Most people know what mildew looks like -- it is that dark moldy looking stuff that usually appears around tiles, shower curtains or above the shower wall. This can be something that is unsightly but also unhealthy. Many people wonder whether they can paint over mildew when they are redoing their bathroom.
Mildew is a fungus that will continue to grow on moist surfaces unless you get rid of it. It also does a very good job on paint, especially on latex based paints.
Another problem that you probably have if you have mildew and moisture is peeling paint. If this is the case then you must first remove the mildew and repair the peeling paint before repainting. Start by removing the mildew with a solution of water and bleach to spray into the area (one part bleach and six parts water). Be sure to wear safety goggles and rubber gloves to protect your eyes and hands.
Apply the spray everywhere you see the black marks of mildew. This will make sure that the mildew is dead before you begin painting the bathroom walls. You will need to let the affected area dry before moving to the next step.
Scrape all the loose and peeling paint and fill in any cracks and dents with a spackling compound. Once the spackling compound is dry, sand them smooth. Re-coat with additional spackling compound if necessary since it often shrinks when it dries. Remove any Spackle dust with a damp sponge. Prime the walls with a high quality acrylic primer. Let the primer dry and then paint the walls with a high-quality eggshell finish latex paint. The Benjamin Moore Aura Eggshell is the best because of its mildew resistance and superior durability.
Some people wonder why they cannot use a flat paint and the reason is because the walls will be exposed to water and more mildew in the future. Mildew thrives in damp dark environments, so most likely it will return. Once you see the mildew returning you'll want to wipe the walls down with a damp sponge and bleach/water solution. This will keep the mildew from doing much damage to your walls. A top-quality mildew-resistant paint like the Benjamin Moore Aura will not only retard mildew growth, but it will also hold up extremely well to repeated washing. This Aura paint is also low odor and it comes in a variety of colors.
If the problem is severe, you can also ask the paint store also add a mildewcide packet to the paint before they shake the can. This way you can be sure that he mildewcide and the paint are mixed evenly. If you are using a true bathroom or kitchen paint they usually have mildewcide already in them, but a little more can't hurt.
When you are treating mildew in the bathroom it is also important to make sure that grout and tiles are clear of it. Sometimes you may have to replace tiles or grout if you use a bleach treatment and you find that the mildew you can see is not responding to the bleach. This could mean that the mildew has grown under the tile which means you would have to dig it out and treat it to get rid of it.
And if you have a really bad mildew problem, it might be time to install that ceiling exhaust fan.