UV light can alter wood flooring

Consumer Reports News: May 16, 2007 01:26 PM

We’ve recently been testing, reviewing, and rating all types of flooring for an upcoming report in our August 2007 special section on kitchens. In our test labs, we rigorously and scientifically administer punishments that simulate what the typical family does to their flooring everyday: scuffing, scratching, dropping items, and spilling liquids (everyday drinks, condiments, even cleaning fluids).

You can’t always avoid damaging your floors, especially if your house is a high-traffic zone with kids or pets. But as I discovered in reporting this story, our testing revealed one factor that might be a deciding factor when you choose a floor.

We expose flooring to ultraviolet light to mimic the effects of sunlight. Some types change more than others as a result of UV light. Bamboo, for example, quickly darkens to a deep brown; Brazilian cherry, to a mahoganylike red. Oak takes on a pleasant amber over time. Different species change at varying rates, and a given floor will change most noticeably in spots that receive the most sunlight. (In the photo above, maple is on the left and Brazilian cherry is on the right. The part not exposed to UV light is in the foreground of each plank.)

My advice when you’re shopping for a wood floor: Ask the retailer to see a sample of the same flooring that’s been exposed to sunlight. The color change isn’t necessarily a reason not to buy a product you otherwise like. But this way you’ll be prepared for any shift that might occur after installation.

If you decide wood isn’t right for you, consider another type of flooring material, like plastic laminate, vinyl, linoleum, or ceramic tile, among many others.Ed Perratore

Essential information:
If you’ll put down the flooring, follow our expert installation advice to make sure the job’s done right. Our flooring Ratings (available to subscribers) will help you choose the right product.

Don't miss our Kitchen-Planning Guide if you're considering a remodel at your home. And be sure to check out our 30-page special kitchen section in the August 2007 issue of Consumer Reports, on sale in July. The package is filled with our latest reports on appliances, materials, and other products and, as always, includes our unbiased Ratings.


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