I have been reading a lot lately about problems with purpleheart turning brown. Will any finishing technique prevent it from browning?

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Q:

I have been reading a lot lately about problems with purpleheart turning brown. Some say put it in the sun and it will turn back. Others say the opposite: The sun caused it to turn brown. Will any finishing technique prevent it from browning?
—David Powers, Whiteland, Ind.

A:

Purpleheart's namesake color comes and goes with exposure to sunlight, David, so both opinions you've heard could be correct. When freshly cut, purpleheart sometimes appears a dingy brown. Within days, though, it turns a vivid purple in a process that's speeded up by exposure to light.

Months or years after that, especially when exposed to sunlight, purpleheart turns a deep brown with purple overtones, as you can see on the jewelry rack shown above. A film finish with UV inhibitors can slow the purple-to-brown color change, but not stop it completely. You can also slow the change by keeping finished projects away from direct sunlight.