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Mold Resistant Paint (with 6 Easy Steps to Paint Over Mold)

paint resistant mold
Mold resistant paint does not kill mold! But you can relax, the process of stopping mold is very do-able. A little elbow grease, a little mold killing primer (the good stuff) and you are ready to paint. Whew. I'm glad I stopped you from just painting over that mold!
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We know that everyone wants a one-step easy solution and Zinsser mold killing primer and mold killing paints sound grea5-t, but…is it really that easy?

Will mold killing primer and mold resistant paint be enough to protect me?

mold resistant paintWe recommend this mold resistant paint by a very trusty brand.

Mold inhibiting paint will not kill mold! (See our recommendation just below). The general name is ‘mildew’, and it will grow right through ordinary house paint: you must mechanically remove all you can, then SEAL it with a mold killing primer. It’s not the nightmare you were expecting, and we simplified it all here.

List of what you need before you paint over mold

  • Safety first: 3M’s full face respirator mold remediation kit which you see just below…or use the painter’s workhorse respirator discussed in this post.
  • Mold killing primer by Zinsser This company has been making primers since companies started making primers.
  • Mold resistant paint: Rust-Oleum. Totally trustworthy brand
  • A non-toxic prevention spray called BioBarrier. This has great reviews. We link to two other very good products below.
  • Bleach is very deadly. Our preferred products are better and safer (linked just below). If you use bleach, click on the link above to the respirator and DEFINITELY wear it. Open windows and blow fans. People die from improper use from bleach.
  • Quality rubber gloves (shown below)

After painting, inhibit growth another way in damp areas with a non-toxic spray that takes 6 months to wash off. This plus the special-mold proof-paint will make your life easier (and safer).

Ceiling mold? Bathroom mold, garage or basement mold? You will use the same routine to kill and cover it. Ceiling mold may be the hardest on that list because it is over your head: you will need special protection for your eyes and face from dripping solution and your mold killing primer and your mold resistant paint.

6 easy steps to paint over mold

  1. Don’t breathe the spores: put on your respirator (our article on respirator mask simplifies the weird world of respirators). Scrape off any loose mold and recover it for disposal
  2. Don’t be tempted to use bleach: it’s deadly and will make the problem WORSE. Thanks to a generous reader who pointed out that bleach can make the mold that survives (there is always some) stronger and faster to multiply. I very much like the Siamons Mold Control that you can see here. Comes in various sizes.
  3. Put rubber gloves on for any toxins: don’t go dollar store on this one: re-use  quality gloves many times over. This prevents chemicals from touching the skin. There is no reason to take a risk with your health ever.
  4. Wipe with any rag until no more black/green comes off
  5. Rinse the surface with clean, wet rags. Leave rags outside away from people/animals
  6. Let dry – your first coat should be a mold killing or resistant primer, then two coats of mold resistant paint

If you have a very large area to treat, you can use a sprayer (please wear protection!) You would not want to use your garden sprayer here as the plastic will probably not handle the bleach solution well. Conversely, a sprayer that works with bleach will probably also be fine with garden solutions. Bleaching inside can be very deadly: choose from the respirators above.

We like this eco-safe mold-killer which comes in large one- and 5-gallons as well as spray bottles. Spray and let dry. It leaves a mold-blocking film that can be painted. We use a garden sprayer to apply solutions like these as well.

At the end of the post is a video of me breaking the rules killing some mold in our garage: I should have had gloves on, but could not wear a respirator and talk to you!

Careful with manufacturers’ promises: don’t trust the ads that make that claim they have a paint to cover mold or kill mold

When you hear about anti-mold paint, it is not a mold-prevention paint and certainly not a mold killing primer.

Mold inhibiting paint can only resist, not prevent mold, You will make a fortune if you can invent a one-step mold killing paint! There is what is called a mold killing primer: Mold killing primer by Zinsser makes good claims, but let’s be reasonable. It depends on the situation.

Important points for the paint to cover mold

cleaning mold before painting

If you have powdery mold sitting on your surfaces, do you really want to mix that into your walls for the future, or leave it for someone else to live with? Just follow the steps above to paint over the mold and you’ll have peace of mind.

Also, the stain mold leaves behind must be totally sealed or it will bleed through your latex paint. Zinsser Mold Killing Primer just says, “aides in covering residual microbiological and fungal stains”. Not good enough, sirs.

