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Guest Column - March 2004

Choosing the Right Lockers for Recreational Facilities

Locker Rooms and Restrooms

By Jeff Gordon


Selecting the right locker size and style for a particular facility involves a lot of good old-fashioned common sense. Here are five simple rules to keep in mind.

RULE #1: Buy "enough locker" to meet your anticipated needs. For example, the standard sheet-metal locker features 16-gauge doors and frames with 24-gauge body parts. This is more than adequate for many applications. If, however, you consider your facility subject to "heavy use and abuse," you may want to upgrade your locker specs to heavy-duty construction, which features 14-gauge doors and 16-gauge body parts. More steel obviously means greater abuse resistance.

You can further enhance the durability of your locker room by specifying all-welded construction, which ensures maximum abuse resistance. Although the initial cost is higher, all-welded lockers offer longer service life and can be set in place and anchored in a fraction of the time required for on-site assembly.

RULE #2: Choose the paint finish that fits your application. Here again, the standard enamel finish (either baked-on or powder coated) is adequate for many applications. On the other hand, if your locker room is high humidity, consider a corrosion-resistant finish or use of galvanealed steel. At least one manufacturer also now offers an antimicrobial finish that prevents bacterial and mold growth on locker surfaces, as well as the touch transfer of microbes on locker handles and doors. This space-age finish is growing in popularity, particularly in health clubs, schools and hospital facilities.

RULE #3: Do not overlook the importance of proper ventilation. Standard door louvers—regular or mini—are not designed to provide thorough ventilation. If your priorities include reducing odor through increased ventilation, optional diamond perforations will fill the bill while adding an appealing design element to the locker door fronts.

If maximum available ventilation is required, along with visual inspection to encourage neatness and/or discourage storage of unauthorized articles, consider lockers made of 13-gauge expanded metal, which provide approximately 74-percent unobstructed ventilation.

In the case of both diamond perforations and expanded metal, the ventilation pattern can be repeated on locker sides and backs for additional air circulation.

RULE #4: Keep in mind special considerations. For example, if your lockers must accommodate coat hangers, you will need 18-inch deep lockers (minimum) or the hangers won't fit.

Also, if the lockers are not recessed into a wall, you may want to consider closed bases and/or sloping tops to enhance aesthetics and to facilitate cleaning.

You may also want to include handicap-accessible lockers in your installation. These lockers feature a low-profile design and easy-to-reach, easy-to-open handles. A typical handicap-accessible handle, for example, requires less than a 20-percent downward rotation to pop the door open, and the handle returns to the closed position automatically.

Deluxe club lockers include such amenities as a lockable inside compartment, door trays, mirror and towel bar in addition to large, roomy interiors for apparel, footwear, equipment and personal belongings.

There are a wide variety of lock options available, including coin-operated lockers that are becoming increasingly popular in public locker facilities because they eliminate the need for assigned locker locations. End users simple select any available locker. A coin activates the lock and releases the key. When the locker is reopened the coin is returned or retained (your option), and the key is recaptured.

Another locking system that is gaining in popularity is the single point latch. It has no moving parts and is securely welded to the locker body, providing a firm seat for repetitive door openings and closings. The door is held closed magnetically.

RULE #5: The locker style you choose must meet your end users' storage requirements within constraints of available space. Single-tier lockers provide the most storage capacity but at the highest cost per person and with the least efficient use of space. If your storage needs involve long coats or heavy winter wear, you will have to give serious consideration to single-tier lockers, which also have a storage shelf for personal effects.

If you have determined that full-height storage isn't required, you next should consider double-tier lockers, which will accommodate twice as many people as single-tier lockers in the same square footage. Double-tier lockers are tall enough (the standard height of a locker opening is 30 inches or 36 inches) to store car coat length outerwear and umbrellas. Hats can be hung from a side hook.

Double-tier lockers are ideal for use in areas where winters are fairly mild, thus eliminating the need for bulky outerwear and related gear.

The next step down—triple-tier lockers—are very popular in regions featuring three seasons, where only light jackets are required on cool days. The standard height of a triple-tier locker opening is either 20 inches or 24 inches, with widths up to 15 inches and depths from 12 inches to 21 inches in 3-inch increments.

Multiple-tier lockers are available four-, five- and six-tiers high. They work well if your storage needs are limited to purses, lunches and other personal effects. These lockers can accommodate a large number of people in a relatively small area but are very limited in storage capacity.

Multiple-tier lockers also have limited lock options—pull handles with built-in padlock hasps are standard, with built-in key locks optional.

Getting back to our original promise, locker selection involves a lot of good ol' common sense. The goal is to select lockers that fit both your needs and budget. As you can see, there are many options to consider when making a locker purchasing decision. Careful evaluation of your specific locker usage factors will maximize your return on investment and keep your locker facilities attractive and functional at the lowest possible cost.

Jeff Gordon is locker marketing manager for Lyon Workspace Products, LLC in Aurora, Ill. For more information and a complimentary copy of the Lyon Locker Selection Guide, call 800-323-0082.