Ask any pet owner and they will tell you; pets can cause more damage to flooring than humans can. From scratches, to stains, to hair, our furry companions can be quite problematic. If you are planning to build a home or renovate your current one, think about pet-friendliness when considering what flooring to install.
Important Factors to Consider When Choosing
The good news is that you can keep your pet and retain your beautiful floor the same time. The important thing is to have the right type of flooring. Here are the most important factors homeowners should think about when choosing the best floor for dogs and other pets.
- Resistance to scratches. Some dog breeds tend to have long sharp nails that can easily damage the floor, especially when the dog is playing. Unfortunately, scratching is actually part of a dog’s instinctive behavior. Scratching at the ground helped wild dogs and wolves create a secure, comfy spot where they could sleep or rest. That’s why wolf mix breeds as well are more prone to scratching the floor than other breeds. Whatever your dog breed, a pet-friendly floor should offer a high level of resistance to scratching damage.
- Resistance to stains. For pets that have not been house broken, it is important to have a floor that does not stain easily. But even for house trained pets, it is important to guard against the occasional accident.
- Pet comfort and safety. The safety and comfort of your pet should be a priority when you are choosing what flooring to install. Some floors offer little traction, which could cause slipping and injuries.
Now that you know what to look for, let’s go through some of the flooring options for pets, noting their upsides, downsides, and our recommendations.
1. Bamboo Flooring
There is a lot of debate concerning how good bamboo flooring is for pets. While bamboo is quite hard (making it ideal for large and heavy dogs), it does not do so well when it comes to resisting scratches. Many homeowners complain that after just a year or two of using bamboo, it is now filled with scratches and dents all over. Things are even worse in homes with sizable pets.
The best features about bamboo, in regards to pets, are its resistance to staining and ease of cleaning. This comes in handy for pets that have a tendency to urinate inside the house. The urine is unlikely to cause a permanent stain and can be cleaned up easily and quickly.
Some homeowners also love bamboo because of its eco friendliness, take a look at this bamboo flooring buying guide. Very few pesticides are needed to keep it healthy, requires no fertilizer and when planted, bamboo has a positive impact on the environment by lowering its carbon footprint and preventing erosion.
But this is not enough to cover the fact that it scratches easily. So unless your pet is a parrot or a goldfish, we really would not recommend this as a flooring option where there are pets.
2. Vinyl Flooring
Vinyl flooring is one of our top recommendations for homes with pets. It provides all-round benefits while remaining affordable and low maintenance. One of the biggest worries for pet owners is the scratching damage they can do to the floor. Vinyl is highly scratch resistant. Even for dogs that tend to grow long nails, vinyl can resist the damage.
Another major benefit of vinyl flooring for pet owners is its stain resistance. If you are worried about your pet urinating on the floor, get vinyl flooring. There is one major issue that pet owners must be aware about. If there is a spill on the floor, whether it is water from the dog’s bowl or urine, it is extremely important that it be cleaned up immediately. Leaving it too long can cause the development of mold and mildew. Vinyl is also great for your dog’s comfort and safety. For one, it is comfortable to walk and lie on. Secondly and most importantly, it provides a significant level of traction during movement. This reduces the risk of your pet slipping on the floor and sustaining injury.
Vinyl is an ideal low cost flooring option for pet owners and can be installed anywhere including the kitchen.
3. Laminate Flooring
This is one of the most recommended flooring options. Homeowners who use it report being pleased with its strength and ability to resist nail scratches from dogs. Most laminate floors are designed to imitate the look of wood flooring and can at times be made to resemble stone flooring. But inside, laminate flooring is composed of synthetic material. So you get the decorative benefits of wood flooring without its downsides. (wood is known to respond poorly to liquid spills)
Laminate flooring is also easy to clean and rarely stains, making it a good option for dogs that have yet to be house broken. Want to see more flooring options, take a look at our home remodeling ideas page, which consists of our previous project images.
But laminate does come with a list of its own downsides that you should know about before you decide to install it. For one, it can get damaged after frequent spills on the floor. What happens is that the urine or water seeps into the spaces between planks, causing damage. Over time, you may even be forced to replace the flooring because of excessive damage.
Additionally, laminate tends to be extremely smooth making it difficult for pets to walk on it. They can easily slip and get injured especially for extra active dogs. To counter this problem, do not go for the high-gloss laminate floors with a smooth finish. Instead, look for flooring that has an embossed or textured finish. Though it will not be as good as carpet or vinyl, a textured finish will provide some amount of traction for your pets.
4. Hardwood Flooring
Hardwood is an extremely popular flooring option, but it is not our top recommendation for homeowners. Most types of hardwood perform poorly against spillages and tend to wear easily, especially if there is a large pet or more than one pet around. It also tends to stain easily especially after repeated exposure to spills.
But this does not apply to all types of hardwood flooring. If you must go with this option, we highly recommend choosing the harder ones. The harder the flooring is, the better it is at resisting pet scratches and scuffs. A good idea is to check the Janka Hardness Scale of a specific wood before choosing it. Generally, look for woods starting at a rating of 1,250 and above. Do not choose anything below 850.
