So you visit your local wood-flooring retailer and, after much consideration, finally pick out a hardwood floor based on a sample in a display rack. So far so good, right? In most cases the answer is “yes”. Meaning the installation goes without a hitch, the color is perfect, and the result is a beautiful floor. That is frequently the norm. However, there are times when the “recently” delivered, and sometimes installed, floor color looks different from the sample of the same floor at the store. Convinced that the stain used on the floor is different from what was used on the display sample it may be time to file a claim for a replacement floor or refund. Before jumping to conclusions, something to keep in mind when investing in a hardwood floor is that some hardwood floors have lots of color variation. When picking out a floor based on a sample it’s important to place the sample on the floor, and look for color tone variation.
Let’s take a look at what could have caused the floor and sample to take on a noticeable difference in the overall color tone.
- First we need to recognize that most all wood is “photosensitive,” and when exposed to UV light it can cause the color of wood to lighten or darken. A perfect example of this is with Brazilian Cherry. Brazilian Cherry when freshly cut exhibits a color tone close to a light salmon pink or light orange. When exposed to UV light it can change to a deep reddish gold, to orange gold, to cinnamon brown gold.
Please refer to the following picture: (Notice the clearly defined area of lighter to darker wood within the same board. The lighter area was protected from direct UV exposure by a piece of flooring that was simply laying on the surface of the floor).
- Also the dyes used to color wood are not colorfast. This is because dyes are subject to photo-degradation. When exposed to light (i.e., UV light, florescent light, natural light etc.,) it will begin to breakdown the molecules that make up the dye. Dyes are also sensitive to heat. Heat can also breakdown dyes resulting in regardless fading from the original color.
Please refer to the following picture:
Note: The front board leaning against the display sample was taken from a newly opened box of material. The back display panel has been exposed to UV light for the past year. Notice the degree of fading with the display board as compared to the board protected from the effects of UV light.