How to Paint Old School Lockers

Written by chantel alise
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Old school lockers can be repurposed to suit many needs in and around the home. They make excellent storage spaces for a garage or utility room. They can be used as pantries to store food or other kitchen products. They provide a place to hide gardening materials. They can even be made into fun wardrobes for a child's room. Almost all of these options, however, require that the locker be painted. Here are some tips and tricks to make the paint job memorable.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

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Things you need

  • Old locker
  • Drop cloth or plastic
  • Sandpaper or steel wool
  • Primer
  • Paint
  • Paint brushes
  • Small paint roller
  • Paint airbrush system
  • Soft graphite pencil
  • Painter's tape
  • Sponge
  • Rag
  • Feather (for marbleising)
  • Clear acrylic overcoat
  • Paper face mask

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  1. 1

    Decide how and where the locker will be used as well as the colour scheme and design for its paint job. Leave the locker a single colour or divide into colour blocks. Add faux finishes to give it pizazz. Try your hand at painting an original design, mural, or scene.

  2. 2

    Use a paint primer made especially for metal. A good choice is automotive primer. The name is a misnomer. The paint can be used on most metal objects. Use at least two coats of primer; more if any discolouration continues to show through.

  3. 3

    Choose paint that is made to go with the primer and the type of metal being painted. When the two products, are specifically made to go together, they will provide a smoother and easier paint job.

  4. 4

    Lay down a drop cloth or plastic to protect the area around the locker. For better protection, sit the locker on top of the material rather than gathering it around the locker.

  5. 5

    Prepare the locker for painting. Clean it thoroughly, then use sand paper or steel wool to sand away rust, loose paint, or mildew and to rough up the old paint finish so that new paint will adhere.

  6. 6

    Do a test paint strip on an area of the locker that won't be seen, like the back. This will let you know exactly how the paint will adhere to the metal. Let dry thoroughly before moving forward.

  7. 7

    Apply the base coat colour if the test strip was successful. This can be done by brush, roller, spray or airbrush.

  8. 8

    Outline the design you have chosen. For example, if you want a freehand design, outline it with a soft graphite pencil before beginning to paint. For colour blocks or stripes, use painter's tape to outline the design and paint each colour individually after the previous colour has completely dried.

  9. 9

    Try a faux finish--sponging, ragging, or marbleising--over the base coat. Be sure to stick with paints that are made for use on metal and choose acrylic enamels whenever possible.

  10. 10

    Add a protective acrylic coating over the paint job to make it durable and long lasting. Stick with the same type of paint used for the primer and the base coat so that everything works together as intended.

Tips and warnings

  • Metal spray paint generally provides a smoother overall finish than paints that are brushed on.
  • Try combining different colours of lockers together to make a fun place for kids to store toys, craft supplies, clothing and other items.
  • Try a textured "granite" spray paint to add rough texture to any locker.
  • Use spray-on glitter to jazz up lockers for young girls.
  • Choose popular animal print designs like zebra stripes, leopard or giraffe spots to add character to an old locker while also camouflaging any of its flaws.
  • Color blocks or stripes can add interest and character to any locker.
  • Airbrushes are difficult to use so practice before attempting to use it on the locker.
  • Paper masks can be found anywhere that construction and paint goods are sold. These disposable masks keep you from inhaling paint fumes.
  • Never paint a locker without first doing a test strip. If the paint doesn't adhere properly, you will have to start over.
  • Always paint in an area that is properly ventilated.
  • Use a mask to protect your respiratory system from inhaling too much of the paint's ingredients.
  • Don't attempt to paint over rust. The paint won't adhere properly and will look darker than the rest of the paint job. Take the time to sand the rust away before beginning to paint.
  • Remove painter's tape carefully so as not to pull off the paint finish with the tape.

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