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    Thank you for your interest to refresh the painted surfaces inside your school. Please follow these Guidelines for indoor painting projects.

    Be sure to complete and submit a Self Help Application for Project Approval, signed by your school’s Principal. Please be specific in outlining all areas where you plan to paint. We will respond to your Self Help Application with Conditions of Approval.

    Arrange with your school’s administration for building access. Please work with your school’s administrative staff to submit a request for a Building Use Permit (BUP) a minimum of three (3) weeks prior to your event. As part of the BUP application, be sure to request heat (in cooler seasons) and ventilation, as required below.

    Please have all volunteers sign-in with their names and emails or phone numbers.  You can find a sample template on the Self Help Projects web page  We encourage photos; however, if you take photos of volunteers, be sure they first acknowledge permission. 


    School buildings constructed prior to 1978 are assumed to have painted surfaces that contain lead –most often below two or three layers of newer non-lead paint. Therefore, paint preparation that entails scraping and sanding is not permitted in buildings older than 1978. Where existing paint is particularly flaking in buildings older than 1978, only experienced, licensed professionals may address preparation, following a District-pre-approved Work Plan.

    • Painting may not occur when student programs are in session, due to potential paint odor.
    • Plan your painting event so that it is completed a minimum of 24 hours before the building is occupied by students.
    • Use high quality paint. Only low- or no-VOC paint may be used indoors. Before purchasing, please submit information about the brand of paint you propose to use, so we can evaluate and approve.
    • Use egg-shell or similar sheen for most applications. Do NOT use flat paint, since it is very difficult to clean.
    • Provide paint information to the Self Help Projects Office for our records: brand, sheen, color, and color number.
    • Building ventilation must be operated during painting, and for up to 24 hours following painting, to ensure any VOCs adequately dissipate and that paint adequately dries.

    When your Building Use Permit request is submitted, please indicate that ventilation and heat are needed services. 

    • Only adults may paint for interior painting project – no students may paint.

    The only Exception is for murals painted indoors: students may paint, ONLY when using art-classroom-approved paint. See Guidelines for Murals.

    • While planning your project and paint quantities, keep in mind that volunteers may paint only as high as they can reach while standing on the floor. Extender poles may be useful for some surfaces. In consideration of safety, we do not allow volunteers to paint at stairwells.
    • We have seen great success with painting only to arm’s reach when painting the same color as existing color, since most of the worn paint is usually found from shoulder-height down to floor:  affix masking tape along a line approximately six feet from floor. Paint to that line.


    • Most often, we are unable to provide paint for your project, but we may be able to loan some tools from our Tool Library, such as roller frames and extender poles, depending on your project’s timeframe. Contact us to arrange for pick-up and return.

    Materials and tools planning list:

    • Paint
    • Paint can opener
    • Stir sticks
    • Masking paper and masking tape
    • Bucket for water, rags for cleanup
    • Large sheet or cardboard to use for paint station when stirring and pouring paint
    • Paint pans
    • Late or non-latex gloves
    • Paint brushes
    • Paint edgers and edger pads
    • Extender poles
    • Paint roller frames and roller covers in 9" and/or 4"
    • Garbage bags
    • Paint hardener
    • Mallet


    • Properly preparing for your painting project will ensure a beautiful result. Keep in mind that thorough preparation ahead of actual painting can take as long as painting itself, so plan accordingly when scheduling your project. Most successful projects set aside several hours on a day ahead of the project for preparation –washing and masking.  Protect all surfaces against drips and splatters.
    • Wash walls, using only cool water, and a damp sponge with soft-scrub on one side to address tough marks. Do not use cleaning products. Residual film can affect proper adhesion of paint.
    • Tape masking paper in place on the floor along ALL edges of walls to be painted.
    • Tape and use masking paper along all base trim, especially if it is rubber molding. Splatters on rubber molding soaks in and is nearly impossible to remove, so if there are any paint drips at all, please wash them immediately – paint does not scrape off rubber.
    • Mask ceilings with paper and tape along edges of all walls – most ceiling products soak in paint, making any errant marks impossible to remove. Mask all trim with tape. 


    • Set up a paint station on the floor, using a large sheet of cardboard or doubled masking paper. Place in a central location within the painting project. Place all paint and supplies at the paint station. When pouring paint into pans and cups, do this ONLY over the painting station cardboard to minimize paint drips.

    • We strongly recommend assigning one or two volunteers to be solely responsible for the paint station – managing paint, pouring paint, managing supplies, immediately addressing drips and spills, etc.

    • When pouring paint, only pour a small amount of paint into pans or cups to avoid spills and soggy rollers and brushes.

    • While painting, keep a bucket half-filled with water and rags close at hand, in order to immediately clean up any drips or spills. When water becomes soiled, empty water into designated sink (never over a storm drain.)

    • Demonstrate to volunteers how to properly apply paint with brush and/or roller. Some people have never painted before and benefit from a lesson.

    • When all painting is complete, carefully remove all masking tape and paper and follow cleanup and disposal directions. Leave the masking paper on the floor until the very last thing to protect the floor. Look for any drips on the floors or trim and scrub clean.


    •  Talk with your school Custodian prior to starting project to identify which sink to use for cleanup. Never wash items over a storm drain – in order to prevent harm to our waterways and wildlife.


    • Return all tools to central location for sorting. Determine which items need cleaning, which are to be tossed, and which simply need to be packed up.
    • Bring all paint to central location for sorting. Combine all like-color paint into as few containers as possible. Wipe edge clean and use mallet to firmly affix lid.
    • For small amounts of leftover paint, try to use it up by applying a second or third coat to game courts. For leftovers or odd colors, pour into an empty or nearly empty paint can up to 3/4 full, and then add paint hardener and stir. Paint will be hardened within 20 minutes or so. Leave lid off the can. The entire paint-can can be placed into a garbage bag which goes into the on-site garbage dumpster.
    • Place the following items into a doubled garbage bag: 
      -disposable brushes, roller covers, paint pans, paint cups, masking paper and/or cardboard that has paint splatters on it, tape, paper rags, empty paint cans with LIDS OFF, and cans containing hardened paint with LIDS OFF.
    • Tie bag(s) loosely --so paint dries on the way to the Transfer Station. Carefully place bag into school’s on-site garbage dumpster.
    • At designated sink, OR in a 5-gallon bucket half-full of water: wash all re-usable brushes, roller frames, and clean-up buckets. Set brushes and frames inside a bucket to drip-dry.  Wipe down sink and floor afterwards. Or, if you’ve used a bucket in which to clean roller frames (which we find easiest!), pour soiled water into designated sink after all washing is complete.

    Arrange for return of any borrowed tools.


    Please send us project photos. Remember to send us your volunteer sign-in sheet, and paint brand/color information.