Can Paint Get Moldy?


Mold is a common household problem that can cause health problems and damage to your property. Left to grow in your house, mold can devalue your home or incur hundreds or thousands of dollars worth of repairs. If you’re a homeowner, it’s important to know whether or not your home’s paint can grow mold and, if so, what you can do about it.

Mold Growth on Paint

According to the CDC, paint is one of the many household substances that can grow mold. Paint can grow mold while in the can or while on your walls. However, some types of paint are more susceptible to mold growth than others. With proper treatment, mold can be prevented.

Signs Paint has Molded

The following signs will tell you if your paint has begun to mold:

  • Musty odor: Moldy paint smells musty and wet, like mildew. You’ll notice this smell when you walk into the room (if it’s painted on the walls), or when you open the can.
  • Discoloration: Different types of mold can be different colors. These colors include black, green, gray, orange, white or brown.
  • Unidentified colonies or clumps: Mold often grows in concentrated areas. Colonies of mold can be fuzzy or slimy.

Causes of Paint Mold

Mold grows in humid, warm environments. When mold grows on painted surfaces inside the home, the cause can often be traced back to a leak somewhere in the house or a lack of ventilation. Mold that grows on wet paint found in cans is sometimes caused by improper storage habits.

In addition, some types of paint are more likely to grow mold than other types of paint. Oil paint contains more organic ingredients than water-based paints and is therefore more likely to grow mold. In addition, paints that contain titanium dioxide are more vulnerable to mold growth than paints that contain zinc oxide.

Paint Mold Prevention

The best way to prevent mold from growing on painted surfaces or in cans of wet paint is to add a mold inhibitor to the paint. Mold inhibitors are sold at hardware stores, home improvement centers and at paint stores. These products can be stirred directly into fresh wet paint and will prevent mold from growing on the paint both in the can and on the wall.

Some high-quality paint products are designed to be mold-resistant without use of mold inhibitors, so if you’re thinking about purchasing a mold inhibitor for your paint, check with a representative from the paint store to find out if the paint even needs mold growth inhibitors. Don’t stir mold growth inhibitor into paint that is already mold resistant.

Be careful to follow all manufacturer’s instructions when using mold growth inhibitor. Mold growth inhibitor is toxic and should be kept out of reach from children.

Dealing with Mold

Dumpster To Dispose Paint

If you discover mold growing inside your can of wet paint, don’t use the paint. Any moldy paint you have should be discarded. Some communities have ordinances regarding the proper methods to discard paint. Check out our previous post about how to throw away old paint for more information.

If you discover mold growing in your home, contact a mold remediation company right away.


For more information about household mold growth, its health effects and how to avoid problems, we recommend taking a look at the CDC’s website about mold. We also encourage you to store your cans of paint properly to avoid mold growth problems. Keeping the can properly sealed can prevent mold spores from entering your paint cans. For more advice regarding paint storage, take a look at this article about how to store old cans of paint.

For more information about preserving your paint and preventing mold growth, call Ace Paint and Unfinished Furniture, or stop by one of our convenient locations. Mold is a serious household hazard, and we want to help you avoid it whenever possible.