How to remove mold from wood
Mold growing on wood poses more danger than just to your health. With time, it can destabilize the integrity of wooden home structures and roof frameworks, thereby contributing to the weakening of such said structures and resulting in costly repairs. This is why removing mold from wood should be treated with urgency. We will reveal why wood is susceptible to mold growth, how to remove it from finished and unfinished surfaces, and what can be done to prevent it from occurring again.
- What causes mold on wood?
- What does mold on wood look like?
- Safety measures
- How to remove mold from finished wood
- How to remove mold from unfinished wood
- Recommended wood sealers
What causes mold on wood?
Wood is the ideal place for mold growth because of its ability to absorb and hold significant quantities of water effortlessly. Furthermore, it is a natural substance with lots of pores and cracks, which makes it easy for fungi roots to dig down below the surface area. Not to mention, wood is an excellent mold food source. Therefore, inspecting wooden structures in your home and immediately dealing with any signs of mold will go a long way in preventing costly repairs from structural damage.
Water: Water from flooding or even rain on an outside wooden fence is enough to cause mold formation. Therefore, keeping wood dry is essential, and one of the best ways to do this is to apply a coating of quality sealant, which will help prevent the absorption of water. A good quality moisture meter is an effective way of checking the amount of water wood has absorbed.
Humidity: High humidity levels is another major contributing factor. Once again, a high-quality sealant will significantly reduce the risk of mold on wood in highly humid environments. It’s also advised to keep indoor humidity levels under control, and this is evident in places such as attics. A small indoor dehumidifier can make a world of difference.
Irregular cleaning: Regular cleaning of indoor wooden furniture is essential. Most high quality over the counter furniture cleaning products does an excellent job of preventing mold. However, for best results, take a cup of 1/4 white vinegar and mix it with 3/4 olive oil. Evenly apply the solution onto wooden furniture moving along with the grain. Not only will this give off a beautiful lasting polished look, but the white vinegar will also kill off mold spores.
What does mold on wood look like?
White mold on wood: White mold growing on wood is most common in basements and attics and usually appears as small white dots or fluffy spots. It’s not a threat to structural integrity or health in small quantities, but it can become a serious problem if it gets out of control.
It’s hard to establish precisely what species white mold is because many types – black and green – may first appear white in the beginning stages.
Also, what may appear as white mold may not even be a mold problem at all. Sometimes when concrete/bricks get wet and the water evaporates, it will leave salt deposits behind. These salt deposits, which is often mistaken for white mold, is actually a harmless substance known as efflorescence.
So, how can you tell if you are dealing with white mold or efflorescence?
If dealing with concrete and masonry, then chances are that it’s efflorescence. Simply spray a bit of water onto it and if it washes away easily then it was definitely salt deposits. On the other hand, if it appears on wood, then it’s not efflorescence because the substance doesn’t appear on wood.
Black mold on wood: Black mold on wood can appear as black dots or streaks, and it doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s toxic. It does, however, need to be eradicated.
Green mold on wood: Green mold on wood, just like the black variety, can appear as either dots or streaks. It most commonly affects outdoor wood, exposed to wetness and shade for long periods.
- Respirator: Wearing a respirator is highly recommended. Not only will it protect you from spores during the cleaning process, but it will also keep dust and other fine particles out of your lungs when sanding.
- Gloves: If you are doing sanding, then wear a good pair of gloves because splinters can be painful.
- Safety glasses: Dust and other debris from sanding can be a significant eye irritant, so protect yourself with a good pair of wrap-around safety glasses.
- Air circulation: When dealing with mold on indoor furniture, always keep the windows open for some fresh air circulation. If at all possible, take whatever you can outside and clean it there.
How to remove mold from finished wood
The mold remediation process for finished wood is quick and easy because thanks to the sealant, the fungi would not have penetrated the surface.
What you will need: A soft brush, dishwasher detergent, white vinegar, a spray bottle and a vacuum cleaner (preferably a HEPA filtered vacuum).
1: First, vacuum the affected and surrounding areas to suck up any potential loose spores lying around. In this step, a HEPA vacuum cleaner would be ideal, but if you do not have one, then a regular vacuum will have to do.
2: Mix some warm water with ordinary dishwashing liquid and put it into a spray bottle for easy use. Spray onto the affected areas and scrub gently with a soft brush until all the mold is off.
3: Apply some white vinegar to the area and let it soak for an hour.
4: After an hour, lightly scrub it down again. Done!
How to remove mold from unfinished wood
Unfinished wood usually requires additional steps and is a bit more labor-intensive because it’s more than likely that the mold roots have penetrated the surface.
What you will need: A soft brush, dishwasher liquid, a spray bottle, white vinegar, some sanding paper and a vacuum cleaner (preferably a HEPA filtered vacuum).
1: In the first step, we will use a HEPA vacuum cleaner to vacuum around the affected area to suck up any loose spores lying around. A HEPA filtered vacuum is ideally suited for this task, but if you do not have one, use a regular vacuum cleaner instead.
2: Gently scrub the affected surface area with dishwashing liquid and warm water. In the unlikely event that no more mold is visible, consider yourself lucky because that means the fungi hasn’t penetrated the cracks. Apply white vinegar, let it soak for an hour, and wash again with dishwashing liquid. No additional steps are required. However, if mold is still visible, then it means that the roots are sitting inside the cracks. Proceed to step 3.
3: Gently sand down the affected area with some sanding paper and rewash it with dishwashing liquid and warm water. Repeat this process until no more mold is visible.
4: When you have reached the root level, the mold will no longer be visible. Apply some white vinegar and let it soak for an hour.
5: Wash again with dishwashing liquid and warm water. Done!
Recommended wood sealants
Below we have listed two of the highest quality sealers. Minwax is ideal for indoor applications, while Thompsons WaterSeal is specifically made for outdoor applications.
Minwax wood finish penetrating interior wood stain, 1/2 pint
Minwax is America’s leading brand of wood finishing products. The product is oil-based and therefore gives off a beautiful, long-lasting color.
It effectively penetrates all cracks and pores, thereby wholly sealing everything off from fungal growth and water absorption.
Minwax Wood Finish is available in 28 different colors and is perfect for all types of unfinished indoor wood. Apply one coat to doors, hardwood flooring, cabinets, and any wooden furniture.
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Thompsons water seal TH.A21711-16 advanced natural wood protector
Thompsons WaterSeal TH.A21711-16 Advanced Natural Wood Protector is ideal for outdoor applications. It provides wood with a long-lasting protective coat that is resistant to mold and mildew, color fading, water absorption, and even sun damage.
This product is water-based, which means that it can easily be cleaned up. Apply one coat to outdoor decks, outdoor furniture, and fences to preserve their life and integrity.
The product doesn’t give off that dark glossy look either. Instead, everything coated with Thompsons Waterseal maintains its original unfinished look but with a lot of added protection.
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