Can You Or Should You Paint Over Mold Or Mildew

Ignoring the issue around your home will continue to cause you mold and mildew health problems. Try as you might to hide it with a paint primer or mold/mildew resistant paint, mold always shows its ugly face again if the source and reason are not discovered and taken care of first.  Painting over any mold or mildew can be done only after the necessary and recommended steps and precautions are taken.

Paint itself does not and will not get rid of or kill any mold or mildew.  Let’s break down the difference between mold and mildew, what some possible causes can be, how to get rid of it and how to paint over it with these recommended tips.


painting over mold and mildew is hazardous to your health


What is Mold

Mold is a type of fungus consisting of tiny organisms found almost everywhere.  They can appear most often as as black, gray, or brown spots, but have also been known to show up as white, orange, green, or purple spots.  It thrives on moisture and spreads quickly.  The spores travel through the air and are easily inhaled, causing breathing problems, headaches and fatigue to name a few.

What is Mildew

Mildew is also a form of fungus and is related to mold. The difference between the two would be how they appear.  While mold will tend to show up as a black or green large almost fuzzy type looking patch, mildew cab show up as a gray or sometimes white patch on any moist area or surface like walls.  Mildew can be treated with a good cleaning solution, and elbow grease.  Mold on the other hand may have to be further investigated by mold experts.

You can read more about the differences in HGTV’s article mold vs. mildew.

Causes of Mold or Mildew Inside the House

Mildew can show up in high levels of humidity such as bathrooms, kitchens or basements.  It can appear as black, gray, green or brown spots.  High levels of humidity inside the home without proper or adequate fresh air circulation will and can eventually create mold or mildew problems.  Ensure you create good air circulation within your home with bathroom vents, open windows, clean air filters on furnaces or air conditioners, and making sure the proper ventilation is set up for any washers and dryers in a basement or laundry room.

Mold can be caused by water leaks from a bathtub, toilet, sink, leaky roof or water faucet.  It can most certainly be caused inside homes that have had flood damage.  It is important to find the source of the water damage causing the mold and fixing it.

Paint itself will not cause mold or mildew, but you can notice if the interior of a house has been affected by mold or mildew.  If the paint is bubbling, peeling, or cracking these are usually the signs that high levels of moisture are present and that the proper care to clear the source of the moisture was not taken and that paint was just applied over it to hide it.

How To Get Rid Of It

Sometimes it is very obvious that mold is present.  You can see the dark spots on the walls, around the windows etc., other times you may not know for sure if it is mold or mildew.  There are ways to remove mold with some household products or a simple test you can try quickly is to spray some bleach on the affected surface area and if it fades or discolours it is most likely mildew.

How To Identify If You Have A Moisture Problem Inside The Home 

You can quickly do a check to see if you have a problem with mold or mildew in your home if you notice the following:

  1. Can you smell a musty, damp like odour in the bathroom, laundry room or basement. Sometimes if there are large patches of the mold around the house you can smell the musty odor from the time you walk through the front door.
  1. Do you see spots on ceilings, walls or around the window or door frames. These spots can range in colour from white, green, brown, gray and most often black.
  1. Is the paint on the walls warped or looking like it is bubbling? If you do notice bubble bursts of paint that usually is caused by high moisture levels.
  1. If you don’t see the spots or paint bubbles but can still smell the musty damp odour you can easily press your hand on an area of the wall where you think there is a build up of moisture. If it feels damp you may have a mold problem.

Painting Over Mold or Mildew

After taking care of the source of the damage that created the mold and mildew and only if it is of the non-hazardous form should painting over mold or mildew be considered.  It is merely a temporary fix if you haven’t taken care of the source and ensured the removal.

Mold will still be there after you paint over it if not properly tended to first.  You will have difficulty applying the paint as well as the spots will eventually show up again.  Painting over the mold will also continue to help the spores of the fungus spread and make them more air-borne around the entire home.

If the problem is larger than just simply being able to wash it off with bleach, priming it with a moisture resistant paint primer  (link takes you to Kilz Paint products website) and sealing it with moisture resistant paint, (link takes you to benjamin moore paints website) then you should replace the drywall entirely and start with a clean slate.  This of course is usually after you have called in the experts to identify the mold problem.


In short the answer would be Yes.  Mold or Mildew can be painted over provided the necessary precautions and elimination is done first.In order to paint over any mold or mildew, you should first find the source of the moisture problem.  Check the windows for any leaks, check to ensure you don’t have a leaking faucet, bathtub or toilet.

Ensure the proper ventilation is present in the laundry room so that the dryer vents freely to the outside of the house and of course make sure there are no leaks from the washer.  If you haven’t replaced your roof in over 20 years that could also be a major culprit to the reason you have mold appearing on the ceiling or walls of the interior of your home.

Once the source of the moisture problem has been identified and repaired, then there are ways to remove the mold and mildew stains.


 After finding the source of the high humidity or moisture levels inside your home you should identify whether the mold is of the hazardous or non-hazardous form.  This is important to find out before considering to paint over it as paint products are not formulated to get rid of mold nor will it kill it off.

mildew resistant paint primer applied before painting tips from PG PAINT & DESIGN

There are plenty of paint products on the market, from primers to sealants and specially formulated paint products that are best for kitchens and bathrooms and laundry rooms where moisture levels are usually high.

Painting over it without taking care of removing it first will only cause you further grief.  The health problems will continue and eventually the mold spots will re-appear.  If you paint over water damage for example you only mask the problem temporarily because mold is a fungus and fungus loves humidity and moisture, it thrives on it therefore it will continue to grow underneath the new paint. 

Only after you have identified the type of mold or mildew you are dealing with and rectified the problem should you paint over it.  If unsure as to whether the mold inside your home is of the hazardous or non-hazardous form, you should consult with a mold expert in Ottawa.

Professional painting companies in Ottawa you hire should be experienced and knowledgeable on what kinds of paints to use, or whether you need to replace the entire sheetrock/drywall in the area or call in mold removal experts.

If you are selling your home and have a pre-existing mold issue, you should be aware of legal ramifications to just painting over it to hide it.  The new home buyers can hold you the seller/owner, as well as any painting contractor or real estate agent used if the problem is not divulged prior to the sale.  Consider that in the end it may cost you more by not being upfront with the information.  You will then have to deal with the costs of legal fees, costs of damages and repairs from the infestation issue and possible personal damages caused to the new owner.

In the end if you’re not sure always call on the experts.