Color Change or Patina in Hardwood Flooring


Wood is a natural material that reacts to ambient light. Some woods gain richness in color once exposed to sunlight. Others may lighten over time. The most dramatic changes occur within the first six months following installation. The tendency to shift color over time is rated as Minimal or Moderate.

Color changes in hardwood flooring, patina, are a natural characteristic of all wood species. “Sun-shading”, ambering or yellowing, and mellowing are terms frequently used to describe this occurrence. The color change may be slow, such as in American Oak or very rapid as in Brazilian Cherry. Domestic species that change color rapidly are American Cherry and Pecan/Hickory. Most imported exotic species are dark in color naturally, but darken even more and often do so very rapidly. Market trends have shown a dramatic increase in usage of lighter stained products or products with no stain at all. The use of stain camouflages the natural color changes associated with wood. For that reason natural or unstained products may show color change more rapidly than if they had been stained.

Technically the color change occurs in the lignin within the cell wall due to photochemical and oxidative chemical reactions. The rate of the chemical reaction is associated with the species, air, temperature, light and its intensity as well as the trace chemicals within the wood.

Many finishes can and do amber with age, affecting the overall appearance of patina, AHF Products’ finishes remain clear throughout their usage life. Because wood is a natural product and because photochemical and oxidative chemical changes are a natural phenomenon, AHF Products does not accept responsibility for these color changes. We disclaim such responsibility directly within our warranty. It should be noted, however, that a customer that is dissatisfied with the difference in the color of a new floor versus what they find on a sample board may not have to remain dissatisfied for long. The new flooring will age to match the sample board and very quickly if the species selection is one of those previously mentioned.

It is important to note that the process of aging; patina, is closely associated with the surface of the floor. Most color change only occurs .010″ into the surface. A floor that has darkened beyond satisfaction may be lightly sanded (finish removal required) to remove the patina. It should be noted that the same color change would again occur.

Special Statement About Walnut:

New walnut has a consistent dark brown color, but as it gets older it does two things. It gets lighter and a rich honey color starts to come through the grain. Black walnut wood is dark, hard, dense and tight-grained. It’s prized by woodworkers for its strength, grain and color. It polishes to a very smooth finish, and the color ranges from creamy white in the sapwood to a dark chocolate in the heartwood. Over the years, natural walnut wood develops a lustrous patina

Updated on October 26, 2022

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