Phase two of my upright piano bar up-cycle will follow the steps that transformed an empty shell to a gorgeous bar! Last week I left you on the edge of your seats with a thrilling tale on how we changed the casters out, this week is a little more mundane, but you’ll get to see the various stages of design and finishing phases…because let’s be honest; sometimes when you think you’re done - you aren’t! The second phase of the piano bar took us another 2 weeks, good ole trial and error are the enemy of deadlines. Luckily, this was a project I was simply excited to do and wasn’t on any one else’s schedule. Our supplies included: plywood, cement board, thin set adhesive paste, grout, marble herringbone tile, various types of paint and an LED light strip.
By this point everything has been stripped out (except the harp) and sanded down. I made another tool purchase too - a spray gun! Not a fancy one, but its the type that DIY home painters would use, easy to operate with an electric plug in. Being new to painting anything wood I didn’t know that oil based paints turn the clear coat yellow. But before I get ahead of myself let me break this down into a better step by step process now that I have all of my materials.
First we painted and then we tiled. I sat on cold concrete in my garage randomly pouring paint into the gun canister and just winged it. Turns out that wasn’t a solid approach. I probably wasted 4 days getting frustrated over the yellow tinge in my clear coats. I didn’t use a base color, I didn’t research oil versus acrylic and how old wood change the results; I thought, “I just have to paint it…” How hard could that be? Ha. Hindsight is 20/20 my friends. I am glad I made mistakes though, or else I would’t have these entertaining tales at my expense for you to enjoy - oh, and the knowledge gained from rising above these mistakes is pretty good too. Now, another factor that didn’t even cross my mind was the temperature. It took 4 days of frustration and waiting because depending on the thickness of the coat you’ve just put down and how cold it is makes a huge difference on result. It felt like ages until the paint was actually dry. Once it was, I was back to the sanding board.
This paint round went so much smoother. First of all, I bought acrylic paint which is water based. This means I can dilute it since it is a water based paint. Why would I want to dilute paint? Easy. Multiple thin layers results in a way better end product over one or two thick sloppy layers (which is what went down in the first round). It takes more time, but trust me, it is worth it. We had two coats of base paint, three coats of the main color, and two coats of a matte clear. The finish was smooth and the details still popped!
The tile process wasn’t as terrible or as hard as I thought it was going to be, however; I am glad I had David around because it would have been so difficult on my own!.We added a shelf above where the keys used to be and turned the foot board into a shelf as well and the key area was the main work space. I watched several tile laying videos and read a ton of “how-to” articles before we made any cuts. I bought a tile cutter, a simple scoring and snap cutter, before buying the actual tile. Which meant that once we settled on the marble, the scoring cutter was useless (this time). We measured everything and made our cuts. First was the plywood base for all shelves and counters, then the cement board which was all glued and screwed down to the piano. Next, we dry set the tile to figure out where we needed to trim. I bought one square foot tile sheets of marble herringbone. The scoring cutter was no use to us, so we rented a wet saw from Home Depot.
I still have a box of spare marble pieces left over from this build. Since we had never used a wet saw before it was very nerve wracking, but not difficult. Once everything was cut, I layered the thin set adhesive and set the tile in place using a large rubber pad to ensure the pieces were flat. Next was the grout (after the thin set dried 24 hours) grout was a little tricky since it was time sensitive. The grout is smooshed down into all cracks and crevices, the excess clumps are squeegeed off and a clean, damp sponge is used to wipe up mess and clean away film. The sponge has to be clean and just damp enough without watering the grout down and ruining the process. The finished tile needed to dry another 24 hours before additional clean up could be done and the finishing touches made.
The last fun steps included adding the glass racks and the LED lights. I bought four racks from Home Depot and a LED strip light set from Amazon. I will add pictures so y’all can see where I attached these and how it finished off the project nicely. All in all, it took me a solid two months and twice as much money as it would take for me to do a similar project now. I wonder if your asking weather I managed to sell the magnificent piano bar? Strap in folks, here is another thrilling tale on how I built the bar in Washington and sold it in Georgia. Thankfully, when the Army moves us they send a team to pack and load the house; which included hauling the piano from Washington to Oklahoma. We kept it in our house in OK for a few months, but I realized the tiny, dumpy town we lived in was not going to pay my price - so I found a consignment shop in Wichita Falls, TX and parked it there for about eight months. During those eight plus months we moved again, to Columbus, Ga and I met a woman at my gym who fell in love with the piano.
She literally said, “If that was here, I would totally buy it!” My response, “be careful, if I tell David that he will drive to Texas and bring it to your doorstep.” That is exactly what happened. She agreed to the price + delivery, we rented a trailer and took a 36 hour round trip drive from Georgia to Texas for the piano; fought rain and wind and exhaustion to bring it to her. The only thing we did before dropping it off was paint it teal. Yes, teal. She wanted a color change and I was able to make it happen! It now lives in a farmhouse outside of Columbus, Ga - happy and beautiful!