I scoured the Internet for ideas when planning out our homeschool room. Bloggers of all styles and backgrounds gave great advice about what worked in their school rooms and what didn’t.

Keeping budget in mind, I searched the house for reusable furniture items. I stumbled upon a set of old lockers in my husband’s basement workshop. They were dented, rusty, and just plain ugly. I turned back to the Internet for instruction about refinishing the lockers and got inspired to use chalkboard paint.

After a layer of auto-primer on the hinges. Rust and the original finish is still visible on the doors.

 There are several steps to refinishing old metal, but the result is well worth the time. Each step only takes about thirty minutes.


  • Respirator, disposable painters’ overalls, and latex gloves
  • Small electric hand-sander with medium, fine and ultra fine grit sandpaper
  • ShopVac
  • Microfiber cloths
  • Gray auto-primer spray paint
  • Chalkboard paint: one can of spray paint and one can of liquid paint


  1. Move the lockers outside on a calm overcast day. Suit up in a respirator, painters’ overalls, and latex gloves. This may seem like overkill, but you probably don’t know how old the lockers are and what kind of paint was originally used, so protect yourself.
  2. Using a small electric hand sander fitted with medium grit sandpaper, sand every nook and cranny. Pull out the ShopVac and suck up the debris before using a wet microfiber cloth to wipe down the lockers. Let dry.
  3. Place a fine grit sandpaper on the sander and go over every surface. Sweep up the dust and wipe down again. Let dry.
  4. Spray with a gray auto-primer. Let dry.
  5. Using an ultra fine grit sandpaper, sand the surface of the lockers, sweep up dust and wipe clean. Let dry.
  6. Now comes the fun part. Move the lockers into a garage or shop and spray crannies, handles, and hinges with the chalkboard spray-paint. Let dry.
  7. Repeat step 6.
  8. Using a foam brush, gently paint the lockers with the liquid chalkboard paint. Lightly brush over the spots that were spray-painted to even the finish. Follow paint directions for drying time. 
  9. Repeat step 8 until the finish is dark and even.
  10. Allow the paint to cure for at least 3 days before handling. The finish should be rock hard.

I anticipated that painting the lockers would be hard, but moving them into a loft reached only by a spiral staircase proved much worse. Thank goodness for the strong muscles of Husband, Dad, and Brother.

I didn’t even have time to snap a picture of the finished product before the boys drew all over the lockers, but they turned out great!

The lockers were finished and in place one week before school started. Our boys were beyond excited about having 5 small lockers each to house their books. I also gave each boy a small luggage lock and keys with instructions that they could lock one of their cubbies if they wished.

A private space in a house of 5? A miracle!