Have you ever wondered why wood changes colour when exposed to the elements?
Ever bought a beautiful dark chocolate resembling pool-side recliner, only for it to look like its milk chocolate cousin a few years down the line?
Well, this blog article is here to help explain, both the effects of weather on your solid wood furniture and the steps you can take to slow down the (very natural) process.
Stay with us, you’re about to get a crash course on weathering. But, as they say, education = prevention!
The Colour of Wood
The colour of timber is caused by natural pigments.
- These are determined by a group of chemicals known as quinones and polyphenolic compounds. Quinones are the true pigments.
- Polyphenolic compounds are transparent but can become significant over time.
- Then, all timber contains what is generally referred to as “extractives”– the pigments, tannins, and other resins found in wood. They can be ‘extracted’ with a solvent such as water or mineral turpentine, hence the name.
- Finally, another component involved in colour is lignin. Lignin is the glue that holds the timber fibre together and is the most essential structural component of timber.
So, what causes discolouration?
Weathering (overexposure to the natural elements of rain or sun) is the single and most important cause of discolouration.
There are two main mechanisms behind this:
- Exposure to rain bleeds out the extractives, including the natural pigments (quinones). This process lightens the colour of the wood.
- Exposure to UV rays breaks down the lignin (the glue) into simple sugars.
These sugars act as a food source for moulds, which can be dark and blotchy in appearance.
In situations where the mould is controlled, such as in dry or coastal climates, they don’t develop fully, so they turn the timber ( your solid wood furniture) a silver-grey colour.
How do you prevent these colour changes?
UV Weathering caused by the sun is the most difficult to control while keeping your wood looking natural.
They will slow the weathering process down over time but won’t completely stop it. It’s vital that you maintain them regularly over time.
Think of it like sunscreen if you’re out in the sun. You have to reapply throughout the day to prevent you from getting badly burnt, but it won’t completely block the UV rays from changing the colour of your skin.
Furniture Covers – a big “no-no”
When you cover your wooden furniture with PVC or canvas etc., the temperature increases rapidly, the humidity gets stifling, and eventually, the glue, the joints, and even the wood itself literally begin to cook.
Wood and glue are just not designed to take this kind of extreme environment – and you’ll end up reducing the lifespan of your beautiful Homewood furniture.
We’d recommend sticking to oils and moving your furniture under cover if possible to avoid direct exposure to the elements.
We want every Homewood customer to enjoy their solid wood furniture pieces, particularly your wooden patio furniture, for years to come!
With the right products (and a bit of discipline), you and your furniture (if that were possible) will be smiling long into the future.
Please don’t hesitate to contact our team of wood experts if you have any maintenance questions.