Wood furniture, especially wood coffee tables, can suffer from sun damage when exposed to intense or prolonged sunlight. The UV radiation in sunlight can cause discoloration, fading, or cracking over time.
Fortunately, there are several effective preventative measures you can take to protect your beautiful wood coffee table from sun damage.
Why Sunlight Damages Wood Tables
Before jumping into solutions, it helps to understand why sunlight poses such a risk in the first place. There are three primary ways that sunlight damages wood:
Fading and Discoloration
The UV radiation from sunlight breaks down the chemical bonds in wood’s lignin component. This causes the color pigments to fade or shift, resulting in lightening, darkening, or color distortion. Cherry, walnut, and cedar wood coffee tables are especially prone to UV-induced fading.
In extreme cases, the UV radiation can practically bleach the color out of wood over time. This sun bleaching occurs most frequently on exposed outdoor wood surfaces. But indoor wood also runs the risk if placed in direct sun rays for prolonged periods.
Splitting and Cracking
As the wood expands and contracts from repeated heating in the day and cooling at night, Plus direct sunlight accelerates this cycle. This leads to cracking or splitting in the surface, especially along the grain. Once these cracks form, it opens the wood up to even more photodegradation.
So without proper protection for your wood coffee table, the daily UV assault can slowly rob it of its warm hues and smooth surfaces. The good news? Shielding or limiting sun exposure can virtually eliminate sunlight damage.
10 Tips to Protect Wood Tables from the Sun
Here are the 10 most effective ways to protect your cherished wood coffee table from destructive UV rays:
1. Use Window Coverings
One of the easiest protective measures is to moderate sunlight levels in the first place. Install window coverings like curtains, blinds, or exterior shades to filter or block direct sun rays. Close these treatments during peak daylight hours to create shade for nearby furniture.
Opt for blackout curtains or UV-blocking shades to prevent virtually all sunlight from entering. Open them up once the intense midday sun passes to allow in softer late afternoon light. This selective window covering approach prevents excessive UV rays while still keeping the room cheerful.
2. Apply UV-Blocking Film to Windows
For rooms prone to excessive direct sun, consider applying UV-blocking window film. These clear films stick directly onto window glass to serve as extra shielding. They typically block 99% of incoming UV rays while still letting visible light through.
UV window films provide protection for all room contents, not just wood tables. Installation only takes a few minutes per window. Just clean the glass thoroughly, apply the pre-cut UV film, and use a squeegee to smooth out any bubbles or creases. Trim off any excess around the edges with a utility knife.
3. Use Strategic Furniture Placement
Be mindful of sunlight patterns when arranging furniture in a room. Position your wood coffee table so it falls in shaded spots away from direct sun exposure coming through windows or skylights. This could mean placing it under interior eaves or larger furniture like bookshelves.
For example, move it away from bright windows and instead place it near interior greenery or opaque walls. Rotate pieces between sunny and shady areas day to day so the same surfaces aren’t constantly exposed.
4. Apply Protective Wood Finishes
Use wood stains, varnishes, oils, waxes, or lacquers formulated to defend against UV damage. The protective barrier these wood finishes create helps reflect light rays away from the vulnerable wood underneath.
Opt for top coats containing UV-inhibitors for maximum protection. Or choose darker stains, which naturally absorb and mask light better than bare wood. Reapply protective finishes per the manufacturer’s recommendation as they wear over time.
5. Wax and Polish Frequently
In addition to defensive stains and seals, also wax and polish your wood coffee table every few months. Choose a wax containing carnauba or beeswax, which offers water beading, protective barriers, and light blocking effects. As you buff the wax into the wood grain, it seals pores to limit sun damage.
Pair wax with a high-quality polish for added protection. Opt for polish with UV inhibitors, antioxidants, or light stabilizers formulated to prevent fading. Apply 2-3 thin, even polish coats with a soft lint-free cloth. Let dry completely between coats.
6. Use Sunscreen Sprays
Look for sunscreens made specifically for wood furniture, either in wipe, liquid, or aerosol form. These specialty products create an invisible barrier to deflect UV rays. Sunscreen sticks work similarly to films but penetrates into the wood grain rather than sitting on the surface.
Reapply these sacrificial finish layers every few weeks per package instructions as sunlight wears them down. Sunscreens for wood work just like skin sunscreens. So refresh frequently and after any cleaning for reliable protection.
7. Keep Surfaces Clean
As dust and dirt accumulate on your wood coffee table over time, leave it in place and it can actually magnify sunlight damage. Debris acts as tiny lenses that focus and intensify light rays onto the surface underneath.
