July 16, 2013

Locker Console Update: Sealing and Waiting

Since we first told you about our plans for turning an old army locker we found at an alley sale into a console for our kitchen, we've made some slow but steady progress with the project. As you know, first we gave the locker a thorough cleaning and stripped down the majority of paint layers it had undergone over the years to reveal and industrial, layered metal finish...

If you missed the first stage, get all the details for this first part of the process and paint stripping in this post.

I knew I wanted to seal the locker with a high gloss finish to give it a polished looking sheen, but to also seal in the metal and protect from any further rust or damage to the locker. Finding the right sealer and application method for this finishing coat has been a little bit of an adventure, so for the sake of keeping it real, I'll detail out how we've figured out what finally worked best for sealing off the locker in the end.

After getting the locker stripped down of paint to our liking, I started cleaning the entire outer surface and door to make sure it was completely clear of dirt and debris. Once the seal starts to go on, there's no turning back!

I first wiped everything down with a cloth, then gave the locker a final sanding:

Next up in the prep process was scrubbing down with a sponge and a final wipe down with a cloth:

You can see why I needed to clean this sucker before getting started. Dirt can be deceiving!

When it was time to start sealing the locker, I first decided to try a spray on version of Rust-Oleum Crystal Clear Enamel in the glossy finish:

This has worked well in other projects we've tackled (like the wood slice side table, step stool makeover and wall storage pallet projects), so I thought it might do the trick here as well.

To my disappointment, as hard as I tried to spray thinly and evenly, the finish never gave me that even coat and sheen we were ultimately hoping for. While it dried in record time and was smooth to the touch, it actually came out looking a little spotty and I ended up using an entire can on one side of the locker. It was a #FAIL in my book, but at least we were smart enough to begin testing this phase of the project on the bottom side of the locker that won't be seen by anyone once all is said and done. We'll stick to using the spray finish on the smaller projects it's worked so well on in the past for us.

So it was onto the next method — liquid lacquer in a clear gloss finish to be manually brushed onto the surface:

This type of lacquer is typically used on wood surfaces, but we wanted to give it a try on the metal. 

After a quick switchover to the liquid lacquer and a bristle brush, things finally got moving on this finish coat, giving us those even high gloss results we'd been after:

After coating the locker, I moved on to carefully seal the door:

I don't yet have sawhorses for the garage so I set up a makeshift stand for the door between 2 of our open ladders. Sometimes you just gotta use what you got and make it work!

Right now, I've gotten the entire outside of the locker and front face of the door coated in 2 even layers of the liquid lacquer and we're just waiting for the 2nd coat to fully dry before reassembling the door and beginning the next phase of the project:

The dry time for the finish has taken a considerably longer time than we anticipated. The can claims it takes roughly 2 hours to dry, but it's been taking about a solid week or more for ours to completely dry without being a little tacky to the touch. This is probably due to the metal surface (since the product is typically used on wood which is porous) but it's also been very humid here this summer with several rainy days, which might be another contributing cause to the slower dry time.

I'm not sure if you can see the raindrops in this alley shot, but I was able work in the garage on this project one afternoon while a rain shower passed through:

Next, we hope to build out a base and legs for the locker to rest on and act as a console table. We'll continue to let you know how it progresses and are already thinking of how we'll rearrange different things in the kitchen once we have it in place. We're both excited to have a little extra storage and counter space to work with.

While all the notes about materials might seem trivial, we thought it might be helpful to put them down here in case anyone is tackling a similar project and also just to show if one method isn't working, don't give up until you find something that does work. DIY can be as much of a problem solving process as anything — infuriating at times and super satisfying when finding the key to making it work.

What longterm projects have you been meaning to get to?

Update: We completed the locker console and love using it in our kitchen! See all the final pics in this project post.


  1. I've used that Rustoleum enamel on a ton of small projects with great results too - super shiny and dries hard as a rock. What a bummer that it didn't work on the locker. I would've expected it to be a home run too. The minwax looks great though! Can't wait to see when you guys get it all finished. That patina is gorgeous!

    1. Jillian I believe the last coat went on last night and it really does look quite amazing. Cannot wait to share the final details with you!


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