How To Move a Piano
Moving a piano is not cheap or easy. The best long-distance moving companies employ piano moving specialists who receive special training to move these instruments properly. Hiring professionals can be the safest and most cost-effective approach if you are already paying for a full-service mover.
However, moving an upright, baby grand, or grand piano is possible without professional help. If you decide to save money with a DIY approach, read through our guide carefully before you begin. We cover everything you need to know before tackling this project, including a list of necessary equipment, safety tips, and more.
Preparing To Move a Piano
1. Ask for Help
No matter what type of piano you have, moving it is not a one-person job. We recommend recruiting at least three or four other adults to help with the heavy lifting, plus an extra person to guide the endeavor.
Pianos are not only heavy and awkward but also fragile. Moving them safely is difficult, and drops can be disastrous for the piano and those moving it. As you weigh the cost of hiring professional piano movers, consider the risk of injury and the price of repairing or replacing a damaged piano. Hiring a professional could end up being both the safest and cheapest option.
2. Gather Materials and Supplies
The supplies needed to move a piano will vary slightly depending on whether you have an upright or grand. Here’s a quick list of what you may need:
- Measuring tape
- Work gloves
- Screwdriver (for a grand piano)
- Packing tape or bungee cords
- Moving blankets or padding
- Heavy-duty lifting straps
- Piano dolly or hand trucks (for an upright piano)
- Piano board (for a grand piano)
- Tie-down straps
- Metal ramp (for stairs, when possible)
Moving blankets can be purchased from Home Depot, Lowe’s, Walmart, Amazon, Uboxes, and other home improvement stores. You can also rent them from companies such as U-Haul, Budget, or Penske. Ensure you have enough blankets to cover the piano and ample tape to hold the blankets in place. You can purchase lifting straps and tie-down straps at these stores, too.
Use a dolly that can support the piano’s weight; an upright model can be 500–600 pounds. For a baby grand or grand piano, you will need a piano board, also known as a piano skid board. Companies that sell or rent moving supplies will typically have dollies, hand trucks, and skid boards.
3. Take Measurements
Before you begin moving the piano, you need to measure the following:
- The piano itself
- The piano skid board, if using
- Any doorways, hallways, and staircases the piano must pass through
- The truck or van you will use to transport it
- The new space where you plan to put the piano
Make sure the piano fits through the necessary passageways in your old and new homes. This can include doors, halls, stairs, and elevators. You may need to move the piano on its side to fit through some spaces. This should be done carefully, and the piano should not stay on its side long.
You should also double-check the dimensions of the vehicle you use to transport the piano. A truck rental company should be able to recommend the best vehicle for your needs.
4. Clear a Path
Finally, chart a course and clear the path. Map out the path you will take with the piano, then remove any obstacles. Open or remove doors, move furniture out of the way, and keep pets and kids away from the area.
Moving a Piano
Once you’re prepared and ready to move the piano, the steps diverge based on whether you are moving an upright or grand piano.
Moving an Upright Piano
Follow these steps to move an upright piano.
1. Wrap the Piano
Close the keyboard lid and, if possible, lock it. This will protect the keys. If the keyboard lid does not lock, you can tape it shut. Be careful what tape you use to avoid damaging the finish. Cover the pedals with plastic or bubble wrap and secure the top lid.
Next, wrap the piano with blankets or other padding. Ensure the wrapping is thick enough to protect the piano—especially its corners—from bumps and scrapes. You can secure the blankets with packing tape, bungee cords, or ratchet straps. Alternatively, you can wrap the piano in plastic to hold the blankets in place.
2. Assign Positions
Get your moving team into place. At the very least, you should position two people on opposite ends of the piano to lift it—but four people, two for each end, would be better. Another helper should be ready to slide the dolly under the piano and guide the lifters.
3. Load the Dolly
Slide a lifting strap under each end of the piano. With a four-person team, each person holds one end of a strap. That way, a different person supports each corner. Once everyone is in place, lift the piano onto the hand truck or dolly.
You may need to carry the piano outside before loading it onto the dolly. If you have stairs or an elevator to navigate, consider hiring a professional. These obstacles can greatly increase the risk of damage or injury.
