Plywood is a type of composite material that is used for attic flooring and ceilings due to its lightweight and durable characteristics. However, it is susceptible to damage from excessive humidity, which can quickly give way to mildew and mold growth.
Mold is a fungus that can destroy the structural integrity of plywood and spread to other spaces of the house. Mold can also release harmful toxins into the surrounding environments, making it hazardous to your health.
As attic plywood floors are prone to mold growth, it can cause skin irritation, asthma, headaches, and breathing problems. Therefore it’s crucial for you to remove any signs of mold as soon as you notice it.
Removing mold from attic plywood can be an extensive process, especially if you have a large attic. It’s important that you take to follow these steps carefully and take all the necessary precautions.
1. Prepare Your Equipment
You’ll need to start off by preparing all of the necessary equipment before you start the mold removal process. Since you will be working with mold, it’s important to take proper precautions and protect yourself with safety equipment to wear and use.
You should have the following safety equipment ready:
- Respirator Mask – This will help filter out mold spores from entering and irritating your respiratory system. An N95, N99, or N100 mask is most suitable for cleaning mold and filtering mold spores You can consider opting for one with an exhalation valve for easier breathing.
- Rubber Gloves – Wear gloves to minimize the risk of carrying mold particles into other areas of your house and to keep your skin safe.
- Safety Goggles – To prevent irritation to your eyes during the process of cleaning the attic plywood, you need to wear goggles that shield them from the spores.
- A Full Protective Suit (if possible) – If you are dealing with toxic black mold, you should wear a full protective suit to minimize the risk of contact and protect yourself from its harmful effects. You won’t need a protective suit for cleaning ordinary types of mold, but it is recommended to prevent mold spores from falling on your clothes.
You will also need some equipment to seal the attic plywood in order to ensure that the spores don’t spread to other areas of your home, as well as cleaning equipment for mold remediation.
For this, you should prepare the following:
- Plastic Sheet
- Plastic Bags
- Mold-Removing Solution – Dedicated Mold Removing Product, Hydrogen Peroxide, or Vinegar and Water Solution (details in step 3 below)
- Scrub Brush
- Spray Bottle
If you have a HEPA filter wet vacuum available, this can be very helpful in vacuuming up mold spores from attic plywood. Avoid using dry vacuums, it will release mold into the air instead of trapping them in the filter and water.
2. Seal & Clear the Attic
Vents, windows, and other openings should be sealed with plastic sheets and tape to prevent mold spores from spreading out of the attic when you are treating the plywood flooring. It is also important to clear the attic to avoid getting mold spores on items and to create a clear space for you to work.
Clearing the attic of your belongings will also provide an opportunity to inspect each item for mold infestation. Seal the infested items in plastic bags and keep them outdoors, you can then decide to either salvage or dispose of these items.
If you have a HEPA filter wet vacuum, vacuum all apparent signs of mold from the attic plywood. Although this step is not necessary, it can reduce the number of mold spores considerably before the next step.
3. Select & Apply a Mold-Removing Solution
There are a few solutions that are highly effective for DIY mold removal. However, it is essential that you do not mix these solutions together, especially vinegar and hydrogen peroxide.
WARNING: A mixture of hydrogen peroxide and vinegar can form a corrosive acid that can harm your skin, eyes, nose, throat, and lungs. You can use these solutions in succession to one another but never mix them together.
A great way to remove mold easily from attic plywood is to use a dedicated mold-removing product. RMR-86 Instant Mold and Mildew Stain Remover Spray can remove mold from multiple types of surfaces, including plywood, and doesn’t require any extraneous scrubbing or rinsing.
To clean your attic with this product, simply spray a thin and even layer of the product on mold-infected surfaces. Let it sit and dry completely before proceeding to the next step.
You can also use any other type of mold remover, as long as it’s suitable for plywood and doesn’t contain any harmful chemicals. Make sure that you read the product description and the ingredients list carefully.
Vinegar & Water
Vinegar is a mild acetic acid and a common household item with various applications. It is an excellent product for removing mold due to its antibacterial and antifungal properties.
Depending on how extensive the mold growth is on your attic plywood, you can use full-strength vinegar (for widespread growth) or a diluted vinegar solution (for mild growth) to remove mold.
For mild growth, we recommend diluting 1 part vinegar with 1 part water in a spray bottle. Spray the solution on the mold-infected areas on the plywood and let it sit for about 15 minutes to 1 hour until it dries.
You can also consider adding 5 to 10 drops of tea tree oil to the vinegar solution. Tea tree oil is antifungal (removes fungi), antiviral (removes viruses), and antimicrobial (removes microbes, including bacteria).
