Paints & Coatings Resource Center

Ask the Expert Question-and-Answer Archive

by Ron Joseph

October, 2004

Painting Over Mildew

Q. I bought a 5 shelve unit for my basement to store canned goods. The floor got wet due to a leaky hot water tank. The carpeting in the room got soaked and my husband put a fan there to dry the carpet. It did dry after a few months. I don't smell anything but the particle board shelves are coated with mold and mildew. I wiped the shelves down with bleach water and they are now air drying. I tried not to get too much water on them. My question. What kind of paint can I put on them. The under sides were also bad. The bottom shelves were worse than the top one. There are five shelves about eighteen inches apart. I have used Kilz paint on my cork ceiling in Fla. and it worked great for covering up stains. Hope you can help. Thank you very much.

The lower shelves (closer to the water) would naturally have a greater level of mold due to their location and proximity to the source of the moisture.

By wiping down or scraping off the mildew from the surface of the shelves then wiping down with bleach, it sounds as you have as if you have killed off the mold. You may repeat to the bleach process to insure that you have killed off any mold or mildew.

After you have allowed the shelves to dry completely, then I do recommend using a product such as "Kilz" or other stain blocking product that will both retard any re-growth and seal up the particle board surface. Kilz can be purchased in most hardware stores.

Be certain to coat all edges well, the particle board will absorb a good amount of the coating product naturally, this will ensure the shelves are well sealed.

You may at this point decide to sand the surface, and apply a good acrylic latex paint to the shelves to help protect them from any further damage, and give many years of good service.

When you visit your local paint distributor explain your intentions, and inform them of the situation. Ask for specific product recommendations and finishing procedures, be sure to follow all directions and manufacturers recommendations.

Please be aware that paints, coatings and solvents are chemicals and therefore you must always pay attention to proper handling procedures and be prepared to wear protective clothing, such as respirators, gloves, coveralls, etc. For further information on the health and safety requirements for the coatings and solvents you wish to use we strongly advised you to contact your local coating supplier. If possible, go the extra step and look for this information on the website of the product vendor.


Jim Burke

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