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Ultraviolet & Heat Exposure Concerns with Timber Flooring

How to look after floors that are exposed to sunlight

Ultraviolet & Heat Exposure:

How to maintain my timber flooring & veneers against Ultraviolet & Heat exposure.

Sunlight and UV exposure is always a concern for any natural products, especially here in New Zealand, where our sun is extremely harsh. Everything inside your home, from the timber floors to the carpet, and the sofa, these are all subject to fading and changing with UV exposure, and not just your beautiful natural products, but also your vinyl, laminates, polished concrete, and so on. There are not many products available that are immune to its impacts. However, this does not mean we have to shy away from using these products, we learn how to protect them and care for them.

“New Zealand is notorious for its harsh sunshine. The combination of low ozone, distance from the sun, lack of pollution and high surface reflections (all that water!) means that our peak UV rays are some 40% greater than comparable latitudes in the northern hemisphere.”

It’s important to know that there are certain factors that will amplify the exposure to your timber flooring or timber veneer. Any feature with reflective elements such as, mirrors, glass or even water features within the home, as well as reflection of the ocean, a swimming pool, and so forth. These will require a higher level of protection for your wood finishes and features.

Key concerns for UV exposure on timber:

  • Fading/Colour change of your wood as a natural reaction of the wood to the sunlight. Generally lighter tones will go darker and darker tones will go lighter.
  • Potential breakdown of surface finishing product.
  • Shrinkage, which is more common in darker colour floors, direct sunlight can dry the wood out and cause it to shrink and in worse cases crack.
  • Different tones in the floor from furniture, specifically area rugs are.

Key tips to minimising the effects of UV exposure:

  1. Furniture and Rugs: Moving your furniture around regularly, and when you are away from home, even for a couple of days, roll your rug up to let the light hit those darker spots. It is also a good idea to not put your rugs down for a few months after installation. Also another tip is to roll them up and move them out of the way if you are going away from the house for a period and that allows that area that has been protected from the UV light to be exposed to it and help balance up the difference in tones in the floor.
  2. Blinds: Any form of blinds, curtains, or shutters are one of the best ways to fight the sunlight, without comprising views, or design style. Closing them when the sun reaches peak hours of the day is ideal. Even if they are sheer blinds, this makes a difference.
  3. UV filters: Apply UV filters, coatings, and treatments, to all the windows and glass areas in your home, this will heavily reduce the amount of harsh UV exposure accessing your home and effecting your flooring and other products. Best to get one that blocks UV rays as well as heat entering the space. Solar film can reduce up to 99% of UV rays, heat, and glare.
  4. Coating: Make sure your finishing product is a low yellow coating product, to reduce the appearance of yellowing with UV exposure.
  5. Lighter wood colour: As darker colours, especially black absorb the heat more than lighter colours, this means that darker timber finishes will be more perceptive to overheating. With overheating comes more risk of the key concerns outlined above.

Engineered timber flooring will structurally hold up against sunlight and UV exposure more so than a solid timber flooring, due to the stable nature of engineered timber and its ability to withstand changes in temperature and humidity more.

Another aspect to be aware of is that any timber flooring doesn’t like to be shut up in a home or building for extended periods of time with little or no natural ventilation and exposure to high heat and low humidity. It is recommended that properties with timber floors keep regular natural airflow and close blinds and curtains when the property is unattended for periods of more than 1 week.

Caring for and maintaining your timber materials in your home will ensure the longevity of the product, alongside the visual appearance of the timber. We will provide you with the right knowledge to pick the right timber finishes in your home and how to make them last a lifetime.

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