

  • Paint the piano casing in whatever finish you choose. Use a paintbrush to apply as many coats as the manufacturer recommends.

  • Let the finish on the piano casing dry thoroughly.

  • Rub tung oil over dried finish. Pour some oil into your palms and rub the oil all over the piano. Let the oil dry for an entire day.

  • Apply a second coat in the same way. Let this coat dry another day before removing the drop cloth from underneath the piano.

Tips & Warnings

  • If the veneer on the casing is very damaged you may not be able to restore the finish yourself.
  • Don't try to dry the piano outdoors if it is humid as the finish will not dry for several says and may get damaged.

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  • Photo Credit piano image by Allyson Ricketts from
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