How to move a piano (with or without professional help).


By Aaron Trumm

Moving is never easy, and transporting big furniture is often the hardest part. Throw a real live piano into the mix, and the process gets that much harder. That’s because, unlike a couch or desk, moving a piano takes a little more than a couple of big, strong friends. Whether it’s an antique upright or a shiny 9-foot grand, piano moving requires great care and tons of planning. After all, you want your instrument in good working order when you get to your new home.

Here, we’ll go over what you need to know to safely get your piano from point A to point B with everything (including you!) intact and functioning.

What to do before moving a piano.

Before you move, start by planning and considering some key factors. First, what type of piano do you have? An upright piano is easier to move than a grand piano and may well be quite a bit less expensive.

Next, measure all dimensions around the piano, as well as all doorways and passages you’ll have to negotiate at both locations. Take note of any stairs or obstacles, including tight entrances and turns. Pay attention to outdoor obstacles that can interfere with parking your moving truck or transporting the piano from the truck to inside your home. For example, do you need to negotiate a gravel driveway? If so, will the dolly’s wheels get bogged down?

Next, recruit your team. For an upright piano, you may be able to do the job with three strong people, but four is better. For a grand piano, you may need as many as six helpers. Finally, gather the equipment and tools you’ll need to get the job done right. 

If you can’t gather the people or tools needed for this big job, consider hiring professional moving services instead. This is especially recommended for extra-heavy grand pianos, which are more complicated to move by yourself.

Get a free estimate from a great piano mover near you.

Piano moving supplies, equipment and tools you’ll need.

The equipment you need depends on the type of piano you have. Upright pianos are much simpler to move than grand pianos. For an upright, you’ll need the following:

  • Moving blankets
  • A piano dolly
  • Lifting straps
  • Moving straps and/or ratchet straps (sometimes called tie-down straps)
  • Bubble wrap
  • Foam packing sheets
  • Packing tape
  • A ramp (in case of stairs)
  • Moving truck (a pickup could do in a pinch but is less than ideal)

Grand pianos are a little more complicated to move. In most situations, they’ll have to be partially disassembled. In addition to the gear above, you’ll want:

  • A piano skid board (sometimes called a piano moving board)
  • A screwdriver and/or wrench
  • Extra blankets and tape
  • Plastic moving wrap

You’ll need to purchase some of these items (like tape), but items like the skid board and moving blankets can be rented.

Step-by-step piano moving guide for DIY-ers.

Once you’ve got your plan, your gear and your team assembled, you’re ready to get to work transporting your instrument. Moving an upright is a bit simpler than moving a grand or baby grand. We’ll start with the upright and then move on to the grand.

How to move an upright piano.

upright piano

Step 1: Secure and protect the keys and pedals.
Cut a strip of bubble wrap to the keys’ width, and carefully tape it down. Close the lid on the keys and bubble, and wrap it in a foam packing sheet, taping it down to keep it from moving. Wrap the pedals in bubble wrap and tape securely.

Step 2: Close the top and tape a packing sheet over it.
Old towels will do if you don’t have packing sheets if necessary.

Step 3: Wrap the entire piano in moving blankets.
Be sure to cover all sides of the piano and tape down securely by wrapping tape all the way around the piano in multiple locations. If you don’t have blankets, you can substitute them with actual blankets.

Step 4: Grab the moving straps or ratchet straps.
Use these straps to secure the blankets to the piano even more.

Step 5: Put the piano on the dolly.
Ideally, you should be using a flat dolly designed to bear the piano’s weight. At least three people are needed to place the piano onto it. Put one person on each end of the piano, and have a third ready to slide the dolly into place. Lift the piano using the proper lifting technique: keep your back straight, keep the piano close and use your legs. Roll the dolly into place, center it and gently rest the piano on top.

Step 6: Secure the piano to the dolly with at least two ratchet straps.
Once secured, now is a good time to ensure that the dolly’s wheels won’t damage your floors.

Step 7: Protect your floors.
If need be, lay down temporary floor protection material like a ram board or something similar. Blankets may not work, as they can get caught in the wheels.

