12 Forgiving Floors for Homes With Pets
I’m a pet owner; always have been and probably always will be. When it comes to choosing flooring and floor coverings, there are two key characteristics you can’t ignore:
- it must be easy to clean. There’s no denying the fact that pets have accidents, leave muddy spots, and deposit epic drifts of pet fur under furniture and along walls. Carpeting and solid surface floors are ideally stain resistant, resistant to moisture, and must be easy to maintain.
- it needs to be durable underfoot. Scratches happen and rugs can snag, especially when you have a dog permanently obsessed with happy-dancing for the mailman when he brings your daily Prime delivery. The best products for homes with pets will resist everyday foot damage.
Very few options can claim to meet both qualifications, but from tile to hardwoods to carpeting, there are a lot of high-performance products available so that you can achieve the look you want and still have a pet-friendly environment. So, what are the best options your pet-friendly home? Sometimes it depends on the breed and weight of your dog, or whatever other type of pet who roams your halls (cats are generally gentle, or at least they want you to believe it). Let’s explore current products and well-weathered classics to highlight options that’ll meet expectations.
It’s often difficult to say that hardwood flooring is the top choice in a house with dogs. Many popular, accessible hardwoods are not resistant to scratches, even if you keep your pet's nails trimmed and filed short. It's important to consider a product that ranks high on the Janka Hardness Scale or invest in a higher performance hardwood, such as Armstrong Flooring's Performance Plus™ hardwood collection which is infused with acrylic for maximum dent resistance, making it up to 2x harder than traditional hardwood floors. Wood, in general, is softer than stone and tile, so scratches and weathering over time are generally understood as an obvious condition. That’s not to say hardwoods are a no-go; these days, many companies offer warranties against damage on their best products, and extra finishes that'll help to prevent against unsightly gouges or premature wear. While much does depend on the breed and activity level, it's important that you explore the bells-and-whistles to make a good decision.
Hardness ratings are important to consider when you're choosing hardwoods. Pay attention to the density of the wood flooring you're selecting for your home if you have pets. The durability of different wood is ranked by the Janka Hardness Scale. The test, which measures the force required to embed a steel ball into a piece of wood, categorizes woods from soft to hard. Harder woods, such as exotic Rosewood and Pecan, or Brazilian Cherry are more resistant to the pressure of the steel bearing, whereas softer floorboards such as maple, black walnut, and oak are more susceptible to damage (but they’re also more accessible, and often less expensive, so that’s the trade-off).
If you’re sourcing solid hardwood floors for your home, or wondering how the floors in a new home will hold up to Fido and his friends, be sure to reference the hardness scale to help determine if they’ll be durable in the long run.
One thing to keep in mind with solid hardwoods vs. engineered hardwoods is that the wood itself is thicker with solid hardwoods, and therefore can be sanded and refinished more times over its lifetime than comparable engineered products.
Despite the fact that you can refinish engineered hardwoods fewer times than solid wood floors, engineered floors are generally lower-maintenance and are advantageous in homes with moisture concerns (including overlooked pet accidents or perpetually wet paws):
- the manufactured core beneath the <1/8" wood veneer offers more structural stability than solid hardwood in homes affected by moisture or humidity;
- the design of the product reduces expansion issues, and pet accidents can more easily be cleaned on floors that haven't contracted or shifted;
- extra manufacturing processes often account for a more durable surface and sustained protection, but it varies by product; for example, Shaw Floors’ EPIC® Plus collection with ScufResist® boasts a finish that combats scuffs six times better than other engineered hardwoods;
- many products are floated over an existing floor, which makes it easier to redesign a space if you're bringing a new pet home.
If you opt for engineered hardwoods, still do your research with respect to the Janka Hardness Scale so that you can be certain that the top layer is going to hold up over time. With fewer opportunities to refinish and cure scratches, durability of the wood selected is very important.
Using reclaimed wood is one way to skirt the issue of your pet scratching your glossy new floors. Reclaimed woods and rustic textures are sought in part because they’re pre-distressed and have already been exposed to wear and weather. More scratches will only render more character, which makes them advantageous for pet owners.
If you’re refinishing your floors or installing flooring that resembles reclaimed barn wood, one tip from the pros is to use only a matte or low-sheen finish on the wood. It’s easy to see scratches on high-gloss finishes more easily than it is to spot them on matte areas.
