You may have noticed when moving rugs or furniture that your hardwood floors are not even in color or appearance. The area of the floor that was covered may appear darker or richer in color than the area of the floor that was exposed. This can be very noticeable if floors have been covered for a long time. Can this deterioration in color be prevented?
Color deterioration in hardwood floors typically consists of three factors: Ultra violet (UV) light, visible light, and the infrared (IR) light which causes solar heat. These factors together can cause fading, bleaching or darkening of hardwood floors.
Hardwood floors are extremely photosensitive with their exact sensitivity determined by the species of tree. Most exotic hardwoods will react to UV light very quickly, turning a much darker shade. Domestic woods like oak and maple typically become lighter in response to sunlight and fade, also at a slower rate. The finish on the floor also plays a role in how the hardwood will react to sunlight exposure. The finish may turn the wood darker or a very unpleasant yellow color over time in response to sunlight exposure. This is especially true of oil-based polyurethane finishes.
Sunlight exposure in a room is common, brightening, and pleasant for the ambiance of your home, but there are strategies to help keep your hardwood floors in great shape!
1.Move rugs and furniture
Moving rugs and furniture periodically will allow sunlight to hit the areas of the floor that were previously covered up. This will help equalize the fading process and a more consistent color will appear throughout the entire room.
- Use window coverings
Keeping sunlight off your floor will help prevent it from changing color. No one wants a dark and dreary room but drapes, curtains, and blinds are a great defense against faded or darkened flooring. Keep drapes pulled and blinds drawn when you are not using a room or away from home, particularly when the sun is hitting the windows. If you would still like some sunlight to filter in, slant your blinds in a way so that the sunlight is directed towards the walls and not the flooring.
- Choose a finish carefully
If you are just installing hardwood floors, now is the time to plan for how you will protect them from sun exposure. Manufacturers have developed special finishes for the floor with UV inhibitors which will slow down the process of fading and color change. No product currently exists which blocks this process completely but this may be a possibility in the future. Currently, the best products are very high-end water-based systems, particularly because they reduce the ambering of hardwood floors. Most people would prefer their floors not turn yellow or dark orange and this is a step to prevent that.
- Choose a stain carefully
If you are installing hardwoods and plan to have them stained a certain color, choose a pigment based stain of a dye stain. These stains are more colorfast than dye and will allow your floors to keep their color for much longer than a dye based stain. Combine this with a water-based finish for long-lasting results and durability.
- Choose Low emissivity windows
If you are renovating extensively and replacing windows, choose low-E (low emissivity) glass windows. These windows are specially coated and limit the amount of UV and infrared light that passes through the panes. These windows will help protect your flooring investment and drastically reduce the color changes that take place in response to sunlight exposure.