Guest Column - July/August 2004
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Shutting the Door on Locker Maintenance

By Valerie Bonney

Nearly all locker rooms have similar types of challenges. Water and moisture threaten to "unhinge" many locker rooms, and vandalism is always a problem. More locker space and less maintenance are items on most facility managers' wish lists.

Replacing old lockers is a great way to give facilities an updated appearance, while solving many traditional locker problems and helping to reduce maintenance time and costs. Solid plastic lockers and benches are an innovative solution for today's locker rooms. They are available in a range of sizes and colors—from stone patterns to beige or bright teal—that coordinate with toilet partitions and accessories. A range of locker sizes are available such as half- and quarter-height, as well as cubby lockers for areas that do not require locking doors.

Solid plastic lockers have numerous advantages over metal lockers. Plastic is resistant to denting and scratching, never needs painting, and is impervious to moisture—lockers will not rust or corrode. Dirt and graffiti can be easily wiped away with everyday cleansers. Moreover, lockers can be customized with different hooks, shelves, number plates and doors to provide just the right fit for any facility.

Lockers 101

When specifying plastic lockers, there are several important features to keep in mind. The best lockers will offer:

  • Boxes constructed of a single-sheet of High-Density Polyethylene (HDPE) with welded top and bottom frame joints to eliminate metal fasteners or dovetail joints.
  • Full-length, piano-hinged latch bars constructed of heavy-duty stainless steel. This prevents tampering along the full length of the door.
  • Latch handles that are ergonomically designed and ADA compliant (operate with less than five pounds of force).

A little planning early on can save time and avoid future headaches. For example, be sure to think about where and how the lockers will be used. Take traffic flow and volume into account when designing or updating existing locker rooms. Also, listen to locker room users. The answers they give may help you determine which size lockers would be the best fit and will ensure that visitors appreciate the new facilities.

Also, consider the other locker room accessories. Matching solid plastic pedestal benches are available and provide a cost-effective seating choice. Unlike wood benches, plastic pedestals don't scratch and never require staining. Another alternative is the locker bench, which has a floor-height locker built in below the seat. Locker benches are ideal for additional storage of sports equipment.

Case in point

Few facilities have the vast number of different locker facilities and locations as the Chicago Park District. Chicago's park system is a network of more than 220 facilities covering 7,300 acres throughout the city. Many of the parks feature recreation centers that have become the cornerstone of neighborhood activities. These facilities offer senior, early childhood and after-school programs that include swimming, basketball and gymnastics.

Over the past five years, the district has been installing new solid plastic lockers as part of ongoing restroom and locker room renovations. Most recently, the old metal lockers at Independence Park were replaced. They had become dented, scratched and were corroding. New lockers were chosen for the Independence Park project based on the district's experience with the lockers over the past few years at its other facilities. They have proven to be durable enough to withstand the everyday abuses and will stand up to the park's 400 to 500 daily users.

"Plastic lockers have been a money-saver for the district; we are very pleased with them and have had no maintenance problems," says Anthony Hayes, project manager in facility management for the Chicago Park District. "The new lockers are clean and modern—they have improved the overall look of our locker rooms and ensure the safety of users' belongings. They also improve the overall atmosphere. Our patrons keep the locker rooms cleaner because the facilities look great, and they want to keep them that way."

Valerie Bonney is the product manager for Lenox Lockers at Bradley Corporation. For more information, call 800-BRADLEY or visit