Why Does the Sunlight Cause Colors to Fade?

Why Does the Sunlight Cause Colors to Fade?

CC Sunscreen Research, Science

If you have a patio in this desert climate you already know how quickly the sun makes colors fade. It’s hard to keep paint from losing its luster and all too soon before brand new patio furniture starts to lose its fresh look. Patio furniture is by no means cheap so it can be frustrating to watch the sun affect your investment. Similarly, the sun through the window can bleach your belongings inside. Why does the sunlight cause color to fade and how can we protect against fading and sun damage? 

The Science Behind Sun Bleaching

The process of sunlight causing the color to fade is called photodegradation and is the alteration of substances caused by light. However, it’s not just light, but air. The elements can be hard on your outdoor furniture and outdoor recreation spaces such as patios and pools and items just outside your windows.  The combination of sunlight, moisture, and air causes oxidation and hydrolysis. Depending on the chemical make-up of the objects in the sun they contain different degrees of color bodies called chromophores present in dyes. When our eyes detect color, we see it based on chemical bonds and the amount of light that is absorbed in a particular wavelength. Any photons that aren’t absorbed are re-emitted, and the wavelength of these photons determines the color that our eyes detect. 

Ultraviolet Rays

Ultraviolet (UV) radiation is a form of non-ionizing radiation that is emitted by the sun and artificial sources, such as tanning beds. While it does have some health benefits such as a source of the essential vitamin D, too much can cause skin damage and cancer.

It can also cause damage to our patios, paint jobs, and lawn furniture. Ultraviolet rays break down these chemical bonds and combined with heat,  they can cause bleaching on dyed textiles and plastics,  as they break down chemical bonds quickly. While some objects are more prone to bleaching due to the manner, they absorb light, others reflect light making them more fade resistant. Below are just some ways to avoid bleaching from the sun inside and outside your home.

Invest in Materials that are UV Resistant

When selecting furniture for your outdoor recreation areas, it’s important to consider material. If you choose to paint lawn furniture or want to paint a mural outside, make sure that the paint you use is UV resistant. Products such as Rust-oleum, Krylon, and NeverFade® promise bright colors despite the elements. If you’re choosing patio furniture, invest in furniture made of Acrylic, High-Density Polyethylene (HDPE), or Polycarbonate, which are all UV-resistant plastics.

Invest in Furniture Covers

You’re not always going to use your patio furniture. You can reduce the wear and tear on your patio furniture by investing in covers when they aren’t in use. These can not only keep your colors looking sharp but can also double as rain protection. Even though it rarely happens in the desert – it does happen and it’s best to be prepared. Furniture covers can keep your patio furniture clean and ready to offer a beautiful bright and clean place to sit when it’s finally time to relax or entertain.

Plan a Furniture Layout Around the Sun

If UV-resistant plastics aren’t your thing, you can always invest in furniture with materials you love like canvas, wicker, and wood – just make sure you place it strategically so it can avoid the heavy rays of the sun. A sofa or Adirondack chair set closer to the house can avoid the rays of the sun at the high of the day when it is the most unforgiving on your furniture. If you are concerned about items near windows being damaged, invest in curtains and pull them closed when the sun shines through them.

Invest in Sunscreens

What’s the point of a window if you can’t let the light shine through it? The sun in Arizona is nothing to take lightly and sunscreens can help you enjoy the outside without having to take on its full force.  Window and patio sunscreens not only protect from UV rays but can keep your furniture from fading. In addition to sun damage, they can lower the solar heat absorption of your patio and your home as well. You’ll save on your energy bill while improving your outside space at the same time. If you’re interested in sunscreens for your windows or patio, contact us for a free consultation and estimate today.