A question that often comes up here in the Southwestern U.S. is “How do I protect my rugs from sun fading?” That’s an important question, as the ultraviolet rays from the sun will not only fade the color from your rug, but also cause the wool fibers to wear out more quickly. In the case of some tufted style rugs with glue backings, it can even cause the laminate to degrade.
The first thing to keep in mind is that ultraviolet light is the real cause of fading. The other parts of the light spectrum don’t really damage your rug, so limiting the rug’s exposure to UV is key. There are a few things you can do which will make a difference.
First is “tactical” placement of your rug. It sounds obvious, but when you put your rug down, limiting the amount of direct sunlight it is exposed to makes a huge impact on how much UV light can penetrate it. While effective, this is the most constraining solution to sun fading. Sometimes you really want your rug in an area where a lot of light comes in, which is perfectly reasonable.
In that case, we recommend drawing your shades when you aren’t home. It’s nice to have a lot of light in your house, but if you’re out at work, or not really spending time in the space where your rug is, the simple act of drawing your shades goes a long way towards preventing fade. Fortunately, if drawing your shades isn’t an option, there are still solutions.
“Low E” (Low Emission) glass is a specially designed type of glass built to filter the amount of UV coming into your home, while still allowing all the light you normally see into the space. Most “Low E” glass filters out about 95% of the UV that would otherwise make it in, and has a huge impact on lifespan of your rug and its colors. “Low E” glass also has the added benefits of keeping energy costs down, letting less heat in during the summer, and less heat out during the winter. The downside of Low E-glass is that it could require replacing your windows, a potentially expensive prospect. There is, however, a much less expensive alternative.
Low E-Filters can be purchased for your existing windows at a fraction of the cost of Low E-Glass. Coming in clear and semi opaque shades, Low E filters are literally applied to the surface of your existing windows. While not quite as effective as Low E glass, they are still a great way to reduce the UV rays coming into your home. They can even be combined with Low E glass to create a doubly-effective barrier.
For a great blog on how Low E filters and glass work, check here. – https://www.buildinggreen.com/blog/window-performance-%E2%80%93-magic-low-e-coatings
A solution that we recommend avoiding are UV blocking chemicals that can be applied to the fibers of your rug. While these sound great in concept, our independent testing has yet to prove any of them effective in preventing long term fading and damage. Even worse, we have found that these chemicals tend to attract dirt, causing your rug to appear dirty much more quickly and even make it more difficult to clean. As of today, we don’t yet recommend the use of these products on your rug.
Whatever method you use, we highly recommend doing what you can to prevent UV exposure in your home. It will go a long way to creating enduring beauty and life in your valuable rugs.