How to Paint Metal School Lockers

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You probably don’t know that I have three sets of vintage school lockers in our home. I finally painted one of them last weekend. What a difference! Today I am sharing how to paint metal school lockers.

How to Paint Metal School Lockers

I have been looking at these gray metal lockers for years and cannot believe how great they look painted off-white. I am so excited to share my DIY how to paint metal lockers.

School lockers are something I collected years ago. They are great for storage and are a fun way to add storage space in a decorative way.

I love that these lockers have a life story that lives within them. The history and stories of the people who spun the lock on them intrigue me. Who stored their books in this locker? Where in the country did these lockers live? How many people leaned against these lockers and were asked to prom or were broken up with? I love that in our home, the lockers will add another layer of history to all of the amazing vintage pieces I have collected.

School Lockers in the Family Room

How to Paint Metal

The school lockers in the family room were dark gray and were pretty beat up. They had definitely had a long life and a deep history. 

These lockers housed some of my tools. I kept a hammer, a set of screwdrivers, a box with nails and screws of various sizes and a tape measure so that they were handy when needed. The other lockers, needless to say, filled quickly with what I affectionately call stuff!

It has been on my to-do list for a long time to paint these lockers. I wasn’t sure how hard, or easy it would be to paint them or how they would turn out. Last weekend I decided that the time had come to tackle the lockers in the family room and I am so glad that I finally finished this project.

Just so you can officially appreciate how good they look, look how worn they were in the before picture below! I cannot believe it took so long for me to paint these lockers.


Vintage Lockers

I have lockers in the boy’s bedrooms too. While they were growing up, the lockers were a great space to store shoes, cleats, various sporting equipment, books, and socks. They kept all of the things that are usually littered across the floor and are tripped over! 

Can you see that both of the sets of lockers have one lock on them? I did not put those locks on the lockers and I do not know the combinations. Some day I will get my boys to open them up and show me. I heard rumors there is a beer in one of them from 8th grade, which means it is well over a decade old. I am not even sure if I want to know what else is in there.

Any quesses?

I found the first set of lockers at a vintage flea market when the boys were young. The first set was such a hit with the boys, I began looking for them whenever I went to flea market shopping The lockers became the perfect place to store not only their cleats, mitts and sporting equipment, but also their video games, Pokemon cards, baseball cards, and other treasures that they wanted a safe place to store.

My oldest son was a swimmer. The blue lockers in his room were lined across the top with rows of trophies and medals. The lockers themselves housed school notebooks, text books, a laptop, CDs, swim caps, goggles and meet schedules. 

My two younger sons shared a room and had the red set of lockers. The lockers in their room were lined across the top with rows of baseball and volleyball trophies and medals. A school locker is a perfect storage for baseball bats, mitts, and balls. 

How to Paint Metal Lockers

Of course it is important to move the lockers outside. Fortunately I had lots of help from my husband and oldest son.

How to Paint Metal

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Step 1 – Sand the Lockers

Sanding Metal School Lockers

I started by sanding the lockers. These were really easy to sand. I used my electric sander and it worked like a dream! Make sure to wear a mask when you sand anything.

Sanding and Painting Metal School Lockers

Step 2 – Prep for Painting

Once the lockers were sanded, I wiped the lockers down with a wet rag to wipe away any lingering dust from sanding. Next I taped the locker numbers to prevent them from being painted.

Prep to Paint Metal School Lockers

Step 3 – Paint the Metal Lockers

I found my paint at The Home depot and used Rust-Oleum 2X Ultracover paint and primer in Heirloom White for this project. If you have a project that you will be using spray paint, be sure to buy a Rust-Oleum Comfort Grip. This grip will save you from a hand cramp when you have a lot of surface to spray. This project took 5 cans of spray paint. The paint dries very quickly which is amazing. The quick dry made this project go very quickly!

Painting School Lockers

This is how the lockers looked after a few coats of paint. Already, they look so much better! They definitely needed another coat of paint, but I was off to a great start!

How to Paint Metal

After the third coat of paint, the lockers looked incredible. I can hardly believe they are the same lockers as the beat up dark gray ones! What do you think?

How to Paint Metal School Lockers

Frequently Asked Questions

Does spray paint adhere to metal?

Spray paint adheres to a smooth metal finish (sanded) and dries quickly. Spray paint is an easy way to provide an inexpensive facelift to metal.

Where can I buy school lockers?

You can find old school lockers at vintage flea markets and antique stores. You can also find new lockers at sites like Amazon or Wayfair.

We moved the lockers back inside and they look like they are brand new. This was such an easy and inexpensive project. I think I might need to paint the other two sets!

Vintage School Lockers

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How to Paint Metal Lockers

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  1. Who could have imagined utility lockers could be transformed to look this charming?
    Leslie, I am awed by your talent and so enjoy your Sunday morning coffee blogs and all of the wonderful talents you share with us. Thank you!

  2. Such a wonderful idea for extra storage in your boy’s rooms. Wish I had seen/heard/knew about this when my son was younger. As a football player this would have been a great way to store all things football. Love reading your blogs. Keep them coming.

    1. That is exactly what I did when my sons were growing up! It really gave the impression that our house was cleaner haha! Thank you for following!

  3. Now I’m on the lookout for one to put in my mudroom, so old outside shoes and jackets are neatly out if sight! Thanks!

  4. What a fun and cute project, Leslie! Could you tell me what kind/brand of sander you use/recommend? I’ve looked at several and just can’t make up my mind which would be best for overall use plus, fit in my hand! Thanks!!

      1. Love them!!! Looking forward to finding a set for myself. What is the dimensions of the one you painted ?

  5. I bought a set of three lockers at an antique mall about 12 years ago, My daughter wanted them painted pepto bismol pink and a car friend of ours did them for us. They went to two apartments while she was in college and they were a heavy pain to move.

    Long story short, she no longer needed or wanted them, so they are in the garage and store chrismas lights, drill and some tools, and recycled bin for the newpapers.

    they are still pepto bismol pink, but I smile everytime I drive in and see a bit of our own history. I will not part with these any time soon. too much fun!

    1. What a great story, Susan! That is exactly why I love ours so much! And I am sure they still look great in your garage!

  6. Thanks for all the great information which I will pass on to my neighbor who has a set of lockers. Her’s are on her deck under an overhang. She uses it to store garden tools. Love reading your blog. It resonates so with me since I know you personally.🥰

  7. I love how your lockers turned out! I have some in my garage that I’m hoping to paint soon! I am curious what grit you sanded them & did you just paint the outside or did you paint the inside too? Thanks 😊!

    1. What a fun project, Teresa! I used medium grit to sand them and I did not paint the inside but I would recommend you do!

  8. I love this! I saw you used a Satin finish. Do you think that works best? I’m also debating an “ultra matte.” Thoughts?


  9. Love this project! I have a friend who is spray painting lockers at the moment, if this spray is not available do you have any other recommendations as to what paint to use? Thank you 😊

  10. I just got a set of four classic lockers from an old YMCA building that is being demolished for a storage facility. I cant wait to give them a facelift! Thanks for the article. Your lockers look phenomenal.

  11. They look fabulous! I have a bunch of these also. Now I know what to do with them.
    Would you be able to tell me the color/brand you have on the walls? I love it also.

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