How to Choose the Right Paint for a School Building Remodel?

Eddie Shekari
February 11, 2021

Choosing the colors that students will pass in the hallways of their school day after day, year after year, might seem as simple as matching the walls to the school colors, but the selection process is a lot more nuanced. Color theory, which offers insight into an environmental stimulus’s effects on mood and learning outcomes, has a significant role in selecting the right color of paint for a school building. So what exactly is the selection process like?

3 types of paint

What Are the 3 Types of Paint?

Before anything else, it’s important to determine what kind of paint is already on your walls, so you use materials that will work well with one another, in addition to ensuring the safety of staff and students working and learning in the school building:

Lead-Based Paint

Lead-based paint is generally thicker than non-leaded paints, so it tends to crack in a very distinct manner called alligatoring (It’s given this name because the cracks often have a pattern similar to alligator skin. Lead paint is considered toxic to humans, especially children under six, and should be safely removed and replaced with a latex or oil-based paint.

Latex Paint

Latex paints give off the least amount of volatile organic compounds, meaning they’re the safest and healthiest type of paint for a school building. They are also less durable than oil paints. It is important to remember that oil-based paints can be applied over latex, but latex paint cannot be applied on top of oil-based paint because it will not stick.

Oil-Based Paint

Oil paint is the most durable option of the three, but it will take significantly longer to dry, and the cleaning process is more involved since it requires paint thinners. This type of paint is best for window skills, trim, and any other high-traffic areas.

kinds of paint for school

What Kind of Paint Do They Use in Schools?

The type of paint you choose depends on a few factors:


Oil paint is thicker and more durable than latex paint, making it a great option for high-traffic areas like baseboards, trim, doors, and windowsills. However, oil paint is not a good choice for large areas as it can impact asthma and other breathing conditions among children and adults.

Health Impact

Health impact is a major reason to opt for water-based latex paint as opposed to an oil-based variety. Oil paints not only have more volatile compounds that are released into the air, but they also take longer to dry, increasing the span of time students and teachers might fall ill if you’re painting while school is in session.

Local and State Laws 

Some municipalities have specific rules regarding what type of paint is allowed to be used in schools. Washington DC, for example, prohibits the use of mercury and lead-based paints in their school buildings, in addition to requiring all large painting projects to be completed using latex paint to lessen the potential for adverse health effects.


best color for school building

What Color is Best for Painting a School Building?

Now that we’ve covered Paint 101, it’s time to dive into the color theory fun you were promised. It’s important to understand the mental and emotional effects of each color and align those choices with the type of environment you want to create, striving for a balance between over and under-stimulation:


  • Stimulant
  • Provokes conversation
  • Improves performance/concentration
  • Spurs action

Best For: Gymnasiums


  • Uplifting
  • Stimulates critical thinking and memorization
  • Increases appetite

Best For: Cafeterias


  • Promotes awareness
  • Helps to release serotonin for happy mood

Best For: Classrooms (in small doses)


  • Calming effect
  • Stress reliever
  • Promotes concentration

Best For: Libraries


  • Enhances creativity and alertness
  • Promotes tranquility
  • Improves overall health, memory, and mood
  • Lessens fatigue and depression

Best For: Classrooms


  • Represents wisdom and authority
  • Respectful

Best For: Administrative offices and auditoriums


  • Soothing
  • Reduces heart rate
  • Energizing effect (with saturated shades)
  • Comforting effect (with paler shades)

Best For: Gymnasiums (with saturated shades)


  • Promotes sophistication, security, and efficiency
  • The absence of color

Best For: Exposed structures


  • Conveys sterility, simplicity, clarity, and purity
  • Hygienic

Best For: Corridors and lobbies (with the school colors/logo as an accent)


Pro Painters – Best-in-Class Service

If your school building requires a little TLC, or if you’re just wanting to get a jump on your preventative maintenance plan, hiring a team of professionals is the best way to ensure that the job is done quickly, neatly, and professionally. Our team of Pros has experience with commercial-sized projects, so whether you?re looking to put a fresh coat of paint on a single hallway or shopping around for a fully designed color scheme for your entire campus, Pro Painters is the A+ choice

To learn more about choosing paint for a school building or to receive a free estimate, contact Pro Painters for a paint job that’s best in class.

Free Estimate

Eddie Shekari

Eddie founded Pro Painters in 1995 to meet the growing need for high-quality residential and commercial painting needs in Houston. In nearly 20 years, Pro Painters has exponentially grown our client base, serving residents across the greater Houston area. Our core principles have helped us achieve the highest standard of workmanship and customer satisfaction. Our years of experience have allowed us to become an extension to our customers as the all-in-one solution for home makeovers.