School Hallway Lockers Made of High-Density Polyethylene (HDPE)

New fire code-approved HDPE plastic lockers provide green school advantages
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Sponsored by Scranton Products
Peter J. Arsenault, FAIA, NCARB, LEED AP
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Part 3 Execution:

• Installation: HDPE lockers are installed in similar fashion to other lockers, but manufacturer's instructions and approved shop drawings should always be consulted. The lockers will be set plumb, level, and fully aligned all resting either directly on the floor or on a specified base. The lockers shall then be attached to adjacent supporting walls or other construction with anchors best suited to the substrate conditions.

Adjusting: Once installed, all locker doors, locks, latches should be inspected and adjusted if needed to assure smooth and consistent operation.

• Cleaning and maintenance: solid HDPE lockers are as close to being totally maintenance-free as possible. However, during installation and routine use, they may become soiled. Typically, they can be cleaned satisfactorily by using water from an ordinary garden hose. If this does not do the job, a pressure nozzle or power washer can be used. Household detergents or any non-abrasive industrial strength cleaner can be used on the HDPE while mineral spirits or acetone will remove any glue. (Just be careful on the hardware). Repair cuts and scratches by burnishing the surface with a smooth round object, such as a spoon or screwdriver handle. Using the smooth round object, apply pressure to the cut or scratched surface and burnish with a blow dryer or heat gun, not against the cut or scratch.


Ocean City High School, Ocean City, New Jersey
Ocean City High School, Ocean City, New Jersey

Ocean City High School was the winner of a 2004 Excellence in Construction Award from the Associated Builders and Contractors of South Jersey.

Ocean City High School was the winner of a 2004 Excellence in Construction Award from the Associated Builders and Contractors of South Jersey. ( ocean_city_high_school.htm)

When building their new high school in Ocean City, New Jersey, the facility staff of Ocean City High School wanted to avoid all the maintenance issues associated with corrosion. Since the school was located just a few miles away from the shore they had a lot of problems in the past with metal lockers that were rusting and corroding due to the high moisture and salt content coming into the building. They were also tired of the high costs and staff time associated with removing graffiti and with the continual replacement of parts due to the metal lockers denting and scratching. So when they had the opportunity to provide input on building the new school, they shopped hard for locker material options by comparing quality in addition to price. HDPE lockers stood out above the rest due to all of the positive and durable features and benefits associated with the material.

In the seven years since the HDPE lockers were installed at Ocean City High School, there have been no reports of locker breakins; no doors have required replacement and there has been no noticeable scratching. Further, graffiti has been quickly and easily wiped off which has saved substantial maintenance costs due to not having to repaint the metal lockers every other year. Robert Gannon, director of facilities at Ocean City High School, stated, “In the past, maintaining metal lockers was a nightmare. With plastic lockers, we cut our maintenance time from three to four weeks to just two to three days, and cleaning graffiti went from days to minutes. I couldn’t be happier.” He has also noted, “In seven years, we’ve never had to replace a single door or had a single breakin… amazing!”



HDPE lockers are a durable, code-compliant, cost-effective alternative for school lockers used in corridors. They are impact, scratch, and dent resistant, and are commonly built tough with a solid latching mechanism to provide durability and heightened security. A non-porous surface resists odors, mold, mildew, and graffiti, making HDPE lockers easy to maintain and worry-free. They can be specified as fire rated/ NFPA 286 compliant and to contribute to green building criteria. They will never rust, corrode, or delaminate while resisting odors, mildew, mold, and graffiti at the same time. Their quiet close operation helps to reduce hallway noise and the impact on surrounding classrooms. In short, they give architects, facility managers, and school administrators cause to rethink using plastic HDPE lockers in school hallway corridors.

Peter J. Arsenault, FAIA, NCARB, LEED AP, practices, consults, and writes about sustainable design and practice solutions nationwide.


Scranton Products
Scranton Products brands of plastic toilet compartments and lockers have dominated the market for over a quarter of a century, setting new benchmarks for the industry in quality and innovation. Their well-known brands feature some of the most durable, low-maintenance, and best products in the



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Originally published in Architectural Record
Originally published in January 2014