Effect of UV on wood

UV colour change issues

The client has chosen the right substrate for their project and then after installation they are unhappy because down the line the colour has altered. As furniture makers we know that timber and veneer are subject to natural colour change through photo-oxidation with light. This however may not be something our clients are aware of so how do we deal with this and is there anything we can do to stop this happening?

Planning for the end environment 

The first step is to ensure at planning stage that the space for which the furniture is intended is fully assessed. For example, are we talking a living room with floor to ceiling windows or perhaps French doors that will flood the room with light? People choose wood because it is a natural substance that evolves over time so politely ensuring clients know that change is inherent to the material is critical. The client may also be choosing the substrate to match furniture they already have. Once again at planning stage, it is prudent to take samples of a potentially problematic substrate such as cherry or walnut and show them different colourations against that which is already in situ. At Ashton Bespoke we know how to care for certain substrates, how they behave and change in UV and what we can do to offset that where possible.

 effect of UV on wood

Pre-dyed veneers 

The pre-dyed veneers are still incredibly popular but retaining the colour of these can be a real issue. There are lacquer systems on the market that have been tested to a high standard using simulated UV in climate chambers. These can slow the process and protect the surface to a degree but there will be always be changes over time. We probe our clients on where the piece of furniture will end up for example is the piece destined for a yacht where it will be exposed to high levels of UV and humidity. To ensure its fit for purpose, we source the right certified and tested coatings applied in an optimum environment. 

The wood or the lacquer: reading the fine print

We have already discussed some substrates that are more problematic than others so how do you identify the culprit, wood or lacquer. The simple answer is if you want to keep your reputation then it is best for you to carry out your own testing in house. Here at Ashton we have experimented with various manufacturers lacquers ensuring careful controls and of course left one sample uncoated. Once we’ve had our samples labelled, we left them somewhere with UV exposure and monitored over time. It reassures your client that you understand each substrate and coating system plus it safeguards you. There is an argument that this knowledge is one that comes with experience but sometimes it’s worth blocking out some time in the spray booth to go through this process. It gives the furniture maker confidence in their substrate and their coatings and ensures you are producing pieces that are fit for purpose.

Wood Samples - Effect of UV on Wood
Ashton Bespoke Office - furniture makers

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