Generally, a mold test is a quick procedure that involves taking a swab of the suspected material, inserting it into a liquid and waiting for a color change.
If the liquid turns green, no mold is present in the sample. If the liquid turns purple, then the material tested is contaminated with mold.
While these instant mold tests will give you a clear, yes-or-no answer, they will not identify the species of mold you are dealing with and how much of it is present in your living environment. They are also not a good indicator of what is in your air.
For this reason, we only use mold swab tests when clients need immediate answers. Otherwise, we suggest other testing methods.
We usually recommend air quality testing for mold because it provides more accurate and detailed information about your indoor environment.
Mold tests are great if you want a quick answer (for example, if you want to find out if mold is growing on your drywall). However, if you are looking for the big picture, an air quality test is the way to go.
In our experience, we have noticed that people request a mold test when they are referring to an air quality test for mold. We hope that the difference between the two is clear now.