The Effect of Light on Hardwood Floors: How to Prevent Fading

Anyone who’s ever forgotten sunscreen on a clear, sunny day and suffered a burn understands the immense power of the sun. Therefore, it should come as no surprise that sunlight can have a significant effect on your flooring as well.

Over time, all hardwood floors will experience fading due to consistent exposure to natural light. This can look very different from one home to another, as all flooring reacts in its own way. However, is fading even a cause for concern, and are there steps that can be taken to prevent it? Let’s take a look.

How Sunlight Can Fade Hardwood Floors

The Effect of Light on Hardwood Floors: How to Prevent Fading

Wood is an organic material, meaning it is susceptible to oxidation when exposed to the elements. This most frequently translates to fading. As an extreme example, consider how an old barn may look after standing out in a field for decades. The same chemical process occurs to your home’s floors over the years, albeit in a much less drastic fashion.

Hardwood floor fading is primarily caused by UV radiation that enters the home through the windows. By default, all raw hardwood is photosensitive, and its color will change when exposed to light for extended periods. This color change can vary widely based on the species of hardwood that’s installed in the home.

How Different Hardwood Species React to Light Exposure

There is a wide selection of hardwood flooring species available on the market today, and light can affect each differently. Some wood species will darken with age and exposure to sunlight – a term known as patina. Others will have more of a “bleached” appearance. It’s crucial to understand that flooring will likely look very different a year after installation. This is not always a bad thing.

The following can be expected for each flooring type:

  • Maple: Maple can generally be expected to lighten over time and lose its naturally “yellow’ tone.
  • Oak: Effects can vary based on the type of oak, but generally this species will lighten.

3 Ways to Prevent Hardwood Floor Fading

One of the most important things to consider about fading is that it’s natural and not fully preventable. However, In no way, shape, or form does fading physically damage hardwood floors – it simply changes the appearance. In some cases (such as with cherry), the new look and color are actually desirable. 

Still, many homeowners would prefer to retain the original look of their floors for as long as possible. While the oxidation and bleaching of the wood cannot be fully stopped, some steps can be taken to mitigate the effects it causes. 

#1: Invest in Floor Finish with a UV Inhibitor

A finish, sealant, or top coat can provide a range of benefits to a hardwood floor, including increased durability, longevity and shine. Investing in a floor finish that has an embedded UV stabilizer can do wonders for preventing fading. These chemical inhibitors work by either reflecting or absorbing UV radiation so that it doesn’t seep into the wood grain.

#2: Occasionally Rearrange Furniture

Although fading doesn’t always look bad, uneven fading certainly will. It’s highly advised to rearrange furniture like rugs, sofas and tables every so often so that sun exposure will occur uniformly throughout the floor.

#3: Block Light at the Window

Another solution is to block UV radiation’s path into the home at the window. This can be achieved in several ways, such as through:

  • Keeping curtains drawn when not at home
  • Applying a UV-resistant window film to the glass panes
  • Purchasing Low-E Glass, which reduces infrared light

Solutions for Severely Faded Flooring

Solutions for Severely Faded Floors

In some cases, fading can be quite extreme and unsightly. There’s nothing worse than having a beautiful and exotic hardwood floor only to have it sun-bleached after years of use. Once fading occurs, it’s permanent – unless the faded surface is removed. Refinishing is a valid way of eliminating any faded hardwood and renewing the floor’s surface. 

Find High-Quality Wide Plank Flooring Today

Fading is a reality that all homeowners will eventually have to face. However, that’s no reason to stop you from purchasing the stunning flooring of your dreams. Here at Wide Plank Floor Supply, we carry a gorgeous array of options that are suited to all tastes and budgets. From distressed oak to American Cherry and everything in between, we’re sure to have the flooring material that will elevate your interior to the next level. Browse our collection and reach out today for a quote!

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