Moving a piano upstairs presents a unique challenge requiring strength, precision, and careful planning. Pianos are heavy and unwieldy instruments, delicate in nature, and prone to damage from mishandling. 

The task becomes even more complex when it involves moving through narrow staircases, tight turns, and sometimes uneven surfaces. Each step must be carefully calculated to prevent injury to the movers and avoid damage to the piano or property.

Moving a piano upstairs is difficult because of its structure and weight distribution. Pianos have a complex internal mechanism sensitive to shocks and jolts, and their weight is not evenly distributed, making them difficult to balance during a move. The risk of dropping the piano or causing structural damage to the staircase requires serious consideration.

The key to a successful move lies in thorough preparation and the careful execution of the move itself. Ensuring the safety of the piano and the individuals involved is paramount. Damage to the instrument affects its aesthetic and functional integrity and can lead to costly repairs. 

Similarly, the physical well-being of the movers is a priority, as the heavy lifting and awkward positioning can pose significant health risks. This article aims to guide readers through the essential considerations and best practices for moving a piano upstairs.

Understanding the Complexity of Moving Pianos

Moving a piano is not a straightforward task, largely due to the variety of piano types and the unique challenges each presents. The two main categories of pianos—upright and grand—differ significantly in size, weight, and structure, affecting how they should be moved.

Upright Pianos

These are more compact and have all their components housed vertically. While they are generally easier to move than grand pianos due to their smaller footprint, their weight is still considerable, often exceeding 300 pounds. The challenge with upright pianos lies in navigating them through tight spaces without causing damage to their outer casing or internal mechanics.

Grand Pianos

With their horizontal design and long tail, grand pianos require a different approach. They can weigh anywhere from 500 to 1,200 pounds and are much more challenging to maneuver through doorways and up staircases. Moving a grand piano typically involves partially disassembling it, including removing the legs and pedal lyre, to make the body more manageable.

Assessing the Weight and Dimensions of the Piano

Before any move, assessing the piano’s weight and dimensions is crucial. This information helps plan the move, determine the number of movers needed, and select the appropriate equipment. The piano’s weight influences the risk of injury and the potential for damage to floors and stairs during the move.

Importance of Evaluating Staircases and Landing Spaces

Staircases and landing spaces pose significant obstacles during a piano move. The width of the staircase, the height of the ceilings, and the size of any landings or turns must be carefully evaluated to ensure enough space to maneuver the piano. Tight turns and narrow landings may require special techniques or equipment to safely move the piano without causing damage.

  • Staircase Width: The width of the staircase must be sufficient to accommodate the piano and the movers. Insufficient space can lead to scratches on the piano or damage to the staircase walls.
  • Ceiling Height: Low ceilings can complicate moving taller upright pianos up a staircase, as there may not be enough vertical clearance.
  • Landing Spaces: Adequate landing space is necessary to reposition the piano safely when navigating turns in the staircase.

Pre-Move Preparation

A successful piano move starts long before the piano is lifted. Proper preparation is crucial to ensure the safety of the piano and the movers. This phase involves gathering necessary tools and equipment, securing the piano’s moving parts, measuring paths and entryways, and assembling a team capable of handling the task.

Gathering the Right Tools and Equipment

The right tools and equipment are essential for a smooth move. Key items include:

  • Piano Dolly: A sturdy dolly designed specifically for pianos can support the instrument’s weight and facilitate easier movement, especially over flat surfaces.
  • Straps: Heavy-duty straps secure the piano to the dolly and help the movers maintain a grip on the piano during the move.
  • Padding: Protective padding or blankets can prevent scratches, dents, and other damage to the piano’s surface. These should be wrapped around the piano and secured with tape or straps.
  • Skid Board: For grand pianos, a skid board is necessary for safely moving the main body of the piano once the legs are removed.

Securing the Piano’s Moving Parts

Pianos contain several moving parts that must be secured before the move:

  • Keyboard Lid: If possible, ensure the keyboard lid is closed and locked to protect the keys.
  • Pedal Lyre: Remove the pedal lyre and wrap it separately for grand pianos.
  • Music Stand: If the music stand is detachable, remove and pack it separately. If not, ensure it is secured and padded.
  • Legs and Casters: For grand pianos, legs must be removed. Upright pianos should be checked to ensure casters (if present) are secure or not used during the move to prevent rolling.

