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Wallpaper, Bathrooms, and Mold

On first thoughts, you might think that wallpaper and bathrooms are mutually exclusive. How would one, after all, reconcile the notion that one of the most vulnerable rooms in the house to mold is also often wrapped up in paper? Surely that’s asking for a whole load of water-based, excess moisture, sodden-wall trouble?

And yet, for some, wallpaper is still a preference when it comes to decorating bathrooms. So, what’s going on?

“Whilst wallpaper isn’t suitable for splash zones, there’s no reason why you can’t use it elsewhere in your bathroom”, Adam Chard, Bathroom Expert at VictoriaPlum.com tells MoldBlogger.  “Available in a range of beautiful designs and styles, wallpaper is a great, low-cost alternative to tiles. It is easy to put up and can also be changed quickly when you grow tired of it or if mold should form.”

True, you might be increasing the risk of uninvited mold making its ways onto your bathroom walls thanks to the reliable equation which requires moisture and a food source for the fungus to grow, but the good news is that removing said mold from wallpaper is surprisingly easy – if tackled as soon as it’s spotted (quite literally!).

Here are some of our top tips:

  • Protect yourself. As ever, when it comes to mold, ensure you take precautions to avoid breathing in any spores, which is bad for your health. Gloves and a mask should be staples in your home for this reason alone and make sure you have appropriate ventilation and avoid potential ignition sources before attempting to tackle the problem.
  • DIY fixes. A simple mix of soap and water, wiped with a cloth and sponge to the affected area, or a mixture of water and white vinegar, can work wonders in wiping away the mold. If this fails, mix one-part bleach with nine parts water and a small amount of soap but test it beforehand to make sure it doesn’t stain. There are also lots of different products on the market that you can buy to help treat a moldy wall and/or wallpaper. Read Tips For Cleaning Your Bathroom here.
  • Keep dry. Don’t get the wallpaper too wet or it will bubble up and dry the area thoroughly once all traces of mold have been removed.
  • Preventative measures. “You can easily address ventilation issues by fitting an extractor fan or ensuring windows are opened when using your bath or shower”, Adam explains, before adding that you should always choose “good quality” and look for washable bathroom wallpaper. In terms of the best type of wallpaper to choose for the bathroom, stick to nonwoven, which can breathe, unlike their vinyl counterparts. Charlie Budd, who spent 14 years as a decorator, also advises using matt varnish on top – if it is not already washable wallpaper.
  • Be sensible. If mold has gone through to the walls – or if the affected area is bigger than half a square meter – call a mold remediation specialist to come and deal with the problem properly. There’s no point papering over a more serious issue and if the mold has spread throughout the wall, the plaster will need to be removed. Soft and/or spongy walls is normally a good indicator that mold has penetrated deeper. You can check to see if the affected area of a wall is damp using the tin foil test – details of which can be viewed here. Alternatively, you can use a moisture meter, available in any hardware store.

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