Can You Paint Over Mold?

You are about to paint your walls when you noticed some awful markings: it’s mold. You can often tell by peeling paint and nasty discoloration to the walls behind the paint. Does this sound familiar? Now you are hesitating—can you paint over mold? Short answer: absolutely not.

But let’s expand on that, shall we? Painting over mold may seem logically at the start, but it’s ultimately a detriment to the future of your home. Here’s why.

Why You Should Not Paint Over Mold

If you see some splotches of mold on your wall and think, “I’ll just go ahead and paint over that,” you do not realize it now, but that decision merely delays the inevitable. Painting over mold does not seal it in, kill it, or even prevent it from growing. Sooner or later, it comes back and it does so with a vengeance, usually far worse than it was the last time.

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Here is what happens: you paint over the wall and call it a day. Well, like a kid who hides toys under their bed, it does not actually fix the problem. Like the child’s messy room, the mess underneath the paint is still there. What you have actually done is give the mold a food source. Oh yes, specifically water-based—otherwise known as latex-based—will actually feed the mold, growing what could have been an easy fix into something far worse.

Then there are the kind of surfaces to worry about. Mold really likes surfaces that are porous. This means there is more spacing in the surface itself. Drywall and wood, for example, are two examples of porous material. It’s why wet wood is wet on the inside; the pores allowed water to get in. It’s also why bathrooms are notorious for getting mold.

Since latex paint is water-based, it does not matter if the paint is laced with chemicals, mold will still feed on its water content. And since you are probably painting drywall, its porous nature will soak up the moisture and the mold will feed upon it.

The Health Risks

Then there are health risks to consider. This is especially concerning if you plan on selling the place you are painting, or renting it off to a family, or even living in it yourself. Human lives are at risk should you choose to cover the mold with paint, and ignore the problem entirely.

Since the problem never left, the mold has the opportunity to spread. And when it does, it is spreading its toxic fumes, causing side effects such as:

  • Stuffy nose
  • Wheezing
  • Red and or itchy eyes and skin
  • Fever
  • Shortness of breath
  • Upper respiratory tract symptoms
  • Intense reactions from individuals with asthma

The CDC has an entire page dedicated to the findings of what individuals experienced when they breathe indoor mold, the kind that would generally appear on your walls.

Declining Property Value

If property value is a concern, here is a tip: painting over mold will cost you a lot of money down the road. It is not uncommon for a landlord or homeowner to paint over mold in the hopes of saving some cash. But in their haste to save money, they end up dooming themselves to a much higher bill when they or professionals have to break down the drywall to remove the wall.

Speaking of drywall, using mold preventing paint won’t work either. Like the name suggests, it prevents mold, but it does not kill it. In other words, it’s proactive, not reactive.

The mold will, unfortunately, only keep coming back. It’s like that saying, “You are only delaying the inevitable.” Make the right move and remove the mold before you paint. Check out our guide on how to remove mold. But if you aren’t comfortable doing that, or feel you won’t do the job right, by all means consult a local professional.

How to Prevent Mold After Remediation

Once you have had the mold removed, either by you using a natural remedy or done so professionally, it is once again safe to paint on the wall. But before you press a paintbrush against the wall, you should highly consider taking extra precautions to prevent mold from growing again—especially in high chance areas like bathrooms. Sure, there is a bit of extra work involved, but that just means your family, or any future residents, will be safe against mold. Pay it forward!

1. Apply mold-resistant primer before painting.

Primer is already excellent at helping paint adhere to your wall and staying there. It does this by virtue of being an adhesive and blocking porous surfaces. Surfaces like brick and drywall almost always need a layer of primer before you paint. And it just so happens there are mold-resistant primers (View on Amazon) that work doubly well.

2. Humidity breeds mold.

If there is one surefire fact: mold loves moisture. It’s the kind of environment it needs to spread. And what spreads moisture well? Humidity. With higher percentages of humidity, more water vapor is being carried in the air, which means more water vapor is traveling and providing mold with opportunities to plant its gross roots and spread.

There are two ways to control humidity: proper ventilation and dehumidifiers (View on Amazon). With better ventilation, air can more freely move through your home and displace any lingering water vapor. Dehumidifiers, on the other hand, dry the air around you. Just don’t use it too much to the point you give yourself a nosebleed.

It also goes without saying, don’t forget to seal up any areas in your home that are prone to leaking like pipes and faucets.

Never Paint Over Mold!

If you want to make sure that your home has a nice finish, you need to make sure not to paint over mold. This will make the paint job look cheap and unprofessional. Making sure that you get rid of the mold before you paint over it will make the finish look like it was done by a professional. Painting your home is one form of home improvement but there are many more.

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Wrap Up

In conclusion, you should never paint over mold. You are not only delaying the inevitable, but nurturing it into a much bigger problem. In the end, you will only pay for it twice over if you decide to hide it with a bit of paint.

Remove the mold first. In doing so, you bypass future health risks and make the home a much safer environment. After it’s removed, you can move to using preventative measures and, ultimately, painting your walls again.