Preventing UV damage: How to protect your property from the Texas sun

June 19, 2020

Learn how to protect your home from UV damage, both inside and out

A boy drawing the blinds closed to prevent UV damage.

Texans know the summer sun means business, so we lather up with a healthy layer of sunblock to protect our skin. But the sun doesn't just damage our bodies over time - it can damage our homes, too! So how do you protect your property from the Texas sun and its damaging UV rays? It takes a little more than SPF 80, but we've got you covered - read on!

What is so harmful about the sun's rays?

What is UV light exactly?

As you might remember from your science classes, all light exists on a spectrum called the electromagnetic spectrum. In addition to the visible light we see, the sun produces ultraviolet (UV) light, which is invisible to the human eye. 

Some UV light is a good thing - it is essential in the process of plant photosynthesis and helps us create vitamin D in our bodies. But UV rays are high in energy, and too much of a good thing can have negative consequences. 

According to NASA, the amount of UV light reaching the earth's surface has increased over the last 30 years.

How does UV light damage things?

It's no secret that prolonged exposure to UV rays can be harmful to our skin, and even our DNA. But our skin isn't the only thing at risk - many common materials are, too. 

When materials absorb UV rays, it can start to dry them out and chemical bonds can begin to break apart. This is called UV degradation, and many things - such as paints, plastics, rubber, and wood - can all fade, crack, and come apart over time. 

How you can prevent UV light from damaging your house

The sun isn't going anywhere! So how can you make sure that its rays don't destroy your belongings over time? Let's take a look at a few ways you can mitigate the damage.

Indoor UV protection

Windows, curtains. First and foremost, your windows are obviously the main avenue through which the sun's rays enter your home. While we'll discuss various tips and tricks you can use to protect your belongings from UV rays, the most surefire way to accomplish this is by simply preventing them from entering your home in the first place. 

Blinds, shades, and curtains are great ways to do this. If you're worried about fading furniture and carpet, it's important to install some version of these in order to block the sun when possible. 

Of course, we all enjoy natural light, and a little sunshine is a good thing. That's why applying a UV-blocking film on your windows can be a great compromise. It allows the visible spectrum of light through while preventing the UV light that can break down your belongings over time. 

Furniture. Given the option, try to arrange your furniture in such a way that it has the least amount of exposure to the sun. You may not be able to keep it out of direct sun 100% of the time, but every little bit helps.

You can also find a variety of stylish slipcovers to put over furniture, which can help protect the underlying upholstery. If you have furniture you won't be using for a while, you can also find more basic covers, or even sheets.

When selecting furniture to decorate your home, try to buy nylon or polyester upholstery blends and avoid cotton, which usually degrades faster than synthetic materials. Consider choosing lighter colored fabrics as darker shades show fading more quickly.

Finally, you can find certain fabric sprays that have UV-blocking properties, which you can apply as needed as an extra layer of protection.  

Floors and carpet. When it comes to UV rays and your floor, there are far fewer options available - you can't move your floor! But that doesn't mean there aren't certain precautions you can take.

If you have hardwood floors, consider treating them with special sealers that have UV protection properties, such as spar urethane. 

Any rugs that may get partial sunlight can be rotated every so often to minimize their exposure and keep them from fading so quickly.

Carpet is a little more tricky. While there are some chemicals you can find to protect your carpet, they can be expensive. If your carpet is at risk of fading in the sun, then blinds, shades, and UV-blocking window films are going to be your best bet. 

Pictures and art. Your wall decorations can also be susceptible to UV degradation. High-energy rays will eventually break down oil paints and pigments, and photographs can fade too. Fortunately, you can replace standard glass or plastic frames with UV-blocking glass. There are also museum-grade spray treatments you can use to protect paintings on canvas. 

Outdoor UV protection

Deck. Wooden decks can be heavily damaged by the sun if not well maintained. While treated lumber is good at resisting moisture, the sun can destroy pigments and break the bonds between wood fibers.

Paint will eventually peel and fade away, leaving the wood below exposed for water damage. In order to keep your deck protected from UV rays, it's important to apply sealant to your deck. However, even sealant needs to be replaced every so often, and it's a lot of work to reapply it. 

That's why many people have moved to alternate materials for decks, such as composite materials. Obviously, that won't help much if you already have a wooden one, so you may also consider putting some sort of covering or roof over your deck. Not only does this give you some shade to enjoy on a hot day, it can go a long way to improving the life of your deck.

Patio and lawn furniture. Perhaps the easiest way to prevent your lawn furniture from being damaged by the sun is to organize it in such a way that it takes full advantage of the shade.

Of course, this isn't always an option, so you may consider storing tables and chairs when you're not using them. There are also covers made to protect outdoor furniture that can be applied if moving them frequently isn't realistic. 

If you have wooden lawn furniture, there are a number of stains and paints with UV-resistant properties that can be applied. Plastic furniture can be a viable alternative, but some synthetic materials, such as polypropylene, can break down quickly in the sun.

Lastly, if you're looking for more comfortable lawn and patio furniture, consider purchasing cushions that are made out of materials that won't easily fade, or get lighter colored fabric. Just like indoor furniture, certain materials, like cotton, will fade at a much faster rate. If possible, consider removing the cushions and storing them out of the sun when you're not using them.

Protecting your vehicle from the sun

Cover when possible. If you don't plan on driving it for a while, use a car cover to keep it safe until you're ready to hit the road. Otherwise, park it in the shade, a garage, or under a carport.

Paint. A good, fresh coat of wax not only gives your car an elegant shine, but it can help prevent the paint from fading in the sun. 

Interior, seats, and dash. The interior of a vehicle can be made up of a variety of different materials, and many of them are susceptible to UV degradation. 

As always, the best method of protection is prevention. If you can't find shade, you can tint your windows (to the legal limit, of course) or put up a sun shade. Not only will this protect the interior from UV light, it will prevent your car from being an oven during the summer!

Leather seats and steering wheels can be treated with leather conditioners that help protect them from light. Cloth seats can be treated with certain fabric cleaners that offer similar protection. Plastics, such as your dashboard, can be scrubbed down and coated with protective chemicals that block UV rays. 

Window blinds drawn shut to prevent UV damage.

Now that know how to protect your home when the sun is shining, learn how Germania can help you protect it when the storm blows in. Request a free online quote and see why Germania is the Insurance Texans Trust!

Read more: Sunshine through your windows isn't all bad! Read our blog to learn how to make an indoor garden and harness those rays for good!

by Geoff Ullrich

About the Author

Geoff Ullrich is a writer and Content Marketing Specialist at Germania Insurance.

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