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Does engineered wood flooring fade in the sun?

Wood is an organic material and its tendency to change in appearance over time is perfectly natural too. And it’s this ability of wood to transform over the years that many designers love. We believe that high-quality wood flooring should improve with age, gaining character as it changes. That said, you’ll want your wood flooring to age gracefully, and not change colour too quickly, drastically, or unevenly. So, what causes wood flooring to fade? And what can you do to avoid fading problems?

Milky Coffee Engineered Oak Flooring - Wood Flooring Project

What to expect: sunlight and wood flooring

It’s a fact: timber reacts to its environment and changes as it ages. Wood alters with exposure to the air (it oxidises), and to moisture and heat, but the main reason for fading of wood flooring is exposure to light.

As much as we love sunlight streaming into our homes, it’s inevitable that any natural materials in your home will change colour with prolonged contact with the sun’s rays. The sun’s ultraviolet (UV) light is generally the biggest culprit when it comes to colour changes in wood flooring.

Oak floors which are exposed to natural light will slowly fade. In most cases, you probably won’t even notice the change in your floor’s colour as it will happen so gradually, but it can be noticeable when you move a piece of furniture which has been blocking the sun for a long time.

Effects of sunlight on different species

The amount of natural discoloration in your wood flooring will depend on which species of wood makes up your floor’s top layer. Different wood species react differently to exposure to the sun: some will lighten, some will darken — and each species reacts at different rates. If you’re concerned about your wood flooring changing colour, we advise opting for a light hardwood species such as oak or ash; these species are less prone to significant or sudden colour change.

Avoiding uneven discolouration

Despite taking all precautions to preserve the original appearance of your wood flooring, the ageing process inevitably leads to variations in its colour. Too much direct sunlight simply speeds up this natural colour change. So, to avoid your wood flooring fading unevenly it’s a good idea to balance out the fading by rearranging furniture and floor coverings from time to time.

Dry Biscuit Oak Planks - Wood Flooring Project

What can you do to protect wood flooring from fading problems?

Maintenance

Maintaining your wood flooring is important. Clean it carefully with the right products to keep it looking at its best; if you use harsh products which aren’t designed for wood flooring it will damage and discolour the floor. We offer a range of maintenance products specifically designed to clean and revitalise your wood flooring.

Keep an eye out for wear and tear to make sure your floor’s surface is fully shielded by its protective finish. If the floor’s finish is wearing away, the floor will become vulnerable to damage — not only from the sun but also from day-to-day abrasion heavy foot traffic creates. This will cause the exposed wood will discolour very quickly.

U.V. Inhibitors

U.V. Inhibitors can be added to protective wood flooring finishes. These additives won’t completely stop wood flooring from fading, but they will slow it down.

Low-E” windows and window films

“Low-E” (low emissivity) windows can be installed to help block UV light from coming into your home. By stopping almost all UV light from hitting your wood flooring, it should dramatically slow down the fading of your floor. Also, these windows can cut heat loss through your glass to reduce both your energy costs and your carbon footprint. It’s worth bearing in mind that this option is probably not cost-effective unless you’re installing windows into a new build. Thankfully, there are also “low-E” window films available that can be applied to your existing windows to protect your wood flooring. These are a more affordable solution and can be very effective.

Awnings

Another way to block the sun from shining directly onto your wood flooring is to install an awning. This will stop the sunlight before it even gets to your windows. You can get awnings in a variety of styles and they can be fixed or retractable to suit your needs.

Roasted Honey Tumbled Herringbone Oak Flooring - Wood Flooring Project

Fixing existing fading problems

If you’re unhappy with the way that your floor is fading and aging, you can restore your wood flooring by sanding it back and refinishing it. This might be worth considering if the floor has faded dramatically, or changed colour very unevenly.

Sanding back wood flooring for a full refinish is best left to the professionals if you want to ensure the best possible result. Get in touch with us for a refinishing quote. We’d be happy to refinish your wood flooring for you.