Wallboard, in any form, can grow mold for one of three reasons. The most common is that it is located in a place with a lot of heat and moisture such as a kitchen, bathroom, or laundry room. The second is from a water leak within the wall. The third is from a flood. Whatever the reason for your mold you will need to figure out the cause, come up with an effective plan, and execute that plan.
Identify the Cause.
The first thing you need to make sure is that you know what the cause is. If the cause is a flood then it is likely that you already know that. However, if there hasn't been a flood then it is important that you correctly identify the problem. Don't just assume that there is too much humidity in the area. You could be missing a very important thing. Here are a few tips to make sure that it isn't a leak.
- Check the ceiling and look for signs of water damage. If the ceiling shows signs of water damage than it is likely that one of two things is happening. Either you have a water leak or there is a leak in the upstairs bathroom or water pipes in the ceiling. In either case you should call the appropriate repair men to get the problem fixed. If the problem isn't fixed then no matter what you do the mold will keep coming back.
- If there are no problems coming from up above it is important that you check out the area around the wallboard. If the wallboard is wet or the floor underneath of it is wet or even damp then you may have a leaky pipe in the wall. It is a good idea to make sure that you get rid of this problem as well by calling a professional. After the problem is eliminated you can clean up the mold and have less to worry about.
- Finally, if a leak isn't the cause then it is likely a surface issue and the wallboard is likely being exposed to too much moisture.
Decided To Clean or Remove.
In most cases the best option for getting rid of mold in wallboard is to remove it and put new in. Because of its porous nature there is no way to kill all of the mold spores within the board and no way to remove them through cleaning. You can cause them to go into a dormant state, but when moisture comes back or an opening appears they will grow again. The choose is yours though and both methods are here for you to use.
Decide Whether or Not to Hire Professionals.
For large jobs it is often recommended hat you hire a professional. It isn't that you don't have the ability to take care of the job on your own, but it is a messy job and it requires a lot of care. If you aren't careful you can spread mold spores throughout your entire home.
Wear the Right Clothing.
Mold is dangerous. It is important that you wear the right things. You want to make sure that you always wear long rubber gloves when dealing with mold. You should also wear goggles and a respirator designed for mold removal. For more information you should see the article What to Wear When Removing Mold From Your Home.
If you have decided that you will remove the wallboard to get rid of the mold you need to make sure that you are careful about it and that you do each step listed here. When dealing with water leaks or flood damage this is the best thing you can do.
- Set up a containment field. You should make sure that you don't spread mold throughout your house. To do this get 2-3 milliliter thick plastic drop clothes sold for painting. Cover the floor and other objects in the room. Set up a barrier around the mold area by taping plastic clothes to the ceiling and the floor. Over lap on area and leave this area tape free along the floor. This will be your door. For more on setting up a containment field see the article Mold Removal: The Containment Area.
- Using a utility knife, carefully cut out small sections of the wall board. You want to make sure that these sections are easy for you to handle. Place each section into a black trash bag. When the trash bags have gotten full seal them with duct tape and then double bag them. Seal that second bag with tape as well. Then carefully take them to the dumpster. See Mold Removal: How to Dispose of Moldy Items for more information.
- Once all of the moldy wallboard has been removed you will want to clean out the wall cavity first. To do this you should use a mix of borax and water (1 cup of borax to 1 gallon of water) or hydrogen peroxide. Spray the area down thoroughly, let sit for ten minutes and then scrub it up. Make sure that you are getting the studs, pipes, and anything else that has mold growing on it. Before you end for the night spray the whole area down with white vinegar and leave it. This will kill the mold that it comes in contact with (if any spores are left from before) and the vinegar smell will be gone come morning.
- After the wall cavity has had the night to dry then you can get started putting the room back together in the morning. It is advisable to choose a waterproof or mold resistant wallboard in areas of high humidity such as bathrooms, kitchens, and laundry rooms. You should cut a piece of wallboard to fit in the space. Screw it to the studs. Carefully plaster all the seams. Let it dry.
- Prime the wall using a mold resistant primer. Finish the wall by painting with mold resistant painting or wallpaper it with mold resistant wallpaper. While these things cost more, they will save you in the end because they will protect the wall. If painting or wallpapering the whole room then you should make sure that you use vinegar (or another cleaning solution) to wash all the surfaces before beginning with the paint or paper. This is because mold spores can cling to these surfaces waiting for the perfect opportunity to come out!
- Finish by washing all surfaces in the room with vinegar. This will kill off the mold spores and make sure that you get rid of them in the room.
Cleaning Up Wallboard.
If the problem isn't large enough to replace the wallboard, there isn't money for replacing the wallboard, or you have another reason to want to clean it and see how it goes here is your best bet.
- Spray the mold with hydrogen peroxide. Let it sit for ten minutes and then come back. Use a scrub brush to scrub it free and rinse it with clean water. Keep working until no more mold will come off.
- Spray the area with vinegar and leave it there for at least one hour (or over night). This will kill any mold left on the wall. If you come back in an hour you will want to dry it if necessary. If you don't do steps 3 and 4 you are likely going to need to repeat steps one and two every week or two to keep the mold away. Don't wait though and treat it as soon as you see it.
- If you don't want the mold to come back you need to seal it. To do this prime the entire wall with a mold resistant primer. Follow the directions.
- Then paint or wallpaper with a mold resistant paint or paper. In most cases priming and covering with mold resistant products will make it so that any mold that is still in the wall will be trapped and unable to continue growing.
Getting rid of mold in wallboard is usually a pretty big job. However, if done right then you won't have to do it again. Make sure that you are doing things to lower your chances of getting mold while you are taking care of the problem you already have. Read How to Prevent Mold In Your House for more information on preventing these problems and keeping them from coming back!