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Anyone have a recipe for lime paint to prevent mold in cinder block root cellar?

 
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I'm cleaning out the root cellar to prepare for winter.  It seems kinda moldy so we're removing the old wooden shelves and using borax to clean the surfaces.  After all that, I'd like to put a natural paint on the walls and floor that will hopefully be inhospitable to mold.  I've never done natural paint or white wash or lime plaster or skydiving for that matter.

I'd like it to stick to the bare cinder block walls and bare cement floor and any woodwork that I can't remove.  It's a root cellar (in the basement) so it's a bit humid in there.  But not terribly damp.  I can leave the door open and run a fan to dry paint if that would help.

Does anyone know of a magic paint that I could make for this application?  Thanks!
 
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Sounds like you want good old limewash. Just mix up some hydrated lime with water until it has the consistency of milk, and go nuts. Thinner is better, as you want it so soak into the cinder block and fill voids.
 
Mike Jay Haasl
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Thanks Phil, I'm glad there's something that would be good for this application!  There's some styrofoam in there as well on the ceiling.  Do you think it would stick to that also?
 
Phil Stevens
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I suppose you could try a test patch. If it doesn't adhere, you might be better off plastering over that, and you'd probably need to use a lath or chicken wire since lime plaster won't stick to surfaces that limewash doesn't stick to.
 
Mike Jay Haasl
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Ok, no biggie.  I'm assuming mold won't grow on styrofoam nearly as much as it will grow on 30 year old wood or raw cinder blocks...  Thanks!
 
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If it is organic (contains carbon), some mold will eat it. So you can only use inorganic paint. As Phil pointed out the most common one is lime.

It sounds like you are planning to put the old wooden shelves back in? I would highly advise against that. The spores are in the wood and are pretty much indestructible. Get new wood ,or preferably metal shelves if possible to minimize the food for mold.
 
Mike Jay Haasl
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Thanks Sebastian!  No, none of the old wood is going back in.  I wore a full body protection and gently removed all the wood and bagged it up and it's awaiting a fiery death in the fire pit.  Once it's lime washed I'll put non-wood shelves back in.

Except our nice wine rack which has a coat of varnish on it.  I'll probably risk putting that back in there since it's mobile and I can raise it up off the floor.  Hmm, I wonder if I can lime wash the varnished wood on that and have it stick...
 
Sebastian Köln
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Priming the wood with clay "paint" should work. Clay sticks on many things and lime sticks to clay.
 
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Don't know too much about lime.

But for saving that old wine rack. What kind of varnish did you use?

If whatever you end up using doesn't stick to the wine rack, it might be worth scraping the varnish off the wood.  Card scraper, spokeshave, broken piece of glass, the edge of a knife, the spine of a knife (maybe drawfiled to make something like a right angle).

I'm pretty sure as long as the varnish you used wasn't an oil of some type you'll be able to remove it somewhat easily. Which makes me wonder if a drying oil would be an effective treatment for wood. Maybe. But, a like wash is probably more failfproof.
 
Mike Jay Haasl
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I don't know what kind of varnish or shellac it has on it.  It was bought second hand and sold to them from a store so it's likely a factory applied clear coat finish of some sort.  De-finishing it would be a bit too arduous for what I'm in need of.  I'll try the clay/lime procedure and see if it works.  

I think I'll be making the first batch and painting it tonight.  Yay!
 
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