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ENVIRONMENTAL HAZARDS - INSPECT, TEST, REMEDY
MOLD: A COMPLETE GUIDE to TEST CLEAN PREVENT
ACCURACY vs PRECISION of MEASUREMENTS
ACTIVITY of MOLD in buildings
AGE of MOLD - Old is the Mold?
AIR POLLUTANTS, COMMON INDOOR
AIR TEST SAMPLING CASSETTE STUDY
AIRBORNE MOLD COUNT NUMBER GUIDE
AIRBORNE PARTICLE ANALYSIS METHODS
ALLERGEN TESTS for BUILDINGS
ALLERGENS in BUILDINGS, RECOGNIZING
ALLERGY & MOLD IAQ PRODUCTS
ALLERGY TESTS for PEOPLE
ALLERGY TEST ACCURACY
BASEMENT MOLD WATER IMPACT
BIBLIOGAPHY for ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH, MOLD, IAQ
BIOLOGICAL POLLUTANTS in the HOME - EPA
BLACK MOLD, HARMLESS COSMETIC
BLACK MOLD, TOXIC & ALLERGENIC
BLEACHING MOLD, Advice about
BOOK MOLD, Moldy Book Cleaning
BOOKSTORE - ENVIRONMENTAL
CAR MOLD CONTAMINATION
CARPET DUST IDENTIFICATION
CARPETING & INDOOR AIR QUALITY
CARPETS & PADDING ODORS IN buildings
CHINESE DRYWALL HAZARDS
CLEARANCE INSPECTIONS - MOLD CLEANUP
DIRECTORY of MOLD / ENVIRONMENTAL EXPERTS
DIRT FLOOR MOLD CONTAMINATION
Disinfecting Buildings with Bleach
DO-IT-YOURSELF MOLD CLEANUP WARNINGS
DUCT SYSTEM & DUCT DEFECTS
DUST, HVAC CONTAMINATION STUDY
EFFLORESCENCE, Salts & White / Brown Deposits
EMERGENCY RESPONSE, IAQ, GAS, MOLD
FEAR of MOLD - MYCOPHOBIA
Fiberboard Insulation Sheathing Mold
FIBERGLASS INSULATION MOLD
FIND MOLD, ESSENTIAL STEPS
FIND MOLD in buildings, HOW TO
FLOOD DAMAGE ASSESSMENT, SAFETY & CLEANUP
FLOODS IN buildings-mold
FLOOR & SUBFLOOR MOLD, HIDDEN
HIDDEN MOLD, HOW TO FIND
HUMIDITY CONTROL & TARGETS INDOORS
INDOOR AIR HAZARDS TABLE
Indoor Air Pollution Book Online CPSC
INDOOR AIR QUALITY & HOUSE TIGHTNESS
INDOOR AIR QUALITY IMPROVEMENT GUIDE
INDOOR AIR QUALITY METHODS COMPARED
LAB PROCEDURES MICROSCOPE TECHNIQUES
Legionella BACTERIA & HVAC Equipment
MEDIA BLASTING for MOLD REMOVAL
MILDEW in BUILDINGS ?
MILDEW ERRORS - MOLD PHOTOS
MILDEW REMOVAL & PREVENTION
MOISTURE CONTROL in BUILDINGS
MOLD: A COMPLETE GUIDE TO MOLD
MOLD CLEANUP GUIDE- HOW TO GET RID OF MOLD
MOLD COUNT NUMBER GUIDE
MOLD CULTURE TEST KIT VALIDITY
MOLD DETECTION & INSPECTION GUIDE
MOLD or INDOOR AIR EMERGENCY RESPONSE
MOLD LEVEL IN AIR, VALIDITY
MOLD ODORS, MUSTY SMELLS
MOLD PREVENTION GUIDE
MOLD RELATED ILLNESS GUIDE
MOLD SAFETY WARNINGS
MOLD TEST KITS
MOLD TESTING METHOD VALIDITY
MSDS Material Safety Data Sheets
MYCOPHOBIA, STAINS MISTAKEN for MOLD
ODORS GASES SMELLS, DIAGNOSIS & CURE
OZONE for MOLD OR ODORS
PAINTS & COATINGS ODORS IN BUILDINGS
PARTICLE SIZES & IAQ
Particulates & Allergens Indoors
RADON HAZARD TESTS & MITIGATION
RENTERS & TENANTS GUIDE TO INDOOR HAZARDS
SMELL PATCH TEST to Track Down Odors
SEWAGE BACKUP TEST & CLEANUP
STAINS on & in BUILDINGS, CAUSES & CURES
STAIN DIAGNOSIS on BUILDING EXTERIORS
STAIN DIAGNOSIS on BUILDING INTERIORS
STAINS & Thermal Tracking
THERMAL IMAGING MOLD SCANS
THERMAL TRACKING & THERMAL BRIDGING
TRAPPED MOLD BETWEEN WOOD SURFACES
TRAPPED MOLD BETWEEN WOOD SURFACES
UV LIGHT BLACK LIGHT USES
Volatile Organic Compounds VOCs
This article offers advice on cleaning mold found on wood flooring, both when the flooring is already installed in a building and when wood flooring materials have not yet been installed in place. We discuss the pros and cons of using fungicidal sealants and bleach on wood floor product surfaces including the under-side as a mold-resistance improver, and give sources and list types of those products. We also discuss common errors made when cleaning wood surfaces, such as relying on bleach or performing expensive and unnecessary cleaning on cosmetic black mold on wood surfaces.
