How To Paint And Repair A Dent In A School Locker, Military Locker, Gym Locker Or Any Other Metal Locker

From time to time we like to give tips on things relating to gym, school or sports lockers. This is an opportunity for our clients to use this blog as a resource and tutorial to help answer questions that they have once they have purchased our products. This blog post will address how to paint a locker, because now that you have it, one day it may be accidentally dinged or dented and require some touch ups or a full paint makeover.


Every gym, school, storage or metal locker can be made to look brand new.

First here is what you will need in order to repaint, or repair a ding in your lockers:

An open area which is spray paint friendly

Lots of old newspapers to spread onto the ground

Sanding block, or piece of wood

80 grit sandpaper

Masking or painting tape

Small amount of a de-greasing substance like Zep or Simple Green

Lint-free rags

Tack cloth that is designed to remove loose particles of dust, dirt and lint that would contaminate a surface that is to be painted

Can of compressed air

A sawhorse or panel stands to hold the lockers

Can of aerosol primer (We recommend Rust-Oleum Professional Flat Gray)

Can of aerosol acrylic paint (Basically what many call; “spray paint’)

If you have dings to repair, then add the following:

Body filler and hardener

A plastic spreader or putty knife


By following this simple tutorial, you can transform your old, dented metal lockers into ones that look brand new!


Since you will most likely want the inside to match the outside colors, we recommend you remove the locker door. This is a whole lot easier than it sounds. Using a hinge pin set, or any punch set and small hammer, tap the two hinges pins out of the top and bottom hinges of the locker door. If the locker you are working on happens to be a tall, single tier locker; depending on the make and model those doors may have more than two hinges, one full-length, piano high hinge or even three 5 knuckle hinges–just remove them all.

Once the door is off, place it on your sawhorses/panel stands and keep the removed hinge pins somewhere you won’t lose them.

If you are just painting the door and exterior the exact same color as before to fix graffiti or excessive scratches, then you can leave the door on and skip this step.


Now that you have the door off, you will need to “key” the surface.  By using the 80-grit sandpaper and sanding block (or piece of wood), sand down all surface areas which you are intending to paint.  What this sanding, or “keying”, does is to make teeny, tiny grooves in the surface that allows the primer and paint to adhere to when it is sprayed on. If you skip this critical step, the paint will not be able to adhere correctly. It does take time, but is well worth the efforts and allows the paint to stick as intended. You know you have enough sanding done not when the paint is entirely off (which would involve DAYS of sanding) but it should be ready when you have made the existing paint appear dull and not the glossy, smooth look it had when you began.

This is the step where you can repair any dents as well. Before following the instructions on whatever body filler you choose, sand and then clean the damaged area with one of those tack cloths which will remove all the little particles of dust, dirt and lint that could compromise a good, solid bond which will result in a smooth “as-new” repair. Now press the body filler into the dents and try to spread as evenly as possible across the damaged area until it rises just above the surface. You are trying to create an ever-so-slight “bulge”on the dented area that will be sanded out smooth, later.  Be sure to allow the body filler to dry completely before proceeding. (Normally anywhere from 15 to 20 minutes)

Once it has dried, use the sanding block again and making sure the block remains flat at all times, sand the repaired area. Keep going until you can see a completely flat surface and the bulge has been removed.  Using the compressed air, blow off the dust from the locker surface and then using  one of the lint free cloths, put some degreaser on it and wipe the surface. The final cleaning process should be using the tack cloth that will remove the last, final bits of dust, dirt and other debris. The tack cloth will not leave any small bits of cloth or lint, which become very visible once the paint dries and could ruin the appearance of a smooth surface. Allow to dry completely before moving forward.

 STEP 3:

Your locker should have been entirely wiped down and de-greased at this point. It should be dry and ready to paint but one last item remains; Taping the locking handle and mechanism. As you put the tape on, make certain there are no gaps or wrinkles where you don’t want the paint to sneak into. Once this final step is done, you and your prepped metal locker are ready to go!

Place newspapers around the floor of the area where the locker is resting upon the sawhorse or stands to cover the flooring where the paint will land. If you are doing the inside of the locker, and the door is removed, hang it from a supporting beam.

Using the aerosol primer, apply three complete coats over the locker areas you are painting. For best results hold the can about 12 inches from the surface and move back and forth with complete, fluid motions. Don’t just “point and shoot!” Keep moving back and forth and don’t be afraid to “over spray” and not just suddenly stop at the edges. Stopping your arm motion will allow paint to build up and run.  Remember to let each coat dry for a minimum of five to 10 minutes before applying another coat! Usually three to four coats of primer will do the job.


Now using the aerosol paint, shake  it up and pretty  much do the same thing as you did with the primer, keeping the can 12 inches away from the locker surface and allowing continual, sweeping back and forth motions that don’t stop at the edges. The first coat should be a light coat in which there is slight overlapping on the locker surface. Let the paint dry for 15 minutes before adding the next coat. Continue adding coats until the locker is fully covered. Four should about do it.


Don’t be impatient! The longer you let it dry, the better it will be. Allowing the metal locker to dry all day or overnight works best. Once the locker is dry, remove the masking/painting tape from the locking mechanisms and handles. When attaching the door back onto the locker, be careful not to slam it down, drop it or drag it along your newly created surface.

If you notice the surface is wavy and bumpy where the repair work was done, that means you may want to repeat the process and pay more attention in sanding to ensure the area is a uniform, smooth and consistent surface.

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