Step 8: Roll the piano out to the truck.
Take your time, and navigate corners and other furniture carefully. Pianos are delicate, so you don’t want to bump them around. Before you start, make sure children, pets and people are safely out of the way. Secure pets in an unused room if necessary.

Step 9: Use a ramp to navigate any staircases and to get into the truck.
When going up or down ramps, be sure to have spotters on at least one side of the piano as two “drivers” navigate the piano. Even better: use a spotter on each side. If necessary, another spotter can assist the person on the bottom of the ramp.

Step 10: Secure the piano to one truck wall, preferably the back wall.
Don’t transport your piano in the middle of the truck. Instead, roll it to one side and secure it firmly to the back wall with ratchet straps. If you’re moving additional items, load the truck with the piano first.

Step 11: Once you arrive, reverse the steps.
Carefully navigate the piano out of the truck using spotters. Make sure its new home is clear and clean, and carefully remove it from the dolly before unwrapping it.

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How to move a grand piano.

grand pianoStep 1: Remove the music rack and wrap it in a moving blanket.
Be sure to secure the protective covering with tape.

Step 2: Remove the lid hinge pins and hinges.
Put the hinges and pins in a safe place, such as a bag.

Step 3: Carefully remove the lid and wrap it fully in a moving blanket.
Make sure to place part of the blanket between the string cover section and the main part of the lid. Secure the blanket with tape. Wrap the tape around several times in at least three different places.

Step 4: Remove the lyre.
The lyre is the pedals and support structure surrounding them. Remove this entire assembly by removing the screws underneath the piano. You don’t need to remove the rest of the pedal assembly that’s attached to the underside of the piano — just the lyre.

Step 5: Remove the first leg and tip the piano onto its side.
Make sure your team is in place for this part. Place your piano skid board at the ready near the bass (left) side of the piano. Have two people tilt the piano slightly toward the treble side (right) and let a third remove the bass leg (the front leg on the left side). The legs are secured either using screws or bolts. Place this leg out of the way, and gently tip the piano toward the bass side onto the skid board.

Step 6: Remove the remaining legs.
Make sure at least one team member stays with the piano to keep it from falling while someone else removes the remaining legs and the pedals. Wrap each leg in its own moving blanket, securing it with tape. Bubble wrap the pedals, and wrap the whole pedal structure in its own blanket.

Step 7: Wrap the piano with moving blankets.
Use several blankets to completely cover the piano on all sides. Secure the blankets with several layers of tape in three or more locations to make sure they won’t move.

Step 8: Further secure the piano with plastic moving wrap.
This wrap looks like the Saran wrap you might use to store food. Wrap the entire piano in this wrap to further secure and protect it.

Step 9: Secure the piano to the skid board with ratchet ties.
Optionally, you can tilt the piano/skid board assembly back and let someone slide a piano dolly underneath. This will make moving the piano through the house easier, and you can use it to navigate ramps (like you would with an upright piano). You may want to further secure the piano to the dolly as well to keep it from slipping off.

Step 10: Once in the truck, secure the main piano to the wall with ratchet ties.
Store and secure the other parts in safe spots, being sure to tie them down as appropriate. Don’t pile a lot of other heavy items on top of (or squashed up against) the piano or its parts.

One last thing: don’t forget the bench.
Both uprights and grands use benches, and yours may be as valuable and delicate as the rest of the piano. Wrap the bench in its own moving blanket, secure it with tape, and store it in a safe space in the truck.

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Tips to make moving a piano easier.

Here are a few tips to make your piano move a little easier:

  • Avoid stairs and ramps. For example, if your new location has stairs up to the front door, is there a deck in the back? In some cases, the moving truck can back straight up to a deck, use the ramp as a bridge, and roll your piano right across and into the house.
  • Use extra blankets. When moving a grand piano, use extra blankets as work surfaces to avoid scratching hardwood floors or the piano as you take it apart.
  • Hire strong help. Even if you don’t have enough friends, you can hire a few strong, skilled hands to help.
  • Expand your team. A couple more hands as spotters and runners will help keep everyone safe. Just don’t go too crazy, or the room will get too crowded.
  • Don’t bother with a hand truck. Opt for the flat dolly instead.
  • Budget extra time and do everything slowly. The best way to keep things running smoothly is to not make critical mistakes. Don’t rush this process — take your time.

