I had these lovely Ikea lockers (sort of like the Ikea PS Cabinet, but from 2001) that I had done some 13-year-old damage to and as-is, were unusable. First, they were a terrible green colour that would match literally nothing. The other issue was that I had decided to spray paint a gold star onto one of them (a theme of my bedroom at the time… there was a giant one on my ceiling that my dad later told me took 7 coats of primer to cover). Needless to say, they needed some work.
Lindsay and I decided to go to our parents’ house for the weekend to see if we could salvage them. I headed to home depot and stared at the Rustoleum paint colours forever (I decided to use Rustoleum after reading about the love affair the folks over at Young House Love had with it. They’ve done a few things with it, and I read Sherry’s spray painting tips 10x over before deciding to take this project on). At first I thought a bright colour would work best – maybe teal or burnt orange. But then I realized that a colour like that would mean they would have to be an anchor piece in a room – I’d have to have other furniture and colours work around them. And I was not prepared to make a decision like that.
Instead, I decided to go with a charcoaly-blacky-greyish-sparkly colour from their metalics line. It sort of reminded me of sparkly pavement. The official name is Dark Bronze (but it looked more grey than chocolate bronze, so we went for it).
After we removed the detritus from the surface, we gave it a good wipe down and dried them both off (don't mind the crazy outfits.... they were all we had that could be sacrificed for painting).
Next we had to tape off the light-grey metal bits that we wanted to keep their colour. This included the legs and little key holes. We had no painters tape, so just went with duct tape (knowing full well what a pain it would be to peel off in the morning).
Then, we took a little break (cause taping is tough work!).
We only bought one can of primer (key learning #1: buy 2 cans of primer) so we went to work covering as much of the green and gold as we could.
When the can ran out, it was still super patchy. It looked a little bit like terrible camouflage, which made us nervous.
But, instead of buying another can of primer to finish up (see key learning #1) we decided the dark spray paint would cover it – we had heard that Rustoleum was a cover-anything on any surface kind of paint. But after a few coats, we were still seeing camouflage. We had 2 cans of the spray paint, but when they ran out, we were nowhere near done. Here’s what it looked like after 2 cans:
So off to home depot we went to get another 2 cans and came home to finish the job. The paint had dried and looked a bit better at this point, but we decided to keep loading it on.
Unfortunately, nothing was changing – the patchy look was remaining no matter how much paint we sprayed on. In the end we probably did 8-10 light easy coats (we made sure not to spray too close or heavy, especially since this is what we thought was causing the patchiness). When we realized nothing was changing with the paint anymore and our efforts were useless, we decided to call it a day. Maybe tomorrow it would look less patchy, we thought.
Well, we were right.
I think because of the nature of this colour / style of paint, it is supposed to look like textured metal. As soon as we brought them out of the sun the paint looked more even – less patchy, more textured. And since we had put it on so thick, no green was showing through at all.
The only thing I need to touch up a bit is the area right around the key hole, since we didn’t tape with as much precision as we should have.
Other than that, we are thrilled with the results, especially after having such bad luck getting the even coat we wanted the day before. We love the sparkly-ness of the lockers, and how dark they turned out!
Here's the rundown of what we learned.
- Paint outside / in a garage. The stuff smells, and it gets everywhere.
- Buy more primer than you think you need. And more paint. You will need it.
- Wash and scrape the crap out of your metal piece before you spray. Everything shows through, so even if it seems like just a bit of sticker grime, scrape it off, because otherwise you will just make it more permanent and noticeable with your paint.
- Paint outside when it’s windy and sunny. The wind was a big issue for us and more ended up on my face than did on the lockers. The sun was just an issue for us because it really threw off the colour and texture of the lockers and looked totally different once we got inside.
- Do all the spraying yourself. After a total of 5 full cans of spray paint, my hands were exhausted. Seriously – check out this pic of me crazily gripping the can using my thumbs to press down because my other fingers couldn’t hack it anymore. And my forearms are sore today! Craziness. Get a friend to help (in this case, Lindsay’s freestyling personality wasn’t exactly ideal for the job, so she helped with the other parts of the project).
- Expect perfection. Spray paint can get you closer than regular paint – there are no brush strokes. But expect to have to do a few touch-ups at the end.
For now they are sitting at my parent’s house so the paint can cure up nice and strong. Then when we move in July they will come to the new apartment, potentially to hold our TV, or act as a dresser in our bedroom. We’ll see!