Hydrogen peroxide is a chemical most commonly used for cleaning bathroom and kitchen surfaces. Fortunately, hydrogen peroxide can also be used to remove mold. It is a potent cleaning agent that you will need to dilute with water to clean mold effectively.
We recommend mixing 1 part hydrogen peroxide with 2 parts water in a spray bottle. Spray the solution onto moldy plywood surfaces and let it sit for about 15 minutes to 1 hour until dry.
Reminder: Do not mix vinegar and hydrogen peroxide together.
4. Scrub & Clear the Attic Plywood
After applying the mold-removing solution, the next step is to scrub it off and clear the attic plywood. You can use a scrub brush, wire brush, or any firm brush to scrub away the dried-up mold.
If you notice any remaining stubborn mold, you can repeat the cleaning process by applying another layer of mold-removing solution, letting it dry, and attempting to scrub it off again.
After scrubbing off all the mold from the attic plywood, sweep up the debris or use a wet vacuum to clear the area. Dispose of all the swept debris in a sealed plastic bag and when the area is clear of mold, dispose of the plastic sheets and tape in a sealed plastic bag as well.
If you have a dehumidifier, you can set this up in the attic to remove excess humidity, which helps in preventing mold regrowth. We also recommend painting or priming surfaces with mold-resistant primers and paints to prevent mold regrowth.
4. Let The Plywood Dry Naturally
As we’ve outlined earlier, leaving plywood damp in an enclosed environment can promote mold growth. Therefore, you should let the plywood dry naturally by opening the windows in your attic to promote natural airflow.
You may also want to leave the ladder to your attic down so that the air can circulate more effectively. Take note that plywood may take a couple of days to completely dry and also ensure to close your windows during the night or if it rains.
It’s also good practice to ventilate your attic regularly to prevent mold and mildew growth. Consider opening your attic windows for a few hours once in a while to let in fresh air.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Here are some frequently asked questions that some of our readers have sent in. If have any questions that you would like to have answered, feel free to get in touch with us.
Why Does Mold Grow on Attic Plywood?
Mold grows in humid environments, and thrives especially in dark and damp spaces. Any excessive moisture in your attic or trapped humidity can lead to mold.
Check your attic and roof for leaks, cracks, or gaps that can contribute to mold growth, as accumulated and trapped water will lead to mold. Inspect the plywood flooring of your attic regularly to ensure it’s clean and free of mold.
Is It Safe to Live with Mold?
Living with mold in your house is unsafe and will eventually lead to health problems with varying levels of severity. Mold has been linked to irritation, allergy symptoms, and more complications such as fungal poisoning, chronic cough, and other serious health problems.
Therefore, it is highly advisable to remove mold as soon as possible from your home to keep you and your family healthy.
How Can I Prevent Mold Growth?
To prevent mold growth in your attic, you need to ensure the space is well-ventilated and remains dry (free of moisture). Poor ventilation can cause heat and moisture to build up in your attic, leading to mold growth. You can use dehumidifiers to help with excess moisture and apply mold-resistant primers and paints.
How Fast Does Mold Grow on Plywood?
Mold develops quickly in damp and humid spaces and can spread in less than 48 hours after water leaks, condensation, and moisture buildup. Wood (including plywood) stores water for longer periods, which makes them more prone to mold growth.
Can Bleach Be Used to Remove Mold on Attic Plywood?
Bleach is a powerful cleaning agent that is ideal for removing bacteria but is not recommended by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for mold removal.
Bleach will get rid of bacteria but because mold is a fungus, it will not remove it permanently and prevent regrowth. Therefore, it’s best to use methods that are antifungal.
Is It Difficult to Remove Mold from Attic Plywood?
If you follow the methods and steps above for mold removal, it’s easy to remove mold from attic plywood. Nonetheless, it is an extensive process that requires strenuous scrubbing and cleaning that can only be undertaken by a physically fit and healthy person.
You should also ensure to wear protective equipment at all times and that the plywood flooring in your attic is structurally intact.
What Should I Do With Wet or Moist Insulation?
If there has been a leak, humidity problems, or condensation issues in the space, the attic’s insulation materials may have gotten wet. These materials must be removed and replaced immediately, especially if they have gotten moldy.
After carefully removing the wet or moist insulation, you will also need to dispose of them properly to prevent mold spores from spreading. We recommend placing them inside thick plastic bags, sealing them tightly, and disposing them as soon as possible.
When Should I Hire a Professional?
If you are confronted with serious mold infestation or if there isn’t anyone to carry out the extensive process of mold removal, you should hire professionals for the job. These mold remediation professionals can handle mold infestations safely in order to prevent serious health hazards in your home.