What Causes Your Home Furnishings to Fade & How to Fight Back
Faded furniture can be a huge hassle (not to mention financial drain) for homeowners across the country. It doesn’t matter where you live; we’re all susceptible to having some of our favorite pieces look less and less spectacular over time.
While some furniture pieces can be restored, it’s costly and time-consuming. Plus, you’re never exactly sure how the results will turn out. Many homeowners are turning to more comprehensive fading solutions in order to protect their investments in furniture, rugs, and art — and rightly so.
If you understand the causes of fading, you can implement a plan to keep your home furnishings looking brand new for a much longer period. Keep reading to find out how to keep fabrics from fading in the sun.
Causes of Fading Furniture (And Other Things)
Fading furniture is caused by multiple potential entry points, and you may be surprised at which ones have the biggest effect.
Direct, visible light, actually only accounts for 25 percent of fading, and solar heat accounts for another 25 percent. Miscellaneous factors like humidity and indirect light account for 10 percent. This category also includes things like the age of the fabric, dye fastness, and general wear and tear also have an impact.
Even leather furniture and hardwood floors have a variable hardiness level depending on what type you have. While these things are important, they’re clearly not the most impactful when it comes to the causes of fading.
So What’s the Number One Reason for Fabric Fading?
It’s actually UV light, which contributes a whopping 40 percent to the damage of your household furnishings.
And because UV rays exist even on cloudy or cold days when the sun isn’t as strong as it is in the summertime, your belongings are at risk of fading at any time during the year.
What Are UV Rays?
You’ve probably heard of UV rays when warned about the dangers of skin cancer. UV rays contain levels of radiation, and just as you wouldn’t sit out in the sun for too long without sunscreen, you shouldn’t subject your furniture and rugs to them each and every day either.
The sun emits other kinds of rays, but UV rays are the ones most affecting the look and lifespan of your home’s interior.
A number of factors influence the strength of the UV rays in your area. They’re strongest during spring and summer months but certainly present in winter and fall as well. The time of day is also important when gauging UV strength — the most damaging time is between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. Your altitude and proximity to the equator also come into play, since those areas are closer to the sun.
Remember when we mentioned that cloudy days can also allow UV rays to stream through your windows? That’s because some types of clouds actually reflect more sunlight and make the UV rays stronger.
Partial Solutions to Manage Sunlight Through Windows
Keeping all of this information in mind, there are a couple of easy ways to partially slow down the impact of sunlight and the corresponding UV rays that come with it. Let’s take a closer look at how to keep fabrics from fading in the sun.
Low-emissivity (low-e) windows can help protect your home furnishing investments, but they’re only going to slow down one factor. Yes, they’ll block out the vast majority of the sun’s UV rays, but the rate is not strong enough to fully prevent fading.
There are pros and cons to bringing low-e windows into your home. Their main function is to trap infrared light into the home to provide better insulation, which results in better energy efficiency. There are also low-e windows for warmer climates that block out infrared light and decrease the need for air conditioning. The downside, of course, is the cost of replacing all of your windows with low-e versions. You could easily spend between $300 and $800 per window when you consider both labor and materials (according to Angie’s List).
Yes, you may make up that money in energy savings over the years, but if you’re not ready for such a financial commitment or have other goals to prioritize, you have other options.
Window Shades or Curtains
Shades or curtains can help prevent sun damage, but only if you use them all the time. And when you do that, you miss out on your views and the sense of joy that comes along with natural light. There are some situations where it makes sense to use them for this purpose, as well as some product types to consider over others in order to maximize their benefits.
First, think about your schedule. Sunlight through windows is strongest in the late morning through mid-afternoon, so it could make sense to draw your curtains on days you’re gone, especially if you work outside the home during standard office hours. The downside is that when you get home in the evening, you’ll walk into a dark home, which certainly isn’t the most welcoming feeling after a long day at work.
If you do plan to use window treatments as a defense against fading, consider the most effective options on the market, such as curtains with a blackout lining. Just know that they not only block out UV rays, but also light, so they’ll definitely impact daytime visibility and ambiance in your home. Normal fabric will be just as susceptible to fading as the other furnishings you’re trying to protect, so only use that for aesthetics and privacy.
Using Window Film to Minimize Fading
Luckily, there’s a way to have your cake and eat it too when it comes to managing the sunlight through windows. A high-quality window film can help to reduce 90 percent of the factors leading to furniture fading.
Plus, window film can block out the UV rays while still letting in that beautiful natural light. You don’t have to sacrifice form or function to keep your home’s interior looking fresh for years to come.
Another bonus that comes with window film is that it also helps reduce glare so you can actually enjoy your outdoor views even at the sun’s brightest moments on a summer day. After installation, the film can be washed and maintained just like a regular window — you just have an extra line of defense against sunlight through your window.
It’s also a much more cost-effective solution compared to low-e windows. Installation time is much shorter, and you don’t have to worry about a minor construction project going on at your home. And window film provides comparable energy efficiency benefits, but with less of the hassle and stress.
Just remember that installing window film is not a DIY project — you’ll want a pro to help to ensure the best look and lasting results.
While there are a few different causes of fading in your home, the biggest ones can easily be mitigated by thinking strategically and using smart products. Window film offers a number of benefits, including the hugely important fade prevention. We all love filling our home with items we treasure, and installing a strong window film ensures we can continue to enjoy those possessions for years to come.