What Is UV Resistance & Why Is It a Must-Have Furniture Feature?

Originally Published on July 14, 2023. Last Updated on July 14, 2023.

Is the color of your outdoor furniture looking dull or mottled? Are there awkward “tan lines” on cushions that have been left outside for too long? This is what happens when the sun gets its rays on things with low resistance to ultraviolet (UV) light. 

UV resistance refers to a material’s ability to resist UV radiation. To better understand UV resistance, you must first know what UV radiation is. For a full and effective explanation, we sought the expertise of two POLYWOOD team members who are well-versed in this subject: Sean Rassi, our Executive Vice President of Design and Technology, and Scott Burkholder, our Senior Director of Operations.

Keep reading to learn about UV radiation, see furniture shopping suggestions and protection tips, and find out how we ensure genuine POLYWOOD lumber is highly UV resistant. 

Jump to Section
What is UV Radiation?
How UV Rays Affect Unprotected Furniture
The Importance of Selecting UV-Resistant Furniture
Making Fade-Resistant Genuine POLYWOOD Lumber
How We Test Our Lumber’s UV Resistance

What is UV Radiation?

UV radiation is a type of energy generated by the sun. It affects anything it touches, from living creatures to inanimate objects.

UV rays are divided into three types: UVA, UVB, and UVC. UVCs are completely absorbed by the Earth’s ozone layer, but some UVBs and all UVAs can permeate the protective barrier and reach our planet’s surface (CDC, 2016).

How UV Rays Affect Unprotected Furniture

Let’s dig a little deeper into how UV radiation impacts outdoor furniture.

UVA and UVB Rays

You can’t see or feel UVA and UVB rays, but you can spot their aftereffects. If you’ve ever seen sun-bleached wooden benches or injection-molded plastic chairs with yellow tinges or crazing (aka tiny surface cracks and fractures) you’ve seen what happens when unprotected furniture is overexposed to sunlight.

If unprotected furniture is overexposed to UVA and UVB rays, the materials can fade, discolor, or even break. In fact, UV radiation is the largest contributing factor to fading in furniture, fabrics, and other textiles (FSEC, 2006).

“UV radiation breaks down the base material,” Burkholder explains. “The first sign of any polymer breaking down is discoloration. Wood and fabric fade, plastic yellows and starts chalking … Eventually, the material will crack and break.”


The process of materials being altered by UV rays is called photodegradation. 

UV radiation contains tiny light particles called photons. When the sun’s rays shine on an object, the particles get deep inside—all the way down to the molecular level. The photons can damage certain molecules by breaking down the chemical bonds that hold them together. The changes in the molecules lead to physical changes in the object, like fading, discoloration, and brittleness (Groeneveld et al., 2023). 

The Importance of Choosing UV-Resistant Furniture

Furniture with a higher UV resistance is better protected from the sun’s rays. This matters for multiple reasons:

1. Attractiveness: UV-resistant furniture stays beautiful, even when left under the sun year after year.

2. Expense: You’ll save plenty of money on replacement costs when you purchase durable, well-made furniture. 

3. Longevity: Built-to-last furniture rarely needs to be replaced, so you get to love it for the long haul. “UV-resistant furniture maintains both its beauty and strength much longer than unprotected pieces,” Rassi states. “This means your family gets to enjoy it for decades to come.”

How to Shop for Sun-Resistant Furniture

Check the product detail page (PDP). For the reasons listed above, UV resistance is a major selling point, so companies won’t hesitate to tell you if their outdoor furniture has this feature. This page contains all the information you need: product description, photos, technical details, customer reviews, pricing, etc. 

How to Protect Furniture Against UV Rays

There are many ways to keep outdoor furnishings safe from the sun:

  • Use weatherproof furniture covers. You can find these online. Just keep your furniture’s dimensions on hand when searching so you know what size to buy.
  • Store items out of the sun. In the off-season, move furniture into your garage or shed.
  • Style furniture in the shade. Covered porches, gazebos, patio umbrellas, and retractable awnings all offer some sun protection.
  • Apply a UV protectant spray. Coating your furniture with UV protectant creates an invisible barrier that blocks out UV light. 

NOTE: Before spritzing your seats, ask the furniture manufacturer for product recommendations. 

Making Fade-Resistant Genuine POLYWOOD Lumber

Our team goes above and beyond to ensure genuine POLYWOOD lumber is protected against UV radiation.

UV inhibitors, pigments, and stabilizers specifically formulated for outdoor use are blended with high-density polyethylene (HDPE) plastic pellets before it’s made into lumber. This means the lumber is fully saturated with the color you see on the exterior.

How We Test the UV Resistance of Our Lumber

Our team conducts extensive testing on all the materials we use to ensure each one meets our high standards. From lab-created environments to outdoor testing, we put our furniture through its paces.

“We utilize UV testing equipment that shines intense light on our lumber continuously for thousands of hours,” Rassi explains. “This mimics the effects of real sunshine but at an accelerated rate. It’s an efficient way to determine how the furniture will perform outside.” 

Outdoor weather tests are also conducted throughout the year in multiple sunny locations that experience high UV intensities. Left outside in all seasons and weather conditions, we closely monitor the changes our furniture experiences.


Does POLYWOOD lumber fade?

Genuine POLYWOOD lumber is designed to resist fading, so you can expect your furniture’s color to be vivid and beautiful for years to come. Watch the video below to learn about UV radiation and how we go the extra mile to make our lumber resistant to sun damage.

Why is UV resistance important?

When furniture is exposed to UV rays for prolonged periods, the materials weaken, and the colors fade. Using some sort of UV protection—like durable covers or sprays—to block the sun’s rays keeps your furniture’s looks and structural integrity intact longer.  

What is the difference between UV stabilized and UV resistant?

“UV stabilized” refers to the process of infusing a material with compounds that absorb or block the sun’s rays, improving its ability to withstand photodegradation (aka UV resistance). 

What is the best material for outdoor furniture in the sun?

HDPE, synthetic wicker, and teak are the best outdoor furniture materials for areas that get a lot of sun. The two plastics contain UV stabilizers that greatly boost their UV resistance, and teak’s high oil content staves off the harmful effects of UV radiation longer than other types of wood.


  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2016, August 25). Radiation studies: CDC – Ultraviolet Radiation. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). https://www.cdc.gov/nceh/radiation/ultraviolet.htm 
  2. Groeneveld, I., Kanelli, M., Ariese, F., & van Bommel, M. R. (2023). Parameters that affect the photodegradation of dyes and pigments in solution and on substrate – an overview. Dyes and Pigments, 210, 110999. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.dyepig.2022.110999  
  3. University of Central Florida. (2006, December 25). UV transmittance and fading. The Florida Solar Energy Center (FSEC). http://www.fsec.ucf.edu/en/consumer/buildings/basics/windows/fading.htm

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *