If you’ve ever had an upholstered sofa or a decorative rug in front of a window and noticed it fading more and more each year, you know what direct sunlight can do to your furniture and belongings. You might not realize that it can actually even change the color of your wood floors and bleach your artwork and family portraits. Sun damage isn’t only unsightly, though. It is also costly and will likely force you to replace your rugs and other home furnishings more often. While you might not be able to slather a layer of sunscreen on your sofa, there are a number of preventive measures you can take to ward off sun damage. Use these tips to protect your belongings and save yourself a little money while you’re at it.
What causes the damage?
Like with sun damage to your skin, the majority of damage to your floors and furniture is caused by ultraviolet (UV) light from the sun. In fact, according to the National Fenestration Rating Council, a nonprofit that assesses windows to determine their energy efficiency, roughly 40 to 60 percent of damage is caused by UV radiation. The other causes of include heat, humidity, and artificial light.
What is the best form of protection?
Obviously, some measures of protection are relatively common sense, such as keeping your curtains closed and blinds drawn. However, if you’re like most of us and don’t want to feel like you’re living in a dungeon, you may want to consider other options.
Windows – One of your first lines of defense is your windows themselves. If you are in the process of building a new home or upgrading your windows in your existing home, a great option for your windows is laminated or low-e coated glass. Some manufacturers claim their products made with this type of glass can filter as much as 99 percent of harmful UV radiation. Keep in mind, though, that this option may cost more than traditional windows.
Window Film – Window film is another option to consider if you’re not in the market for replacing all of your windows. Not only does this film filter UV light, but it also makes windows resistant to breaking and facilitates less heat loss. If your main concern is sun damage, then focus on UV protection when you are selecting films. You can purchase window film from a local home improvement center and install it yourself, or have a professional complete the install.
Can specific items be protected?
If you’re concerned about a certain item in particular, such as a valuable painting from your great aunt, there are options for protecting precious possessions without installing new windows or special film.
Floor Protection – Sun exposure lightens certain types of wood and darkens other. Be sure to move furniture around regularly so as to create more even sun exposure throughout the room. Likewise, consider applying a sun-resistant sealant on your wood floors. Depending on the type of floors you have and the look you’d like to achieve, you can use varnish, lacquer, polyurethane, or shellac. There are also several wax and oil finishes that will protect your wood floors.
Art Preservation – Expensive artwork is another concern. Ultimately you may want to consider having a good copy made of the piece and hang the copy instead of the original. However, you should also opt to hang artwork out of direct sunlight and behind UV-blocking glass, such as acrylic.
Carpet and Rug Maintenance – Rugs and carpets are also highly susceptible to sun damage. You may want to consider applying a spray-on protector, though their efficacy has come under debate in recent years. Likewise, rotating your rugs and moving furniture around periodically can help equalize fading.
While you may not be able to completely eliminate sun damage to your floors and furniture, you can prevent and reduce a great deal of it. Follow these tips to minimize damage and keep your floors and furniture as pristine as possible for as long as you can.
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