Can You Or Should You Paint Over Mold Or Mildew

Painting over any mold or mildew can be done only after taking the necessary precautions and recommended steps.  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 moisture resistant paint primer it always has a way of showing its face again, especially if the source and reason are not discovered and taken care of first.

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 are the possible causes for mold and mildew can be, and how to eliminate it and paint over it with recommendations.


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 and can appear as black, gray, green or brown spots.  Areas in the home with high levels of humidity that are without proper or adequate fresh air circulation can eventually create mold or mildew problems.

Ensure you create good air circulation within your home by installing bathroom vents,  clean air filters on furnaces or air conditioners, opening windows, 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 or from flood damage.  It is important to find the source of the water damage causing the mold and fixing it.

Paint itself does not cause mold or mildew but the appearance of bubbling paint, peeling or cracking paint are usually signs that high levels of moisture are present and that immediate action should be taken.  Taking the first step to find the source of the problem and why there is moisture is important to identify, so as to be able to seal any water leaks or repair any damaged roof to prevent the mold from happening again after you have repaired and repainted the area.  You can not just hide the mold and mildew by just painting fresh paint over it, if the issue is not fixed and resolved first the problem will continue to exist and re-occur.

How To Identify If A Moisture Problem Inside The Home

Sometimes it is very obvious that mold is present from the dark spots on the walls, around the windows etc., other times you may not know for sure if it is mold or mildew.   You can identify if you have a moisture problem inside your home if you notice and of the following issues.

Smell – If it smells musty and damp in the bathroom, laundry room or basement that can be the first indication that there may be a mold issue in your home.

Seeing Spots – If you notice spotting on ceilings, walls or around the window frames or doors, this too can be a sign of mold growth.  These spots may range in colour from white green, brown, gray and the most common black.

Paint Problems – If there is a high level of moisture in a room you will notice that paint bubbling which will lead to it peeling.

Quick Tip: A quick way to find out if there is a moisture problem in your home apart from there being no visible spots or paint bubbles, is to press your hand on the area you believe a possibility of moisture exists.  If it feels damp you may have a mold or mildew issue.

How To Get Rid Of Mold and Mildew

There are ways to remove mold with some household products or a try a simple test by spraying bleach on the affected surface area and if it fades or discolours it is most likely 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.

Can You Paint Over Mold Or Mildew

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.

Should You Paint Over Mold Or Mildew

 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 and will continue to grow under the new paint. 

When To Call On Professionals

Painting over any mold or mildew is not recommended unless you have first identified the type of mold or mildew you may be dealing with.  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 will have the experience and knowledge to recommend the right kinds of paints to use, if any drywall pieces need replacing or if a mold removal expert should be brought in.

If you are selling your home and there is a pre-existing mold issue be aware of the legal ramifications for not disclosing the problem.  It is not recommended to just paint over it and hide it.  New home buyers can hold the owner, as well as any painting contractor you may have hired or the real estate agent used if the mold issue is not mentioned prior to the sale.  Consider that in the end it may cost you more by not being upfront with the information and having to deal with the costs of legal fees, costs of damages and repairs from the mold issue and possible personal damages caused to the new owner.

If you feel uncertain as to whether you can or should tackle painting over mold and mildew issues, feel free to reach out to a painting professional you can trust.


This post was originally published on Jul 8, 2019 and edited on April 04, 2020