How to Move a Piano Upstairs

How to move a piano upstairs - image of stairs

Moving a piano upstairs is a challenging task. We’ll talk about the dangers later, however, you’ll need the right equipment, people, and careful planning to get the task done. The general advice, is to hire a professional for such a challenging task, however if you are interested this article discusses how to move a piano upstairs on your own.

We will discuss the following topics

  • Piano moving equipment
  • The process for moving a piano upstairs
  • The dangers of moving a piano on your own
  • Related FAQ’s

Piano Moving Equipment

To move a piano you will need:

  • A dolly
  • Moving straps
  • Plywood planks/ramp
  • Saw (needs to be able to cut through plywood)
  • Heavy duty gloves (for gripping the piano effectively)
  • Duct tape
  • Blankets 
  • At least 3 people 

Without this equipment, you risk damaging the piano or yourself in the move.

The Process for Moving a Piano Upstairs

Before planning the route you may want to make sure you feel comfortable making the move without professional help. Some questions to ask are:

  • Is the stairway steeper than average? The steeper it is, the more person power and caution you need.
  • Is the stairway particularly narrow? If it is too narrow, then someone at the top of the stairs won’t be able to move down to the help the people pushing from the bottom and vice versa. 
  • Are there turns within the stairs?

Step 1: Plan Your Route

You will want some measurements before planning your route.

  • Height and width of the piano
  • Height of doorways
  • Length of the stairs
  • Height between stairs and ceiling. Measure at a slant – ie perpendicular to the grade of the stairs instead of of perpendicular to the flat tops of the stairs.
  • Turn measurements. It is difficult to predict whether something will fit through a turn. If you have a 90 degree turn measure from one wall to the perpendicular wall with the middle of the tape resting on the obtruding corner. This should be the tightest part of the turn. Alternatively if the turn is at a 4 way intersection, you can sometimes navigate the piano between different rooms before finally moving the piano to the correct hallway.

Now compare the piano + dolly height with door heights, and the distance between stairs and ceiling. Also compare the piano width with turn measurements. If you notice any spaces that are too tight, you may want to consult a moving company. They may have access to a crane, or use different methods that will make the moving process possible.

Step 2: Create a Ramp on the Stairs

You will need a ramp that is as long as the stairs. You can use plywood because it can be sturdy enough to maintain the weight of the piano and movers.

When you purchase the plywood make sure that it is durable enough to withstand the weight of the piano (500+lbs) plus the weight of 3-5 people. Remember that the heavier the piano, the more helpers you will need. 

Communicate clearly with the store or lumber yard what you will use the plywood for, and how much weight you expect to place on it, so they can point you in the right direction. 

Next you need to create a ramp by placing the plywood on the stairs and securing it with duct tape and nails if available. Remember, there could be up to a thousand+ pounds on the plywood, so be very diligent as you secure it. 

Step 3: Prepare and Move the Piano

To prepare the piano for moving:

  • Tape the lid shut. You may want to use something less strong than duct tape if you are concerned about damaging the lid.
  • Cover the piano with blankets and use duct tape to secure them. You don’t want to nick the piano in the process.
  • Place the piano on a dolly. You may need to put moving straps beneath the piano. Secure the shoulder straps over the shoulders of the two strongest people in the crew. 
    • An upright is more straightforward to move. While you can place a grand on a dolly, it is awkward to do, and frankly you probably shouldn’t put the fate of a precious grand in your inexperienced hands anyways. 

Finally you can start moving the piano:

  • One person will push, one person can pull others can stablize until you reach the stairs. 
  • Once you reach the stairs, you will want more power on the bottom end of the piano so place more people there.
  • Be careful and take small steps. 

Once you have finished the move you, wait several weeks for the piano to acclimate to the new space, then hire a piano tuner for about $100 to get it back in tune.

Dangers of DIY Piano Moving

Its worth mentioning the risk involved in this process. 

  • Structural damage caused during a piano move is not uncommon. This can lead to an “untunable” piano. 
  • The polyester resin finish on many pianos can shatter. This is expensive to repair.
  • If you design the ramp incorrectly, or slip while you are on it, you or someone else could be hurt. And the cost of that is way more than the cost of hiring a mover!

Personally I wouldn’t bother DIY moving my piano up stairs, instead I would hire professional piano movers. The risk is yours to take!

Related FAQ’s

Can a Piano Fall Through a Floor?

No, or at least it is very unlikely. Only if your house has some serious structural issues, would their be any concern. You can find more technical explanation of floor bearing capacity here.

What is The Cost to Hire a Professional Mover?

Typically professional piano movers cost between $150 – $550. Additionally they may charge $5+ per step. One benefit of hiring a professional is that they often have insurance that could cover damages to the instrument, or injury. 

Conclusion 

Moving your piano on your own always poses risks to you and the piano, especially when you move it upstairs. With the right equipment and careful planning you may be able to do it yourself. 

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