We love our pets. They’re increasingly thought of as members of the family – an article in Forbes last year reported that more than two-thirds of Americans (69 percent) see their pets as family members, and one in five (23 percent) see their pets as children.
It’s no surprise, then, that pets are a consideration when making big purchases – including flooring. From puppy accidents and chewing tendencies to splashing from water bowls and wear and tear from paws and claws, our pets can do a number on our floors.
Here are some great flooring options to consider if you’re a pet owner.
Vinyl flooring is one of the best flooring choices for homes with pets. It’s waterproof, so spills and accidents won’t damage the floor’s integrity. Vinyl flooring features a protective wear layer, which keeps the decorative film from scratching, staining, scuffing, or fading. It’s also a great choice for homeowners who love the look of hardwood; hardwood isn’t always a practical choice for homes with pets because (depending on the wood’s species) it’s more susceptible to staining, water damage, and scratching.
Vinyl flooring is also pretty low-maintenance, and can be wet-mopped whenever needed, which is great if you have a dog who loves to roll around in the mud before coming inside, or a puppy who’s still “potty-training.”
Luxury vinyl and sheet vinyl will also have a little more “give” than some other hard surfaces, making it a more comfortable surface for snoozing. Even so, we recommend adding area rugs or dog beds for comfort.
Harder than most traditional hardwoods, bamboo flooring stands up well to pet wear-and-tear. It’s less likely to be scratched or scuffed by your pet’s nails, and depending on whether the planks are solid or engineered, it can be refinished – like hardwood. It’s also warmer underfoot than something like laminate, which your pets will appreciate.
Not all bamboo is the same, though. While most products are extremely durable, you should probably opt for strand-woven bamboo, as it’s the hardest type of bamboo flooring – it’s actually twice as hard as oak.
Another comfortable and resilient hard surface option, cork flooring can be a good choice for homes with pets, too. It’s warm and soft underfoot – it retains heat and also offers sound mitigating properties, which is great if you have big dogs that love to lumber around the house. Cork is also an antimicrobial – meaning it won’t allow mold or other allergens to grow on the surface.
While cork is pretty durable, it does require some maintenance to make sure it doesn’t get too scratched up. While scratch-resistant, it is not scratch-proof, and its softness can make it a little more prone to scratching than, say, bamboo.
If scratching from dog and cat claws is a major concern for you, laminate flooring is a great choice. Laminate offers excellent scratch-resistance thanks to its wear layer, and its high-density fiberboard (HDF) core offers added stability and durability. Like vinyl, laminate also offers the look of hardwood many homeowners desire.
While laminate isn’t waterproof, there are some water-resistant options. As long as spills and accidents are taken care of quickly, it shouldn’t damage the integrity of your floors. And because of laminate’s protective wear layer, your floors won’t stain when the inevitable spill or accident happens.
One downside to laminate is that it can be a bit slippery for your four-legged friends. This can be a problem if you have a larger or older dog, since they can be more susceptible to joint problems or hip dysplasia. Opt for laminate with more texture and embossing over high-gloss or high-sheen finishes, and add area rugs featuring some sort of pet-protection treatment.
But what about…?
We also recognize that while there are some flooring choices that seem inherently pet-unfriendly, you can probably find an option in just about every category that can work for you. Here are some of our suggestions:
It sounds crazy, right? Carpet sounds like the least pet-friendly flooring choice. Its fibers can trap fur, dander, spilled kibble, and kitty litter! It’s easier to wipe up an accident from a hard surface than a soft surface! Muddy paw prints will leave stains! But carpet does have some benefits that are great for pets – it’s easily the coziest surface for them to snuggle up on – and depending on the carpet fiber material, as well as new technologies emerging around stain and moisture resistance, you can certainly find a carpet that works for your home.
If you have pets and you simply must have carpet, opt for nylon, as it tends to be more durable and stain-resistant than other fiber options. Carpets with a lower pile are also going to be easier to clean than something thick and plush, or long frieze or shag fibers. Also stay away from loop pile – your pet’s nails and claws can easily get caught on these and cause some serious pain.
We’d also recommend asking your retailer about carpet specifically marketed as pet-friendly; there are a number of suppliers offering carpet featuring treatments specifically designed to repel pet stains and odors.
If you have pets, tile flooring probably sounds like an absolute dream. Your pets aren’t going to scratch it up. It’s easy to clean, and it won’t harbor mold, allergens, or bacteria. But the fact of the matter is, tile is cold, hard, and slippery. It’s not a comfortable surface to lie on, and older pets in particular might have a lot of trouble with it. If your heart is set on tile, consider adding radiant heating to offer a warmer surface, and invest in some area rugs and a comfy dog bed for your furry friends to snuggle up on.
We’ll say it now – hardwood flooring and pets generally don’t mix. Spills and accidents can stain them and cause damage to their structural integrity – especially solid hardwood. Softer species like walnut or cherry are going to be susceptible to scratching.
Fortunately, hardwood can be refinished, so small scratches won’t be the worst thing in the world. Choosing a wood floor with a high quality urethane finish allows for more scratch and stain resistance, and scuffs and scratches are less noticeable on more rustic or distressed planks. If you absolutely must have hardwood flooring, we recommend choosing a harder species of engineered hardwood – like hickory or oak – with a rustic or scraped visual and a urethane finish.
Upkeep is key
No matter what type of flooring you choose, it’s important to keep up with maintenance – of both your floors and your pets. Here’s what we recommend to keep your floors looking great:
Keep your pet’s nails trimmed to minimize scratching hard surfaces or snagging on carpets or area rugs.
Accidents happen – be sure to wipe up and clean accidents as soon as you find them. Consider putting down training pads, too, especially if you have a new puppy.
Put mats under all food and water bowls to keep spilled water from damaging the floor.
Put mats at all entrances to the home to keep your pets from tracking in dirt or debris.
Vacuum at least once a week – and even more frequently if you have carpet.
About The Author
Proud flooring aficionado and office dog mom, "Flauren" has been a professional writer and editor for more than a decade (though she still maintains her magnum opus was "The Day it Snowed Slurpees," written at the age of 6).
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Have you been thinking about carpeting your basement? Wondering what’s the best carpet for basements? That’s reasonable! You need to be sure that you aren’t wasting money with a basement carpet that might get ruined quickly. We’re all familiar with how musty basements can get. Even nice, finished basements can be prone to dampness after a hard rain. The best basement flooring has to be able to handle some amount of moisture.
Thank You Ms. Moore,
I enjoyed reading your article today.
I’m partial to real wood floors, having served many clients since 1984 as a wood refinishing contractor, l find that l still favor hardwood floors and the color options that help new homeowners change the look to suit the latest color trends.
I did like the “greige” you mentioned too.
You offered a nice balance between so many floor options, but l skipped past most of those. I am dying to find out what the latest trends for 2020 are.
Again, thank you for including the survey concerning pets too.
from sunny Florida,
Hi Mr. Sandman,
Thanks so much for the kind words—I’m so glad you liked this piece! As for 2020 trends, we’ve got some interesting stuff coming up. Stay tuned and thanks again!
Picking the right floor may seem like a major task, but keep in mind that you don’t have to select one floor for your whole home. You can go with kid friendly flooring ideas like cork or rubber in the playroom, give your cat a plush carpet for sunbathing in the family room and your dog a cool laminate in the kitchen. We all love our kids and pets and want to do everything we can to make them happy and keep them healthy.