Monday, August 29, 2011


Maybe it was Anthony Bourdain's lament for a life without stinky cheese, or maybe it's the sad thought of so many friends with flooded basements in the wake of Hurricane Irene, but we've been thinking about mold a lot these last few days. You might remember that the existing house on our site was filled with mold (and termites), and anyone visiting our temporary home passes a mold-covered buttress before reaching the front door (left). In short, we need to be vigilant in preventing mold growth at tin box.

Mold grows easily in South Florida. Our humid and warm atmosphere nurtures the stuff. Many buildings - like our house and a lot of buildings at FIU - provide a hospitable growing medium for mold by allowing rain water to run over their porous stucco surfaces, where it soaks into the material and promotes mold growth. This is especially acute on the north sides of buildings, out of direct sunlight.

At our current house, the decorative buttress at the front door seems like it's designed to grow thick mats of black mold. The roof sheds water directly onto the stucco, which absorbs the moisture and, since it faces north and thus doesn't dry out quickly, stays moist and hot. It's pretty gross.

We've designed tin box to avoid mold growth through three principle means. Our roofs overhang the walls of the house by at least two feet, so they should shed water well away from the walls. When the water falls to the ground, it should land on gravel, which will minimize the amount that splashes back onto the walls. And what little water hits the walls - an inevitability when the wind starts a-howlin' - will find the glass and steel surfaces either unaccommodating to mold growth, or at least easy to clean.


  1. Great idea! I think more homes in humid places like yours should take more cues from the tin box. Another way to prevent molds is to keep the humidity down, especially for houses that have a basement. A dehumidifier can definitely help.

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  2. At least the mold growth is limited to that area alone. It’s when it gets inside the house that can be the problem. As Sabrina pointed out, a dehumidifier can help with that. Another solution would be to nip it in the bud and take care of the problem from the buttress itself. Maybe use some sealing material for the stucco so it won’t absorb moisture anymore, therefore limiting the areas where mold might grow. – Eric