How to Handle Photosensitive Hardwood Floors

From oak flooring to Ipe decking, every type of hardwood is vulnerable to the elements to some extent. There is one element, however, that many home owners overlook entirely: light.

Red Oak Flooring
Even materials such as oak flooring are susceptible to UV exposure.

The following are some tips for protecting your hardwood floors from UV exposure, taken from the informational article, How to Handle Photosensitive Hardwood Floors. Enjoy!

What is photosensitivity?
Photosensitivity is the reaction a certain material has to light. In terms of hardwood flooring, it is UV light that has the most impact. UV exposure causes colors to fade, and in some instances can dramatically change the look of your floors.

Plan for light exposure.
Unless you have installed it in a windowless vault, there is no way to completely protect your new hardwood flooring from UV exposure. One option many people take is to simply allow it to happen and periodically change the room’s design scheme to fit the new color.
Talk with a professional about what kind of color change to expect. You can then choose furnishings, paint, and other design features to match not only the current color of the wood, but the shade it will eventually become.

Control light sources.
Hanging heavy curtains or blinds allows you to block out harmful UV rays during their peak daytime hours. Minimizing exposure can help slow the color change, though it won’t stop it entirely.

Rearrange furnishings often.
You’ve probably seen hardwood floors in empty rooms that have phantom furniture “shadows” – outlines on the floor where a couch or dresser sat for years and years. The color difference between the exposed floor and the areas underneath the furniture is usually quite stark. To avoid this, simply rearrange your furnishings every so often, especially in a room that receives a lot of natural light. The changes don’t have to be dramatic, just different enough to more equally expose the wood to UV rays.

An important thing to remember when dealing with photosensitive hardwood material like oak flooring is that color change is a natural process. You may want to delay the process, but you can’t avoid it entirely.