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Mold Underneath Your Wallpaper: What Causes It, How Can You Tell If It's Molded, And What Can You Do To Fix It?

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Wallpaper is a great choice for homeowners who are looking for an inexpensive way to add decoration and character to their walls. Unfortunately, wallpaper can also lead to persistent mold problems due to its capability of trapping moisture underneath it. Mold is a serious issue for homeowners, as some strains of mold are toxic — these molds can cause recurring health problems for you and your family.

Mold infestations need to be remedied quickly before they can pose a health risk or spread even further. If you have wallpaper in your home, read on to find out what can cause mold to grow underneath of it, how to tell if it's molded, and what you should do in order to remedy the problem.

Why Does Wallpaper Often Suffer From Mold Problems?

Mold is a living organism that requires food and water in order to grow and spread. Wallpaper provides ample amounts of both — this makes the underside of wallpaper one of the best growing surfaces for mold and allows mold infestations to quickly spread.

Wallpaper reduces the vapor permeability of the wall it's covering, and this is especially true of vinyl wallpaper. Woven wallpaper is slightly more permeable but can still contribute to mold problems. Reducing a wall's vapor permeability will trap moisture between the wall and the underside of the wallpaper. Even though the wallpaper itself looks completely dry, you may have a substantial amount of moisture buildup underneath it. This allows mold to rapidly grow and spread.

Wallpaper glue is an organic material that is a viable food source for mold, which further contributes to the rapid development of mold growth underneath wallpaper. Additionally, woven wallpaper itself is another food source for mold. The abundant access to food will hasten mold growth and cause severe mold infestations to quickly develop.

What Are the Signs of Mold Underneath Wallpaper?

The first sign of a mold infestation underneath your wallpaper is discoloration. As mold grows, it will begin to show through the wallpaper. The discoloration may appear as either streaks or small, round spots.

Unfortunately, discoloration can be difficult to spot on darker-colored wallpaper or wallpaper with busy patterns. In this case, the second sign of a mold infestation underneath your wallpaper is sections of bubbling wallpaper. Since mold eats the wallpaper glue that adheres the wallpaper to the wall, a mold infestation will often cause the wallpaper to become detached from the wall and begin to bubble. Additionally, the moisture problems that lead to mold growth can also slowly dissolve wallpaper glue — this makes bubbling wallpaper a very good indicator that a mold infestation lies underneath.

What Causes Mold Underneath Wallpaper?

One of the most common causes of molded wallpaper is a plumbing leak in the wall cavity. Condensation on the pipes can also cause this problem. Water seeps through the drywall and becomes trapped behind the wallpaper, where the low vapor permeability makes it unable to evaporate. This quickly causes mold to form and spread.

High humidity can also cause mold to form underneath wallpaper — this is an especially common problem for wallpaper installed in bathrooms and kitchens. Water vapor in the air can work its way underneath the wallpaper and become trapped there, causing persistently high levels of moisture.

What Is the Best Way to Remove Wallpaper Mold? 

Unfortunately, molded wallpaper is a very difficult problem to deal with. It's best to call mold remediation professionals in order to remove your mold infestation. The reason behind this is that severely molded wallpaper is typically unsalvageable and needs to be removed. Mold will spread spores when it's disturbed, and the process of removing wallpaper from the wall will cause mold to release substantial amounts of spores. Not only are these spores dangerous to inhale, but they can easily spread throughout your home and cause further mold growth.

Professional mold remediation companies have the equipment necessary to completely seal off the affected area and prevent mold spores from spreading throughout the home. Your wallpaper will be removed and the underlying mold infestation will be exterminated without worsening the problem. You also won't have to risk your health by attempting to remove molded wallpaper on your own. For the safest and easiest option to remove mold, call a professional mold remediation company like Colfax Corporation.