As with most living things, too much sunlight can damage your furniture, especially your wooden pieces. Whether your furniture lives in the exterior or interior of your home, ultraviolet radiation will affect it if the sun touches it. Ultraviolet light is a form of electromagnetic radiation. On the electromagnetic spectrum, it produces more frequencies than microwaves and radio waves but less than X-rays and gamma rays. Although radiation comes from numerous sources and is common in people’s lives, intense and persistent exposure can cause harm. Here’s how ultraviolet radiation can damage your furniture. We also cover some ways to combat its adverse effects.
The severity of ultraviolet radiation damage pertains to your furniture’s material structure. When ultraviolet radiation interacts with certain surfaces, such as woods, it generates a chemical reaction between the elements and chemicals within the furnishing. The radiation breaks down bonds during the reaction, causing the wood to bleach or darken. This, in turn, alters the appearance of your furniture. Depending on the location and exposure to the sun, some furnishings undergo uneven discoloration, further decreasing your furniture’s visual appeal. Adding stains evens out the color of your wood pieces, and coating on a finish or sealant acts as a protective layer to wood. It’s akin to sunscreen for the furniture.
As the radiation breaks down the chemical bonds in your furniture, it also weakens the wood, on top of causing discoloration. The strength of the ultraviolet waves penetrates through wood fibers, tearing them apart and decreasing their density. The broken fibers weaken the structure of your furniture, increasing its susceptibility to cracks, tears, and splits. Filling cracks and surface breakage on the wood with wood fillers fixes the appearance of your furnishings, but it doesn’t add extra durability to the damaged wood. It’s better to protect your furniture before the wood weakens. Besides discoloration prevention, stains and finishes produce an added safety barrier that makes it harder for ultraviolet rays to penetrate the wood.
The weakness that radiation causes increases the malleability of your furniture’s surfaces. Depending on the Jenka rating and structural properties of the wood in your furniture, ultraviolet radiation can warp your furnishings’ shapes. The damaged wood fibers change their structural design and make them more susceptible to water damage. Ultraviolet radiation paired with water damage further increases the risk of uneven surfaces and bent edges on your furniture.
Since ultraviolet radiation hinders your wooden furniture’s durability, it also decreases the lifespan of your pieces. Your furniture pieces become more susceptible to erosion, tears, splitting, and cracks from weather damage and persistent heavy weight loads. With the wood fibers compromised and the structure thinned, other external factors that affect the wear and tear of wood increase in intensity.
There are many preventative measures and best practices for wood furniture maintenance that protect your pieces from the harm of ultraviolet radiation. Although ultraviolet radiation is inevitable unless you live in a dark cave or windowless bunker, some preventative solutions slow down the damaging process. Avoid placing furniture in direct sunlight, add a coat of UV protectant seals and stains, shade outdoor furnishings with umbrellas, and use blinds to help decrease radiation intensity. Understanding how ultraviolet radiation can damage your furniture prepares you to accommodate and care for your wood furniture so that you can enjoy its benefits while maximizing its lifetime.