One of the most common problems in bathrooms, laundry rooms, and other areas of the house that receive a lot of moisture is the growth of mildew and mold. Mildew and mold are types of fungi that grow on surfaces in the home. Besides looking and smelling unpleasant, they can cause a range of health problems including asthma and allergy flare-ups.
Just painting a surface is not enough to prevent mildew and mold, as these spores can form beneath the paint. However, you can take steps during the painting process to prevent their growth.
Make Sure Any Mildew Is Gone
This seems like a no-brainer, but many people paint over old layers of paint or wallpaper without checking to see if the wall is healthy first. If the existing substrate or coating already has mildew on it, it’s only a matter of time before it peeks through the new paint layer.
You can tell if there is mildew on a wall if you notice black or gray spots in the paint and a strange, musty odor. Use a mixture of diluted bleach to clean the mildew. Wash the surface with a gentle rag and let the bleach dry for at least 48 hours before painting.
If you notice persistent mold or mildew growth in one spot, make sure there isn’t a leak that will cause problems even after you repaint.
Prime the Surface
Skipping primer may save you time, but it will cause you headaches down the line. Primer is important because it protects the wall’s surface from moisture and other foreign particles. Just one extra step decreases the likelihood of developing mildew.
When you’re shopping for primer, look for one that is specifically for the bathroom or other areas that receive a lot of moisture. Some primers have mildewcide, a chemical additive that stops mildew from developing. Using the right products can help stop mildew.
Choosing the Right Paint
Certain types of paint are more resistant to mildew than others. Your best option is paint with a mildewcide additive or special bathroom paint with a formula that is tailored to moist environments. High-gloss, high-quality latex paint is another good option as the gloss repels moisture.
Matte latex paint or lower quality formulas are not mildew-resistant and will develop mold in your bathroom or other areas where there is a lot of moisture. Oil-based paints or alkyds are also not as good for resisting mildew.
Once you are done painting, there are still some steps you can take to prevent mildew growth. One of those is proper ventilation. Something as simple as opening the window after you take a shower dispels some of the moisture and prevents it from collecting along your painted surface.
Mildew and mold are common guests in the home, especially in areas that experience a lot of moisture such as bathrooms and laundry rooms. However, they are not inevitable by any means. Thoroughly cleaning the surface of any mildew before painting, using a primer with mildewcide, and choosing a high-quality paint can prevent mildew.