Using Shades to Prevent Fade
As summer gets into full swing and Chicagoland begins to sizzle in the sunshine, you might find yourself adjusting your blinds, shutters, shades, and drapery to keep excess heat and light out of your home. After all, nobody wants to pay more for their utilities than they must, and even the most enthusiastic sun-worshipper needs a break now and then. But in addition to keeping you comfortable and saving you money, the right window treatment can also help you protect your home (and wallet) from a more insidious sort of damage: fading.
The sun gives life to our entire planet with its heat and light. But the same sunlight we crave also carries with it UV rays, which have a rather powerful effect on just about everything they touch. From human skin to expensive fabrics to paint, plastics, wood, and metals, the sun has the potential to fade, warp, crack and ruin anything left unprotected in its light for too long. The three primary culprits behind sun-related fading are ultra-violet light, visible light, and radiant heat. These “big three” break down pigments, fibers, and organic matter with ferocious efficiency, and those with a vested interest in protecting interior spaces—including history museums and the National Gallery of Art— use a variety of tactics (including window treatments!) to protect their treasures.
Of course, you don’t need to own a museum to appreciate the risk of fading to a treasured sofa or a beloved painting hanging on the walls of your home. If you’re keen on keeping your possessions, along with your walls, floors, and other features, safe from sun damage, a smart place to start is with your home’s primary source of natural light: your windows.
Balancing Comfort and Protection
Finding the right combination to block excess heat and light while still being able to enjoy the summer weather might seem challenging, but it’s actually quite achievable with the right approach.
For example, if you start out with solar shades—sometimes called “sunglasses for your windows“—you can cut glare and excess light and heat while still allowing natural light into your home. They come in a range of opacity levels (including total blackout), so you can decide how much light and UV you’d like to block, and for days when you’d like to keep things cool and dark, they pair extremely well with reflective blinds, which the United States Department of Energy says can reduce passive heat gain by 45% while they’re also keeping sunlight (and UV) at bay.
A few other anti-UV options to consider:
- Rotate your furnishings. Fading happens faster with prolonged exposure, so be sure to move your rugs and furniture that lie in the path of strong sunlight to new positions every month or so to help prevent premature damage.
- Harness the power of protective coatings. Homeowners have a wide range of options when it comes to sealing and protecting wood furnishings, including varnish, shellac, and polyurethane, all of which can help reduce the risk of UV damage. For fabrics, look for environmentally-friendly coatings that provide stain resistance and fading protection, or if you’re open to some aesthetic adventures, consider using fabrics designed for outdoor use (which are more likely to resist fading and stains) for indoor pieces that will be in the sun. If you have a lot of leather, don’t forget to condition it, as leather that’s faded or cracked cannot be saved and must be reupholstered.
- Choose your materials wisely. Darker colors, as well as natural fibers such as linen and silk, will fade faster and show their age much more quickly than synthetic fabrics and lighter colors. If you’re using draperies as well as shades and blinds, be sure to use a light-colored, reflective liner in the summer months to help deflect stray sunlight and heat, boosting your home’s energy efficiency as well as protecting against UV.
You don’t have to let your home’s beauty fade away! Get in touch with your local window treatment experts for a free consultation today, and discover how you can savor the summer sun outside your home while protecting your home and furnishings inside.