The main photo is courtesy of Phifer which showcases an installation of their SheerWeave® 4550/4650 interior solar shade fabric that is designed to maximize both outward visibility and solar heat reduction.
The sun can wreak havoc on your home’s interior furnishings, walls and floors. Here are several lines of defense to provide protection against harmful UV rays.
Sunlight, though an important component of our overall wellness and immune systems, can be devastating to your household furnishings and interior spaces. Ultraviolet (UV) Rays within natural sunlight are the primary culprit of major sun damage for a number of household materials such as sofa fabrics, carpets, wood floors, wall coverings, window treatments and wood furnishings.
All of these materials are susceptible to UV Degradation, or the breakdown of their molecular components, resulting in chemical changes and physical damage. With persistent overexposure to UV rays, these materials are highly likely to experience:
- Color Fading
- Reduced Flexibility
- Decreased Strength
- Cracking & Peeling
- Disintegration of Material
How to Prevent Damaging UV Rays to Interior Spaces
There are a number of ways to prevent the sun from wreaking havoc on your home’s interior furnishings, walls and floors. Starting outside the home and working inward, we provide several lines of defense for protection from UV rays, visible light, heat and glare. To limit the scope of this article, these options pertain to what can be done without installing new or replacing existing windows.
Lines of Defense Against UV Rays: Outside to Inside the Home
Retractable Enclosure Screens
Defending the inside of your home against the sun’s rays begins with protecting your home from the outside. Exterior retractable screens are the perfect solution when mounted around the perimeter of your home’s large openings, such as outdoor balconies or sunporches. As a first line of defense, exterior mounted screens can intercept light from UV rays before they reach the panes of windows and doors causing thermal heat conductivity.
When this heat is trapped inside your home it accumulates, thereby raising the internal temperature of the home’s interior. Heat, caused by UV rays, is just as damaging to materials, as it results in expansion that pulls materials apart causing openings and tears in fabrics such as sofas and drapes.
Exterior screens around a balcony or sunporch block the light from the sun’s rays, which reduces internal temperatures, deflects UV rays from reaching your home’s interior and thus guards against harmful effects such as material degradation. Retractable exterior screens can also conveniently “disappear” on days when they are not needed.
Phantom’s Screens is the premier manufacturer of retractable (both motorized and manual) screens for all types of large spaces. They have been a pioneer in the screen industry by continually expanding the usage of screens for seamless indoor-outdoor living throughout all seasons of the year. To learn more about their capabilities see our in-depth profile on Phantom Screens, as well as how their screens were used for energy efficiency in the 2021 New American Remodel, and protecting against the elements in the 2021 New American Home.
Mirage Retractable Screen Systems
Available in a number of architectural colors to suit your home’s exterior colors, Mirage Retractable Screen Systems offer both UV or Sun Control fabrics and blackout fabrics to block penetrating UV rays completely. Made with Phifer UV screen mesh, Mirage Retractable Screen Systems offer strong defense against solar heat gain.
UV Window Screens
Also known as solar screens, most UV window screens are placed on the exterior side of a window to prevent UV rays from hitting the window’s pane. This category of protectants are also typically stationary structures that are fitted to the outside of a window’s pane and are removable manually for cleaning of a window’s exterior.
However, there are also versions of window screens available in the market that are retractable, as well as installed internally. Phantom Screens’ retractable window screens give a good overview for this category of flexible and convenient window screens.
The leading manufacturer of woven fabrics used for interior and exterior UV protection, Phifer Solar Control screens are the most popular and trusted UV screen sold. You can easily replace your existing screen mesh with Phifer UV Solar mesh fabrics. SheerWeave®, SunTex®, and Super Solar Screening, are all designed to defend against heat, UV rays and glare, as much as 90%.
Adfors’ SunShield polyester solar screen was developed by the scientists at Saint-Gobain, and is designed to block up to 80-90% of UV rays before they pass through the window’s pane. Similarly, the company’s SunGuard product is constructed of specialty woven fiberglass and promises to filter light and reduce both heat and glare, thereby protecting carpets, drapes and upholstery, and is backed by a 10-year warranty.
