April 7, 2023

Hardwood Flooring Discoloration: Common Causes and Prevention

Modern bright interiors

Hardwood floors are sought-after home additions for their timeless sophistication, durability, and elegance. Despite their toughness and elegance, hardwood floorings are not damage-proof. Like any other organic building material, hardwood is susceptible to change, especially under exposure to the sun and the elements. Discolored hardwood flooring can become a long-term issue if you don’t deal with them immediately. Learn the causes of discolored wooden floors and how to prevent them with this story.

Common Causes of Discolored Hardwood Floors

Color shifts and discoloration in hardwood floors often result from natural phenomena or damage. While many hardwood stains and discoloration are due to environmental factors, some causes come with owning hardwood flooring in different parts of your home. Here are some of them.

Sunlight/ UV Light Exposure

Sunlight exposure is the most common cause of discoloration in wooden floorings, especially hardwood floors. Faded, bleached, or darkened hardwood planks because of sunlight is complex but critical for homeowners to understand. In simplest terms, color deterioration on the floors results from their overexposure to three factors: ultraviolet (UV) light, visible light, and infrared (IR) light.

IR light is the factor that causes solar heat. But UV light impacts the flooring the most because they change the color of the hardwood. Hardwood is still an organic material and photosensitive, making them more reactive to sunlight. Depending on the timber and its exposure, discoloration due to UV light can vary.


One other cause of discoloration that many homeowners overlook is rugs. While sunlight exposure discolors your hardwood floors, rugs make them worse. Although your rugs and carpets block the UV light from hitting the floor and protecting the wood from too much wear and tear, they cause more uneven fading and stains in some areas of your room.

Hardwood Species

Some hardwood tree species are more prone to fading and discoloration than other wood. While hardwoods are all photosensitive and reactive to sunlight, different species handle their exposure to UV in varied ways.

Hardwood trees like American Cherry and Ipe darken over time due to days-long exposure to UV rays, but other trees like Maple and Hickory have higher UV ray resistance. In addition, the amount of time they have under sun rays 24/7 can affect how fast or slow the planks get discolored.

Floor Finishes

Hardwood flooring finishes also affect the discoloration of hardwood floors. Besides shine and dramatic appearance, floor finishes are a layer of protection for the hardwood planks. Low-quality polishes can fade immediately under sun exposure or with daily wear and tear.

Some finishes, like clear coats, can change in color and darken as they age. Oils and varnishes make the floors vibrant but turn yellow over time. 

Preventing Hardwood Floor Discoloration

Although not all causes of hardwood flooring discoloration or stains are preventable, especially if they’re from natural factors, there are still ways homeowners can protect their floors. Here are some easy preventive tactics you can use for your hardwood floor at home.

Rearranging Furniture

One notable prevention method you can do is rearrange the furniture in your room every few months. Changing up the layout of your living space, like moving rugs or repositioning some furnishing, can make a difference. When you do this, different parts of your floor acquire different levels of sun exposure.

Creating Shades

Drapes, curtains, or pergolas help keep the sunlight out but let in enough natural light to brighten the room. While some protective measures lower the sun’s searing effects and darken the area, you can fix it with bits of indoor landscaping.

Routine Refinishing

Hardwood floors are durable and low-maintenance, but they’re not damage-proof. Having a protective layer of floor finish can help the wood’s longevity. While not all hardwood floors need refinishing now and then, rooms that have long bouts of sun exposure should get their routine refinishing more frequently.

With discolored hardwood floors, the damage can become irreparable once it happens. Due to that, refinishing your hardwood flooring every six months, a year, or two can keep them safe. In addition, choosing quality coats is also critical. Although a finish is affordable, it may not last as long. Consider using quality water-based polyurethane finishes for your hardwood floorings.

Connect with Professional Hardwood Flooring Services

Not all hardwood flooring owners can deal with discolored wooden floorings with DIY fixes and home remedies. It’s critical to understand that sometimes, the best call to save your hardwood floors is to contact a hardwood flooring expert.

These services know how to help prevent the damage on your flooring from expanding or worsening. In addition, they also have techniques, equipment, and products that can keep the hardwood planks in peak condition. You can check one of the qualified hardwood flooring services in Austin, TX, here. 

Protecting Hardwood Floors in Austin, TX

Hardwood floors may be one of the most durable flooring options available, but they’re still susceptible to damage. Discolored hardwood floors may appear easy to fix, but they can be irreparable without immediate action. Understanding the common causes of discoloration on hardwood floorings can help homeowners find better preventive measures to safeguard their flooring investments.

Visit Kelly Hardwood Floors to connect with an expert today!