Moulds are ubiquitous and can biodeteriorate a vast array of materials. Mathematical models are available that can be used to evaluate durability and susceptibility of materials. However, these are for and based on wood and wood based materials. Ultimately the best way to determine a materials’ susceptibility is to expose the material to microorganisms. This study attempted to develop a quick, reliable screening method to evaluate a number of different materials for their susceptibility to moulds at optimal and limiting conditions. This test method was based on modified versions of ASTM 4445-91 and BSEN 846. The water absorption coefficient and Dynamic Vapour Sorption tests were also conducted to determine any correlation between the materials hygric properties and mould growth.
The materials used to validate the novel screening method were: MDF, laminated MDF, Chipboard, Laminated chipboard, Wool, Hemp, Wood fibre insulation and pine. Growth intensity observed in contact with agar were: 3, 3, 5, 4, 2, 4, 3, and 4 respectively (in accordance with BSEN 846). It was found that primary colonisers (A. niger) easily colonised the materials, regardless of the environmental conditions, whereas secondary (A. alternate) and tertiary (T, virens) colonisers were absent on materials under limiting conditions.