A piano is a huge investment, and knowing how to store a piano can save you a ton of money. Whether it’s because of relocating, doing repairs, or adding a new instrument into the home, knowing how to properly store a piano is crucial.
Here is how to store a piano the right way. A piano must be stored in a climate controlled space such as a storage unit or spare room. The storage space should be large enough to store the piano upright instead of on its side. The piano must also be wrapped in several layers of protective cloth sheets followed by a layer of plastic film.
Those are just the basics of where to store a piano and how to protect it. We’ll dive more into the specifics about how to clean and prep a piano for storage with cloth layers so that it does not get scratched or damaged later in this article. First, let’s discuss a couple of locations you need to avoid storing a piano in and why that matters.
Why You Should Never Store Your Piano In A Garage
One of the most spacious areas of any home is the garage. It’s a separate area from the home that ideal for storing pretty much anything that can’t be placed indoors. For most people it may seem logical to store a piano there, however, it’s not a great idea.
Most garages do not feature air conditioning or any form of climate control. This means you cannot regulate the temperature, adjust the humidity, or anything. Pianos should never be stored in a garage unless they are also climate controlled.
Storing a piano in a garage can effectively ruin the entire instrument. Pianos are very sensitive to humidity levels and high temperatures. Most pianos need to be kept to at least 68 degrees Fahrenheit in order to maintain their tuning and regulation.
The average garage, however, maintains a temperature of at least 20 degrees Fahrenheit higher than the outdoor temperature. For example, if you lived in Florida and the temperature was 70 degrees, then your garage would feel like 90 degrees!
Now imagine placing a piano into that kind of environment. The wood of the instrument would swell, as well as the keys. Crucial parts will start to come unglued, and the finish of the instrument will start to ruin over time.
Avoid Storing Your Piano Outside On The Patio
Much like a garage, a home patio also seems like a logical place to store a piano. This is, of course, is a terrible idea as the elements of the outdoors that come into contact with the instrument will ruin it.
Even if it’s cold outside, there is so much that is out of your control when it comes to protecting the instrument. The one element all pianos require is consistency, especially in temperature and humidity control.
Outside of that, many common pests like lizards, rats, moths, spiders, and beetles will start to make a home inside your piano.
These pests are attracted to the wood housing of the instrument and will use this location to catch prey and protect themselves from outside exposure. Trying to rid your instrument of those critters will present a difficult task later.
Keeping A Piano On An Inside Wall
If you plan to store the piano in another room of the home, it’s best to keep it away from outside walls and windows. Storing a piano on an inside wall helps protect it from direct sunlight and helps preserve the tuning and regulation of the instrument. It’s also a good idea to keep pianos away from air vents, and kitchens.
Cleaning Your Piano Before Storage
Before storing a piano, it’s important that the instrument is thoroughly cleaned. Especially if you plan to store your instrument for a long time, you want to make sure all of the dust and grime inside is taken care of.
Start off by first cleaning the piano keys. If you have plastic keys made of wood there are some very good cleaning products out there. I like Music Nomad MN131 and Key-Brite for cleaning the keys on my grand piano personally.
If you have an older piano that has ivory keys then read this guide on how to specifically clean ivory keytops.
Next, I would apply a bit of Protec, or a similar action oil so that the keys move nice and fluid. If the instrument is going to be sitting a while you’ll want to make sure that all of the rail pins, felts, and keys are properly oiled. Also, give the instrument a couple of playthroughs to make sure everything settles.
After the inside of the piano is taken care of, it’s time to clean the lid, fallboard, and rest of the piano case. There are lots of great polishes out there for this; a simple Google search brings up plenty of options like the Cory super high gloss polish, and satin sheen polishes.
Make sure to wipe down as much dust with a cloth first before apply the polish and buffing out any fingerprints and other blemishes.
How To Protect Your Piano
Before moving your piano to storage it’s important to protect the instrument. There is a wide range of ways you can do this, and it really depends on how much you value your instrument.
Wrapping The Piano In Blankets And Shrink Wrap
The first thing you’ll want to invest in is a set of durable, heavy-duty padded cloth blankets. These blankets ensure that the instrument’s wooden frame won’t come into contact with anything in the moving truck, or against any walls as you move the instrument to storage.
The body is typically wrapped as well as the legs of the instrument which should be removed beforehand. The key slip is also covered.
Before adding on the blanket layer, you should wrap the entire body of the instrument in shrink wrap. The shrink wrap helps protect the finish of the instrument from fingerprints, dust, and other outside elements.
If you plan to have your piano stored for a short period of time, it’s completely fine to shrink wrap it first. For longer periods you may want to remove the wrap after the piano has reached its storage location.
The plastic can eventually become stuck to the body of the piano, and it will be tough to peel the film off later. Once the plastic and blankets are on the instrument, you should strap it all into place. Heavy duty straps that can be tied or fastened with a buckle work best.
Using A Humidifier
The last area of protection for your piano is controlling the climate itself. Pianos often have issues when it comes to humidity and temperature. Investing in a good dehumidifier will help greatly with keeping the instrument in a consistent condition.
Training Your Piano For A New Environment
If you are moving your piano to a storage unit then chances are the environment will be much different than your home. Even with climate control, storage units will always have a different level of humidity and limited temperature control.
Reach out to the storage unit to get those questions answered. Once you know the temperature and general humidity levels of the unit, you can start to train your piano for that.
Over the course of a few weeks gradually change the temperature in your home so that the instrument can adjust to that level of climate. When moving day arrives the piano will be prepped properly to handle long term storage if necessary.
It’s also a good idea to ask about remote temperature monitoring. Most storage units provide apps for smartphones to allow customers to remotely adjust the climate from anywhere. This way you can always make sure the instrument is in good condition and monitor the levels from your smartphone.
Hiring A Reputable Piano Mover
Trying to move your piano to a storage facility can be tough work on your own. Here’s how much it costs to move a piano. If it’s a grand piano the size and weight of the instrument present problems. Most pianos weigh anywhere from 400 to 1000 pounds.
To move something that large and bulky requires skill and a team of movers. There are also very specific ways you’ll want to lift the instrument and transport it without damaging it.
This is not something I would use a pickup truck or U-haul for, so it’s best to leave it up to the professionals when it comes to transporting your instrument to storage.
Most piano movers will actually lift the instrument up, remove the legs, pedals, and properly wrap the piano in cloth and plastic shrink wrap for you. They will strap all of those protective layers on to make sure they stay in place. After this, they will use a dolly specifically designed to carry the instrument and lift it into a moving truck.
From there, the piano is secured so that it does not roll around or tip over during transportation.
Ultimately, this is the route you should go, even if you’re moving your piano from one room to another in your home. The last thing you would want to do is drop the instrument on the floor, injure yourself, or not properly wrap it to protect it while in storage.
Purchasing Insurance For Your Piano
When it comes to moving your piano and storing it anywhere, there’s always a chance that accidents can happen. Anything from the climate control not working in the storage space, or even dropping the instrument during moving from bad handling.
Before having your instrument moved to storage, make sure that the company you hire provides insurance protection plans for your valuable instrument.
Taking Care Of Your Piano After Storage
Eventually, your piano will leave its storage unit and be introduced to the home again. Just like pets, pianos have to go through a period of re-acclimation. This is why it’s best to wait a few weeks before having any work done to the instrument.
All tunings, regulation changes, and more should be done at least 3 to 4 weeks after the instrument has been in its new environment.