Measuring Paths, Doorways, and Staircases to Ensure Fit

Before moving the piano, measure all paths, doorways, and staircases the piano must pass through. This ensures there will be enough space to navigate the piano through without causing damage to the piano or the property. Pay special attention to tight turns and narrow spaces.

Assembling a Capable Moving Team

Moving a piano is not a one-person job. A team of at least three to four people is often necessary, depending on the piano’s size and weight. The team should be physically capable and ideally have experience or knowledge of moving heavy items. Communication among team members is key to coordinating efforts and preventing accidents.

Techniques for Moving a Piano Upstairs

Moving a piano upstairs requires careful planning, equipment, and precise execution. Specific techniques can ensure the move is safe and efficient, whether dealing with an upright or a grand piano. Here’s a guide to navigating this challenging process.

Prepare the Path 

Clear the staircase and landing areas of any obstacles. Use protective coverings on floors and sharp edges along the walls to prevent damage.

Equip the Piano

Place the piano on a dolly to move it to the base of the stairs. Ensure the piano is securely strapped to the dolly, and use padding to protect its surfaces.

Position the Movers

Assign one mover to guide the dolly from the front (lower end) and at least two movers to lift from the back (upper end), providing the force needed to move the piano upwards.

Lift and Climb 

The movers at the back lift the piano, taking most of the weight, while the front mover ensures the dolly wheels remain in contact with the stairs. Move slowly, one step at a time, maintaining communication and balance.

Rest and Reposition 

Utilize landings to rest and reposition, ensuring the team is ready for the next set of stairs. Always keep the piano balanced to prevent it from tipping.

Special Considerations for Moving Grand Pianos

For disassembly, remove the legs and pedal lyre before the move. This reduces the piano’s size and makes it easier to manage. Wrap the body of the piano, including the lid, in protective blankets and secure them with straps. This protects the piano’s finish and internal components.

Lastly, place the wrapped piano body on a skid board for moving grand pianos. Secure the piano to the board with straps.

Use skid boards and dolly tools to distribute the piano’s weight evenly and facilitate movement. Ensure the equipment is in good condition and can support the piano’s weight. Moreover, use heavy-duty straps to secure the piano during the move, preventing shifts that could lead to imbalance or injury.

Positioning and Maneuvering Tips for Tight Turns and Narrow Landings

Before moving the piano, visualize and plan how to navigate tight turns and narrow landings. Sometimes, removing doors or temporarily taking down railings can provide additional space. Keep constant communication among team members. Designate one person to direct the move, calling out instructions and warnings.

Learn to pivot the piano on its dolly or skid board and tilt it slightly to fit through tight spaces. However, avoid tilting too much, which can risk losing control or damaging the piano. Finally, place furniture sliders under the piano’s edges (if removed from the dolly) on landings to reposition it more easily without lifting.

Safety Tips

Moving a piano upstairs is not only a challenging task but also one that poses a significant risk of injury if not done correctly. Employing proper safety measures and techniques is crucial to ensure the well-being of everyone involved. Here are essential safety tips to consider:

Importance of Proper Lifting Techniques to Avoid Injuries

  • Use Your Legs, Not Your Back: When lifting the piano, bend at the knees and lift with your legs rather than your back. This technique helps prevent strain and injury to your back muscles.
  • Keep the Piano Close: Hold the piano close to your body while lifting and moving it. This reduces the strain on your arms and helps maintain balance.
  • Straight Posture: Keep your back straight and avoid twisting while lifting or carrying the piano. Twisting can lead to serious back injuries.
  • Team Lift: Always lift in unison with your team. Pianos are too heavy for solo lifts, and coordination reduces the risk of uneven weight distribution, which can cause muscle strain.

How to Communicate and Coordinate Among the Moving Team:

  • Assign Roles: Before starting, assign specific roles to each team member (e.g., leader, spotter, lifters) to ensure everyone knows their responsibilities.
  • Use Clear, Concise Commands: Establish a set of clear, simple commands to use during the move (e.g., “lift,” “hold,” “step up”). This helps prevent misunderstandings that could lead to accidents.
  • Maintain Visibility: Always keep the piano and your team members in sight. If you can’t see where you’re going, stop and adjust until you have a clear path.
  • Stay Alert: Listen carefully to the team leader and be alert to the movements and signals of your teammates. Immediate responsiveness is key to navigating unexpected situations safely.

