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Sun Damage and Hardwood Floors

Boy Sitting On Wooden Floor In The Sun

There are few things as beautiful as sunlight streaming through a window onto hardwood floors. Unfortunately, over time, this same sunlight can also damage your lovely hardwood. Wood is a photosensitive material. Depending on which wood your floors are made of, sunlight can cause them to darken or fade. You may not notice the effects from one day to the next, but over time, direct light may even change the color of your floors. UV rays cause up to 60% of sunlight damage. Just as rugs, furniture, and artwork fade after years of being in direct sunlight, so will your hardwood floors, unless you take preventive measures now. There are ways to protect your wood floors from fading and sun damage.

Windows that prevent Sun Damage

One of the best ways that you can prevent sun damage to your floors and furnishings is by heading it off at the pass—where it passes through your windows! The simplest method is by using curtains and blinds. You might also want to shade a window permanently. Keeping them closed will keep out most of the sun’s damaging rays. Although not as effective as room darkening window treatments, sheer curtains can help to diffuse the sun’s rays, while still allowing some light into the room. After all, who wants to have their home feel like a dungeon?

Even if you only use your curtains part of the time, they will make a big difference in your effort to protect your home from UV damage. Open them up when you want to let the sunlight in and close them up when you’re not home and overnight to help with privacy

Regular window glass blocks around a quarter of the sun’s UV rays, a significant cause of floor fading. Whether you are building a new home or upgrading the windows in your existing home, it’s worth the investment to have laminated, or Low-E coated glass installed. Some manufacturers claim their products can filter as much as 99 percent of harmful UV rays.[1] To increase the amount of natural light that enters your home, install a skylight to naturally light up the room without allowing direct UV rays to damage your hardwood floors.

If you aren’t ready to replace all your windows

Consider installing a UV filtering window film. Available in local hardware and big box stores, you can purchase and install it yourself or have a professional complete the install. To help make your decision about whether to do-it-yourself or hire a professional, here is a video showing the process. It’s a lot like putting a screen protector on your phone, only much bigger. For the best results, you may want to invest in a professional installation.

Tech fans will appreciate the way window film can reduce the glare in your home despite their transparency. Window film has benefits beyond filtering UV light, including blocking infrared rays. It also makes windows resistant to breaking and prevents less heat loss. Window films help regulate the temperature in your home, reducing your heating and cooling bills by up to 60 percent. Thanks to these potential savings, your window films can pay for themselves in as little as two years. It’s a more cost-effective option with aesthetic appeal.

Window tinting offers UV reduction and energy savings compared to window films. Because of the similarities between tints and films, many people use the terms interchangeably, but this is incorrect. Films are traditionally clear, while tints change the appearance of your windows due to a pigment that makes the windows look darker. Some tints are also mirrored. If you’re concerned about your privacy, consider colored tinting. It can shield your home’s interior from prying eyes while minimizing sun damage to your floors. Like window film, it can also reduce glare, which is useful in home-offices and rooms where people watch TV. It is more common in businesses than homes, as many people prefer clear windows.

Floors and Sun Damage

Along with preventing direct UV Rays from entering your home through your windows, you should also consider the floors themselves. Exposure to UV rays lightens certain types of wood and darkens others.

Protect your floors by applying a sun-resistant sealant (varnish, lacquer, polyurethane, shellac, or wax or oil finish) directly to your wood floors. What you choose will depend on the type of floors you have and the look you’d like to achieve,

Both light and dark-toned hardwood floors will fade, but this will be less noticeable on paler woods. This is one argument for using paler hardwoods such as red and white oak, maple, birch, and ash, in rooms that get plenty of sunlight.

If your hardwood floors are already faded in places, rather than replacing your entire floor, consider only replacing the damaged areas of your floor and refinishing the floor. It’s also important to catch and stop the discoloration of your floors before it becomes a problem. Refinish your floors sun damage (or any other wear and tear) happens. The professionals at Dave’s Floor Sanding can do the job done right, without the hassle.

Sun Damage and your Furniture

Regularly rearrange the furniture so that exposure to the sun is more even throughout the room. This can be as simple as swapping a sofa and a chair. Move any area rugs so that your floor doesn’t get “tan lines.” A large tree outside in your yard can naturally filter the sunlight that enters your home.

While you may not be able to eliminate all damage to your floors, but you can reduce a lot of it, lengthening the amount of time between sanding and refinishing. When it is time to give your floor a makeover, contact us.


[1] “What Higher Energy Performance Means for Your Home.” National Fenestration Rating Council, 2018, www.nfrc.org/windows-doors-skylights/.