The Right Combination

May 1, 1997
Until a decade ago, a locker was a locker was a locker. Not anymore. Today, lockers can be custom-designed into configurations that best fit a school's

Until a decade ago, a locker was a locker was a locker. Not anymore. Today, lockers can be custom-designed into configurations that best fit a school's specific needs and budget. An understanding of today's selections in lockers--options, features and accessories--can help a school save money, as well as make an informed locker decision that will meet real requirements.

The first step is to define, as precisely as possible, the degree of personal storage, strength and security needs the locker installation has to meet. If the largest item stored is a book bag or a change of gym shoes, the purchase of full-height, standard-sized lockers makes no sense. Nor will double- or triple-tier installations meet the needs for seasonal clothing, athletic equipment or art supplies. Fortunately, with today's selections, it is easy to meet virtually any contingency in the most economical way.

Know your body parts Each locker will have a back, top, bottom, sides and shelves. The standard general-use locker is made of 24-gauge steel. Where rougher use occurs, damage is usually done to locker shelves, bottoms and exposed ends (sides). Internal surfaces rarely are damaged. Most manufacturers will supply 16-gauge tops, and/or bottoms, and/or exposed sides as an alternate package. For a slight additional charge, most manufacturers will punch diamond-, square- or round-shaped ventilation perforations in locker sides.

Lockers are delivered either knock-down, for on-site assembly, or pre-assembled to save installation labor expenses. Pre-assembled lockers can be all-welded and generally are perceived as being more durable. All things being equal in terms of steel gauges, etc., knock-down lockers will be just as strong--at a considerable cost savings. Most knock-down lockers come with nuts and bolts for assembly, but most manufacturers supply rivets.

Many lockers are furnished with legs to rest directly on the floor, with closed bases also available. The most popular installation is on concrete bases or on continuous channel "Z" bases. These methods, while more expensive, provide better long-term appearance. Lockers for "Z" or concrete bases are furnished without legs.

Various accessories typically are available, including: -Slope tops. Available as individual tops or as continuous hoods in lengths up to 6-feet long. Slope tops prevent accumulation of trash or unwanted storage on top of lockers. -Locks. A locker supplier can give you a list of recommended locks. Most lockers will accept keyed or combination padlocks; flat or grooved key locks; or coin, token or card-operated locks. -Filler and trim. Filler and trim are a must for a completed and finished look to a locker installation.

Talk the talk When determining which locker to purchase, among the more economical choices are: -16-gauge door. -24-gauge body. -Standard handle and latching. -Knock-down with or without legs. -Flat top.

If you want extra ventilation, select lockers with perforations in the doors and sides. For improved appearance, ask for slope tops or hoods, recessed handles, a concrete or "Z" base, and fillers and trim. When it comes to durability, use stronger steel for parts most prone to abuse and change the gauge of: -Exposed sides from 24- to 16-gauge. -Shelves and bottoms from 24- to 16-gauge. -Doors from 16- to 14-gauge. -Tops from 24- to 16-gauge.

If you want even more durability, ask for 18-gauge backs and 16-gauge construction for all other body parts. For added security, specify single-point latching for use with padlocks, and 16-gauge tops and exposed ends. An 18-gauge back and 16-gauge body parts will provide even more durability and security.

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