Pets and carpeting are not always a good match. Nails tear at carpet fibers, fur and dander become embedded deep in the pile, dirt is tracked and then ground into the carpet with each pawstep, and then there is the whole ‘bodily fluids’ problem - accidents, slobber, and oily fur all stain and possibly damage carpet, potentially beyond repair.
However, carpet is also one of the most effective of floorings and few houses are free from it entirely. It warms a house in a cool climate and helps to deaden the hollowness of a large room. Carpet is cozy, luxurious, and economical so how do you get around wanting carpet and owning pets?
Consider pet friendly carpet. Whether you are building a new house, renovating your current home, or just wanting to replace a tired, old carpet, pet friendly carpets prolong the life of your flooring and help to keep your house looking clean and fresh.
It’s all about Pile!
The type of carpet you choose plays a key factor in how well it stands up to active dogs and cats. Carpet with loops, even short loops such as berber, can snag your pet’s claw and either pull out from the backing or pull the nail off. You want to avoid both of these outcomes as much as possible so choosing an open pile carpet is the safest bet.
Natural versus Synthetic
This is a bigger question then just whether one is a more pet friendly carpet then the other. Natural fiber carpets include wool, sisel, bamboo, jute, coco, and reeds such as mountain grass and sea grasses.
In general, natural fiber carpets are considered ‘greener’, healthier, longer lasting, warmer, and more ‘pet resistant’ as long as they are only used in dry rooms and are vacuumed on a regular schedule. In areas where moisture could be a problem, synthetic fibers are a better choice.
The normal stain resistance of wool is a consideration. Wool is ‘hydrophobic’ meaning it wicks and repels moisture so as long as an accident is cleaned up quickly, staining should be minimal. In fact, cleaning up the stain as it ‘pools’ on the top of the carpet should be easy as long as it is not inadvertently pushed into the fiber.
To perform like wool, most synthetic carpets offer stain repellent treatments. These need to be reapplied after the carpets are cleaned or after so many years (read and follow the manufacturers instructions).
However, the Federal Trade Commission has approved a new polyester or synthetic fiber that is perfect for high traffic areas or high pet homes. Mohawk’s SmartStrand carpet and DuPont’s Sorona carpet are made from this triexta fiber, a subclass of polyester. Triexta features extreme durability, higher stain resistance and a softer texture then traditional synthetic fiber carpets.
The stain resistance difference of triexta is in the fibers. Like wool, the stain protection is not a product that is sprayed onto the surface after manufacturing; it is inherently ‘in’ each strand and will not wash off with regular cleaning.
An alternative to wall-to-wall carpeting is carpet tiles. Similar to tile flooring, carpet tiles come in a variety of sizes, textures, colors, and applications. They ‘stick’ down with a simple glue backing and are easy to install.
However, the best part of using carpet tiles is they are easy to replace when worn or stained - perfect for the pet friendly home! Never stress about one stain ruining an entire room ever again, just pull up the old carpet tile and replace it.
Flor has the market basically covered on carpet tiles. Unlike many carpet tiles, Flor tiles attach to each other so they can be used as area, runners, or wall-to-wall carpet. With a wide variety of colors, patterns, and wear types as well as wool carpet tiles, Flor Carpet Tiles should be your first stop for easily replaceable carpet.
Traffic Master Modular Flooring offers a wide range of carpet tiles, including your favorite sports team logos. Mix and match to come up with some amazingly unique room combinations, all long wearing and pet friendly!
Kaleidoscape Carpet Tiles offer a wide variety of options in design and colors - great for large rooms as well as industrial applications.
Area Rugs are a Life Saver!
Does your pet have one area that he prefers to sleep? Or maybe the walkway between the kitchen and eating area is a high paw-traffic area? Or, even worse, one spot that seems to be a favorite spot when accidents must happen? An area rug may be your new best friend!
Area carpets come in a variety of sizes, colors, shapes, sizes, and qualities. Smaller, machine washable area carpets are the more pet friendly version, as they make clean up quick and easy. However, any area rug placed in a high pet traffic area will significantly increase the lifespan of the wall-to-wall carpet below by protecting it from fur, natural oils, dirt, and pet accidents.
Many area rugs have a rubber backing to prevent slipping on slick floors but these also work well to keep pet accidents from leaking through to the carpet below (although there is no guarantee – always clean up accidents as quickly as possible).
Machine washable area rugs can be cleaned as needed but what about the ones too big or stiff to fit in the washer? If you have an expensive or wool rug, take it to a proper carpet cleaning facility. However, for the cheaper, synthetic area rugs, take them outside, hang them over a clothesline or fence, let stain remover soak in, and then add a high intensity spray nozzle to your hose. Stand a few feet back and systematically spray down the carpet, making sure to let the almost pressure washer effect of the hose clean the carpet. Allow to hang dry. With a bit of patience, you will be surprised how clean the carpet becomes.
Colors can increase the Lifespan of Pet Friendly Carpet
Do you have a beige cat? Or a tan colored dog? Then beige carpet should be the top of the list of colors for your carpet! What about the Russian Blue kitty you share your home with? A grey carpet may save you some work. And that black and white Border collie? Consider an area rug where he sleeps most often in a funky zebra stripe pattern!
The point is to match your carpet color choices to the predominant colors in your pets. Although this does not help hide the stains from pet accidents, it does minimize how often you must vacuum to keep your carpets looking clean.
For wall-to-wall carpeting, most of us like light colored carpet but in a busy pet home, always chose one color tone darker then your initial choice. Not only will this help hide stains, it also lessens how often you need to clean the carpet, extending the life span of your investment.
Pet Friendly Carpets are worth the Extra Expense
Buying the right choice when installing or replacing a carpet is paramount to how long it lasts. Even cheap carpet is a big expense so make sure you do your research and buy wisely, not with your wallet. Read the manufacturer’s care guide, vacuum regularly, leave shoes at the door, wipe pet’s feet when they come inside, and use area rugs and runners in high traffic areas to extend the life of any carpet.
Do your research and your pet friendly carpet should look great for years to come!