Some good durable hardwoods include cherry, maple, oak, hickory, mahogany, and elm. Some of the woods we would advice against include cedar, pine, birch, fir and redwood. They are simply too soft to withstand abuse from your pet.
Even for durable hardwoods, it is still important to protect them. We recommend that you get the floor coated in urethane. This makes the floor even more scratch and stain resistant and minimizes damage from liquids such as urine.
If you want the wood-look but are worried about pet damage, we recommend getting laminate flooring. It will bear the clean and classic look of hardwood, but with much better performance in resisting scratches and stains.
5. Carpet and Carpet Tiles
Carpet, and many pet owners will agree, is easily the worst type of flooring for pets. It wears extremely quickly, is easily damaged by urine, stains easily, attracts hair and is difficult to clean. Even without pets, carpets are still a major source of frustration.
That being said, you can still have a carpet and own a pet. Yes, you will have significantly more work on your hands but having both is not impossible. If you are going to use carpet or carpet tiles, here are a few tips.
- Have a well-trained dog. Make sure your pet is house broken and does not pee inside. This will prolong the life of your carpet.
- Keep your pet well groomed. Remove any excess hair, give it a wash and clip nails regularly to minimize potential damage to the flooring.
- Choose a carpet woven in design that does not easily snag on the dog’s nails.
- Be ready to clean your carpet regularly. Frequent vacuuming is especially important to keep the floor clean.
- Consider getting additional products such as pet protection area carpets to add more protection for your carpet.
On the upside, carpets provide a snuggly and warm place for pets to walk and lie on. If you do not mind the extra work, go for it.
Cork is another flooring option that comes highly recommended to pet owners. Apart from being hypoallergenic and antibacterial, it also performs exceptionally well in resisting scratches and other forms of damage from pet traffic. Like bamboo, cork flooring is environmentally friendly, making it a good option for homeowners who love eco friendly products.
When it comes to liquids, the floor performs well, but to a degree. While the floor is resistant to urine and other fluids, a quick cleanup must be done to prevent permanent damage. Luckily, the floor is easy to clean and does not stain as easily as some floors.
If you are looking for a warm, comfy flooring for your pet, try this one. You can take a look at this cork flooring guide for what to purchase. It is not as rigid as hardwood, making it comfortable to walk on. Additionally, it produces very little noise when your dog is running around on it.
But Cork still has its problematic issues. For one, some smooth-finished floors can be quite slippery, making them a safety risk for the pet. Secondly, the flooring is not ideal for rooms with heavy furniture as it can sustain permanent dents. You should also note that it tends to lose color with time.
7. Stone Tile
Natural stone flooring might be expensive but it is a great option if you own a pet. It scores perfectly in almost all areas that pet owners are concerned about. Stone tiles are highly resistant to scratches. Even a large dog with large nails will do little damage to a natural stone flooring. The floor is equally impressive when it comes to resisting damage from liquid spills, whether urine or water. It does not stain and there is no damage caused.
When it comes to cleaning up, stone tiles provide a lot of convenience. Any mess made by the pet can be cleaned up in a matter of seconds. However, certain soft stones such as marble require a little more maintenance.
The main concern with stone tiles is the discomfort it causes to the pet. Being hard and cold, it is not exactly the coziest place to lie on. But this can be easily solved by getting a pet bed. Also check that the floor has the right finishing that provides traction to your pet when walking.
8. Ceramic/Porcelain Tile
Ceramic and porcelain tiles mostly have the same benefits for pet owners as stone tiles. They are scratch resistant and are not easily damaged by liquids. They make some of the best flooring options for pet owners.
Considering that ceramic and porcelain tiles are usually used in the kitchen and bathroom, you can be sure that no amount of spillage will cause permanent damage. Clean up and maintenance in general is easy and low cost.
The downsides are similar to those of stone tiles; they are hard and cold making them uncomfortable to the pets. But a pet bed should solve this problem. In cold weather however, the pet may have trouble walking on the cold floor. Interestingly, the coldness of ceramic tiles is a good thing for pet owners living in hot climates.
A Few More Tips
- Clean up pet accidents as quickly as possible. Even stain-resistant tiles can retain bad smells if the mess is left on the floor too long. Make sure you follow the manufacturer’s cleaning instructions for your specific type of flooring. Some floors require special detergents while others need just water and soap.
- House train your pets to reduce accidents as much as possible.
- Keep your pets well groomed. This reduces the amount of damage and mess pets can make inside the house.
- If you have carpet, bamboo or softwood flooring, consider switching to a tougher and more durable floor. You will be glad for the easier maintenance and longer life.
Keep yourself and your pet happy by choosing the right floor for your home. If you want to keep things on a low budget, our recommendations include ceramic/porcelain tile, vinyl, laminate and linoleum. If you do not mind spending try tough hardwood floors such as oak and natural stone flooring. Whatever you choose, make sure you are thinking both of your pet and yourself.
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