The sun is strongest in the summer months and prolonged exposure to unfiltered UV rays can wreak havoc on your vehicles, outdoor furniture, and other exterior surfaces. Without the proper protection and warm weather maintenance, months of direct sunlight can have a lasting detrimental effect on all your exterior surfaces, from fading colors to peeling paint.
Areas Vulnerable To Sun Damage
There are several items that are especially prone to damage from excessive heat and direct sunlight, including:
- Car paint
- Plastic or wooden outdoor furniture
- Fabric awnings or outdoor umbrellas
- House exteriors—especially homes with wood or stucco siding
These items require extra care and protective measures to avoid costly repairs, repainting, or replacements.
What Are The Effects Of Sun Damage On Exterior Surfaces?
One of the primary ways the sun can damage exterior surfaces is by fading paint. Sun bleaching is primarily caused when UV rays interact with pigmented paint molecules called chromophores, changing their structure and light-reflecting properties and, consequently, changing their color. Cars painted yellow, orange, and red are the most susceptible to fading.
Oxidation is a reaction that causes car paint to deteriorate due to excessive heat and exposure to oxygen. The chemical process results in the degradation of the clear coat on your car’s exterior, giving your paintwork a patchy appearance. While patchiness may not disrupt your car’s performance, it can significantly decrease its resale value. For painted furniture and homes, oxidation can cause wood stains and paint to lose pigmentation and change color, impacting the aesthetics of your home and yard while depreciating the curb appeal.
Blistering is an issue for both vehicular and house paints. It occurs when there is a loss of adhesion between the paint and the underlying surface. The heat of the sun breaks down the bonding agents, causing small bubbles to appear in the paint. Blisters can eventually lead to entire areas of paint peeling off your car or home exterior. Blistering and peeling are especially detrimental to car paint because it exposes the metal surface underneath, leaving your car vulnerable to rust and corrosion.
While most outdoor paints are formulated with anti-chalking agents, some degree of chalking is inevitable, especially in areas with extreme high temperatures. Chalking occurs when the sun’s UV light reacts with chemicals in the paint and forms a dry, dusty layer. This phenomenon can dull the paint’s intensity, and it makes it challenging to apply a new coat of paint, as it will not adhere to chalked areas.
Prolonged sun exposure can damage the chemical structure of plastic outdoor furniture, causing it to become brittle and erode. This makes your patio furniture potentially unsafe to sit on and unsightly to look at. Sun also dries natural oils in wooden items, causing them to flake and peel. Although not an exterior part of your vehicle, dashboards and leather steering wheels and seats are prone to brittleness due to UV rays. The dashboard of a car can reach an astonishing 157°F, while the steering wheel can hit temperatures of up to 127°F if your car is left unprotected in the sun. This not only puts drivers and passengers at risk for burns, but can cause leather seat or steering wheel covers to dry out, become brittle, and crack.
While paint plays an important aesthetic role for your car or home, it also protects exterior surfaces from moisture damage. When the sun causes paint to dry, change structure, or erode, cracks can form, allowing moisture to penetrate the steel, wood, or porous brick underneath. For a car, this means that your chassis and engine components are at risk of developing rust. For a home, depending on your siding materials, moisture could cause rot and undermine the structural integrity of your home.
How To Protect Your Car And Home From The Sun
While the sun can do considerable damage to your car and home if left unchecked, there are several measures you can take to protect your valuable investments from unnecessary harm. Taking the proper precautions year-round is essential for prolonging the lifespan of your vehicle and your house. Here are a few basic practices to implement immediately:
Use A Car Cover
Your vehicle is undoubtedly one of your most valuable possessions, so preserving its aesthetic, both externally and internally, is critical. Investing in a car cover that you can use in all seasons ensures your seats and paint job are protected all year. It is a common misconception that the sun is most harmful during the summer, but during the winter months snow reflects up to 80% of the sun’s UV rays, essentially doubling the amount of sun exposure your car receives.
Choosing all-weather car covers saves you the hassle of purchasing multiple covers because you can use one product in all seasons. A high-quality all-weather cover should be chemically treated for UV resistance to reduce heat damage. It should also be water-resistant yet breathable and feature multiple layers with a soft inner lining to protect your car’s paint from scratches. For patio furniture, invest in a high-quality cover measured to fit your outdoor set. Ensure that the cover has ventilation to prevent mold from developing due to moisture buildup. If you plan to go on vacation, pack up and store your outdoor furniture indoors for the duration of your holiday.
Park In The Shade
When you’re on the go, it’s not always possible to shield your car with a protective cover. Searching for a parking spot that offers shady coverage for your vehicle goes a long way in preventing your engine from overheating while preserving your leather interior and exterior paint job. While a parking garage offers maximum protection from UV rays while you’re out and about, some locations simply won’t offer this level of coverage. Opt for a parking space beneath a leafy tree or on a residential street where rows of houses cast shadows on the road.
Apply UV-Resistant Paint Or Wax
If you regularly take your car on road trips or are forced to park in an unprotected area at your workplace, consider applying a UV-resistant coating to your vehicle to preserve the bodywork. Spray-on wax coatings for your car often contain carnauba, along with UV-resistant materials and silicone sealants, to help protect your vehicle from the elements. For home exteriors, opt for paint made from high-quality acrylic latex with premium pigments and binders. You should also opt for light neutral colors that reflect UV rays rather than absorbing them. This ensures your exterior paint is resistant to UV damage and has a long-lasting finish.
Keep Windows Covered
Both your home and your car can benefit from reducing the amount of UV light you allow in, eliminating a greenhouse effect. At peak hours of sunlight during the day, draw the curtains in your home to keep the interior cooler and prevent the sun from causing fading in your walls, kitchen cabinets, and artwork. For your car, consider investing in sunshades to put over the windows when you leave it in Park.
Keep Your Exteriors Looking Pristine This Summer
Your home and vehicle exteriors are exposed to UV rays for months on end, causing severe and lasting damage to paints, coatings, and finishes. To avoid depreciating your home or car’s value, or spending money on repairs or replacement items, take preventive actions. Purchasing a car cover to protect your paint job or applying specially formulated paint to the outside of your home protects exterior surfaces from the sun and keeps your home and car in perfect condition.