Green links show where you are. © Copyright 2013 InspectAPedia.com, All Rights Reserved. Author Daniel Friedman.
Cleaning mold from wood framing, or wood building sheathing and similar wood surfaces is discussed at MOLD CLEANUP - WOOD FRAMING & PLYWOOD. Also see MOLD CLEANUP - WOOD FLOORING where we describe removing mold from wood flooring surfaces. Readers should also see the general advice at MOLD CLEANUP GUIDE- HOW TO GET RID OF MOLD and finally, see Wood Floor Damage. Also see Hidden Mold in Flooring & Subflooring. Also see TRAPPED MOLD BETWEEN WOOD SURFACES for a discussion of the immobility of mold between wood framing and other surfaces, and see MOLD GROWTH on SURFACES for an index of what mold genera/species are frequently found on various building surfaces and materials.
At left our photo shows white and black mold on the surface of hardwood flooring. It may be possible to sand, clean, and re-finish this floor, but some exploration will be needed:
Our page top photo shows black mold on an oak strip floor near an exit door. Sanding or bleaching this mold won't fix anything - we need to find and fix the leak that caused this flooring to rot, and because the flooring is rotted, it needs to be replaced.
But often surface mold on wood flooring, new or installed in a building, can be easily cleaned and future mold growth prevented, as we describe here.
Question: How do I clean mold off of oak flooring that has not yet been installed?
I have recently found some used quarter sawn oak 3/4" tongue and groove flooring for sale. Upon further inspection, many of the pieces appear to have a white powder film on the finished side of the strips and also black mold on the back sides where is it grooved and unfinished.
Of course it is being sold at an incredible price, but I am concerned about the likeliness I will not be able to clean it properly. I will add that I will be gluing it down to concrete.
Is there anything I can do myself to insure proper elimination of the mold? - Jamie Longfellow, Tallahassee, FL
Answer: Physically Clean Moldy Wood Surfaces, Dry The Wood Flooring Before Installation
Here we are discussing cleaning mold off of wood flooring products that have not yet been installed in a building. If your concern is with mold on the visible surfaces of wood flooring already installed in a building, or on the under-side of wood flooring or subflooring already installed in a building, the wood surface cleaning discussed here still applies, but you should also see Hidden Mold in Flooring & Subflooring. Also see MOLD CLEANUP - WOOD FRAMING & PLYWOOD where we describe methods for cleaning wood surfaces in general.
Without a mold lab test (for example using the adhesive tape mold sample procedure at TEST KITS for DUST, MOLD, PARTICLE TESTS) we don't know from the moldy flooring question above if you are seeing mold or something else on soiled wood flooring, but it is reasonable to guess that a substance is mold based on its physical appearance (see MOLD APPEARANCE - WHAT MOLD LOOKS LIKE), especially if the flooring has been exposed to water, wet conditions, or high humidity.
Except where major costs are at issue that would be effected by a determination of the type of material or mold present, or where there are other reasons to test for mold, in our opinion testing is not necessary for small mold cleanup jobs (less than 30 sq.ft. of contiguous mold on a building surface). For help in deciding if it is appropriate to test for mold, see Reasons to Test for or Identify Mold and see MOLD EXPERT, WHEN TO HIRE.