For serious stains, get a quart of shellac-based BIN primer or  by the gallon. We use it as overkill or as we say “Over Kilz”. Rubbing alcohol is the solvent. We have an entire post about painting over stains. It’s very messy so wear gloves and don’t inhale, Bill.

Again, the respirators at the top of this post will protect you.

We follow our primer with the best mold resistant paint: the Benjamin Moore Aura mentioned below.

I have some other posts on the procedure for painting a room and some professional-tested time-saving tips we learn as professional painters.

Flat, Satin or Semi-Gloss?

Living room freshly paintedThrough my 30+ years as a painter, I have seen the trend change from “always semi-gloss in bathrooms and kitchens” to “anything goes”. The chemistry of paint today allows you to do whatever you want, but still flat and matte paints finishes are naturally going to hold water longer than shiny paints: but they look better! So most people compromise with satin and eggshell. If you keep a bathroom or high moisture area clean, you will not have mold and mildew growth. It’s actually the easy way.

Colors?

You will find some gorgeous bathroom paint colors on the internet. Keep in mind that smaller rooms benefit from lighter colors and more light inhibits mold growth.

What we do

Mold paints do not kill mold! They inhibit growth. So after you do the prep described below, choose THE+BEST paint. We recommend using the best paints, as we have written, it is a money-saver and you don’t have to paint as often. It’s really a no-brainer.

For bathrooms and other high moisture areas where mold loves to grow, we recommend Rust-Oleum.  The technology behind it is a formula to lock out moisture and prevent or deter mildew/mold growth.

Fixing a hole where the rain gets in? Flex Seal Liquid Rubber makes sealing leaks easy

Before you replace a cracked sink or floor etc, it’s worth a few bucks to try to seal it and a product I discovered at Home Depot Flex Seal paint. You’ll find Flex Seal at Lowes as well as online. I fixed my cracked garage sink with a liquid sealer and it kept me from replacing it!

mold resistant paint
Mold on wall. Photo credit – The Paint Quality Institute

Health Dangers of Mold in Your Home

Some people are more sensitive, but mold affects everyone. Symptoms of mold exposure can include:

  • Nasal and sinus congestion, runny nose
  • Respiratory problems, such as wheezing and difficulty breathing, chest tightness
  • A cough
  • Throat irritation
  • Sneezing / Sneezing fits

Thank you, Wikipedia.


One Ingenious Pro Tip: Every time you dip a brush into a can of this nasty primer, you are sacrificing that brush. You don’t mind? Do you have a dollarstore brush or an oldie? Sure, but how many will you kill each time you spot some mold or stain that you know you must prime?

What do pros do? We leave a crappy brush in the can for life. If the can is small, we cut or break the handle. After weeks in the can, is it all mushed up and bent? Yes So? It’s wet and ready! Unless we have a large area to seal, we don’t care. The brush strokes from a primer will usually flatten out when dry and if not, will sand fairly well. Faster…Better…ALMOST FREE!


Prevention

room painted with mold resistant paintCertain mycotoxins can be harmful or lethal to humans and animals when exposure is high enough.

An easy way to prevent the growth of mold in dark and/or damp areas in your home is the use of a UVC lamp. Research shows that UVC lamps kill mold, the airborne allergens, bacteria, viruses and protozoa in your home or office. Ultraviolet light breaks up the DNA of mold and mildews which results in the sterilization of the mold.

We tried a hospital-style UV wand but found that it gobbled up batteries, then even with new batteries did not work anymore. Now we will switch to a plug-in type compact germicidal bulb/wand  in our mold areas. We heard hospitals use it.

Prevent mold growth:

  • Increase ventilation and sunlight or UV bulbs if possible
  • Clean surfaces with strong cleanser or a safe mold killer (don’t use bleach)
  • Check nearby plants for mold
  • Bright light inhibits mold growth
  • Don’t leave very wet towels/puddles around
  • Use mold-killing primers and mold resistant paint
  • Just be glad it’s not the old days when they put mercury in mold paints as a fungicide.
  • Thanks, science

Remember:

Black, gray, green, brown, it’s moldy and it stinks and it’s a health hazard. Don’t just paint over it even with a mold killing primer and a mold resistant paint: you have to clean it safely first!

We used  this mold test kit and found penicillin and one other: not deadly, but just sayin’. You can test 3 different times per kit.

PS read about mold and mildew on Wikipedia, the Overlord of us all.

Let us know in the comments if we left anything out. Thanks.

