Hardwood Photosensitivity

There’s something very special about hardwood floors. They bring warmth and beauty to a space with their varying colors and natural grains. But did you know that hardwoods change their color overtime? It’s because of photosensitivity. Simply put, something that’s photosensitive will either lighten or darken when exposed to natural and artificial light.

Hardwood Floor Discoloration

While all hardwoods are photosensitive to some degree, certain types are more sensitive than the rest.

For example, when first cut, walnut can range from a light pale brown to a dark chocolate brown. When exposed to sunlight, however, a dark brown walnut can lighten to a golden brown tone overtime.

Another wood that’s more prone to photosensitivity is tulipwood, also known as Poplar. When first cut, the color ranges from a green to a purple tone and can transform to a warm milk chocolate brown overtime.

Cherry wood, both American and exotic species, is the most photosensitive of hardwoods. It will change from a pink tone to a red-brown tone overtime.

cherry wood photosensitivity


What to Do About Hardwood Floor Discoloration

  • Ask one of our Avalon design experts how much your chosen hardwood flooring will change overtime. All of our wood samples are labeled with the level of how photosensitive they are—low, medium or high. If you aren’t happy with the look, simply choose a different wood.
  • Consider how much light your space will get. If it doesn’t get a lot of sun, your floors won’t have much of a color change. If you do get a lot of sun, you should invest in window treatments. And you should be sure to shut them during the day to minimize the sun exposure.
  • Rearrange your furniture, rugs, etc. once in a while to ensure even color change. The plus side to this, it’s an excuse to keep your space looking fresh!

So when you’re shopping for your beautiful hardwood floors, whether solid or engineered, keep photosensitivity in mind. As long as you’re happy with the end color, it doesn’t have to be seen as a negative problem. Instead, it can be seen as an interesting and appealing characteristic.

At Avalon Flooring, we want to make sure you’re happy from your first step in our showroom to your first step on your new flooring—and as your partner in home design, we’ll be there every step along the way. Consider us your “One-Stop Shopping” destination for all things flooring…(and window treatments)!

Our design consultants are equipped with the knowledge to guide you through the wide selection of products we offer, and our expert installation team is professionally trained to make sure everything gets installed the way you envision. We know your home is an expression of your sense of style, and we’re here to make sure you’ll be proud of it for years to come.

If you have any questions, please email us.