In any case you can physically clean the surfaces to remove the mold. Physically cleaning means wiping, scrubbing with a scrubby sponge and any household cleaner. Don't waste money or time with mold killing washes, it's not necessary, and using bleach or similar agents can create a cosmetic problem or a problem with future adhesion of finish coatings on the flooring upper surface after installation.
Clean the wood flooring outside in dry weather, or in an appropriate indoor workshop where air, dust, and possibly moldy dust containment can be managed or won't be a problem. Don't bring moldy wood flooring into its destination building until the flooring has been cleaned, or you risk contaminating the building with moldy dust. See MOLD CLEANUP - SAFETY WARNINGS.
Watch out: be sure that your wood flooring has dried properly before it is installed or flooring shrinkage, gaps, or even more serious problems may occur. The wood should be below 18% moisture before any coatings are applied, and it should be thoroughly acclimated to the building interior where it is to be installed before it is secured in place. This can mean storing the wood in the destination building for days or longer before it is installed. See DRY THE MOLD-CLEANED SURFACE.
Our wood floor photo above shows a mold-free wood floor but its boards are cupped upwards (convex wood floor board cupping), suggesting that there was a problem moisture source above the floor (such as a burst pipe or flooding). Imagine that a wood floor board that has been more wet on one side than the other, as it dries, tends to be more expanded on the "wet" side - so will curve towards that side, while the more dry side will tend to be less expanded - so will curve away from the more dry side. Surely there are exceptions, but this general rule on the diagnosis of wood floor cupping often holds. More details are at Wood Floor Damage and at MOISTURE CONTROL in buildings.
At right our moisture meter is measuring the moisture level of a different wood floor, showing that the moisture is in the danger zone for forming mold, rot, insect damage, and floorboard cupping.
Leaving Stains on Some Wood Surfaces is Harmless, or of Cosmetic Significance Only
If an exposed flooring surface remains stained even after surface mold has been removed, you will need to sand that surface - a step typically performed after the flooring has been installed.
While in general we recommend against using bleach as a substitute for proper mold cleanups (MOLD CLEANUP with BLEACH) we have successfully used bleach (with great care) to remove stains in wood floors before re-finishing the exposed wood surface. Be sure that all bleach or any other cleaning has been thoroughly removed before re-finishing a floor.
Media blasting (MOLD CLEANUP by MEDIA BLASTING) can also produce a very clean wood surface with minimum damage to the wood. But be careful: inexpert use of any power-blasting or power washing method for cleaning wood can leave a raised wood grain and a very uneven surface that would be unacceptable for finishing on an interior wood floor surface.
Stains that might remain on the flooring underside will be of no cosmetic import and as long as the floor is installed indoors and not exposed to water or high moisture, mold growth should not be a problem.
Coating the Under-Side of Wood Flooring to Improve Mold Resistance & Moisture Resistance Before Installation
If nonetheless you want to take steps for extra "mold proofing" you can, after cleaning and drying the wood, coat the underside with a fungicidal sealant, or even with simple quick dry shellac or a lacquer primer-sealer paint. The top flooring surface will be finished and sealed after installation unless you are dealing with a pre-finished flooring product.
MOLD SPRAY SOURCES & TYPES lists some sealant products and FUNGICIDAL SPRAY & SEALANT USE GUIDE discusses warnings about using sealants on mold cleanup jobs (don't use a sealant as a substitute for actual cleaning).
What about mold on pre-finished or already-finished wood flooring?
If the exposed (upper) surface of the flooring material is moldy and if mold stains have penetrated the actual coating, for cosmetic reasons you'd need to sand through the coating and through the stain until the wood appearance is satisfactory.
Watch out: often mold-stains penetrate rather deeply into wood materials. While the stain does not itself signify an increased risk of future mold re-growth, its appearance may be unacceptable. But deep stains can require removal of quite a bit of wood surface - something that can be a problem in wood flooring, and in particular if the flooring is a Vee-grooved pre-finished product.
Sanding Vee-Grooved Pre-Finished Flooring to Remove Mold?
V-grooved pre-finished flooring is not intended to ever be sanded, and if you do sand it, the result will be uneven removal of material so that the Vee-grooves are no longer consistent, ruining the finished floor appearance. In that case you'd have to fully sand the floor until it has become totally smooth before it can be re-finished.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Questions & answers or comments about mold contamination on building floors and in floor coverings or floor materials.
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Technical Reviewers & References
Related Topics, found near the top of this page suggest articles closely related to this one.
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Mold Contamination Testing, Cleanup, Prevention: references & products