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DIY: wire lockers

Remember the metal locker craze? I’m still in love with it and, although it is slowly fading out, I decided now was the time to DIY a set for our new home.

The babies are not as easy to find second hand as I thought, and with new ones costing an arm and a leg I wasn’t about to give up on my search. After looking high and low on Gumtree and OLX, and visiting a couple of charity and second hand shops, I finally found a pair on Gumtree for R500 a couple of months later (yes, it took that long. So you really have to be patient!).

The lockers I purchased had been in storage for quite a while, and I had to go through a rigorous cleaning process before I painted them as they were very dusty. After researching how much it would cost to have someone spray paint them professionally (basically, I would have to sell a kidney and possibly a lung, too), I decided to hand paint (yes, you read right and yes, I know it was a crazy idea) them myself instead. Although this was a decision I regretted when I first started, the end product was totally worth it.

So, here goes…

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What you’ll need

Note: This project (the way I have done it) is not for the faint-hearted or for those in a rush. It took me a few months to complete one of my lockers and I am only half way through my second one.

New lockers:

  • Metal lockers
  • Paint in the colour of your choice – I used 1 litre of Plascon Interior/Exterior Satin Sheen Velvaglow in Mermaid Jewel (if you decide to do a second coat you will need 2 litres of paint)
  • A small paint brush, you need to be able to get into every nook and cranny
  • Thick latex gloves
  • A stable chair / ladder to stand on to reach the top areas of the locker
  • Old clothes and shoes

Second hand lockers:

  • Metal lockers
  • A scrubbing brush
  • This bleach
  • Warm water
  • A bucket
  • Paint in the colour of your choice
  • A small paint brush, you need to be able to get into every nook and cranny
  • Thick latex gloves
  • A stable chair / ladder to stand on to reach the top areas of the locker
  • Old clothes and shoes

Instructions

How to clean your old lockers:

  1. Pour the warm water and the thick bleach into your bucket and mix well.
  2. Put on your gloves (these are mainly to avoid your hands smelling like bleach and to protect any chaps or sores you might have).
  3. Use your scrubbing brush to scrub off as much of the dirt as possible, using your stool to reach the higher areas.
  4. Once clean, leave it outside in the sun to dry off.

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Let the painting begin:

  1. Pour a small amount of paint onto the lid of your paint container (note: it goes further than you think, and by using smaller amounts there will be less to spill).
  2. Starting on the inside at the back of each locker cubicle (because it’s the hardest area to reach and your arm gets quite sore), coat your paintbrush well and slowly start to daub the paint onto the wire. (Note: I found that daubing works better than using strokes).
  3. Once that area is done you can start on the top (roof area), sides, bottom and the inside of the door.
  4. Continue until all of six of the cubicles are painted inside. Then you can start on the outside.
  5. Once fully completed, and depending on what look you want, you can do a second coat. I wanted mine to look hand painted, you can see pieces I have missed by accident where the original white paint of the locker peeks through, and there are places where the painted started to drip and has dried.

The end result

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I am not going to lie or sugar-coat it, it’s a long, hard and tedious process, and I felt like giving up once or twice. But as I carried on and started to see the progress I knew it would look beautiful and it would be worth it. Now my house wouldn’t be complete without it!

Are you starting a DIY project, or are you half way through completing one? Let me know in the comments below, I would love to know what you are working on!

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