Help! - Moldy wallpaper, only 2 wks old!

Old 03-29-02, 01:42 PM
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Question Help! - Moldy wallpaper, only 2 wks old!

Hoping someone can help! Just put up new wallpaper two weeks ago. Wallpaper went up beautifully but after one week we noticed funny spots - seeming to come up through the paper, not as if splattered on top. Spots are getting worse and we think it must be mold! Room is relatively dry, paint was in good shape (no mold anywhere previously), we prepared the wall with sizing and put up brand new paper. We suspect the sizing was bad b/c I saved a bit in a plastic container and it now looks like a science project ... Wallpaper store is testing to see if paper is at fault, but I really think its the sizing. $2.15 sizing has destroyed $200 worth of wallpaper!! Any chance of cleaning this mess? I'm thinking I'll have to pull down the paper, but it seems that's not going to be easy - I think the sizing must have been compromised because we cannot get the paper off - planning to try chemical strippers next. Worried even if get paper off - how to really get mold off so this won't happen again??? Any advice welcome. I am beside myself w/ heartache - this is for a baby nursery and baby is only 5 weeks away - afraid now the room is a HAZMAT zone. Any suggestions as to what to do with this mess????
Old 03-29-02, 03:55 PM
Join Date: Jan 2002
Location: Virginia Beach, VA
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Cause: Improper preparation, pre-existing mold on your walls.

What should have been done: Proper preparation would have prevented the mold. Modern primers all have bio/mildewcides in their formulas. Once the primer was applied, you should have had no problems.

What to do now: Strip your wallpaper. Apply some sort of quality primer to the surface whether you decide to re-do the wallpaper or paint. You could go all out and buy a mildew resistant primer, but in your case it sounds as if the existing mildew problem was mild and only exacerbated by the wallpaper. By this I mean that mold/mildew can be present on the surface without it being seen. Applying wallpaper without prep to the surface can make it worse. The wallpaper you used was probably coated by vinyl, which now is the equivalent of an airtight seal of mold, wallpaper glue, and moisture. The same end result that occured in your bucket of size, occured underneath your wallpaper.

Size was definately not the cause unless you mixed it up several days ahead of time. Also, size, in your case, will have no effect on the ease of stripping your wallpaper. You wallpaper is coming off with difficulty due to its application over paint. I am guessing that your walls were previously a flat/latex finish. Primers create a hard surface so the weak link is the glue, so stripping is easy. Flat paints absorb wallpaper glue and bond to it. Now the weak link is the paint/paste surface layer. It is almost as if you are now trying to strip the paint off the surface of the wall, that is why stripping is hard.

Obviously once you strip the paper, you will want to remove any obvious patches of mold using a strong bleach solution. Once this is done, prime and go to the next step whether its paint or wallpaper again. If you do choose to use a special "mildew proof" primer, I would go with Zinsser's Shieldz.

I am sorry that this unfortunate situation has occured to you. The sad thing is you only have one course of action and that is with the manufacturer of the wallpaper. If you followed the directions on the wallpaper label EXACTLY, they are to blame and you should pursue this matter to its ultimate end to get re-imbursed for your financial loss. Conversely, if you missed any step on the wallpaper instructions, the blame soley rests on you and any further contact with the wallpaper company is unethical.
Old 03-30-02, 12:06 AM
Join Date: Feb 2001
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I must admit that it sounds unusual that the mould was not obvious on your walls before you started..
I cannot understand why a coat of size would make it suddenly appear?? Are you 100% sure that there was no evidence of mould before you sized the walls?? What happened after the size coat had dried?? Still no mould?..What colour was the size when it was dry...???Was it colourless??

Walls only need primer if there is something there that needs sealing back...
I have never..ever come across ths problem before and if everything is truly as you have explained it then I really have no explaination!!....Twighlight zone stuff!!
Old 04-01-02, 06:21 AM
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thanks for tips

Thanks for the fast replies! We stripped the paper, scrubbed for hours and have applied the primer sealer. We plan just to apply two test strips of paper tonight and wait a week or so to see if mold re-appears.

What was beginning to show through the wallpaper wasn't even the tip of the iceberg in terms of what was going on behind the paper. Once we got the paper off it was an amazing technicolor show. I probably could have passed it off as a Jackson Pollack painting. Amazing reds, purples, greens, blacks, browns, and grays. Wasn't even a square inch unblemished. Took two different kinds of mildew killer solutions to get the stuff off. Bleach solution only took care of three of the molds, the blacks and browns required heavy-duty commerical mold killer.

Extremely hard to believe this mold was pre-existing, considering absolutely no trace previously and we have papered other rooms in the house, including much "damper" bathrooms and basement, with no such HAZMAT result. But we are hopeful whatever was there is now dead. Incredible to see what kind of growth could happen over just two weeks. If it was pre-existing, thankful was discovered before the baby's arrival!

Many thanks for fast replies, good advice and moral support!! I will definitely refer this board to friends.

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