Wood furniture is cherished for its timeless beauty, durability, and the unique character it brings to any space. However, one aspect that often surprises many homeowners is how the colour of wood furniture can change over time. Whether it's a beloved antique rocking chair or a modern ash dining table, understanding why and how these changes occur can help you better care for your furniture and appreciate its evolving beauty.

Natural Colour Changes in Solid Timber Furniture

All timbers will change colour over time. Generally speaking, lighter varieties of timber will become richer, while darker woods will lighten some. This is a natural process caused by exposure to UV light and oxygen. However, this aging process is not to be considered a defect... in fact, this is the beauty of solid wood.

The Effects of Sunlight on Solid Wood Furniture

Don’t we all love the sunlight especially during those first few days of summer spent time at the beach? But what happens? We get sunburnt and then we change colour. Well, the same thing can happen to natural timber. Depending on the species of timber and the stain colour, sunlight can cause different reactions. Some species of timber will darken with sunlight, while others will lighten. The type of finish used on the timber also matters; sunlight can gradually turn the finish darker or give it a yellowish tint, which is why older furniture often appears orange or yellow. With a very light stain colour like whitewash, the underlying grain colours can go through this chemical change, resulting in an orange/pinkish hue.

The other effect of direct sunlight is the heat, this can cause wooden furniture to crack and bend.

So, what can be done to stop sunlight from damaging my new furniture?

Unfortunately, it’s not quite that simple, but below is a list of steps you can take to slow the process down as much as possible.

  1. Finishes with UV inhibitors:

Manufacturers of timber finishes are constantly trying to find a solution to prevent fading and colour change but as yet, there is no complete answer. What you can look for is whether there is some form of UV inhibitors included in the make-up of the product. At Coastwood Furniture, we use Mirotone PC 3220 Clear Topcoat on all our furniture. This product is formulated on a very clear, low-yellowing resin and contains UV absorbers to ensure maximum protection of the substrate from UV light.

  1. Furniture placement:

This is a fairly obvious one but, if possible, try not to place your furniture in full sunlight. If this is totally unfeasible, rotate your furniture every so often so that it fades or darkens evenly.

  1. Window coverings:

Curtains, blinds, and shutters are the best protection from direct sunlight. If you keep them closed during the time of the day when the sun is at its strongest, this will dramatically reduce the amount of harmful UV rays reaching your furniture.

  1. Window films:

Window films can be a great option if you don’t like to feel closed in by curtains. Some options quote that up to 99% of UV rays are blocked with window films.

  1. Cover up:

Use tablecloths or drape something over your furniture when not in use.


In summary...

There is no way to completely overcome the natural aging of solid wood furniture, but following the steps above, can slow down the changes.

Because the process is a gradual change in colour, many of us find that we don’t actually notice anything has changed until we go to buy a new piece of furniture (that is supposedly the same colour) and when we get it home, it doesn’t match. Here at Coastwood Furniture, we try to overcome this issue by offering to stain match new pieces to your existing furniture. If you have a drawer or door that you can send to us, we can create a colour match (as close as solid wood allows).

Most importantly, enjoy your wood furniture for years to come, appreciating its evolving character and unique beauty.