How to Paint over mold video

 

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24 thoughts on “Mold Resistant Paint (with 6 Easy Steps to Paint Over Mold)”

  1. Thank you so much for the articles on your website! I am in a very difficult, scary spot. Gut after Hurricane Matthew, less than a year later gut after Hurricane Irma. I was told the drywall was primed and ready for painting. It is not. That is not just my opinion. It is the evaluation of professional painters.
    For financial and time reasons I am going to need to do this myself. I have learned so much from you and I just wanted to thank you profusely for sharing your knowledge online. I keep telling myself “I can do this!” Thank you Brad! — L

    • It was my pleasure to help: 35 years go into my posts.
      If you still have moisture, be careful not to seal it in. Mold grows inside the walls too and it is a dangerous thing.
      Some lawyers will give a free consultation and might be able to help insurance companies part with a few extra coins.
      Good luck
      Brad

  2. Hi Brad,
    It was very kind of you to acknowledge my message. You’re absolutely right! Mold is a scary, serious, nasty issue. Hurricane Matthew: (more water) insurance company said 4 feet down but I had the entire house gutted to the studs. I didn’t want to wonder if anything was growing, anywhere! Hurricane Irma: (stronger wind) new roof down, top to bottom and much more energy efficient.
    My issue is a pretty bad finishing job on the drywall. Humps, bumps, mesh tape showing through, the whole nine yards.
    Thanks again!
    -L

    • It was my pleasure.
      In Colorado (I was there for 20-ish yrs) most walls in homes and apartments are textured.
      I always preferred it but I’m in a home now where it’s normal flat wall, so it’s not worth texturing.

      With texture, you don’t need to sand much of the taping mud, just basic smooth and then they spray the mud, let dry and in new construction or like yours, they would spray paint just because it’s quicker: at least the primer and ceilings. If you have no furniture etc, you can mask the newly painted trim then paint walls almost up to the ceiling, then you are almost done.

      But the roller is fine too. If you hire a guy to spray, get an older painter: over 40 who has been in it a long time!

      I live now in a seaport city where for 10 yrs I don’t think I’ve seen the humidity go below 50%. This summer I had a leak in the room where my well enters the house…blah blah, but the point is I pulled out some very moldy sheetrock near the floor. The studs behind had no mold to my surprise. The backside of the rock had just a little at the bottom where it soaked up water several times. So again, your studs are probably fine. You could test in spots by cutting holes with a hole saw and look with your phone’s camera stuck into the hole with a flash…easy to replace a hole. This guy is doing a lamp but it’s the same thing.
      B
      ps, my wife and webmaster asks if you could both like and ‘review’ us on facebook and comment it really helps us get noticed! Thanks again… any more questions, just let me know

  3. Brad,

    Thanks for the information. I have been battling a few areas of mold/mildew in our fixer upper (due to a refrigerator water line break). I have found that using Concrobium to clean the moldy/mildew areas first and then let dry before applying the Zinnser Mold Killing Primer. Is that what you would say is the best? Also, how long would you recommend letting the area dry between the cleaning process and laying down the primer?

    Thanks
    Steve

    • Hi Steve, yes it seems like a good plan. If this reply is late in reaching you, sorry, but how did it go? If not, you should have no problems if you paint any water-based paint or primer on a dry surface. If the wall is wet deep inside, that is different, but I suspect you just had mold on the surface…let’s hope so. You can always dig out a spot and look, then fix the hole with spackle.

      Yes the Zinnser is the best on the market.

      Good luck!

  4. I am having a mold issue throughout my house. I noticed a spot on my baseboard and by the next week all of my wood furniture seemed to be covered in green mold. I live in Florida in an older home with a crawl space and terrible ventilation. Right now I am battling the mold inside my dresser. What is the best product to use to seal the mold inside there when it is MDF? I cleaned it with a mold killing spray and bought flex seal but am now wondering if I bought the wrong product? Thank you for your help.

    • Sounds ok to me if you used a primer with lots of stain killing power. See the post on primers…not all are created equally.
      I probably would have used a brush with the liquid and not a spray as the cost is much less and spray is so nasty.. but in any case…go ahead with your next coat. Start over an area you know had bad staining/mold and let dry. See if it bleeds thru. Depending on the stain killing primer, it will probably not.

    • Hi and thanks for writing. You already have your finger on the problem, no ventilation.
      Mold hates bright light and dry air. I’m assuming this area will get very cold:

      Outdoor paint is needed here, so I’d scrub with a bleach solution (wear a respirator…see my post on that), then prime with KILZ General Purpose Exterior Latex Primer, then outdoor paint…then…. of course, you have to get some air moving.
      A dehumidifier would be a last resort if the space is really air-tight. Remember, you are breathing that mold…your ceiling is like a canary in a patio coal mine showing you what is in the air. Good luck.

