An All Star Locker – Adventures In Painting Metal

Are you ready to hear about my adventure in painting metal?  Settle in, this is a long one!

Let me start by saving I have never painted metal before, at least in any significant volume, so this was lesson for me. Actually a lot of lessons! My Time Is Money Mommy friend, Keri, also has a son with An All Star Sports Themed Room and in conversation she mentioned that she needed a bulletin board or something like that for her son’s room to organize his school papers and sports schedules.  The bulletin board I made for my son’s All Star Room just wasn’t the right size for her space, so I had her send me the measurements of her space, slept on it to get the wheels turning, and woke up with the idea of using a locker as an organization center.  She could “pin” his papers to the locker door using magnets and then use the inside for additional storage for backpacks, jackets, shoes, or sports equipment.

Keri liked the idea, so off to Craigslist I went and guess what I found – this locker for sale in a nearby area and listed for a phenomenal price. It felt like confirmation that the idea to use an old locker was the way to go. Plus, at the time, he had a birthday approaching and I thought this could be a perfect gift for him.

Locker Before



























Side note: My cousin found similar lockers for sale on Craigslist, but they were listed for WWWAAAYYY more than I paid! Love when I get a great deal!

I scrubbed and cleaned this bad boy really well to get rid of all the dirt, cobwebs, and spiders – yuck!  Then I gave it a light sanding and primed it with my favorite primer.

 I was off to a great start but, this is where the project started to go sour and the adventure began.  I originally wanted to use the same Benjamin Moore Currant Red that I had used in my son’s room.  It is a deep beautiful red with a hint of black. However, when I went to the paint store to purchase it, the Benjamin Moore paint machine was broken. Booo! Thankfully, the paint guy had a solution – try their brand of paint made specifically for metal.  They had a red that was similar in color on the paint swatch and the price was right, so I went for it.  BIG MISTAKE!  When I started applying the paint it was going on like watercolor and looked more coral in color than deep rich red.  I highly doubted my friend’s son would appreciate a coral colored locker in his sports themed room.  So, back to the paint store I went.  I was assured the color was mixed correctly, that I was applying it correctly (I used the roller they recommended), and that the primer I used shouldn’t have caused any issues, but in good faith they gave me another can free of charge.  I was very appreciative of their offer and customer service, so I wont name names, but the second can of paint was applying exactly the same way.  At this point I was frustrated, so I decided to walk away from the project for a bit.    

In the mean time, I spray painted my mailbox and when painting the flag for that project the light bulb went off!  Rust-Oleum Regal Red – it was the perfect color for the locker!  Of course Rust-Oleum made the perfect color – why didn’t I think of Rust-Oleum in the first place?!?!  

So, I went back and gave the locker a once over with my trusty Black & Decker Mouse Detail Sander to try to get rid of the watercolor paint and the bumps from the roller. And then I got to spray painting – SO much easier and cleaner looking! (Lesson: DO NOT USE A ROLLER on metal unless you want an orange peel type of finish.  Sanding helped improve the bumpy texture, but not entirely)

I used Rust-Oleum’s Comfort Grip for the first time on this project and I have to say it is a MUST for future spray painting projects.  It makes a world of difference and makes the job that much easier.


(A word of caution though: the over-spray with this particular paint is BAD!  I don’t know if it is the color or what, but EVERYTHING  in an eight foot radius around the locker is now red.  I used a drop cloth and loads of plastic, but it still wasn’t enough.)

After I gave the locker a good number of coats, I moved on to the details.  I wanted to line the back of the locker with a baseball striped wallpaper, but it was much too expensive.  So, I made my own using white contact paper and markers.  I simply marked off the lines with a pencil and then connected my markings with the markers and a yard stick.  


At one point I accidentally dropped the marker, which left a big ink splotch, but I just used a bleach pen intended for laundry to carefully bleach it away.  You can still see the mark if you look really close, but it is much better than it was before.  One thing I would recommend if you decide to make your own wallpaper using markers is to not lift your pen if you can help it. You can see where my lines met and it isn’t very pretty. I ended up cutting the contact paper into two pieces to remove this part, but trying to match up the seams when the time came to stick it to the locker was time consuming and it would definitely look better if it was all one piece.  Another lesson learned!

Next, I painted the inside of the locker door in chalk board paint using Martha Stewart’s recipe consisting primarily of paint and unsanded grout. I figured the inside of the door would be a great place for him to doodle or for Keri to leave him notes and reminders.  

Lastly, I created some sports themed magnets using wood cutouts I found at Michaels.  I simply attached magnetic tape to the back with Super Glue. 

 And there you have it – An All Star Sports Themed Locker!

Clay, your gift certainly isn’t factory perfect, (and it is now very late – sorry about that!) but I hope you enjoy it!  My love for you is what pushed me to challenge myself and learn something new. So, really YOU gave me a gift for your birthday.  Love you little buddy!








Linking to: Design, Dining + Diapers, Serenity Now, Savvy Southern Style, and The Shabby Creek Cottage.

UPDATE: This project was featured at The Inspiration Gallery! Thank you ladies!

P.S. For those of us who love to entertain and create a beautiful home, we are often inspired by ideas online, yet implementation is time-consuming. Though we hope to encourage you to try things on your own, we understand that sometimes you don’t have the time, and we would love to help. As full-service creative lifestyle designers, Simply Tangerine specializes in designing beautiful living spaces, sourcing or refinishing furniture, planning special events, and creating menus to meet personal dietary needs. We will discuss your needs, assess your situation and put together unique ideas to make your room décor, furniture, event, or menu exceed your expectations. We would love to bring a Simply Tangerine twist to your home or event. Please contact us anytime!

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11 Responses to “An All Star Locker – Adventures In Painting Metal”

  1. Keri says:

    Wow, Dawn! I have tears in my eyes reading this. I know Clay will love it, and he will know how much hard work and time you put into it just for him! Very special! Thanks so much!!!

  2. […] UPDATE: The locker is finished – check it out here! […]

  3. Mandy Hank says:

    Love this! I love the color you used, my son would go nuts 🙂 Great piece. Thanks for linking up to The Inspiration Gallery this week!

    Mandy @ The Hankful House Blog

  4. […] Painting a Metal Locker by Simply Tangerine […]

  5. Torie says:

    I just had some lockers I bought from a local salvage company delivered today, and although they are in great shape (minus a little bit of rust on the legs), they are that horrible industrial almond-beige color. Blech. So I’m scouring the internet, looking for painting tips. I found your site, and I wanted to know how the finish has stood up on this locker? And did it harden, or have that sticky latex-y finish?

    • Dawn Dawn says:

      Hi Torie,
      So glad you found this post! The finish has held up nicely on the locker and it is hard, not that sticky plastic-y finish. I’ve since used the same spray paint on other metal projects, including one that is outdoors and so far so good on all of them. Good luck with your project! Would love to see the finished product!



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