Design Ideas

How to protect hardwood floors from sun damage

June 19, 2017

Hardwood FloorsLike our skin, hardwood floors can only take so much sun exposure before it results in visible signs of damage. Although the safety risks associated with our skin's overexposure are much more serious than unprotected floors in the home, hardwood floors are a big investment - so it's important they last as long as possible.

Sun exposure is one of the things that most affect the appearance of wood and can compromise its integrity. According to Homespun Village, the ultraviolet rays accelerate the oxidation of the wood, which contributes to aging. In addition to altering the appearance, too much sun can cause warping, since the radiation influences humidity and moisture levels.

Tips for safeguarding hardwood floors from the sun

Without proper care and maintenance, you may find yourself having to prematurely repair or even replace your flooring. Fortunately, there are simple steps you can take to minimize the chances of this happening. Taking preventative measures now is wise, as it will save you a lot of trouble and potentially money down the line. 

Use area rugs
Hardwood floors should almost always be paired with some type of area rug, particularly in high-traffic areas, since they can minimize the deterioration associated with general wear and tear and also act as a protective barrier between furniture and the wood surface. Additionally, using rugs can reduce premature aging and discoloration. You probably don't want to blanket the entire floor - otherwise you've installed carpeting - which is why you need to be strategic about their placement. Consider where the sun hits the floor the most during various times of the day and put rugs there.  

"As with skin, too much sun exposure can cause premature aging and damage to wood floors."

Periodically rearrange furniture
A couple times a year, consider rearranging the the furniture and decor - especially if the room has large windows or glass doors that leaves most of the floor's surface exposed to the sun. Doing this helps ensure the wood ages more evenly and prevents dramatic differences in discoloration and fading. Essentially, this method helps prevent the floor from getting unsightly tan lines.

Utilize window treatments
Automated window shades can be a great solution for homeowners, since these types of window treatments can be pre-programmed to open and close at certain times of the day. You can schedule them to shut when the sun is at its strongest and is coming through the windows.

Refinish as needed
The finish of your floor is what sunblock is to your skin: It's a layer of protection against the risk for sun damage and one application isn't suitable for the long-run. You need to reapply (or refinish) the hardwood floor from time to time. Keep in mind that this - as well as the other steps - is a preventative measure, not a treatment. After all, SPF lotion only does so much after you experience a sunburn.

Some fading and color changes over time should be expected with wood floors - and this isn't necessarily a bad thing. The aging can result in the floors looking just as beautiful as they did the day you got them, if not exactly the same. 

According to the National Wood Flooring Association, the rate at which a wood floor experiences color changes varies based on the species it is. For example, oak and hickory floors often experience minimal change - especially when compared with cherry wood, which is prone to undergoing dramatic fluctuations over time.

However, there is a big difference between natural fading and flat-out damage. By following the above steps, you will be taking the preventative measures necessary to ensure your floors age with both beauty and balance.

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