Skip To ContentSkip To Content

    Thank you for your interest in creating a mural at your school. Please follow these guidelines for mural projects.

    Be sure to complete and submit a Self Help Application for Project Approval, signed by your school’s Principal. Please be specific in describing the area for the mural. We will respond to your Self Help Application with Conditions of Approval.

    If you will need access inside the building for the mural project during non-school hours, 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 for painted murals, 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. 

    • IMPORTANT: Review your mural’s theme and art concept with your principal for their sign-off.

    Project sponsor(s) and Principal shall sign the Self Help Application for Project Approval and return to Self Help Office acknowledging murals may need to be removed when the building is remodeled, the building needs painting or a new mural is slated to take its place.

    If you intend to recognize a project’s donors, Superintendent sign-off is required. Please let us know and we’ll provide further information on the process.

    Let us know if you intend to include the artists’ names in any form.

    Include a date on the mural(s). We do not consider murals to be long-term. After five or six years, often murals are no longer relevant, and it’s time for new artwork by current students and artists. 


    Review your mural’s theme and art concept with your principal for their sign-off.

    Let us know the location(s) where you would like to paint a mural. We will review the location and let you know:

    1. if your mural may be painted directly on the wall, or
    2. if your mural must be painted on plywood or similar product. After the mural is completed, the plywood would be affixed to the wall(s) by District personnel or a licensed/insured contractor. Please include the cost for installation in your budget planning.

    If your project is approved for painting directly on building wall, keep in mind that volunteers may paint only as high as they can reach while standing on the floor. Painting in stairwells, except at landings, is prohibited. If you wish to have a mural higher than six feet from the ground or along the stairs, then consider painting your mural on another material which is later installed. This approach provides flexibility on how volunteers are able to paint at ground-level.

    School buildings constructed prior to 1978 are assumed to have painted surfaces that contain lead. Therefore, paint preparation that entails scraping and sanding is not permitted at buildings older than 1978. Where existing paint is particularly flaking, only experienced, licensed professionals may address preparation based on a District-pre-approved Work Plan.

    We may be able to loan some tools from our Tool Library, such as paint brushes, depending on your project’s time frame. Contact us to arrange for pick-up and return.

    • For indoor painted murals, painting may not occur when student programs are in session, due to potential paint odor.

    For indoor painted murals, plan your painting event so that it is completed a minimum of 24 hours before the building is occupied by students.

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

    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.
    Upon completion of your project, provide brand, type, and colors used, for our records.

    For indoor painted murals,  only adults may paint, with the following exception for students: 

    EXCEPTION: Paint used normally in a school’s art program may be used by students to paint murals on plywood or similar material (not directly on a wall surface). 

    For outdoor painted murals, students may paint, following low VOCi requirements.

    If we have granted permission to directly paint on the wall(s), 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.

    Where washing is necessary, use 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, is nearly impossible to remove, so if there are any paint drips at all, please wash them immediately – paint does not scrape off rubber.

    Use masking paper and masking tape to protect all surfaces against drips and splatters – including floors and trim. Please pay close attention to base molding, since it is very difficult to remove paint splatters unless wiped-off immediately.

    We prohibit murals in stairwells adjacent to the steps, for the safety of volunteers. Murals at landings are acceptable.

    Keep a bucket of water and rags close at hand in order to immediately clean up any drips or spills.


    • Paint 
    • Paint can opener
    • Stir sticks
    • Paint Hardener
    • Latex or non-latex gloves
    • Bucket for water, rags for cleanup
    • Paint pans and/or paint cups
    • Paint brushes, various sizes depending on design
    • Garbage bags
    • Large sheet of cardboard for paint station when stirring and pouring paint
    • paint roller frames and roller covers in 9" and/or 4"
    • Mallet to tap lids back onto paint cans


    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.


    Review your mural’s theme and art concept with your principal for their sign-off.

    • Let us know where you would like to install a mural. Tile and mosaic murals must be affixed onto plywood or backer-board, rather than directly adhered to wall surface. After the mural is completed, the plywood/backer-board shall be affixed to the wall(s) by District personnel or a licensed/insured contractor. 

    It is a good idea to meet with the installer before adhering all mosaic pieces to the backer-board, to plan for the locations for installation hardware – mosaic pieces can be glued over the hardware upon installation.

    Please include the cost for installation in your budget planning.

    • If your mural is outdoors, and plan to include your school name, you must comply with the City of Seattle Land Use Code for signs and obtain a City sign permit. Include school’s address if relevant.

    • Avoid sharp edges or protrusions in the mosaic materials, particularly if mural is the be installed below 7 feet.

    • Include a date on the mural(s). We do not consider murals to be long-term. After five or six years, often murals are no longer relevant, and it’s time for new artwork by current students and artists.

    • We always welcome photos of your volunteers in action, as well as before- and after-photos showing off your fine accomplishments.

    Please send us photos of your project. Remember to send us your volunteer sign-in sheet.