High quality wool and cotton theatre fabrics look fantastic and, if cared for and stored properly, can last for decades. However, one problem that can occur if theatre curtains, stage drapes, acoustic curtains, scrims or backdrops are kept in humid environments (>60% relative humidity) or are if they get wet is the development of mould and mildew.
Unfortunately mould spores exist all around us and are pretty much present everywhere in some concentration, so you really can’t get away from mold completely. Mould will grow and attack any natural fibre or organic material as long as sufficient humidity is available. Consequently, the first step to preventing or remediating any mold problem is to sort out the water problem. If you can’t control the humidity, eventually you will have a problem with mould. We recommend trying to keep relative humidity in any theatre or cinema environment below 60% at all times.
Many modern venues are now being built with chilled beam air conditioning systems which are great for energy conservation relative to conventional HVAC systems. Unfortunately, however, while chilled beam technology can effectively reduce temperature, it is less good at reducing relative humidity and consequently humidity and mould levels are on the rise. In one of our customer’s venues, we found indoor ambient temperatures of only 21 C/ 69.8 F but with RH at over 85%!
Mould and mildew can be very destructive to the fabric as the the mold actually eats away the fabric. Also, there can be severe health consequence to your staff and patrons from the inhalation of mold spores. It is particularly important to catch a mould outbreak early as it can spread quickly and widely as new spores are released by the growing mould.
In situations where it is difficult to keep relative humidity alway below 60%, such as in the tropics, it is possible to apply anti-mold fabric treatments that will slow the outbreak of mould in the event humidity peaks occasionally above 60%.
At Specialty Theatre, we have developed a safe and effective anti-mould treatment that can be applied to wool, velvet or other theatre fabrics at the time of manufacture of the stage drapes or can also be applied to theatre curtains in-situ by a trained technician with a spray bottle.
The chemicals used are all safe and thoroughly tested. They have no effect on the colour or finish of the fabric. MSDS for the products used are available on request.
Attached below is a document from the US EPA regarding the remediation of mould problems in commercial buildings as well as a WHO paper that we found particularly useful. We hope you will too.
If you already have mould or are concerned about getting mould problems with your theatre curtains, stage drapes, or acoustic curtains, please don’t hesitate to contact us.