Mold spores are found everywhere, and a dampened paper face of drywall can be the perfect food source for them. If there is a damp surface with food present, mold will grow and spread. Getting rid of mold on drywall includes cleaning, killing the mold, and drying out the area.
You can handle most situations involving mold on drywall on your own, but if it’s over 10 square feet you may want to call in a professional. This could be an indication of a larger problem—like the mold has spread to your wood framing and flooring.
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Why does mold occur?
It is extremely easy for mold to grow. It only needs two things—a wet surface and a food source—and damp drywall can easily become a buffet for spores. The mold can spread all the way across the wall, into the wall cavity, and into wood framing and flooring.
Mold can sprout anywhere with high moisture levels. It is most commonly found in bathrooms, kitchens, laundry rooms, and basements. Mold spores happily settle into any place with poor ventilation, high temperatures, and moisture.
Steps for removing drywall
It is important to get rid of mold quickly and thoroughly once it is discovered. Follow these steps to safely remove any mold from the drywall in your home.
The first step of mold removal is cutting off the source of moisture. You must be sure to fix this problem before taking any other steps, otherwise, mold will keep growing after you remove it. Common sources of moisture that lead to mold growth include roofing issues, leaky pipes, leaking or cracked windows, and water vapor seeping up through a floor.
Key Takeaway: It is crucial to get rid of the moisture source before any removal, or the mold will immediately grow back and you will have to start the process over again.
Get your equipment ready
Removing mold will send spores airborne and can cause irritation. It is best to wear long sleeves, pants, rubber gloves, a respiratory mask, and safety glasses to protect yourself from mold spores.
Be sure to use a vacuum fitted with a HEPA filter for removing spores and to minimize the amount of mold spores in the air. You can also protect your home by blocking it off with plastic sheeting and using a negative-pressure HEPA air filtration system (found in most tool rental shops).
You will need:
- Cleaning brush (medium-bristled)
- Bucket/spray bottle
- Cleaning solution
- Cleaning wipes
- Box fan
- Wet/dry vacuum (with HEPA filter and brush attachment)
- Plastic sheeting and tape
- Primer, paint, painting tools
Clean or crumble?
Removing moldy drywall entirely may be more effective and safer than trying to clean up the mold. If the affected drywall is soft when you touch it, then the mold may have taken too large of a toll for the cleaning to be successful.
It will be better, in this case, to remove the moldy drywall, kill the remaining mold in the interior, let it dry, and start from scratch.
Removing the mold
You’ll need to handle all of the mold spores on the surface first if you decide to handle mold removal yourself. Using your HEPA-equipped shop vacuum, go over the entire affected surface. Using the brush attachment will make sure as many spores as possible are broken up and removed.
Once the surface spores are broken up and removed, it’s time to start killing the mold. Bleach is not always effective for killing mold because it does not attack the roots, contrary to popular belief. Instead of bleach, try one of these:
- 3% hydrogen peroxide
- Concrobium Mold Control
- 2:1:1 ratio of baking soda, water, and white vinegar
Brush or spray your cleaning solution on the moldy drywall and allow it to sit for 10 minutes. When the 10 minutes is up, use your brush in circular motions to clean the wall. For any residue that might remain after brushing, use a household cleaning wipe.
Key Takeaway: The cleaning solution needs time to set in and efficiently kill the mold growth, so do not start brushing until after the 10 minutes are up.
Dry the wall
The next step after cleaning and killing the mold is drying out the affected area. Get your box fan and set it up so it is blowing directly on the drywall. The fan needs to run for at least 24 hours for the wall to completely dry out.
Cover any stains
When the wall has dried out, there might be some discoloration left. Don’t worry, this is most often a simple stain that can be taken care of. You can buy a mold-killing paint primer that creates a coating to kill any leftover spores and cover any stains.
Once the stains are covered, paint over the wall with a mold-resistant paint to prevent future mold growth.
High levels of humidity can create an environment that encourages the regrowth of mold. It is in your best interest to keep your home dry with low humidity. Try using a dehumidifier in your home to keep the humidity level between 30 and 50 percent.
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What does mold on drywall look like?
Mold can look like dusty blotches or like a velvety, thick fungus-like growth. Most molds are black, white, or gray.