Amanda Hopper Writes

A writer's tale of living and working in the country.

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Refinishing Old Lockers wtih Chalkboard Paint

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!

A Year Later

A little over a year ago I was driving to Ikea with tears streaming down my face. I was picking up the last of the homeschool furniture and questioning our decision to pull the boys from public school. Am I going to ruin my kids? Am I jeopardizing their future? Are all of those people who question me constantly about my ability and right to educate my boys correct in their judgements?

A year later I can confidently shout No! to all of those questions.

We made it through a whole school year and we still like each other. In fact, we are doing it again this year!

Our house is filled with much more laughter and much less yelling. The kids are beginning to take pride in their school and house work. They learn as much from everyday life as they do from their studies. In general, things are calmer and slower paced than ever before … as long as I keep reminding myself that it’s okay to say “no” to all those things/people/organizations that will happily steal my time from what is important at this life stage.

What’s important you ask?

Raising three good men.

I frequently have people ask what curriculum we use, so after some tweaking to last year’s curriculum, here is the list for 2014/2015:

9th Grade Curriculum

History/Writing/Literature: TRISMS Discovering the Ancient World

Grammar: Winston Grammar Beginner

Math: Teaching Textbooks Geometry and Teaching Textbooks Algebra 2

Science: Apologia Biology

Computer Language: Homeschool Programming: Java

Foreign Language: Scottish Gaelic from Mango Languages

Vocabulary: Vocabulary from Latin and Greek Roots books 3 and 4

PSAT Prep: College Prep Genius

6th Grade Curriculum

History/Writing/Literature: TRISMS History’s Masterminds

Math: Critical Thinking Company’s Mathematical Reasoning Level G Sixth Grade

Science: Apologia Land Animals

Vocabulary: Vocabulary from Latin and Greek books 3 and 4

Foreign Language: Scottish Gaelic from Mango Languages

3rd Grade Curriculum

History/Writing/Reading/Spelling: Trail Guide to Learning Paths of Exploration

Handwriting: A Reason for Handwriting Transition to Cursive

Math: Critical Thinking Company’s Mathematical Reasoning 3rd grade

Science: Apologia Land Animals

Foreign Language: Scottish Gaelic from Mango Languages

All Grades

Music: Travis Academy of Fine Arts and private lessons

Art: Art Lab

PE: The Ultimate Homeschool Physical Education Game Book

We also get a lot of questions about where we homeschool. Since Hubs works from home, we decided that we needed a designated school room that was far away from the office. A second-story loft over the master bedroom became the perfect place to learn and has the added benefit of being out of the way so that I can leave school there and not be reminded of how much work awaits me:)

The room has only one small window and absolutely no storage, so we mounted Lack Wall Shelves horizontally for loads of book storage that doesn’t gobble up precious floor space. The window covering is a $7 roller shade from Lowe’s that I decorated with wall decals.


The art display is a Dignitet Curtain Wire with Riktig Curtain Hooks. School supplies are held in three sets of Fintorp Rails that hold three Fintorp Buckets each. The Magnetic Wall Pocket came from the Container Store in the office section and I used Magnetic Spice Tins from the kitchen section to hold paper clips, staples, and such.


A large Kallax Shelving Unit holds everything we could ever need. These can be bought second-hand on Craig’s List but we couldn’t get a pre-assembled one up the spiral staircase. If you do buy a new one, use the assembly instructions here  instead of following the ones in the box.


The lockers were in our garage. Hubs gave them up so I could refinish them with chalkboard paint. The kids use these to hold their everyday books and folders.

The best way to sum up our lives the last year would be with a theme song: Thrive by Casting Crowns

Joy Unspeakable

Faith Unsinkable

Love Unstoppable

Anything is Possible

-Casting Crowns