The last thing you want is the hardwood fading with your new custom dining table. This guide will help you choose and select the right wood for that to not happen. I will say here at the beginning though, between wood and nature, nature always wins. While there are many great modern finishes designed to help avoid sun fading, the sun will work its magic and eventually will fade the wood.
Most finishes on the market today are really designed to help slow the process down. And like anything, normal routine care is the most helpful thing you can do for your dining table, regardless of the wood type.
There are also various characteristics of wood fading that we should discuss for a bit. While some wood will fade, common to what we see with driftwood, some woods will darken and turn a different hue. One imported hard wood like purple heart, turns a deep and rich purple once it sees the sun and oxygen. When we first mill into it, its a dull and dreary wood with not alot of character. But over a day or so, the sunlight works its magic!
The fade that happens with wood is when the sun begins breaking down the actual structure of the wood. And it slowly loses its vibrancy. This is the more common type of fading we see along beaches as the gray wood gets weathered and beaten by salt and sunlight.
The rate at which wood fades depends on a few things but notably the type of wood. A softer wood will be less dense with more room in the material for air to get in. Hard wood is more dense and stable. And it doesn’t fade as quickly as its soft wood counterpart.
Most domestic hardwoods have some tolerance against sun fading. In our experience, the lighter the color the wood, the better resistance there will be. Hardwoods like hickory and maple will fade less than other woods like walnut or cherry.
Hickory, while it can vary from board to board, will often be the least affected by sunlight. With white oak in a close 2nd. If hickory boards have more white and brown character marks throughout, the darker streaks will turn a darker hue with sunlight. White oak is great for this because it has a very even and neutral tone to it. From board to board there are very slight variations throughout that will grab sunlight and start fading.
We often look at older hardwood flooring in homes throughout the west. THese hardwood floors alwasy tell us a great story because our floors see all kinds of sunlight from room to room. More direct versus passive sunlight, or sunlight coming in through a window. Or a south facing window that gets 6+ hours of sunlight each day. This is where we can see the greatest impact of sunlight and wood.
And here again, white oak and hickey come out as top contenders for woods that fade the least. So we like to use these materials in our dining tables.
Now, part of our process is to use a finish that will be the best for the use of the dining table. This is why we find out if the dining table will be near a south facing window or see any direct sunlight. We will choose to add in UV stabilizing additives to our finish to help avoid this. We have even added lighter tints to stains to give the wood a fighting chance for not showing this less than desirable fade.
If we can tint the finish a tad lighter, then as the years go by and the wood does begin to fade, we will have give the dining table a great stand against the unforgiving sunlight.
And as we mentioned earlier, the best thing you can do to help avoid fading in your hardwood dining table is to use maintenance products and cleaners that won’t wear the finish down. WHile we do our best to select the right finish process for your table, there is no bullet proof product or process out there. So we must use our best judgment and experience and take a routine maintenance approach to the dining table. Just like we do oil changes on our cars in a routine fashion, we must consider the same approach with our dining tables.
We say that when the wood starts looking dry, you have waited too long. Not that the table is forever ruined but that you will want to increase the regiments in between your maintenance routine.
A note on tables coming out of big box furniture stores- we don’t usually see those tables needing any sort of maintenance regiment simply because you aren’t actually maintaining real hard wood. Tables like that are built with synthetic materials designed to look like wood but in fact are just fake materials. These materials will underdog a different type of stress in the form of the core cracking and breaking down. Hence why we call tables like that, throwaway furniture. While they are cheaper than a custom made dining table, buying 2 or 3 will cost more in the long run.
Reach out if you are wondering how to take care of your dining table as well as if you are ready to have us make your own dining table. We will ship you the right maintenance products to take care of your dining table the right way so it doesn’t fade.