When to hire a professional to move your piano.

No matter how prepared you are, piano moving is not easy, especially if you want your piano in good shape when it arrives at your new home. Here are signs you may want to hire a professional mover instead:

  • Too much stress. If you’re too overwhelmed by the detail, you may want to leave it to someone else.
  • Too many obstacles. If the move is particularly complex or dangerous, consider hiring a pro. Moving it to the top of a 30-floor apartment in New York City with no freight elevator, for example, might be a better job for the pros.
  • No extra hands. If you can’t find enough help, you’ll need a team of pros.
  • No strong hands. If you or your helpers aren’t strong enough to handle the piano, you all could get hurt. Pianos are very heavy – 500 pounds for the lightest upright up to as much as 1,200 pounds for grand pianos. If you can’t do that heavy lifting, you’ll need a pro.
  • No time. If you don’t have time to do it right, you might want to delegate.
  • No real cost savings. If you find that buying the equipment and moving supplies, and paying your friends (or buying them pizza and drinks) costs just as much as hiring a pro, why DIY this task? Hire an experienced professional to save yourself (and your friends) the trouble.
  • Too much hassle. If you just don’t want the hassle – that’s what pro movers are for.

How much does it cost to hire a piano mover?

Piano movers are specialized professionals that know how to properly and safely get your piano to your new home without damage. These pros have the knowledge and experience that a regular moving company doesn’t. They certainly have more expertise than a novice DIY-er.

Of course, it will cost money to hire these pros to take on the task. There are several factors that impact costs. For example, the professional will consider the following before setting a price:

  • Piano type and weight
  • The distance between point A to point B
  • The complexity of the move (taking apart the piano, moving it up a flight of stairs, etc.)
  • And more

Some movers may also charge a flat rate or hourly rate. When contacting professionals near you, be sure to ask questions about their pricing so that you properly budget ahead of your move.

Related: How much does it cost to move a piano?

Hire a professional piano mover on Thumbtack.

If you don’t want to go it alone, it’s always a good idea to hire a professional to help you move your piano. You’ll have peace of mind, and you won’t have to do all that heavy lifting.

Finding a piano mover in your area isn’t hard. You can hire a piano mover on Thumbtack right now. Visit the website or download the app to see a list of the top-rated movers in your area. Read the reviews, compare a few pros and start contacting them today for price quotes.


Can I move a piano by myself?

Unless you’re a superhero, you probably can’t move a piano alone. You may be able to shift a piano’s location on the floor a bit by yourself, but you’re likely to scratch the floor doing it. Wheels help with this, but when it comes time to move locations, you’ll need a strong team of around four or more people. If you can’t find friends or family to help you with the move, hire a professional instead.

Can a piano be laid down to move?

Yes, tilting or rotating a piano or transporting it on its side or back won’t damage it but be aware: laying it down or picking it up can be risky because there’s more chance of bumping or dropping. If you need to tilt your piano to get it through doorways, use a team (or rely on professional piano movers) and be careful.

How heavy is an upright piano?

Upright pianos typically weigh between 500 and 800 pounds.

Can an upright piano be transported on its back?

Technically, yes, but it’s not recommended. If possible, keep your upright standing and tightly secure it to the wall of the moving truck.

How do you move a piano on its side?

First, make sure there are no foreign objects inside the piano. Also, make sure none of the hammers or other parts are loose. Cover the piano in protective wrap, and recruit a team of people to help tilt and move it. Move and transport the piano and get it into place in one go, if possible, rather than storing the piano in a tilted position.

How do you move a piano without scratching the floor?

To move a piano without scratching a floor, you have a few options. Caster caps placed under the feet or wheels may do the trick. Placing the piano on a dolly is common, and moving pads or blankets are helpful in a pinch. Of course, if you’ve got the people power, carrying it is also an option. Placing the piano on a smooth-rolling dolly is the easiest option.

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