Preventing Mold in the Bath
While mold is a naturally occurring substance, there are ways to protect your home from mold growth even in areas that are naturally wet, especially the bathroom. The bathroom is the most important room in any home, it is the most used room and used by everyone. The kitchen is important, but not everyone cooks. Everyone goes into the bathroom, making it a value-adding room.
Bathrooms today are not constructed using standard sheetrock or drywall that is used to make up the walls in the rest of a home. Cement board is a water-durable and mold-resistant panel used as the foundation for tile in bathrooms. Cement board is comprised of concrete and glass fibers and formed into 4-by-8 sheets that look similar to drywall. Unlike drywall which is plaster held together between two sheets of heavy paper, cement board is highly resistant to absorbing water and has natural drying properties. The cement board surface is slightly rough, making it an ideal solution for accepting tile. There are waterproof boards as well as the common water-resistant types.
Cement board is twice as heavy as drywall making it hard for one person to manage. In addition, the cement boards require a saw to cut. Drywall can be cut using a utility knife making custom cuts easy on the fly. Despite the extra work involved, cement board is necessary in bathrooms to prevent mold from growing and worth the cost and effort.
The cement board is screwed to the walls studs and to the subfloor with tile applied directly to it using a tile adhesive or mastic specific for the tile being installed. Once dry, grout is then applied to the tile filling in the space between each piece. Excess grout is removed from the tile surface with a wet sponge while carefully avoiding the grout lines. Once the grout is dry, these areas of the bathroom are water and mold resistant. Be sure to caulk around the shower and tub areas to prevent water from running behind and into the wall. The material may be mold resistant, but prevention is the best way to keep your bathroom looking new and being a healthy room.
When painting a bathroom, use a semi-gloss paint instead of a satin or flat finish. Semi-gloss and gloss paints are comprised of a higher percentage of binders in them, making the resulting finish reflective and making it harder for mold to settle on the surface. The added binders also make the surface easier to clean. Semi-gloss paint will show imperfections, so make sure your walls are smooth.
Once the surfaces of the bathroom are properly coated, day-to-day maintenance is still required to prevent mold from growing. Code requires that bathrooms have a window in them or an exhaust fan to minimize moisture buildup. Never take a shower without turning on the exhaust fan. Opening the window in the winter time will ruin a great shower, so opt for the exhaust fan, which also prevents condensation on mirrors.
Make sure to keep all surfaces clean and dry. Bathrooms should be cleaned often; products containing bleach are the best solution as bleach kills mold spores. Never let water stand in the bathroom, drain bathtubs completely and follow up with a good wipe down or with a mold and mildew spray that will make cleanup easier as an added benefit.