Ask most people and they’ll tell you that if they could choose any room in their house for a makeover, it would either be the kitchen or a bathroom. But these are also two of the hardest rooms to finish right.


The first thing you need to take into account when redoing a kitchen or a bathroom is the higher temperatures and higher moisture content that will be present in those rooms.

Moisture combined with warm temperatures is a recipe for mold and mildew to grow. To make sure they don’t get a foothold, you need to start at the beginning.


If your renovation budget allows it, and if the area is going to not only be higher in moisture but actually be wet often, many pros recommend replacing traditional drywall with a cementitious backer material. It installs like drywall but won’t warp, shrink, or rot, and, since it’s inorganic, it won’t promote mold growth, which easily justifies the product’s extra expense to most homeowners.


If your drywall isn’t really going to be wet but might still encounter higher moisture content from time to time, you might be able to use Green Board instead of traditional drywall. Green Board isn’t waterproof, but it is water resistant. It’s the same as normal drywall inside but is faced with water-resistant paper that’s colored green to help make it easy to identify. Green Board is good for kitchens, sink surrounds, and walls above toilets, but, although ASTM C 1396, Section 7, says water-resistant drywall can be used in wet locations such as shower stalls, most pros don’t recommend it for that application.


Even if you use Green Board—and, especially, if you don’t and are instead planning to paint over traditional drywall in a kitchen or bathroom—a high-quality mold- and mildew-resistant primer is essential.

Mildew and mold are forms of fungi that can, in sufficient quantities, pose a significant health hazard to humans. A specialized primer is critical for protecting your underlying walls from this situation in high-moisture and high-temperature areas. A specialized primer, like KILZ® Kitchen & Bath, for example, is formulated with a very effective mildewcide that inhibits mold and mildew growth while creating a smooth, sealed surface for paint to adhere to. Additionally, a high-quality primer will prevent any stains on the underlying wall from leaching out through your paint, so your final paint job will look better longer.


In sum, if you want to finish your kitchen or bathroom right, start with cement backerboard or Green Board, and make absolutely certain to use a high-quality mold- and mildew-resistant primer. That way, you’ll protect your walls from moisture, extend the life of your topcoat, and finish the job correctly.

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