Can you paint over mold?

David J. Allen

I spent the better part of 2 ½ years learning about mold and indoor air quality because my child's life depended on it. Now I help others avoid ever having to experience the same thing. The mold industry suffers from conflicting opinions and I do my best to distill loads of data into something practical and useful. I love hearing from and helping readers. • "A house desecrated by mildew, mold, or fungus would be a defiled place to live in, so drastic measures had to be taken." — Leviticus 14:45

Homeowners frequently want to know whether they can simply cover up their newly discovered mold problem with a fresh coat of paint. Although the answer is technically yes, it’s not a good idea to do so.

While painting over mold growth may be easier and quicker than taking the time to properly remove it, it doesn’t actually solve the problem. It’s kind of like putting a bandaid on a serious cut; covering it may help you forget that it’s there, but it won’t change the fact that you’ll eventually need stitches. And in the meantime, that hidden problem will only get worse.

Painting Over Mold Doesn’t Stop Its Growth

When you paint over a mold infestation, the only problem it will temporarily solve is you having to look at it. However, the fungus will continue growing underneath, and you’ll soon see evidence of that in the form of the paint chipping, peeling, and bubbling. By the time you realize that the new paint was a short-term, inadequate solution, you’ll have a larger mold problem to deal with than you originally did.

The Paint Won’t Prevent Health Issues

Even if you’ve disguised your mold issue with a thick coat of paint, the spores can still present health hazards to you, your family members, and your pets. Some of the symptoms you may experience include sore throat, congestion, skin rashes, coughing, eye irritation, and wheezing.

What About Mold-Resistant Paint?

You may have heard about special mold-resistant paint, and if so, you’re probably wondering if that’s an exception to these rules. The answer is a resounding no. Although mold-resistant paints and primers typically do a great job of preventing mold growth, they’re ineffective when it comes to eliminating existing infestations. Once you’ve managed to thoroughly clean and destroy the mold from your wall, you can use mold-resistant paint or primer on the area to avoid regrowth. But simply layering it over a flourishing mold colony will not solve your problem.

What Should You Do Instead of Painting Over Mold?

When you have a mold problem on your walls, you need to take the time to properly clean and remove it (or hire professionals to handle it for you). Before you start the process, you’ll want to ventilate the area and gather the necessary safety equipment; a breathable mask, protective eyewear, and rubber gloves should be sufficient.

Next, you’ll need to apply a mold-killing agent to the growth. You can use an anti-fungal spray from the store, or you can dilute bleach or vinegar with water to create your own solution. Cover the affected area with the liquid, let it sit for an hour or so, and then scrub the spores away with a bristled brush. Once all the mold is gone and the area completely dry, you can then apply mold-resistant primer or paint to ensure that the fungus doesn’t come back any time soon. 

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