UV Window Film
Another highly effective method of blocking harmful UV rays is applying UV Window Film to the interior side of your existing windows. Sun-blocking window film not only protects your furnishings but it can also reduce energy costs. There are several reputable vendors and products to choose from, ranging from easy-to-install DIY solutions to professionally installed solutions for larger window systems with more demanding requirements. For an in-depth look also see:
Continuing to move inward from the exterior of the home, we now move to the next layer of defense. This category is known as Window Inserts, whose most notable manufacturer is Indow Windows.
Using precise laser measurements, Indow can create customized inserts to block UV rays (even for odd-shaped windows), mute outside noise and reduce drafts. Constructed of durable acrylic glazing, Indow’s compression-fit inserts are placed on the inside of the existing window’s frame. With a tight compression tubing seal, these clear, acrylic inserts block UV rays with just a firm press into the existing window’s frame.
Their top grade of UV protection is available in their Museum Grade Window Inserts, which block 98% of UV rays while allowing natural light through. They come in three different colors (warm white, brown and black), are available in custom shapes like arches and rounds, and are virtually invisible when installed.
For those considering blackout curtains (mentioned later in this article), Indow also makes a Sleep Panel insert, which can eliminate 100% of outside light and 50% of the noise coming through a window. This product is ideal for light and daytime sleepers, as well as sufferers of migraine headaches.
Indoor mounted UV Shades (also referred to as Solar Shades), on manual or motorized rollers, are ubiquitous in most homes for protection from UV rays, glare and heat reduction. Today’s offerings are vastly improved from the old pulldown “one type fits all” version, as contemporary UV shades offer varying degrees of UV blockage known as “opacity”.
A shade’s opacity can vary from 1% to 14% which means that a shade with a 1% opacity will block 99% of the sun’s UV rays, while a 14% opacity will block 86% of UV rays. UV shades with lower opacity ratings allow less light than those with higher ratings. The most popular opacity level is 5%, which allows a comfortable level of UV blockage, while allowing sufficient visibility of a window’s view.
Phifer is the largest manufacturer of window shade fabrics and offers a wide variety of UV solar shade fabrics. Their fabrics are used in a variety of window shading solutions including manual and motorized roller shades, in addition to panel track systems.
Phifer’s SheerWeave Interior Sun Control Shade Fabric
Mermet USA is a weaver of Sun Control Textiles constructed of fiberglass for strength, stability and color with energy efficiency and occupant comfort in mind. The company is known for rigorous product testing, as each new weave, before reaching the market, must undergo examinations for:
- How long can it withstand the heat of the sun on a window
- Evaluates real life stability of being hung on a roller; and
- Cycle Durability:
- How well does the fabric perform during a 7,200 cycle, 60-hour period of rolling up and down continuously
Mermet USA Video
Blackout Curtains & Other Window Treatments
The best method for guaranteeing that interiors remain pristine from UV ray destruction is to install blackout curtains or drapes. Blackout drapes can block out unwanted light, heat, and sound with their 0% opacity index, although it does leave a room in pitch darkness during the day. Blackout curtain are often placed in hotel rooms to ensure that guest can “sleep in” without the annoyance of sun streaming through the windows, especially on eastward facing rooms.
Here are four popular brand choices that offer 100% blackout capabilities:
Plantation shutters are another useful way to deflect harmful UV rays away from your home. Unlike drapes, they are relatively easy to clean and maintain and offer a unique look from both the interior and exterior of the home.
Fabric treatments can be used on both indoor and outdoor furniture to prevent fading and cracking of furniture materials, carpeting and drapes. Especially popular in hot sunny climates such as Southern California and Arizona, these spray-on treatments typically need to re-applied every 2-3 months each season for areas with strong sun exposure.
Trek 7 Ray Bloc
Trek 7 Ray Bloc protects against fading and material degradation for both indoor and outdoor furniture. Advised for use on all fabric types (including silk), as it extends the life of fabrics by blocking 99.5% of all UV rays. Ray Bloc has no odor or yellowing and does not stiffen or harden fabrics
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