Can I paint over mold with mold-resistant paint? Not really. Here’s why

There’s no such thing as “mold-killing paint”. Mold growth feeds on moisture, and paint contains water. If you paint over mold or mildew, it will continue to spread, even as the paint dries. Special mold-resistant paint can help contain it, but it’ll still be there. The only way to kill mold is to remove it by stringent cleaning or replacing the wood or drywall. If you don’t, you risk continued mold growth, respiratory issues, allergic reactions, harm to pets and kids, skin irritation, and structural damage.

There are different kinds of mold. They all have the same problems.

There are dozens of kinds of mold, and mold-inhibiting paint doesn’t solve all of the problems caused by many of them. This is one reason professional painters will try to identify the type of mold first, so a mold remediation professional can handle it if we can’t just cut out a section of the wall or ceiling. 

Black mold produces mycotoxins. These stains are usually black or dark green and looks almost slimy. It can sometimes be confused for mildew growth in small quantities. Black mold thrives in water-damaged areas, like a first-floor ceiling where water has dripped down from a roof leak or an upstairs bathroom. 

Penicillium mold is usually blue, green, or yellow, and is often found on food. But they can also grow on water-damaged building materials. 

If the name sounds familiar, it’s because some of these molds are used to produce penicillin, but other forms can be highly toxic.

Aspergillus mold is usually green, yellow, white, or black and produces mycotoxins. Simply painting over mold like this may slow mold spores from excreting into the air, but it finds a way like those stubborn weeds under your patio or between driveway slabs.

Cladosporium mold, as the name suggests, is full of spores. This is typically found outdoors, but it can grow on wood and fabrics in high-humidity rooms like laundry rooms and bathrooms. This is the kind of mold that frequently triggers asthma attacks and allergic reactions.

Alternaria mold is most common in damp environments like showers, basements, and kitchens. They’re usually dark green or brown splotches and produce similar reactions to people as Cladosporium.

In all these cases, mold removal experts recognize you have to identify what you’re dealing with before you can kill mold. 

So how does anti-mold paint work if it doesn’t kill mold?

Mold-resistant paints don’t kill mold; they just slow down its growth. They have antimicrobial additives like fungicides and biocides in them designed to prevent mold or mildew on the surface

The key is “on the surface.” You can physically paint over mold stains or mildew growth, but the residual mold is still there. Black mold in particular is like a festering cancer on walls, spreading over every surface and attacking the pores inherent in drywall and ceilings. 

Mold-resistant paint is designed to resist moisture, but they don’t eliminate it. They also contain higher pH levels that make them more acidic. But if you wouldn’t leave your mold removal to someone running a lemon over your walls, don’t cover mold with mold-killing primer or mold-resistant paint, either. 

Mold-resistant primer works just the same as mold-resistant paint

If a customer has told us they routinely suffer from mold growth on the surface of their walls and there is no indication a leaking roof or water damage causes it, we’ll sometimes use a mold-inhibiting primer and a mold-inhibiting paint. 

The benefits of these come from their ability to prevent mold growth in bathrooms or basements. Zinsser mold-killing primer is a good product, and Sherwin Williams makes some high-quality paints that work well in high-humidity rooms and environments. 

It might seem like using these products is an exercise in futility, but they do have a use. Exterior porch ceilings, areas near where bathroom fans vent, and even around or inside air ducts or old, porous drywall can be ideal candidates for people hyper-sensitive to mold. 

The health risk of covering mold can be dire

Kids, seniors, and anyone with respiratory issues are at the highest risk from mold infestation. We’ve seen houses where contractors have painted surfaces to hide mold exposure, presumably to save money and turn the project around quicker. This is almost criminally negligent, and failure to disclose it can seriously harm people, almost like knowing the furnace leaks carbon monoxide and instead of dealing with it someone covered a hole with a towel.

Here in California and in most other states, you have a legal obligation to disclose known defects or issues that could affect the value of a property before it’s sold. If you’re aware of mold, you’re likely facing a “material defect”, or at the very least know about the presence of harmful materials on par with asbestos or lead-based paint.

Mold releases spores, even when it’s been covered up with paint. This increases:

  • Allergens in the air.
  • Can cause allergic reactions that yield skin irritation, scratching, burning eyes, rashes, and itching.
  • Fatigue and mental health problems. Black mold can cause headaches, respiratory issues, and even neurological problems
  • Structural damage to the property, which itself can be dangerous if it runs the risk of exposing kids or pets to exposed wires or walls.

Remove mold with a two-pronged approach

We don’t remove mold when it’s severe, instead preferring to hire someone to do proper remediation. But for small stuff, we can tackle it with a little mold-killing detergent or bleach and elbow grease. This works for small areas on the surface. A paint scraper and repairing the area work most of the time.

The next step after a cleaning solution is figuring out how to stop what caused it. 

Proper ventilation is a good first step, as well as investigating the attic space or nearby sources of excessive moisture, like a leaky pipe. This may require a contractor for larger projects, and we always let people know if we think it requires something more permanent. We’re not keen to paint over mold knowing it’ll likely grow underneath or reoccur.

Leave it to the pros to stop mildew and mold growth

If you’re concerned about a mold problem of any size, contact u.s.a. din we can help, even if we’re not the ones immediately starting to work painting the house. We have trusted contacts who can help with severe mold problems and damage. 

But for small issues or even undiscovered suspicions, we can help you repair, replace, and paint with products that last a long time, look great, and keep you and your family safe.

Call or contact us to get started for a risk-free consultation.