      Good luck,
      B

  5. Hi, I am looking to put down new flooring in my below grade basement on my concrete floor. I would like to choose the best product that will allow the vapor to evaporate, or not create mold on the laminate flooring that I put down. I’m pretty lost reading up on all of this. Would you have any suggestions for a flooring product. Seems the floor sales people do not know about these issues. Thank you, Audrey

    • Hi Audrey, If you want to spend some money, ask a flooring store about click flooring: the fake wood stuff. They lay a thin layer of cork under it and it breathes… I THINK. We have it in 1/2 our basement and the other half is painted.
      If the concrete is not damp, you can paint and just read on our post on this site about ‘basement paint’ and it gives some steps and product suggestions. Key point is that it cannot be moist when you do it. If you paint, you’ll not have to deal with mold (assuming you kill all the existing mold… bleach the heck out of it, but wear a respirator (search this site for ‘respirator’ … our post points to the one to keep you safe)… Bleach in that quantity is lethal, so be very careful. Maybe hydrogen peroxide is better but much more expensive. Then let dry totally…heaters and fans and windows open etc, then paint or do flooring. Regardless of what you do, make sure you kill the existing mold and cover when bone dry, if possible. Good luck.

  6. Oh my goodness absolutely desperate for help with no answers for months and you might be the guy to help us please please please!!!!

    We are in the process of building a tiny house. It’s a 12×32 shed. The bedrooms are lofts and the rest downstairs. During the winter we started with propane heat… Started noticing moisture.. like a lot of moisture. ( Keep in mind we don’t have drywall up yet. At this point we only had insulation up.) So we quit using the propane and switched to electric heat cause it’s a dryer heat. Thought it would help. When we hit some warmer days this year. We noticed a TON of moisture. Dripping down from the loft areas, the insulation was falling cause it was so heavy with moisture, so we closed off loft 2 cause we thought it was cause that side doesn’t get much sun. Well then we got two days in a row of 75% weather and the entire ceiling line was soaked with condensation thru the insulation. It was dripping off the insulation, we had puddles, it was draining down the walls, condensation was following the electrical lines, everywhere. Thruout this entire time, we have also had this mold (grey / black) that has been where ever this water has been. At this point this mold was speckled all over the insulation and on parts of the wood of the ceiling. So we took all the insulation off the ceiling and threw it away. So downstairs has insulation but the lofts do not and a small fraction of downstairs has drywall. I took bleach water and a scrub brush and scrubbed everything I thought looked like mold. Not like scrubbed scrubbed but like enough to get the bleach into it. It had been a couple days and we are back in the lofts.. but my husband and my daughter got sick again and I’m having episodes again 🙁 … ( I have bradycardia, syncope, and I have moments that mimic seizures but they aren’t… Doctor’s are still working on it).. but I thought I had got it all but I’m having second thoughts and I’m fighting so hard to figure out what to do, what’s causing it now, how to stop it, how to fix it, how to prevent it, why did we get so much moisture, do we need to ventilate? So many questions and we have talked to so many people but no one can seem to help us. Can you please give us some advice as to what we are doing wrong?

    • Hi. Wow, what a story. First, when using bleach, you have to wear a respirator and any time around mold, wear it. The post we have selected the best for this purpose is here: buy it for life.
      As for where the moisture is coming from: the air. A dehumidifier will help a lot.
      You were right to use bleach: now that the bugs are dead, cover them with a mold-inhibiting primer and paint shown in this post above.
      I cannot say what you are doing wrong, sounds somewhat normal: we all have to deal with moisture. New woods will give off moisture for some months too.
      Take care of your health first: maybe the tiny house should be sold? Is it worth it? Maybe be patient and see if the problem eases with time? Spring is a wet time as all the bugs will tell you.
      Best wishes,
      Brad

    • YIKES!
      There are two kinds of gas heaters (natural gas, propane, whatever – open flame or catalytic combustion): vented and unvented. Unvented heaters dump the combustion products into the air in the room. Those combustion products include WATER, Carbon Dioxide, and Carbon Monoxide (which can sicken or kill you). Unvented heaters are intended only for use in well-ventilated (drafty, unpleasant) spaces.

      The only type of heater you should use in a house is a VENTED heater. These almost always cost more dollars – but paying for heat with sickness or death is too high a price. A vented heater brings air in from the outside, and exhausts the combustion products to the outside.