Dealing with Unexpected Obstacles or Challenges:

  • Pause and Assess: Stop moving the piano immediately if you encounter an unexpected obstacle. Assess the situation and decide on a safe course of action.
  • Adapt Your Plan: Be prepared to adapt your moving strategy on the fly. This might mean taking a different path, removing doors, or temporarily placing the piano down to reassess.
  • Use Tools and Equipment: Don’t hesitate to use additional equipment to overcome an obstacle. For example, a portable ramp can be invaluable for dealing with an unexpected step or uneven flooring.
  • Know When to Seek Help: If an obstacle seems impossible, consider seeking professional help. Professional movers have the experience and equipment to deal with complex situations safely.

Safety should always be the top priority when moving a piano upstairs. By employing proper lifting techniques, maintaining clear communication, and being prepared to deal with unexpected challenges, you can significantly reduce the risk of injury and ensure a successful move.

Post-Move Setup and Tuning

After moving a piano upstairs, the final steps involve positioning, allowing the instrument to acclimate, and ensuring it is properly tuned. These steps are crucial for the piano’s longevity and performance quality.

Positioning the Piano in Its New Location

  • Choose an Ideal Spot: Position the piano away from direct sunlight, heating vents, fireplaces, and exterior doors to prevent damage from temperature fluctuations and humidity.
  • Stable Flooring: Ensure the floor is stable and level where the piano will be placed. An uneven floor can affect the piano’s balance and tuning.
  • Allow Space for Sound: If possible, place the piano against an interior wall to help with sound projection and to provide additional stability.

The Necessity of Allowing the Piano to Acclimate Before Tuning

  • Temperature and Humidity Adjustment: Pianos are sensitive to changes in temperature and humidity. Moving to a new environment can cause the wood and strings to expand or contract, affecting the tuning.
  • Acclimation Period: Allow the piano to acclimate to its new surroundings for a few weeks before tuning. This period lets the piano adjust to the ambient conditions of its new location, ensuring a more stable and accurate tuning.

When to Call in a Professional Tuner to Adjust the Piano Post-Move

After the acclimation period, play the piano to determine if the sound is off or if any keys are sticking. These are signs that the piano needs professional attention.

Even if the piano seems to be in good condition, it’s advisable to have a professional tuner check and tune it. They can also inspect the piano for any internal issues that may have arisen during the move.

Moving a piano can be a good opportunity to establish a regular maintenance and tuning schedule. Professional tuners can recommend a tuning frequency based on the piano’s age, condition, and usage.

Moving a piano is only part of the journey. Proper post-move setup and tuning are essential to ensure the instrument continues to provide beautiful music.

Hiring Professional Piano Movers

While moving a piano on your own is possible with the right preparation and help, there are situations where hiring professional piano movers is the best choice.

  • High-Value Instruments: If your piano is an antique, a high-value item, or has sentimental value, it’s wise to entrust it to professionals who know how to handle it properly.
  • Complex Moving Situations: Stairs, tight turns, and narrow doorways can complicate a move. Professional movers are experienced in navigating these challenges.
  • Health and Safety Concerns: If you or your available helpers are not physically able to lift heavy objects or if doing so could pose a health risk, professional movers can take on the burden safely.
  • Lack of Time or Resources: Coordinating a move can be time-consuming. Hiring professionals can save you time and stress if you don’t have the time to plan and execute the move properly.

The cost of hiring professional piano movers can vary based on the piano’s size and weight, the move’s complexity, and the distance. Local moves might cost a few hundred dollars, while longer distances could be more expensive.

Hiring professional piano movers can provide peace of mind and ensure the safety of your piano during the move. Choosing the right service and preparing adequately can make the moving process as smooth and stress-free as possible.


Moving a piano upstairs is a task that demands careful consideration, preparation, and execution. Whether you decide to undertake this challenge on your own or opt for the expertise of professional movers, the key to success lies in respecting the complexity and value of your instrument. 

By approaching the move with the right mindset and resources, you can ensure that your piano safely reaches its new home, ready to fill the space with music once again. The journey underscores the deep bond between pianos and their owners, a testament to how far we go to preserve and cherish these remarkable instruments.