UV testing: avoid costly recalls

While weathertightness and security testing is the expected ‘norm’, there is another layer of testing that can protect against a somewhat invisible issue – ultraviolet (UV) rays. Daisie Lane, application sales engineer at Element Materials Technology, explains.

According to recent data, England needs 340,000 new homes, including 145,000 affordable homes, before 2031 to meet current demand.

Across the UK between January and March 2023, there were 45,050 new homes built. Evidently, demand largely outweighs supply in the current housing market and housebuilders are now more than ever, seeking reassurance that the products they use in new homes are built to last.

Housebuilders will be aware of the importance of having assurances upfront before working with any product. Doors are often the first point of security for many homes and so professionals will understandably seek reassurance that all doors are tested in line with the appropriate industry standards.

While weathertightness and security are often the main areas that are considered when purchasing doors, the issue of UV rays is continually overlooked throughout the industry.

Even though they are undetectable by the human eye, UV rays can cause significant damage to doors. Exposure to UV radiation can result in colour change, reduction in gloss levels, cracking, crazing, chalking, blistering, hazing or complete product failure in relatively short periods of time.

Any product which has intermittent exposure to natural light, even indoors behind glass or which is exposed to fluorescent light, should undergo some form of UV testing. Doors are a prime example of where this degradation can occur, as a result of the effects of sunlight on the material that the door is made from.

How does UV testing work?

Accelerated UV testing reproduces the impact of ultraviolet radiation exposure in a controlled laboratory environment. The process uses a combination of intense UV, heat, and moisture to test materials and components for degradation.

To give housebuilders and homeowners complete peace of mind, it’s important to seek industry experts with the right laboratories and testing equipment to ensure the process is as accurate as possible.

Specialist laboratories, such as Element Materials Technology’s Wednesbury laboratory, can perform a wide range of UV tests with programmable temperature, humidity and irradiance, including Xenon Arc and Fluorescent QUV, as well as testing that mimics outdoor exposures experienced in Florida and Arizona, where the climate is more extreme.

The laboratory can also perform assessments pre- and post-test, and at various intervals. These include colour and gloss measurements, weight, AATCC Greyscale readings, as well as mechanical, impact and strength testing, to give a comprehensive picture of a product’s performance and provide a deeper understanding of a material’s behaviour.

Technical standards usually detail test durations, but would depend on factors such as the location of the door, the face being tested and whether it is in direct or indirect sunlight.

Ultimately, UV testing provides housebuilders with vital data quickly, which otherwise would have taken years to aggregate via customer feedback. The data generated from testing is extremely valuable and beneficial in terms of product design, quality assurance and any potential liability issues, as well as allowing professionals to market products as superior in terms of performance and appearance.

These tests provide a safeguard against reputational damage and potentially costly remediation with homeowners in the future. UV testing also benefits door manufacturers who can avoid any potential product recalls for insufficient product standards in the future.

Assuring strength under the duress of UV light reinforces customer confidence and proves that UV testing is an excellent way to stand out from competitors in such a crowded market.