Obviously one of the best things about summer in Michigan is the fact that our snowy, desolate days are replaced with bright, sunny ones. We are so deprived of warm sunlight for so long that we eagerly welcome it when it arrives. That being said, we also know that those warm rays can pose a threat to our skin, so we lather up with sticky, white sunscreen and hope no exposed area was left uncovered.
There is so much diligent effort put into protecting ourselves from harmful UV rays these days, but did you know that your skin isn't the only surface that is affected by those rays? Your hardwood floor can be damaged just as easily as you can if left unprotected. The thing is that many people don't even think about this when they're going about their everyday lives. So let us do the thinking for you so you can spend more time working on your tan!
First of all, it's important to know what kind of harm can come to your floors from the sun so that you can gauge whether or not it's really worth preventing to you. The good news is that all damage done by UV rays is strictly cosmetic. It changes the look of your floor, fading it and discoloring stains in a way that draws attention to them. Not ideal, but harmless. This process is called "photochemical oxidation".
The neat thing about photochemical oxidation is that it affects different species of wood uniquely. Cherry wood, for instance, becomes darker and more rich in color when exposed to sunlight for long periods of time, while other species, such as oak, lighten and begin to look more dull. That being said, maybe you wouldn't mind the change in color. If that's the case, just be sure to move area rugs and other items that sit on your floor in the sunlight before allowing the sun to do its work. Nobody wants a doormat-shaped patch of wood in the middle of their room.
As for what to do about this phenomenon, you can take steps to prevent it by closing your curtains during the day when the sun is more intense, use an UV inhibiting finish on your floor, or apply UV blocking film to your window. All of these options are easy, low-cost, and effective.
If the sun has already taken its toll on your floors, you can either do things the easy, albeit tacky way and just move your furniture around to hide any discoloration OR have a professional come in to sand down and refinish your floors. Again, whatever works for you is the best option!