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How to Paint Metal Lockers {DIY}

“This shop is part of a social shopper marketing insight campaign with Pollinate Media Group® and Sharpie, but all my opinions are my own. #pmedia #PaintYourWay” How to paint metal lockers. 

Step-by-step guide to teach you how to paint metal lockersHow to paint metal lockers DIY

We’ve had these ugly gray lockers in the boys’ bedroom for probably two years now. Chuck brought the home from a school he demolished thinking they would be great for the kids. I loved them right away. Or the idea of them anyway. They are perfectly functional…the only thing is they are…how do I put this? UGLY. The kids love having a safe place to lock up their belongings and I love the sturdiness of metal furniture…but something needed to change. {Ignore the carabiners holding the doors closed, that was just for the ease of opening and closing during painting. Each child has a combination lock to keep them closed.} I have put off painting these lockers for so long because I was a bit intimidated by the idea of painting metal, something I’ve never done before. With our big room switch this summer, however, I decided it was time to get these babies looking like a purposeful piece of furniture…not like something my husband brought home from a school he demolished.


So now, I will show you how to paint metal lockers (in seven easy steps).

Step 1: Gather the needed supplies. Along with the basics of primer, mineral spirits and spray paint, I also picked up these fun Sharpie Paint Markers at Michaels. I knew the girl’s would love adding a touch of personalization to their lockers.

how to paint metal lockers DIY

Step 2: Sand I am a bit embarrassed to admit it, but I was especially intimidated by this part.  I had visions of metal shards flying through the air, being inhaled by me, then getting lodged in my lungs and months in the hospital as I recovered…As it turns out, nothing was flying….it felt just like sanding wood. I couldn’t believe how easy it was.

how to paint metal lockers DIY

Step 3: Wipe down with mineral spirits to remove any adhesive and/or oils. This quick step only takes a few minutes, and the mineral oil dries quickly.

Step 4: Spray with primer Take your time with this step and spray several coats. In fact, spray on as many as it takes to make your surface look even. I couldn’t believe how much better the lockers looks after just sanding and priming! Notice how well it covered up the writing?!

how to paint metal lockers DIY

Step 5: Spray with paint! This is where it gets really fun! Pick some fun colors and spray away. Like the primer, don’t  be afraid to use numerous coats. The more I added the better the lockers looked.


Step 6: Get your Sharpie Paint Markers and have fun!


Step 7: Coat the entire project with a gloss. This part isn’t totally necessary, but I wanted the paint job to be as durable as possible. The girls and I are so happy with the finished product!

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And in case you forgot just how UGLY the lockers were to start with:how to paint metal lockers

So, what do you think? Have you ever finally tackled a project you’d been avoiding…and then wondered what all the fuss was about? That’s how I feel about our locker project!



  1. SueAnn

    They look great now. The paint pens seem pretty awesome; I may need to get some.

    FYI – while I am glad to hear the sanding was not overly hazardous as you had feared, it is still best to wear a mask and safety goggles when using such tools.

    • bakersdozenandapolloxiv

      Very good point, SueAnn. Ys, you should get some. I have set the kids loose with them now that the lockers are done and they are labeling everything 🙂

  2. Peg

    What a great idea. We have a huge ugly four drawer file cabinet my husband dragged home a few years ago. It’s taking up space in a spare closet and I’ve been wanting to get rid of it but he won’t let me. I was thinking of covering it in some patterned duct tape but this is a lot better idea. We can paint it and then put it in the family room where it won’t look out of place.

  3. Deanna

    Love the transformation, I just purchased some old gray lockers and want to do something different and fun as well. Thanks for sharing your pictures and process! Did you paint the inside as well? If not, how did you keep the spray paint from getting inside?

  4. Nita

    I enjoyed this. I am going to paint the lockers in my employee break-room. I would love to allow them to personalize their locker but I would have to paint every time an employee leaves the company. I’ll think of something.

  5. Amy Martin

    Paint a space for a name with chalkboard paint. Add name with chalk. Erase name if needed without repainting.

    • Renee

      I’m sorry, but I don’t remember the exact grades. I started with a very rough one, obviously, then moved to a smoother one. I love how these turned out and have one more set to paint!

  6. lifesmoments16

    This is quite a transformation. It looks really good. I like how you let them add a personal touch to each of their lockers too.

    • Renee

      Thank you! They loved that part. After I posted this, someone suggested painting chalkboard paint on the front. I have one more set to paint and I may do that with those ones.

    • Renee

      It has actually been FOUR years now and they are in perfect shape! I think the reason is that I sprayed it with gloss as a final step.

  7. Kim

    Did you take the doors off when you painted? Or use painting tape? I have the tall lockers and there is paint on them from previous owners. So they are kind of a mess

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