According to NASA, over the past three decades, the amount of ultraviolet (UV) rays reaching Earth has risen. While you may already don sunscreen to protect your skin before heading out the door, UV rays can also damage the things inside your home. Using window shades, films, and tints, you can protect your home from damaging rays.
Do house windows block UV rays?
According to The Health Physics Society, standard window glass typically blocks UV-B and UV-C rays but allows UV-A light to pass through. UV-A rays, which can cause our skin to sunburn, can also cause your furniture and flooring to fade. You’ve likely spent a lot of money on hardwood floors and brand-new furniture, but the sun streams through your windows daily, increasing their risk of damage. You may not notice it now, but after years of sitting by uncovered windows, your furniture and floors will look faded and worn.
Thankfully, a few solutions ensure your house is protected. Your steps depend on your budget and the time you want to spend redoing your windows.
Tips for home window UV protection
Use window shades
One of the most cost-effective materials that block UV rays is window shades. Whether you prefer the look of woven wood shades, cellular shades, or Roman shades, look for an option that offers high UV protection. Some solar shades, for example, can block 99 percent of UV rays while letting in light.
You can also choose a custom opacity, which will tell you just how much UV light is entering your home. The lower the opacity, the more UV rays (and sunlight) will be blocked. For example, 1 percent opacity window shades block 99 percent of rays, 3 percent opacity shades block 97 percent of rays, and so on.
Use window film to block UV rays
Window films are translucent vinyl or polyester strips that cling to your window glass and provide home window UV protection. They block 99 percent of UV rays, and you won’t even notice them on your windows. You can place films on your windows yourself or get them professionally installed. If you have many windows in your home and choose to have the films installed by contractors, you could pay a pretty penny.
Over time, the films can become scratched or damaged and may need to be replaced. Most are removable, although you may need to use ammonia, vinegar, or a hand steamer to take them off, DIY-style.
Install tinted windows
For a more permanent solution, tinting your home’s windows can block UV rays permanently. Low emissivity (or Low-E) glass windows are coated with tiny layers of metallic oxides. You can’t see it, but it does protect you and your home from UV rays.
Tinted windows also help insulate your home, meaning your rooms will stay warmer in the winter and cooler in the summertime. Tints can be either soft- or hard-coated. For privacy purposes — and to reduce the light and heat in your house even further — you may want to pair them with window shades.
How to protect furniture from sunlight
Let’s say you like keeping the shades open all day because your pet is at home and wants to look outside. Maybe you have indoor plants that need constant sun. In these cases, you can always move your furniture to a shadier spot in your home or place UV-protection slipcovers on your furniture. However, these solutions are more temporary because covers can always slip off, and you may want to move your furniture back.
How to protect hardwood floors from the sun
Protecting hardwood floors from the sun can be tricky. A rug may cover the floors, but any exposed areas of the floor will either fade or darken, while the covered areas won’t. Rearranging rugs and furniture can often help prevent the same areas of your floor from being constantly exposed to sunlight. You can also investigate the idea of finishing your floors with a product with UV inhibitors to slow discoloration from sun damage.