So along with sun-blocking measures, also clean tables regularly with a wood-safe cleaner. Microfiber cloths lift away stuck-on dust without scratching. Follow with wood conditioner to prep and protect freshly cleaned surfaces.
8. Use Table Pads or Runners
For an easy safeguard, keep your wood coffee table covered when not in use. This could include using fitted table pads, custom tablecloths, or table runners to protect the surface.
Look for UV-resistant and fade-resistant materials when selecting protective table coverings. Breathable fabrics like linen allow ventilation while still diffusing light. Or pick easy-to-place-and-remove pads so you can alternate between shielding and showing off your handsome wood tabletop.
9. Cover Windows When Away
To take protection up a notch, thoroughly cover windows when away from home for extended periods. Options include external shutters, storm windows, plywood panels, or combination shade/insulation covers. Though extreme, this effectively eliminates UV exposure inside.
For quick coverage, drape opaque blankets or comforters over vulnerable windows. Avoid using plastic sheeting as it can act as a greenhouse magnifier. The goal is to entirely block out all light from entering around valuable furnishings.
10. Move/Rotate Furniture Occasionally
As one last smart tactic, periodically move your wood coffee table to different spots around the room or house. This ensures that the same surfaces aren’t perpetually exposed in fixed sunny areas or extreme window angles.
It also interrupts possible sun bleaching patterns from occurring. So every few months, switch up positions of your tables and other furniture. Either rotate items a quarter turn or swap locations with other pieces. Keep wood furnishings on their toes!
Steps to Repairing Sun-Damaged Wood Tables
In cases where sunlight has already caused fading, bleaching, or cracking, take steps to repair and restore your wood coffee table:
- Lightly sand affected areas with 150-220 grit sandpaper to remove damaged exterior layers.
- Wipe away all sanding dust using a vacuum, tack cloth, or dry microfiber.
- Apply wood putty, filler sticks, or wax sticks to fill in any cracks or holes from splitting. Let fully cure.
- Stain bare sanded patches to blend in color with the original surrounding finish.
- Apply protective sealants like varnish or lacquer to seal the wood from future UV damage.
- Maintain vigilance with sunlight avoidance and wood protection steps.
While sunlight damage cannot be fully reversed, you can refinish and improve the look of affected wood. Just be sure to take preventative measures so that no further sun deterioration occurs.
FAQs: Protecting Wood Coffee Tables from Sun Damage
What is the best way to protect wood furniture from sun damage?
The single best way is to moderate light levels using window coverings. Opt for blackout curtains, exterior shades, or awnings to reliably block intense direct sunlight. Though not as thorough, UV filters, window films, furniture covers, and topical barriers also help protect vulnerable surfaces.
How do you keep wood tables from fading in the sun?
To combat fading, use wood stains or finishes with UV inhibiting properties. Be sure to maintain protective top coats by cleaning and reapplying as needed. Position tables away from direct sun beams or windows. And filter incoming light with window treatments adjusted at different times of day.
Does lemon oil help protect wood from the sun?
Yes, natural lemon oil does offer mild sun protection for wood surfaces. The antioxidant and UV-absorbing citrus extracts create a safeguarding barrier that resists damage. Just be sure to renew applications frequently as the oil wears off over time. For severe light exposure, use lemon oil as just one part of a layered sun damage prevention strategy.
What oil is best for sun damaged wood?
For repairing sun-bleached wood, tung oil offers deep penetration to revive faded surfaces. Its water-resistant formulation nourishes weathered wood while blocking future UV damage. Alternatively, boiled linseed oil protects against water marks and sun spots through its oxidizing wood saturation. Top off oil applications with a matte varnish or polish for fortified sun defense.
Should you put oil or varnish on wood furniture?
For wood coffee tables prone to direct sun exposure, varnish finishes tend to protect better than standalone oils. The resinous topcoat prevents moisture changes and seals the vulnerable wood underneath. But oils like tung or linseed, followed by a varnish layer, offer even stronger UV protection. The oil primes and stabilizes the wood while varnish blocks out light rays.
Protect Your Wood Table Investment from the Sun
Don’t let harmful UV sunlight spoil your beautiful wood coffee table and other fine furniture. With smart positioning, window coverings, surface barriers, and routine care, you can defend against sun damage year round.
Safeguard wood investments that only become more valuable and cherished over time. Plus, preventing sun deterioration preserves the positive ambiance wood’s warm hues lend to a well-decorated home. Implement a few of these damage-deterring steps so you can pass down furniture looking as radiant as the day it entered your home.