Can You Paint Over Mold? Is it Safe?

Mold…just the thought of it gives me the willies! It’s not something anyone wants to find in their home. Mold is a living organism that can take over a home if you do not take care of it immediately. So how can we get rid of it when it over takes the house?

Can you paint over mold? You can paint over mold, but it is NOT recommended. If you paint over mold it doesn’t get rid of it and could continue to grow. The best thing to do is clean the area and make sure the mold is gone and repaint.

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Let’s look at a few things before you decide whether you want to paint over the mold, or try a different way to rid your house of this nastiness.

  • What exactly is mold?
  • What causes mold in your home?
  • How does mold spread?
  • Safe ways to get rid of mold
  • Is painting over mold a viable option?

What Exactly is Mold?

Mold is a type of fungus (EW!!) It can be black, white, orange, green or even purple. Mold can live practically anywhere inside or outside but thrive in moisture. They are light spores that can travel through the air and spread easily. They are harmless for the most part, until they start to grow. Many people are very sensitive to molds and can become quite sick when exposed to them. 

What Causes Mold in the Home?

Mold can be found everywhere but we’re going to concentrate on what causes it in our homes. 

Moisture in the Attic

Few people spend a lot of time in their attics, so by the time you notice the moisture in your attic, usually from a water leak, the mold may have taken over the place! There are many reasons you could have moisture in your attic. Leaky pipes are the most frequent reason. Also missing or leaky roof shingles, leaky gutters, improperly installed vents for dryers or bathrooms or kitchens, poor or missing insulation, air conditioning units in the attics, condensation, or damp things being stored in the attic. 

Moisture in the Basement

If you have an in-ground basement, this is a breeding ground for mold. Most basements are not well ventilated and contain plumbing parts such as sump pumps, or even wells. If the sump pump fails or the basement floods, you can bet this will be mold heaven! Watch for cracks in the foundation, hot water tank overflow, water condensation on pipes or other surfaces. Dirt and dust accumulation over time can also be a problem. 

Moisture in the Bathroom

This seems pretty obvious since this is the room where we use the most water and have the most humidity from hot showers and baths. Simply flushing the toilet and using the sink creates moisture. While normal cleaning will help prevent most mold, you will want to keep and eye out for leaky toilets, leaky pipes under the sink, build up on grout, damp shower curtains, poor ventilation, condensation, wet floor mats and towels, bad caulking in the shower and bathtub. Empty trash frequently to prevent mold buildup from damp tissues and other trash. 

Moisture in the Kitchen

Kitchens are a haven for mold, as we use so much water in this room. We leave dishes to dry on the counter or pots on the stove steaming away. Keep an eye out for leaky pipes under the sink, broken and leaking ice makers, leaking dish washers and bad ventilation. Make sure you tighten lids on liquids so they don’t spill or evaporate into the air. Thoroughly clean up spills on counters and floors and watch for cracks in grout.

Moisture in the Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning System (HVAC)

Just using this system is moving air that creates moisture, whether you are heating or cooling your home. It’s important to keep your system serviced and working properly to prevent mold buildup. Watch for condensation, blocked or clogged air filters, wet insulation, weak or zero air flow from registers, faulty thermostats or fan controls. 

As you can see, the common thread here is moisture. This is molds best friend, so keeping as must moisture out of your home as possible is the goal here. A dehumidifier is one option that could help with this.

How Does Mold Spread?

Mold is a fungus that needs a space to grow on, oxygen, warmth, darkness, and above all moisture to grow. Moisture from stagnant water, high humidity, or a water leak, for instance, can bring on the mold problems. If you have mold in your basement or crawlspace, the spores will rise up throughout the house. This is called the “Stack effect”. Warm air rises through the house and exits through the upstairs and attic. Dust mites, mold spores, and anything else in the air will spread throughout the house and it only takes 1-14 days for the mold infestation to happen. 

