Mold is VERY versatile.
Give it the right conditions and watch it flourish like a well watered and fertilized garden.
But thats not what you want right?
You want to get rid of it for good!
So by the end of this quick guide, you’re going to learn how to remove mold wood surfaces around your home.
What causes mold on wood? These 2 Things
Mold can be found growing on virtually any surface, that is, if it has a food source, enough moisture, and the ideal conditions
Cellulose-based materials like wood provide the perfect source of nutrients to promote mold growth.
How does this happen?
1. Moisture Content of Wood
First, let’s look at the moisture content of wood. The Moisture Content (MC) of wood is the total amount of water present in the material.
In general, the moisture content of wood depending on the species generally falls between 8% to 19% by weight.
When a contractor uses wood to build your home, the ideal moisture content should be around 14%.
When the moisture content of wood gets to the 20% range and higher, significant mold growth will begin to occur in several days.
By now we all know that mold spores are a part of our natural environment and they’re floating around in the air we breathe.
No matter where you are or where you live, you’re exposed to mold spores.
When mold spores are floating around in the air land on a wet piece of wood, lumber or any material that it can break down and digest, guess what?
The spores will begin to germinate and grow on the surface of that material.
So, a piece of wood, furniture or other cellulose-based material that gets wet and is not dried within 24-48 hours provides the ideal habitat for mold to grow a rapid pace.
To illustrate this, take for example a recent natural disaster, Hurricane Michael, that occurred in Florida.
This storm caused storm surges which flooded many homes along the FL panhandle.
When a home floods, this provides the perfect situation for mold to grow on building materials like wooden studs, walls, furniture, and other materials.
The growth will occur because the materials frequently remain wet for days and even weeks.
Mold can grow on wood because of:
- Plumbing leaks,
- Sewer backup that causes building materials to remain wet for long periods,
- Roof leaks,
- High humidity levels over several days,
- Wood stays wet for 48 hours or longer
2. High Humidity Levels
Another key contributor to mold growth on wood is high humidity conditions.
Relative humidity is a measure of how much moisture is in the air at a given time.
The higher the relative humidity, the more likely that mold growth will occur.
In most cases, humidity levels in your home should fall between 30-50 %.
When levels exceed 60% and remain elevated for long periods, this can promote mold growth on the surface or materials.
In the case of wood (cellulose based item), research shows that mold growth will occur on these items when the relative humidity is 70% and greater over several days.
To sum it all up, there are two common things that cause mold growth on wood. First, the wood gets wet from flooding or any other water source.
Moreover, second, when the relative humidity levels in a given area remain above 70% for over several days.
How To Treat Mold On Wood Studs
Mold growing on wooden studs can be a annoying problem.
It can become costly and be a headache to deal with if the mold spreads on the material.
In general, mold will grow on studs and other wooden building materials if not stored correctly before construction.
Also, mold growth can occur on wood studs because of flooding, leaks or faulty plumbing installation, or even a simple air conditioning leak.
It the mold growth is removed quickly, it’s usually safe to use the material.
In some cases, there may be some small stains that remain after cleaning.
However, if you cleaned the material correctly and the moisture source has been fixed, then no mold regrowth will occur.
Use the following steps to remove mold from wooden studs:
Items you will need:
- N95 respirator or better
- Rubber gloves
- Vacuum with HEPA filter
- Safety Goggles
- Scrub Brush or stainless-steel scrubbing pad
- Mild Detergent – Dishwashing liquid
- Portable fan
- Sandpaper – optional
The first step when cleaning any moldy surface is to take the appropriate safety precautions.
Mold may not affect most people, but some individuals can have allergic reactions to small amounts of mold exposure.
Therefore, if you are attempting to clean molds, even small amounts found in the home, taking steps to keep your family safe is vital.
Inspect the area to ensure the source of moisture that is causing the mold growth has been fixed.
This is an important step because the mold will continue to grow and destroy the wood if the source is not repaired.
What Does Mold Look Like on Wood?
Here are some REAL examples shown below:
NOTE: If you can’t find what’s causing the mold growth, always consult a professional.
- Put on your gloves, mask and eye protection.
- Open windows to allow ventilation.
- Begin to apply the detergent to the moldy area of the wood. Always avoid oversaturating the material. Oversaturation could worsen the condition.
- Begin to clean the wood using a stainless-steel scrubbing pad or a thick bristle brush. Scrub the area until the wood looks clean.
- After the area has been scrubbed and molds have been removed, use a cloth to dry the area.
- Wipe down the wood with a sanitizer like Lysol disinfectant.
- Dry the wood again – a mold inhibitor can be applied at this stage (optional)
- Use a HEPA vacuum to clean the wood and the surrounding area. HEPA vacuums contain filters that are capable of trapping microscopic particles such as mold spores.
- Put a fan next to the wood and allow the area to dry out for a minimum of 24 hours. This removes any excess moisture from the wood generated by the cleaning process.
- After 24 hours, inspect the area. The mold should not resurface if the moisture source has been fixed.
Removing Mold Stains from Wood
In some cases where the stains from the mold will remain on the wood.
This is usually not a problem and is mainly a cosmetic issue as long as the wood is dry, and the moisture issue is fixed.
There are a couple of steps that can be taken to remove the stains.
When the mold growth has been removed, and the wood is clean and dry, you can use sandpaper with fine grit to sand the surface of the wood.
- First, use 100-grit to sand the affected areas
- Then, smooth the area with either 120-grit or 180-grit sandpaper.
In most cases sanding the materials will usually remove the stains but sometimes the staining may be deep in the wood and therefore cannot be removed entirely.
Removing mold from wood with vinegar (is this possible?)
When cleaning mold from wood, white distilled vinegar can be used as an effective sanitizing agent.
Vinegar is an acetic acid with pH levels ranging from 2–3 which is effective as sanitizing surfaces.
Frequently, vinegar is used as a cleaning agent because of its antibacterial and antifungal properties.
Vinegar may not be as powerful as other cleaners like bleach, but is a lot more safer alternative.
It doesn’t release toxic fumes that can cause irritant reactions like burning eyes, coughing, and other health problems.
To use vinegar as a sanitizing agent when cleaning wood, use the following steps:
- Put on your safety gear (rubber gloves, safety goggles, and a respirator)
- Open windows for ventilation if needed.
- Use a vacuum with a HEPA filter to remove and capture the molds growing on the surface of the material.
- When the mold spores on the surface have been removed with the HEPA vacuum, pour vinegar into a spray bottle and begin to apply the vinegar solution to the moldy areas.
- Allow the vinegar to remain on the moldy surface for about 40 – 60
- After the time has passed, use a soft bristle brush to scrub the area.
- Then, use a dry cloth to wipe the area down.
- Allow the area to dry, preferably 12 – 24 hours.
- Inspect the area to ensure all the mold growth has been removed, and the wood is completely dry.
- This step is optional, use the spray bottle to lightly mist the area that was cleaned and let it dry.
A certified Environmental Health & Safety professional who has performed successful mold investigations and remediation projects for years.