If you’re considering faux wood flooring for your home, be sure to look at laminate wood flooring samples. I can say firsthand that it might not look extremely realistic when compared side-by-side to hardwoods, but its durability and resistance to moisture are hugely redeeming qualities.
Bamboo flooring – which is not technically a hardwood but often categorized as such – is made of natural vegetation and in its least processed state (strand bamboo) ranks very high in terms of durability against scratches (even more durable than some exotic hardwoods). However, once carbonized to enhance colors, bamboo products will soften and be more susceptible to damage. It’s best to source bamboo flooring from a reputable dealer. And don’t be afraid to 20-question them about how the product was manufactured. Not all bamboo is ideal for pets, so do your homework.
Bamboo Floor Adds Texture to Neutral Contemporary Kitchen
A flood of natural light beams down on a large island with a built-in microwave in this contemporary kitchen. Bamboo flooring adds texture to the clean lines of the neutral cabinetry and simple fixtures.
Nar Bustamante, PhotographerLink 2013 All Rights Reserved
A popular alternative to hardwoods, cork flooring has won the hearts of many pet owners. While it can be manufactured to look similar to hardwood, or even like marbled tiles, its microbial quality makes it easy to clean and maintain. In addition to resisting scratches from pet nails, it’s also a great product if you’re looking to absorb the sound of dog toenails that click-clack-click through the house to the water bowl at 4am. Lighter shades of cork are known to hide scratches the best over time.
With durability that outranks concrete tiles or ceramic, porcelain tiles are a great solution for homes with pets. Porcelain, unlike ceramic, is resistant to deep scratches, and unlike stone and concrete, is also resistant to staining, making it an easy choice for tiled areas in your home, such as the kitchen, mudroom, or pet-dedicated spaces. The Arcadia Collection from NEMO Tile + Stone is a porcelain product that I’d like in my own home; it delivers the look of concrete, while being easier to maintain and clean over time.
Like with hardwoods, matte tiles are better at hiding scratches than glossy-finished tiles.
Pets do love carpeting; there’s just something to be said about having carpeting in your home that a pet can run across and roll around upon without destroying the fibers. High-performance carpeting continues to improve in terms of spill, soil, and stain resistance, and manufacturers now produce a wide assortment of styles and textures, so homeowners are not as limited as they were 5-10 years ago. Bellera™ High-Performance Carpet from Shaw Industries is one of the newest on the market that comes not only with promises for durability, but warranties to suit. We know lots of people who have replaced carpeting in their homes and opted for a high-performance product that’s both as soft as any carpet you’d want, but also durable for pets (and the active kids who keep them on their toes).
If you’re not considering carpeting marketed as “High Performance” for pets, pay closer attention to the material. Wool rugs (even pre-distressed vintage wool rugs) are durable options for the home, and considered to be more resilient than rayon area rugs. If you’re looking for a quality piece that –durability-wise – will hold up well under paw traffic, consider investing in wool, but know that there are other options out there at lower price points.
Avoid fringed rugs, unless you are alright with expected damage from dogs and cats.
Woven jute or sisal area rugs are durable underfoot and paw, making them a popular (and much less expensive) alternative to wool. While durability may reign, bear in mind that sisal in my experience has not been as easy to clean, and prone to holding onto stains.
Dining In Style
There will not be a shortage of conversation around this fabulous dining table. From fun colors to exquisite details this room carries a theme all it's own and does it amazingly. This eclectic dining room features blue walls, traditional white arm chairs upholstered in turquoise blue and white stripes, and a round glass top dining table with orange legs. An upholstered bench with orange pillows and a large multi-sided mirror add to the room.
While perhaps an unlikely option, polypropylene “indoor/outdoor” rugs are both durable and easy to clean – you can even soap and pressure wash them if need be. With a low price point and variety of colors and patterns, you may certainly find something that works well to combat the wear and tear from pets in your home; however, the comfort factor has not always been there for me, and I would reserve these rugs as a product for hallway traffic or rooms in which we’re not often sitting and playing on the floor with our kids.
Low-Pile Carpet Tiles
We’ve used Flor low-pile carpet tiles in many areas of our pet-filled home over the years and been pleased at the cost, the durability, and the stain resistance of the products we’ve selected. At the time of original purchase, I bought a few extra tiles to keep on hand in the instance that any area became damaged or stained, but I haven’t had to use them yet!
They’re a great alternative to area rugs in a pet home, and are certainly easier to spot-clean than any large scale rug or carpet. Low-pile (vs. long and shaggy fibers) makes it easy to vacuum and maintain, too.