Your Home Versus the Sun

Just as you put on sunscreen to protect your skin, your house is made of materials designed to protect it against the elements. But, just as sunscreen wears or rinses off, so too, your home can slowly lose its protection. Many factors contribute to the wear on a house, and one often-overlooked cause is sun damage. Because it can open the door for worse problems, you should become familiar with some of the most common signs of this kind of damage.


It isn’t surprising that clay, concrete, and slate tiles are the most durable types of roofing with regard to sunlight. Metal makes a close second with its high tolerance of heat and light radiation and can last half a century or more. While uncommon, some low-end products can lose their topcoat to the sun causing the paint to fade and thin.

Most homeowners recognize the cracking, curling, and thinning of composition roofing. To become truly water-resistant, asphalt shingles needs heat from the sun-in the beginning; but heat is not the only radiation the sun puts out. Most roofs see a steady bombardment of UV light over their relatively short lifespan (15-25 yrs ave.) UV light scatters when it hits the rough granulated surface and weakens the shingle integrity; at this point, heat and rain become a greater threat.


Both aluminum and steel cladding, available in many forms, are highly durable when faced with years of sunlight. Nevertheless, aluminum with a baked enamel coating will eventually show signs of chalking. In order to avoid further damage, the siding will need sanding and painting. However, steel siding protected with PVC (polyvinyl chloride), a UV resistant coating, can last nearly half a century. Hotly contended, vinyl siding too benefits from a UV protectorate. Nonetheless, extreme heat from the sun can cause warping and brittleness in low quality vinyl.

Paints and Stains:

Anyone who has ever touched up a painted surface knows that the paint in the five-year-old can is no longer a perfect match to the five-year-old paint on the house. Paint, stain, and caulking are all subject to fading over time, even if the product is UV resistant. Ultraviolet light chiefly targets paint’s binder, the resin matrix that carries the pigment, which weakens the integrity of the coating. The sun’s heat is also responsible for peeling, chalking, or blistering. And, if water intrusion separates, paint from the base material, heat can exacerbate the problem.


When talking about sun damage, you might immediately think of wood. Whether it’s roofing, siding, decks, or a myriad other applications, wood degrades in the presence of UV light. This process damages wood fibers, weakening its integrity. This in turn allows surface erosion and changes in color. Dark woods tend to lighten, light woods tend to darken, and pressure treated wood and cedar will tend to silver; this silvering has one positive application, in that it indicates when wet PT lumber has dried and is ready for heavy sealer encapsulation. Interior wood can also lighten from sunlight through a window. While color change does not necessarily mean the wood is in poor condition, it is a barometer for how the sun is affecting your home.


Over the gambit of building materials, color plays a unique role in how sunlight affects painted surfaces. White is highly reflective and absorbs less light, which means white-and lighter colors in general-will have a longer life than dark colors. Darker pigment means higher light absorption, which equals a shorter life.

Should the sun keep you up at night? The effects of the sun on your home often take years to manifest. When you see that the sun is affecting your home, there is no need to panic; it is, however, a good indicator that some maintenance is required. Cleaning, re-sealing, and timely repairs are your best defense.

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