      The fact that you have all this water and you are getting sick almost proves that you have an unvented heater. PLEASE! don’t use it. REPLACE it.

      Sorry to be so insistent, but this is important and not everyone knows it.

    • Hi. No, just one primer is enough. Just make sure the mold is dead first. The safe killers linked above are really better, but if you use bleach, ventilate well–it’s deadly. Good to have the respirator we describe on this site. Good luck, b

  7. Hi Brad,

    I would appreciate your thoughts. I have an end unit 3 br townhouse built in 1982. I have had mold remediations done but now may have found the source. Upstairs with no mold showing, we cut 3 holes on back, side, and front walls and behind was mold and plastic sheeting. I guess the plastic was a vapor barrier.

    I am researching if KILZ or something else could be painted on the walls that will seal the
    mold in. I looked at the Rustoleum product but it does not seal.

    • Yes, it’s tricky to stop moisture. Now that you already have a problem, I’m wondering if you can prevent ripping out the old rock, putting new insulation, if it’s wet, or damp, and putting up new rock. I need to write an article about this, but I’m no expert. This document should be good reading for you. THey found 2 coats of a vapor barrier paint to be effective in a controlled test. In a case like this, don’t consider anything but Ben Moore or Sherwin Williams, the 2 best in the biz. The product I have used, and of course I painted and never heard from the customer again, was Ben Moore’s Ultra Spec® Latex Vapor Barrier Sealer. Until I study this more, I cannot be of more help. Try the Ben Moore info line: https://www.benjaminmoore.com/en-us/contact-us
      Good luck,
      b

  8. Hi, I have mold embedded in the walls. I have rock/stone walls and the there’s block walls that I’m dealing with I went over the walls with vinegar & bleach water when I ran out of vinegar. I went back to the first wall and discovered that there was more specks of mold on it than the first time. I’m guessing it may not have dried good enough. I have picked and picked the block walls but it seems like every time I allow it to dry there is more that has accumulated and in some parts looks like chocolate chips. I am willing to seal it in it was told that the zinsser mold killing primer doesn’t actually kill the mold and wasn’t good to use. So I went out and bought some Thompson’s masonry water seal. Have you ever use this and doesn’t work? I believe it says on there that it resist. I’m just worried and if I use it on the front, the mold will go through to the other side and come out? Any info on this would be greatly appreciated as I have spent the last two months in my basement trying to kill all the mold. What is good to use floor Joyce’s up above? I and also having a problem with the basement floor. It is mostly concrete but has cracked and crumbled there’s parts that’s just dirt. I have discovered that most of the dirt is mold and there is mold under the concrete. I am about to pull my hair out with this. Makes me wonder if I should have just went ahead and paid the $1,800 and gave it to the professionals instead!? Tia!

    • I doubt mold could grow back that fast: you probably killed it and are just seeing the stain from the spores. Anyway, if it is stone, can you pressure wash it? That is a mechanical way to remove most of it, then spray with one of the safe killers linked above: not bleach!
      Then the mold primer etc as you mentioned.
      Hard for me because I cannot see it, so I can only imagine what you are describing.
      We don’t like Thompsons: too many complaints. We tend towards the big makers: Sherwin Williams or Benjamin Moore.
      Sounds like you have mold everwhere: why not get a professional’s price and pick his brains on what he would do. SOrry I cannot help much more. DOn’t pull hair! Yes, go with the pros.

  9. My son is buying a house. The inspection showed mold in the basement. The sellers have agreed to fix it. On the invoice from the repair people, it merely states “sand and paint wood in basement.” After he takes possession of the house, will we be able to kill mold if it has been covered in paint? Or will we have to remove the paint first?

    • Good question: I would not accept the repair slip. I would tell the seller that before your inspector is satisfied, he will do a mold test by removing some of the repair paint. If there is mold, you will not accept. So they should do it right the first time and rip the sheetrock out or in some way totally remove it.

      There are companies that remove mold. Some Joe Schmidt painter does not know what he is doing and does not care because it will look fine for a year and he’s long gone.
      Also, Don’t use bleach. I’ve just learned and I will be updating all my posts about mold that bleach is not the way to go. Use a mold killing solution.
      Get involved with the seller. Show them this reply to your question.

      Mold comes right back. It will be everywhere in a year.
      ALso pick up a dehumidifier and use it every spring and summer whenever it’s humid. But that is no replacement for removal.

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