Now that your home is complete and the hardwood floor is installed, you can stand back and soak in all that splendid rich color, and admire how beautifully it blends with all of the furnishings, the rug, the wall colors, and even the artwork. It all just works. Congratulations!
Okay, so how do you make sure it stays this beautiful? This blog post will take you through everything you need to know to protect your hardwood. I will explain the benefits and the limitations of window film as it relates to the fading of hardwood floors.
Besides regular cleaning and oiling (if it requires oil), and keeping Fido’s nails clipped to avoid dog related damage, you really only need to worry about the sun. Fading happens very quickly in many cases, and sun can wreak absolute havoc with the color, luster, and even cause the wood to split or buckle from the heat. Unfortunately, we see it almost every day in my line of work. Homeowners call after they notice the damage.
We often hear that the floor was “supposed to have a UV coating to prevent fading”, and that may be true, but how much UV blockage does it have? 40%, 60%, 75%, and does it also block heat?
The factory coatings in hardwood floors are often not enough to stop noticeable changes in both color and the richness of the wood. It may get lighter, or turn a little yellow, sometimes getting cloudy and even scaly – all things none of us want.
There Are 4 Basic Causes of Fading
When we go to visit a homeowner and listen to their concerns, we often hear that they want to “block the sun”. It is important to note that “sunlight” has several different components. For example, visible light is the part you see as bright sunlight streaming in the windows like the photo above, but there are also invisible rays known as IR (infrared heat) and UV (ultraviolet light). The chart below depicts the amount of the total fading problem each represents.
UV light is the biggest offender and is 40% of what causes fading. It is the same sneaky UV light that can cause you to get a sunburn on overcast days. It is streaming down invisibly, often right through a thin cloud cover. You do not need to see the streaming visible sun rays to be getting UV damage on your floors. Heat is 25% of what causes fading. Heat travels in both IR and in the visible light spectrum, but primarily in the IR rays. The same percentage with visible light – 25%. The remaining 10% results from things that are out of our control, such as moisture in the air, the dye anchoring in the wood, incandescent lighting, etc.
The window film market is flooded with choices, and there is no way I can explain all of them in a single blog post, but when it comes to fading of hardwood floors the general rule is this: block as much of the 4 causes as you possibly can without compromising the look and feel of the light. Every homeowner has a slightly different take on how the glass in their window should look. Some want protection with as little change in appearance as possible, while others want to reduce the harsh glare by adding some noticeable tint to the glass. Some want the window tinting to be quite dark so they get maximum heat blocking, fade protection, and privacy. The good news is that there are enough quality window films to please just about everyone.
So you might be asking, does all window film protect the same? Glad you asked! The answer is no. Window films vary dramatically in terms of appearance, longevity, and protection levels. There are good quality, long lasting brands, and there are some cheap brands. Most look good immediately after installation, but some will quickly deteriorate, while others will offer years of trouble free service and protection. You can think of it like the sunscreen you purchase for skin protection. There are many brands, of varying strengths and quality. Window films generally block 99% of the UV light, no matter what shade you choose. That means that when you and your family are enjoying the sunlight streaming in, you are protected from the UV light that can be damaging to our skin. You never need to worry about your loved ones basking in the sun, as long as they are behind a quality window film.
How to Choose The Best Window Film For Fading
We now know that 100% of fading is caused by UV, IR, Visible Light, and a few miscellaneous factors. So, logic dictates we should block the three factors that window film can control, which is all except the miscellaneous 10%. So the best film should block the remaining 90% to properly protect our hardwood floors, right? Well, yes and no. If you blocked all of the visible light, heat, and UV, you would not have a window at all any more. Your walls do that, but we need to see out of the windows. In fact, the majority of homeowners actually want the least amount of visible change possible while gaining the maximum protection. This is where a knowledgeable window film home adviser is so important. You need help choosing the best window film that will protect, look the way you want it to look, and meet your budget.
Larger window film companies generally have well-versed employees that should understand all of the ins and outs of their product lines, and properly help guide you to the perfect window film. The good news is that there are high performance window films that can block most of the sun’s heat and virtually all of the UV light, while at the same time allowing most of the visible light in, so you have great protection and almost no change in the look of the windows.
There is a lot at stake when choosing the right film. You want it all: great protection, crisp clarity, virtually invisible, long lasting, and won’t break the bank. You can absolutely have these features in a good quality film. In fact, the high quality window films for homes are extremely clear, meaning the clarity of the film is astounding. You should not need to compromise your view in order to have great fading protection.
All of that said, there are limitations to window film’s protection. Since we are allowing in the visible light, we are allowing in some of what causes fading. It is for this reason window film cannot completely block fading. We are however greatly reducing the fading while still having natural looking windows. The idea here is that by the time fading occurs, it will be so many years later that you may be ready for a remodel anyway! Either that, or any fading that does occur will be so minimal it will not be significantly noticeable.
Final Component To Consider Is The Installation
One final thought. There are two equally important components to a great window film project. 1) excellent quality window film. 2) excellent quality installation. If either of these two things are not up to par, the other component will not be effective or satisfactory. Look for a properly licensed contractor who specializes in window film. This is an art form, and it takes many years to become a master installer. This is not a job for your handyman and a big box store window film. The top window tinting manufacturers have certified dealers who are highly trained. If the installation is not up to par because you use a non-authorized installation company, your warranty will not be valid.
Speaking of warranties, almost all quality residential window tinting film manufacturers offer a lifetime warranty on the film and installation. So choose a good quality film and reputable company, and enjoy a lifetime of worry-free sunshine in your home.