Tuesday, April 15, 2014

The Piano Saga

As mentioned in my last post (Dining Table Refinish), the piano was my very first experience using Annie Sloan chalk paint. I'll get to that in a moment. First, I want to talk about how this piano project came about.

Let's just say, it started with some counter tops, and it morphed into a full blown home redecorating project. You see, you change one thing, and then something else doesn't work, so you change that thing, and then more things don't work, and it balloons from there... Once I caught the bug, I couldn't stop it.
(Side note:  Keep in mind that since we have had a crazy couple of years, we are doing everything on a tight budget. We have sold things to pay for new things, and we are refinishing instead of replacing where we can.)

Rylee has told us many times that she would like to take piano lessons. I had entertained the idea of getting a piano eventually so that she could actually practice for quite some time, but didn't think I could afford it any time soon. Then I started to see all kinds of beautiful painted pianos on Pinterest like this one:
...And I got an idea!  Who needs three rooms with couches anyway? None of the old decor will work with the new paint anyway, so I listed my living room furniture, and started watching pianos on KSL.

Now, like I said, I have to consider my budget. I could not find one as detailed as this, at least not anywhere close to home, but I did find a cute piano within 5 miles of my home, that I was able to purchase with the money I made selling my furniture, and still buy a couple chairs to put in the room with it. I would LOVE to trade it someday for some gorgeous, detailed antique like the one above, but I better wait until all the current projects are done or Brandon might divorce me=)

If you are thinking of doing a similar project, and you do not already own the piano, here is some helpful advice. It doesn't really matter what the piano looks like (within reason), but make sure it is in good working order, and doesn't need anything more than a tuning, when it comes to the sound. A lot of the pianos listed said they had broken keys or worse. Those are not things that can be fixed with a paint job. Since I know nothing about pianos, I brought a friend who does. She played it, and assured me that it was a great piano, so I felt good about making the deal. Another thing to consider, is how you are going to get it into your home. I knew I was going to have to pay to have it moved, and the shorter the distance the cheaper, so close to home mattered. Here she is...
This is a horrible picture, but it gives a pretty good idea.  As you can see, one of the feet are damaged. It looks like a dog chewed on it, and there is a piece of veneer missing from one of the back corners (sorry, I'm not a good "before" picture taker). There were lots of little dings and scratches all over, and a missing knob. The thing that bothered me the most though, was that while it didn't have a ton of fancy detail, it did have some, and you could hardly even see it. In fact, unless you got really close, you couldn't even tell there was a rope detail all along the top.

I knew I wanted to try Annie Sloan Chalk Paint because I had read so many reviews. I was very attracted to the "no preparation" aspect, and the milky smooth finish.  The hard part was picking a color. I really love all the bright, bold, painted pianos I saw on Pinterest. Check them out sometime when you are bored.  I just didn't dare to do it. I piano is a very large piece of furniture, one that will probably be in your home forever, and what happens next time I decide to change all my decor? I decided to go with Graphite, which is almost black, but not quite, and I bought some silver Gilder's Paste to make the details pop. I was SO excited! When I made my first purchase at Drab2Fab Paint, I got a book that shows you a lot of different paint techniques to try with Annie Sloan's paint, and I am really excited try them all!

Once I had my paint, it was time to do some prep work. Now, I know I said "no prep required", but that is because the paint will stick to anything. I wanted the major damage to the veneer and the foot fixed so it wouldn't be noticed after it was painted. Since every project I take on ends up involving my poor husband, he fixed the major spots for me. I left the minor dings because I didn't want to make it look brand new, just fixed the major ones. Since he was at it, I had him ad an applique to the front, because more detail couldn't hurt=)
Obviously, I am not a photographer! I have no idea why I cannot take a straight picture, I swear the piano is not really lopsided.  Anyway, when I watched/read tutorials on piano refinishing, there were people who took their pianos apart completely, and there were people who left it completely intact. I decided to be somewhere in the middle, since there are pieces that needed to be painted on both sides, and no matter how hard I tried, I could not figure out how to keep from painting the keys... So, this is what my piano looked like once taken apart.

As you can see, the paint goes on very smoothly, as promised. Chalk paint dries completely matte, it's the finish that adds the final sheen.  Once I had my piano completely painted, I was so excited! It was turning out so beautiful!  I decided to do a little more research on how to use the clear wax before applying it, so I spent the whole night watching tutorials, and reading how-to blogs. That is where I ran into problems. I GOT SCARED! People were complaining that the wax was not as easy to work with as they were led to believe, and there were complaints of splotchy finishes. There were some that said the wax completely ruined their piece, and others that said it should not be used on dark paints. EEK! The last thing I wanted to do was ruin it at this point! So, I decided I would save the wax for a smaller project. I did not want to use it for the first time on such an important piece. All the information I could find said that it is okay to use a wipe-on poly on top of chalk paint, so that's what we did... Guess what? IT RUINED IT! It was a streaky mess! I was too beside myself to take any pictures, so you will have to take my word for it. It was not pretty. Basically, I decided to walk away from the project for a while, so I could decide what to do. I was debating between just repainting it with latex paint, or giving the chalk paint and wax another chance. 

This is when I decided to go ahead and do my table. This project turned out beautifully, and I was convinced I could do the piano right this time, as long as I used wax as the finishing coat. We sanded everything down, and started all over with the paint. This time I finished with 2 coats of clear wax, and then the gilders paste. We also added some gorgeous new knobs. I will admit that I was disappointed with the finish at first. I am a perfectionist, and it is not perfect. It is true that it is difficult to achieve a completely even finish with the wax, because Annie Sloan Chalk Paint and wax was designed to create the perfect antique look. All kinds of beautiful shabby chic finishes can be created.  You can create cleaner, polished pieces, like my piano, but they will not look absolutely brand new. Here is the finished product:
As always, the picture does not do justice. I think we have established that I have no photography skills. 




I actually really love it!  Once I realized that there is beauty in the imperfections, and also remembered that I didn't set out to create a perfect piece in the first place (remember those nicks and dings I didn't fix?).   

That being said, here is my honest review of Annie Sloan Chalk Paint and wax.  I really love it, and I plan to do many more projects. I want to try some other techniques, and really see what this product can do. However, like all products, chalk paint has it's limits. If you want that perfect, polished look, you are better off going with good old latex paint. I cannot honestly say that chalk paint and wax are less work anyway. You either put the elbow grease in at the beginning when you sand a piece, and then prime, and paint it with latex, or you paint it with chalk paint, and save the elbow grease for the wax at the end. I still can't say why the poly didn't work. Everything I have read says you can use poly over chalk paint. Maybe somebody who reads this can tell me what I did wrong? Regardless, I think for best results, chalk paint should be used with the wax that was created for it. I hope you enjoyed! I have a bunch of other projects under way so check back if you are interested!

P.S. No matter what I do, I can't get the last two columns out of center. I am too tired to keep trying, but know I'm aware of the error=)

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