Organic materials such as dust, wood, wallpaper, paint have everything a mold spore needs to survive and grow. It is recommended you keep your home at a  60 percent humidity level so the mold spores do not have the moisture level to grow and spread. Do not leave damp towels, papers, cardboard, or carpets in the home, especially if the temperature is on the warm side. Nothing would encourage mold growth than a damp, hot environment. 

Safe Ways to Get Rid of Mold

Obviously the best solution is to try to prevent mold from growing in the first place, but we all know we can’t possibly know what is happening in those “out of sight” places in our homes. 


Mix 1 quart of water with ½ cup bleach and use a soft brush to scrub the mold away. Then allow the bleach solution to continue to penetrate the area.


Vinegar is more effective at removing mold from more porous areas. It can kill 82% of mold species. Use white distilled vinegar in a spray bottle without diluting. Simply spray the infected area and let sit for an hour. Then clean with water. 

Hydrogen Peroxide

Hydrogen peroxide is an antifungal, anti-viral, and anti-bacterial solution that kills mold effectively on most surfaces. Use 3% concentration hydrogen peroxide in a spray bottle. Saturate the area and let set for 10 minutes before softly scrubbing the area wiping it down afterwards.

Baking Soda

Baking soda in a white, mild mineral powder that will kill mold and is safe for your family and pets. It will also help by absorbing moisture to help keep mold away. Add ¼ tablespoon of baking soda to a spray bottle and fill with water. Shake to dissolve baking soda. Spray the area with this solution, then scrub to remove mold. Next, spray once again and let dry. This will kill whatever mold is left and help prevent it from returning. 

Finally, Can You Paint Over Mold?

Painting over mold is NOT recommended! Paint will not kill mold or bacteria, it only covers up the problem.

While there are mold killing paints available on the market, this is only a good plan AFTER you get rid of the source of the mold. Also, you will need to purchase a MOLD KILLING paint rather than a mold resistant variety because this is the only way to take care of existing mold. The mold resistant paint helps in preventing future mold, but not in killing a current mold problem.

Mold is actually a living microorganism that grows on walls and other surfaces. It is a fungus that doesn’t mind paint or other surfaces, which is why you get a discoloration, it’s a reaction between the mold and the painted surface. 

Painting over mold does NOT get rid of the problem, it only hides it. The mold will continue to grow and spread and make the matter worse. Therefore, simply painting over mold without taking care of the source is NOT recommended.

Mold Sealant

Mold sealant is a paint-like substance that is used on materials that simply cannot be free of mold, such as wood. This is only used when the material the mold is on can’t be replaced. It is always best to remove or replace the material than to use a sealant, however, that isn’t always possible.

Sealant can be brushed on like paint or sprayed on. While it does resemble paint, unlike paint, it contains antimicrobial ingredients to help fight the growth of mold. It will also seal in any mold that is already on the material to stop it from spreading and growing. This is known as encapsulation.

There are some risks involved in encapsulation. In order to remove mold from wood, it often involves sanding which will send thousands of mold spores through the air to possible be inhaled. Take precautions and wear a mask, or better yet, get a professional to do the job in this situation.

Related Questions

How to tell if mold has been painted over? There are a few ways to tell. One, there are spots on the wall with a yellowish tint. Two, there is a lot of cracks, peeling, bubbling or chipped paint all over the walls. Lastly, the surface of the wall looks uneven and not flat.

What happens when you paint over mold? Painting over mold doesn’t kill the mold, it just hides it. The mold will continue to grow in the home and could cause harm to you and your family. In the long run it could end up costing more than if you had just removed the mold and fixed the problem in the first place.

How do you know if mold is behind drywall? If you can see water stains on the wall there is more than likely mold growing. These stains are yellow and brown in color and you will notice that the spots on the wall will be damp.

When can I use mold resistant paint? Use mold resistant paint in areas with a lot of moisture, such as bathrooms, kitchens, or basements. Only use this paint AFTER you have taken care of any mold problems in the area. Make sure the area is clean and dry before painting. If you use a sealant, be sure the area is completely mold free and dry before applying the sealant, and completely dry before applying the mold resistant paint.

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