My Pets Are Ruining My Floor

One of the reasons given by our clients for replacing their floor is that it has been damaged beyond repair by their pets.  Others recognize that they will almost certainly always have a dog or cat, and want to make the best possible choice for a pet friendly floor.  In fact, over 60 percent of families in the U.S. share their homes with pets, so it's no surprise the flooring industry is getting creative with options that are durable, inexpensive and stylish. Here is a look at some of the best pet-friendly flooring options on the market today. 

Stone and Tile
Stone is one of the best floors for pets as far as durability and slip resistance, but natural stone can involve a little more upkeep (sealing) than porcelain or ceramic tile.  Porcelain and ceramic tile are easier to clean and maintain, but care needs to be taken when you have active pets.   Natural stone isn't as likely to be as slippery as a tile, therefore making it slightly safer for pets to walk, run and play on.  Rugs are a good option to keep pets from slipping and injuring themselves.  Another plus to tile and stone for pet owners is that if you or a family member has allergies, it cuts down on the dander that can get stuck in carpet.  In the summer, your fluffy pet gets hot and will appreciate the coolness of tile flooring.  A drawback of tile and stone is that it can be uncomfortable for pets to sleep on all day, especially older animals.  If you go with tile for your pet, make sure you have comfortable beds for them to sleep on.  Grout lines can also get very dirty with pets, so we recommend upgrading to a stain resistant grout.  It's important that the floor be cleaned regularly to keep the dirt and grit out of the grout.  Tiles are even being made to look like wood, so that is an alternative to risking real wood getting scratched if you like the wood look. 

Wood is a popular choice for any home, but wood can be scratched and damaged by pets.  We do not recommend many wood floor styles if you have large or active dogs.   But if you are set on getting wood, there are some things you can do to minimize the damage.  An engineered wood is made up of plywood layers with the real wood being the top layer.  It is a risk with pets because it is difficult (and sometimes impossible) to refinish an engineered wood.  If the pet causes a deep enough dent it could chip through the top wood layer.  If you are on a concrete slab, an engineered wood is your only option and you might want to consider a laminate instead.  If you are not on a slab, and want a solid hardwood, you will want to look for a harder species of wood.

Hickory, Brazilian Cherry and Acacia are all very hard woods,while Elm, American Cherry and Birch are on the softer end.  The harder woods tend to be more expensive, but the more durable wood is well worth the price if you have an active dog.  Also, you will want to make sure you have a good finish on the wood.  A high gloss finish is going to show more scratches and scuffs than a more matte finish will.  A goodoption for people that have pets and want wood is going with a handscraped or distressed hardwood.  A handscraped wood already has imperfections, scratches and dents as part of its look.  When a pet scratches it, the scratch just blends inlike it is supposed to be there.

Strand woven bamboo is one of the hardest woods you can get, and it is extremely durable with pets.  However, strand woven bamboo is reacts more to moisture, so that's something to keep in mind if your dog has accidents or is sloppy around the water bowl.  Other things you can do if you have your heart set on wood  is to make sure that your pet's nails are kept as short as possible and use lots of area rugs.  Also try and keep heavy running and playing to a minimum on the wood floors.  Make sure any spills or accidents are cleaned up immediately or it could seriously damage the wood.

Laminate is one of the best options for pets.  Laminate is more scratch resistant than a real wood and is very easy to clean.  It gives you the look of wood, with added durability.  Laminate comes in a large variety of looks, finishes and plank sizes.  Design technology has gotten so sophisticated that it is hard to tell the 
difference between a laminate and real wood.  Laminate is installed floating, which makes it relatively easy to replace a board or two if it gets deeply scratched.  Although laminate isn't a wood, it is still a wood based product and spills and accidents should be cleaned quickly to prevent swelling, buckling or other damage.   A sound proofing pad is recommended to muffle the clicking sound your pet will make while walking on laminate.  Door mats help with pets tracking in dirt and other things from outside.

Sheet Vinyl
Sheet vinyl is an excellent option for pets.  Sheet vinyl is incredibly easy to clean, and essentially water proof.  Pet urine and other moisture related spills will not seep into the subfloor, nor will it cause much damage to the sheet vinyl.  Entry level vinyl is inexpensive to put down.  However, sheet vinyl can tear if a pet's nails are too sharp and can be slippery.

Luxury Vinyl (LVT)
The newest development in flooring is luxury vinyl.  Luxury vinyl is made to look like realistic wood or stone, but it is a vinyl.   LVT is waterproof, easy to clean, and installs either floating or glued down.  LVT also offers more comfort for your pet; it is softer than wood, stone or laminate.  It is also more slip resistant than a tile or sheet vinyl, making it easy for pets to get up and walk.  It is very durable and scratch resistant as well. LVTs are not as loud as a laminate, so there is no need for a sound proofing underlayment.  Luxury vinyl tiles and planks come in a variety of realistic wood and stone looks, and again, sometimes it's hard to tell that it's not real!

If you worry about pets scratching the floor, then carpet is the best option.   On the other hand, carpet can be extremely difficult to keep clean with pets.  If you choose carpet, which is an extremely affordable choice, here are a few options to consider if you have a pet.  Always go with a darker color over something light.  Darker colors better hide dirt and stains.  Consider a fleck carpet, as those tend to make dirt disappear.  Many pets can snag and pull a loop carpet; for this reason we do not recommend Berber carpets for homes with pets.  The carpets made from the SmartStrand fiber are incredibly stain resistant. A solution dyed nylon is another extremely stain resistant option for pets.  These fibers will offer the best long term durability.

Solution dyed polyesters are also warranted for pet stains.  In fact, allthree of these fibers can be spot cleaned with a bleach and water solution.  You will want to upgrade to a pad with a plastic liner.  This will keep pet urine or other fluids from sinking into the pad, which will help minimize odors.  Magic Fresh is a carpet treatment that is available only on Beaulieu and Bliss carpets.   Magic Fresh is completely safe and natural, lasts for the life of your floor and is continuously working to rid your home of common household smells, like those from pets, cooking and smoking.  Consider using a good enzyme cleaner on pet accidents; these cleaners have enzymes that will "eat" whatever is on the carpet and will lessen odors and the chance of the carpet staining.  (Do make sure that the enzyme cleaner has been tested and approved by the carpet manufacturer for use on your particular carpet.)  A good vacuum is a must, especially with pets that shed heavily.  Vacuuming regularly keeps hair and dirt from being ground into the carpet.

Video of the Week
Click on the picture to view a great video from our website that shows the best way to spot clean your carpet.  If you have a looped carpet, you can also see how to trim a snag if your dog or cat pulls a loop.