Does wood furniture fade in the sun?

It is a popular choice for our gardens and patios but the high-end hardwoods can be expensive so we’re exploring if wood furniture fades in the sun...

We recently selected our top 5 durable sun lounger materials, and we selected teak wood due to its natural weather resistance.

However, teak is expensive. So what about the other timbers popular in the UK garden furniture industry? How do they stack up to it? Do all types of wood furniture fade in the sun? Which types of timber are the most weather-resistant?

Well, that’s what we want to explore in this article. We won’t cover all types of wood on sale but instead focus on the most common types used in our industry including the aforementioned Teak, and also Oak, Acacia, Pine, Eucalyptus and Cedar.

We will look at each of them in turn, highlight the best ways to prevent them from fading, and examine their propensity to fade when exposed to the sun:

1. Teak Wood Furniture

We’ll start with Teak as it was our choice in our lounger durability article and it's a popular choice on UK patios due to its natural resistance to weathering. 

And whilst teak patio furniture is arguably the most durable wood, it will still fade in the UK sun over time. It is the most naturally resistant to rot, decay, and pests, but its colour will change when exposed to the mix of sun and rain that is the UK climate.

When new, teak wood furniture has a warm golden-brown hue, however, with prolonged exposure to UV light, the wood will gradually fade to a silvery-grey patina.

Some people love the naturally weathered look of aged teak as it adds character to their outdoor furniture. That patina is also what helps to further protect it from the elements. However, if you prefer to maintain the original colour, you must protect it.

The best solution is to apply a good quality teak oil or a teak sealer periodically, which will help to enhance the wood's natural colour and grain, whilst also protecting it from UV and moisture damage.

2. Oak Wood Furniture

Oak has always been a popular choice for furniture in the UK. Known for its strength and attractive grain pattern, oak patio furniture is sturdy and long-lasting.

It will require regular maintenance to preserve its appearance, and it will fade in the sun over time, though the extent of fading may vary depending on factors such as the intensity and duration of sunlight exposure, as well as the specific type of oak used.

Oak is a hardwood, and like most wood types, it is susceptible to the effects of ultraviolet light from sunlight. Exposure will cause the natural pigments in oak to break down, resulting in a gradual colour change.

Initially, oak furniture will have a warm, golden hue, however, prolonged exposure to sunlight will lighten the wood's colour over time. This fading process is a natural part of the wood's ageing and occurs with both outdoor oak furniture and indoor oak furniture that's exposed to sunlight through windows.

To minimise fading, you can take preventive measures such as applying a protective finish or sealant to protect it and enhance the golden colour and grain.

Regular maintenance, such as cleaning and reapplying a coat of hardwood garden furniture oil, will also help preserve the appearance and longevity of your oak patio furniture.

3. Acacia Wood Furniture

Acacia wood is another popular option for outdoor furniture in the UK due to its natural resistance to rot and decay. Acacia patio sets have a warm, honey-toned appearance with a smooth finish.

Like other types of wooden furniture, Acacia will also fade in the sun's UV rays over time. It has a high natural durability and resistance to rot, so great for our wet climate, but exposure to sunlight will still cause changes to its appearance.

You can minimise and preserve its original appearance by taking preventive measures such as applying a protective sealant or finish such as Tung or Linseed Oil that is formulated for outdoor use. This will help to shield the wood from UV rays and reduce the likelihood of fading.

4. Pine Wood Furniture

We were going to include Iroko in this article, as we see a lot of it in the UK, especially in the larger DIY sheds, but Pine is still the most popular entry-level timber.

Pine patio furniture is lightweight and easy to move around, and because it is the most budget-friendly option on this list, it will require more frequent maintenance to protect it from the elements.

Pine is a softwood, so it has a higher susceptibility to the elements. When exposed to sunlight and UV the natural pigments in the wood break down, leading to the fading of the wood's colour.

As a softwood, it is also highly susceptible to rot if it's exposed to rain for extended periods without proper treatment or maintenance. If it absorbs moisture into the grain and the temperature fluctuates, it is also prone to warping, splitting and cracking.

To prevent it from fading and rotting, etc, you must apply a sealant or outdoor finish regularly. Also, ensure the furniture is placed in a well-drained area or covered during inclement weather.

5. Eucalyptus Wood Furniture

Eucalyptus wood is similar in appearance to teak but is generally more affordable here in the UK. Eucalyptus patio sets have a lovely natural finish and they are known for their durability.

That said, it too will still fade in the sun over time. It is valued for its natural durability and resistance to rot, making it a popular choice for outdoor furniture in the UK. However, exposure to sunlight will still significantly alter its appearance.

When new, it has a warm, reddish-brown colour, but prolonged exposure to sunlight will cause this colour to fade. Again, the extent of fading will depend on factors such as the intensity and duration of sunlight exposure, but an application of a protective finish such as Teak, Tung or Linseed Oil is what we would recommend.

6. Cedar Wood Furniture

Cedar is another timber that is highly valued for its natural resistance to insects and decay. Cedar patio furniture has a more rustic appearance than Teak or Acacia, but if left untreated it will also weather to a silver-grey patina over time that many prefer.

Like most wood types sold in the UK, exposure to sunlight will cause changes in its appearance. When new it typically has a rich, reddish-brown colour, but prolonged exposure to sunlight will cause it to fade.

If you don’t want the fully rustic look, then you must apply a clear wood stain to give it a robust shield against the elements. Shop around for a seal that will give you the desired finish (satin, glossy, etc) and give UV and moisture protection.

Our final thoughts on UV rays, direct sunlight and sun exposure…

By taking these preventive measures, you can help to minimise fading from sun exposure and keep your wood patio furniture looking its best for many summers to come.

We would always advise that you apply a protective finish or sealant specifically designed for outdoor use, regardless if it's a high-end teak or budget-friendly pine. These specialist coatings will help to shield the wood from UV rays and moisture, reducing the risk of fading and other forms of weathering.

Shop around for a suitable product or speak to the retailer/manufacturer for their recommendation. If unsure, always test first on an inconspicuous part of the furniture such as the underside of the chair to see if you like the finish. Be sure to follow the manufacturer's instructions for application and how often you need to reapply too.

If you are concerned about fading, then the best solution is to position your wooden patio furniture in a shaded part of your patio or garden to reduce direct exposure and to cover it when not in use.

You must purchase covers made from a breathable but waterproof material to prevent moisture buildup and mould growth. When the furniture covers are off, you should also periodically rotate and rearrange your furniture to ensure even exposure to sunlight.

Whilst wood furniture does need greater levels of maintenance than our range, there is no denying its natural beauty. If you want to keep it that way, then regularly inspect for signs of damage, such as cracks, splits, or warping, and address any issues promptly.

Maintenance Free Garden Furniture from Lazy Susan

Routine maintenance will keep your wooden patio furniture in top condition, however, there is another option... If you want patio furniture that’s designed to sit outside all year, then our range of classically styled Maintenance-Free Garden Furniture (above) is just as stunning.

Each handcrafted piece is powder-coated to ensure a lasting and durable finish that does not need reapplication. From 10 seater, 8 seater, 6 seater and 4 seater tables to bistros sets for 2 people, we have a huge range of patio dining tables to fit your garden, large or small.

If you have any photos of your new Lazy Susan Furniture, we’d love to see a few for our Do Some Good charity campaign. You can tag us @LazySusanFurniture on Instagram or Facebook or Upload Here.

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