Cherry Floors Darken From Sun Light

By Todd Fratzel on Flooring

Sun Darkens Hardwood Floors

Brazilian cherry flooring darkened by sunlight.Our new home has Brazilian Cherry floors throughout the first floor. When we chose the Brazilian Cherry flooring a friend of ours warned us that cherry flooring will darken from sun light. If you use area rugs then you will notice the flooring under the carpet remains it’s original color while the area of flooring exposed to sun light will darken over time.

As you can see in the photo the Brazilian Cherry flooring under our area rug in the breakfast nook is much lighter than the floor that’s exposed to direct sun light (I’ve pulled back the carpet in the photo so you can see the difference). This significant difference in the flooring color has happened in just under two years time.

Ultraviolet Light Causes Wood Flooring To Darken

Ultraviolet light from the sun causes the tannins in the Brazilian Cherry floors to darken over time. Most Cherry floors, American, Black, and Brazilian will darken when exposed to ultraviolet light. This problem is most often seen when area or throw rugs are put down to cover the flooring for extended periods of time.

I can only think of a couple of solutions to help with this situation. You could install a ultraviolet film to your windows to reduce the amount of UV rays that are exposed to the floor. You could also use curtains and blinds to shield the amount of direct sun light that hits the floor. I suppose if this has already happened then you can pull up the rugs for a few months at a time and try to expose those areas to UV light so they can darken as well.

If you are looking to buy a home with cherry floors then take a look under any area rugs. You may well find this issue and want to consider it before making your purchase decision.

Have you seen this before? Any suggestions on how to prevent it or fix it?

About the author

Todd Fratzel

I'm full time builder for a large construction company in New Hampshire. I run their design-build division that specializes in custom homes, commercial design-build projects and sub-divisions. I'm also a licensed civil and structural engineer with extensive experience in civil and structural design and home construction. My hope is that I can share my experience in the home construction, home improvement and home renovation profession with other builders and home owners. I'm also the author of Tool Box Buzz and Today's Green Construction. Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions, suggestions or you'd like to inquire about advertising on this site.

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37 Comments

  1. Rick Wedding says:

    I have been in the building industry for 22 years and have seen this many times. You will notice this difference in color not only under rugs, but also the furniture.
    Removing the rugs and moving the furniture around from time to time is the only thing I can recommend.

  2. Todd says:

    I don’t think we would have picked a different wood but it’s something I’d like more people to be aware of. It was quite a shock when I lifted the carpet the other day. I had no idea it would happen that fast!

  3. threeacres says:

    Yes, cherry is famous for it’s darkening over time. After 5-10 years it will reach its darkest color though. My in-laws have cherry cabinets and there is a huge difference in color inside and outside the cabinet. We just bought a cherry bed frame but won’t be buying the dressers or nightstands until later so we are a little worried about the difference in color they will have. To reduce the noticeable color differences you can use a darker stain but the best way is to use a UV protective stain.

  4. kit homes says:

    I think periodic shifting of rugs would be a better idea. That allows the sunlight to fall over the entire area & flooring, whether dark or light, looks uniform.

    Kit homes

  5. Ethan says:

    Todd, (or anybody else), What about walnut floor? does that also change color? anyone know how quickly?

    • lisa says:

      I have Brazilian walnut, and the sun lightens it… I am sick about it, after spending $7000+, it looks terrible after just 5 years.

      • Todd Fratzel says:

        Woods with tannins are very susceptible to this. I wish flooring companies advertised this more. I certainly feel your pain.

  6. Sarah says:

    That is crazy that the floors darken! Isn’t that weird? Usually the sun fades things~

  7. Anita says:

    We have Brazilian Cherry in our dining room — now a 10 year old floor… And we recently installed Brazilian Cherry throughout our upstairs cause we just love it.

    The dining room had a large area rug under the dining table for just over seven years – and yes when it was taken up the floor was lighter beneath the rug.. However – the light coming into the room is not all that direct – filtered by the front porch – so the darkening of the rest of the floor was not all that dramatic.

    The room then remained empty – no rug.. no furniture.. for about six months after Katrina during which time the floor darkened uniformly. I suppose this is what threeacres is referring to — the floors finally darkened as much as they were going to.

    Since we aren’t sure.. We’re purposely leaving our B. Cherry library floors exposed as long as we possibly can considering the intense light from the skylights… In less than one year those floors have darkened considerably. However, we can’t do this for 10 years… So I suppose we better make sure we REALLY like whatever area rug I choose for that room. :)

  8. Chris says:

    I have the same thing happening on my Brazilian cherry floors and am selling my house. I have about 6-8 weeks before we move out so we are pulling up our rugs, and letting the sun shine in (We have very large windows in those rooms). I’m doing this to try and lessen the potential concern the buyers might have, though we know it will most likely take longer for it to blend. And yes, this will balance out over time. No need for alarm, its natural for the cherry to darken with UV light hence wood under the carpet stays the original color.

  9. J. says:

    I know a guy that used cherry for his trim work throughout his house. He intentionally didn’t fill the nail holes for quite some time because he wanted the wood to darken and then match the wood filler to the darkened cherry.

  10. Cali Girl says:

    We used an exotic wood from Australia….in less than a year we had a colour difference twice as bad as the one in this photo….it is shocking, we had no idea….had we known we would have made a different choice. We want to roll the carpet up but it is winter and we need it down for warmth in the house. Bummer.