4. Transfer to the Truck
Once the piano is secured on the dolly, you can roll it into the truck. Most moving trucks have a ramp to make this process easier. If you are moving multiple items, the piano should be loaded into the truck first and placed against the back wall. Use ratchet straps to prevent the piano from rolling, sliding, or tipping during transit.
5. Move to Your New Home
Drive the truck to your destination and unload the piano using the dolly. Then use the lifting straps to carry the piano to its new location. Follow the same protocol for clearing pathways and removing obstacles as you did when moving the piano out of your old home.
Moving a Grand Piano
Follow these steps to move a grand or baby grand piano.
1. Gather Your Team
Although it is possible to prepare an upright piano for moving yourself, grand pianos are more complicated. Ensure your entire team is on hand before starting the wrapping process. For a grand piano, we recommend having a five-person team.
2. Disassemble and Wrap the Piano
Remove the music rack and wrap it separately. Wrap the piano lid in moving blankets, and then secure it with tape or a bungee cord.
Tilt the piano on its side. Have your team support it while you disassemble the pedals and remove the piano’s legs with a screwdriver. Wrap these pieces separately as well. Place the screws in a bag and tape the bag to one of the legs to avoid losing it.
Finally, wrap the entire piano—including the keys—with blankets. Loop tape around the entire piano a few times to hold the blankets in place, or wrap the piano a second time with plastic wrap.
3. Position Piano on a Board
Gently tilt the piano back to its original position while sliding the piano board underneath it. Alternatively, you can slide lifting straps under the piano as you tilt it back, then hoist it onto the board. Either way, move slowly and carefully to avoid damaging the piano.
4. Transfer to the Truck
Once the piano has been loaded onto the skid board, you can roll it through the house and onto the truck. You should keep one person on each side of the instrument. Secure the piano to the back wall of the truck using ratchet straps. Pack the music rack, legs, pedals, and bench.
5. Move to Your New Home
Drive the truck to your new home and unload the piano. Position one person on each side of the piano. The fifth person should help control the piano’s descent down the ramp and offer assistance or guidance as needed.
After Moving a Piano
Once you deliver the piano to your new home, you still have a little work to do.
Remember that upright pianos should be placed against an interior wall, away from air vents and direct sunlight. Grand pianos sound best when their straight edge is placed against an interior wall. Like upright pianos, they should be kept away from direct sunlight, windows, doors, and air vents.
2. Unwrap and Reassemble
If you have a grand piano, keep your helpers around long enough to unwrap and reassemble the piano, as this will be difficult, if not impossible, to manage on your own. If you have an upright piano, reassembly will not be an issue, but you may still need help unwrapping.
3. Clean and Tune
The last step is to hire a professional to clean and tune your piano. Anytime a piano is moved, its delicate inner workings can shift. Wait a few weeks to schedule the tuning so the strings have time to fully settle and adjust to their new environment.
Piano Moving Safety Tips
Moving a piano can be done without the help of a professional, but it is a time-consuming and labor-intensive process. If you decide to do it yourself, make sure you have the proper equipment and plenty of help. Otherwise, you risk injuring yourself, damaging your home, or breaking your piano.
We recommend that you consider hiring a professional. Although piano moving services may seem expensive initially, the cost of a DIY job—including equipment and truck rental—can add up quickly. Professional movers can handle this job safely and efficiently.
FAQs About How To Move a Piano
How many people are needed to move a piano?
You need at least four people to move a piano. However, five or six may be needed for heavier upright pianos and concert grand pianos.
How do you move a piano down a flight of stairs?
To move a piano down a flight of stairs, you will need a hand truck or dolly and a metal ramp or heavy-duty plywood planks. If you cannot find a prefabricated ramp that will cover the length of your stairs, you can construct your own using planks. Then you can secure the piano on a dolly and slowly roll it down the ramp. Consider hiring a professional if you need to move a piano upstairs or downstairs.
How long does it take to move a piano?
It takes two to four hours to move a piano. However, the actual time may vary depending on the size of the piano, the distance of the move, and whether stairs are involved.
What are some of the dangers of moving a piano?
The dangers of moving a piano include the following:
- Damage to the piano
- Damage to your home
- Personal injury
- Liability for the injuries of others
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