Timber & UV – Protection & Repair

Protecting your product. UV damage.

The natural beauty of timber in homes is a timeless and captivating feature that has been appreciated for centuries. Timber has been used in construction and interior design for its aesthetic appeal and numerous practical benefits.

Protecting timber from UV (ultraviolet) damage is crucial to maintain its natural beauty and prevent degradation over time.

When your timber staircase products are installed they will not have any protection provided, unless specified in your order.  In most cases, tread protectors will be supplied and left on-site to be used at the owners’ discretion.  Tread protectors are a form of protection for treads reducing damage from footwear, dirt, mud, dust, paint, etc. These tread protectors will not be the same size as the treads and additional protection may be required.

UV damage to blackbutt staircase located under north-facing windows. Tread protectors were used to prevent scuff marks but did not cover the entire surface. Notice the lines and darker tones to the outer edges of the treads.

Here are some effective methods for safeguarding timber against UV damage:

    1. Shading and Shelter: Providing shade and shelter can significantly reduce UV exposure to timber. Positioning the timber in areas that receive less direct sunlight or using structures like pergolas, awnings, or overhangs can help protect the wood from intense UV rays. By minimizing direct exposure, you can extend the lifespan of the timber and reduce the risk of fading, drying, and other UV-related damage.
    2. Sealants and Finishes: Applying a high-quality sealant or finish to the timber’s surface provides a protective barrier against UV radiation. These products contain additives that act as UV absorbers or reflectors, reducing the amount of UV light that reaches the wood. Choose finishes specifically designed for exterior or interior use, depending on the location of the timber. Regular reapplication may be necessary, as finishes can wear off over time.
    3. Stains and Pigmented Coatings: Pigmented coatings, such as stains, are another effective option for UV protection. These coatings not only add color and enhance the timber’s appearance but also contain UV-blocking additives that shield the wood from harmful rays. Stains with higher levels of pigmentation generally provide better UV protection. Consider using pigmented coatings that are labeled as UV-resistant or specifically formulated for outdoor use.
    4. Timely Maintenance: Regular maintenance is essential to protect the timber from UV damage. Keep the timber clean by regularly removing dirt, dust, and debris that can accumulate on its surface. Additionally, inspect the timber for any signs of wear, cracking, or peeling of the protective coating. Promptly repair or reapply coatings as needed to maintain the timber’s UV resistance.
    5. Window Films and Treatments: If the timber is located near windows or glass doors, applying UV-protective films or treatments to the glass can help reduce the amount of UV radiation that enters the space. These films block a significant portion of UV rays while allowing natural light to pass through. By minimizing UV exposure, you can mitigate potential damage to the timber.
  1. Consider Timber Selection: When using timber outdoors, selecting naturally durable timber species can provide better resistance to UV damage. Some timber species, such as teak, cedar, and redwood, have inherent properties that make them more resistant to UV degradation. Research different timber options and choose those known for their durability and natural resistance to UV rays.

Remember, while these measures can significantly reduce UV damage, they may not entirely eliminate it. Over time, even protected timber may experience some degree of color change, fading, or surface weathering due to prolonged UV exposure. Regular maintenance and timely protection measures can help prolong the life and beauty of timber in the face of UV radiation.

To repair UV damage to timber, you can follow these steps:

  1. Clean the surface: Start by cleaning the timber surface using mild detergent and water. Gently scrub the affected area with a soft brush or sponge to remove any dirt, grime, or loose particles. Rinse with clean water and allow the timber to dry completely.
  1. Sand the damaged area: Use fine-grit sandpaper (around 180-220 grit) to sand the damaged surface. Sand in the direction of the wood grain to avoid creating visible scratches. Sanding helps to remove the damaged layer and exposes fresh, unaffected timber.
  1. Apply a timber brightener: UV damage often causes the timber to become gray or discolored. To restore the natural color of the timber, you can apply a timber brightener. Follow the instructions provided with the product and make sure to wear protective gloves and eyewear. Apply the timber brightener evenly using a brush or sprayer, and allow it to penetrate the timber for the recommended time. Rinse off the brightener with water and let the timber dry.
  1. Apply a timber stain or finish: Once the timber is dry, you can apply a timber stain or finish to protect it from further UV damage and enhance its appearance. Choose a product specifically designed for timber use that offers UV protection. Apply the stain or finish following the manufacturer’s instructions, using a brush or roller. Allow the product to dry completely between coats if multiple coats are recommended.  For staircases and some floors in Australia, the finish on the treads are to meet an R10 or P4 non-slip rating to comply. Refer to the National Code of Construction (NCC) for more details.
  1. Regular maintenance: To prevent future UV damage, it’s important to perform regular maintenance on the timber. This may include periodically cleaning the surface, reapplying a protective finish or stain, and keeping the wood shielded from direct sunlight whenever possible, such as by using shade structures or applying UV-blocking coatings.

Remember, for significant UV damage or if you’re unsure about the repair process, it’s best to consult a professional who specializes in timber restoration.