  11. John says:

    We’ve had some recent repairs to our new floors and they replaced and resealed several planks. The color difference is stark; it looks like a checkerboard! My favorite floor guy (sarcasm intended), tells me that the UV will darken the new planks and they will (eventually) match. Really? How long should I wait?

  12. John says:

    Todd,

    Thank you for the response. Yeah, that’s unfortunate. If I had known, I may not have gotten the repairs. (silicone spotting… looked like bleach-type stains) These planks look bad, that’s a long time for my wife to be angry. ;) Warranty doesn’t cover that.

    • Todd says:

      @ John – Sorry to deliver that news…the good thing is it will get better….all part of the beauty of natural wood floors! Good luck.

      • Marlin says:

        Hi Todd,

        You seem experienced with this problem. I have pulled up several area rugs in my house trying to get the suns UV rays to darken my Brazilian cherry wood floors but it seems to be taking forever. At this pace I’m looking at a year or more time. Do you have any Ultraviolet lighting ideas that might speed up the process? I’m currently trying a UV flood light in one area but it’s too early to tell of the darkening effect it may or may not be having to the wood flooring below. Any advice that you have would be helpful.

        • Todd says:

          Marlin – Sorry to say the only thing that I know of is time. Frankly that’s not very reliable because the surrounding areas can continue to darken. I feel your pain!! I try to tell folks ahead of time to skip the area rugs the first few years, let the floors darken first. Let me know if that light works!

          • Daria says:

            I’m considering Brazilian Cherry for new house and appreciate all these comments. Would an Aluminum Oxide with UV prevent such problems?

          • Todd says:

            Daria – The floors in that photo also have that type of finish. I think a better approach are windows with really good UV protection. At any rate I think leaving throw rugs out for the first year would also help. Good luck.

        • Joyce Klein says:

          I just found that my oak floors are doing the darkening thing today!!! I think I’m going to get a UV light and cover the darken areas and expose the lighter area where I had the rugs. I called Bruce flooring and talked to them, it was like they never heard of this before. The floors are only 2 years old, lots of light tho

          • Ali says:

            Did it work? I am putting our home on the market and found a huge discoloration under the dining room rug. Beautiful B. Cherry floors but it looks really odd. Concerned it will scare a buyer. Did the UV light work?

          • Todd says:

            I haven’t heard from anyone if that approach works or not. I’d say buy a large rug and cover it :)

  13. David says:

    We did two rooms last year and are now doing the rest of the first floor. There’s a huge difference in color, and it looks like two completely different woods. Our floor guy said it will take about 4 months for the new wood to darken.

  14. Larry says:

    I’m well used to this problem and it always turns out ok after a few months in my experience.The darkening happens very rapidly at first then tapers off.

    One think I’m doing with my new cherry floors this time is to leave the ceiling florescent lights on 24 hours/day for a few weeks. Florescent lighting also has UV rays and my installer told me that this will indeed speed up the process, though sunlight is still the main UV source.

  15. Cheryl says:

    We have the opposite problem. Our cherry floors have faded where the light comes in from French doors and window and the big area rug under the dining room table has stayed the original color. It is now like night and day difference. Can the lightened parts be blended in to match the darker color that is under the rug.

    • Todd says:

      Very strange considering sun-light causes the tanins in cherry to darken. I’m going to guess the wood is not Cherry and the sun light has faded a stain. If that’s the case…restaining may help.

    • Sissy O says:

      Cheryl,
      I too, have the same issue where the small area right in from of the french door is lighter than the area over which the rug covered. I think maybe it’s a result of the light not being direct, but it does seem like the area is bleached. My house is the same wood throughout the main level, with some areas under rugs being lighter. I did move things around so for the most part not too wast a difference.

  16. Vicki says:

    Question – we’re putting our house on the market in ~6 weeks and have large rugs in our dining and great rooms. Can the process of darkening be accelerated by using artificial UV light?

    • Todd Fratzel says:

      Great question…..one I have no idea about! Certainly worth a try, I’d love to know how that works. Good luck!

  17. Julie says:

    Wondering how fast American Cherry will discolor? We are selling our house and wanted to protect the floors after just refinishing them by putting down paper in the traffic areas. Installer said if you put paper down it has to be over the whole floor or there will be noticeable darkening of the uncovered area. It will only be down for 2 weeks but the room gets a lot of light. I also heard if you do this do not use red rosin paper (which is what the refinisher ended up putting down).

  18. Leslie says:

    I recently replaced an area of my dining room that has cherry floors. I want it to change color to match the rest, but I also want to protect it. The room has A LOT of sunlight so I think it will happen pretty quickly, and I was going to put down the clear multi-surface plastic temporarily (kind of like carpet protector). Do you think that would cause a problem with the color change?

  19. Julian says:

    We’ve put Brazilian Cherry in all our houses. Yes it does change color in the sunlight, but if you have issue with that then you can correct it easily by letting the lighter areas get light. Once it fully darkens it doesn’t lighten again.

    Also, the dark color is the nicer color in my opinion. I don’t like the initial somewhat garish red.

    Basically it isn’t a problem, you can even it out any time you want by leaving it exposed.

  20. Emily says:

    We are considering to install either Brazilian Cherry or Santos Mahogany in our living room. There is quite a bit of comments on color changes in Brazilian cherry floor. Does anyone have experience with Santa Mahogany floor? Does its color darken or get lighter after installation?

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