Nothing says timeless style and sophistication like hardwood floors. Rich, easy care, and allergen free, hardwood provides a luster and finish that is truly unique.
However, not all hardwood floors are created equal and care must to be taken in picking the right floor for the users, especially if some of the users have four legs instead of two!
Pets and Hardwood Floor
Nails, messy water dishes, and accidents can be hard on any flooring including hardwood. Nails can scratch even the toughest of floorings while sitting water and watery substances can leave a permanent stain. But for many of us, hardwood is also the best choice for the easy clean up of fur and dander.
Is there a balance between pets and hardwood floors? Definitely! And the most important step is picking the pet friendly flooring that is up to the job!
Pet Friendly Hardwood Flooring
All floors scratch. Period. It does not matter if you have pets, heavy furniture, or some careless individual walks on your floor with a rock jammed into the tread of shoes - scratches are a normal part of wood and wood-like flooring. Real hardwood flooring, however, has many advantages over laminate flooring.
First you can choose what type of wood you buy, as not all hardwoods are actually hard. Harder hardwoods include:
Woods that are not as hard and you may want to avoid are:
Second, you have a choice in finishes and some are more forgiving then others. Always make sure there are at least three coats of urethane or polyurethane finish on your pet-friendly hardwood floors. A satin sheen finish is more forgiving then a high or semi-gloss finish and look into the quality of the finish. Bona Traffic is a water-based polyurethane specifically formulated for high traffic areas including industrial applications. It also ‘cures’ or hardens without the stinky and dangerous side effects of oil-based finishes.
Last, if the scratches become too much or if a permanent stain develops, you can have the entire floor refinished or ‘spot refinish’ a small section.
One other side note about real wood flooring versus laminate or ‘fake’ wood finishes. Depending on the style of the house, scratches and dents within the wood can enhance the character of hardwood flooring. Choosing a hardwood that has a distinct grain and a mid-tone, satin finish that is enhanced by use, allowing a deeper patina will develop over time. In the case of laminate, scratches only ever detract from a house, giving it a ‘used’ feel.
Laminate or ‘Hardwood Look Alike’ Floorings
Laminate flooring is made out of three layers.
- The top layer has a tough finish made out of aluminum oxide. The wood grain is actually a ‘picture’ of wood, repeated throughout the flooring, allowing for variety of ‘look alike’ finishes such as the hardwood we are used to seeing but also stone, tile, and brick.
- The second layer or core is most often made out of high-density fiberboard. This is a durable engineered wood product that resists water.
- The bottom layer or backing is really where the range of quality and price range comes from in laminate flooring. In less expensive flooring, this backing is often made out of paper products while the higher end laminate will have a plastic backing. The plastic backing is obviously more water resistant.
One thing that should be pointed out is the potential for laminate flooring to trigger an allergy or asthma attack in susceptible people and pets.
There are many types and qualities of laminate flooring and price is not always the best indicator of which will hold up to your pet the best. Discuss strengths and weaknesses of each laminate flooring with your flooring expert and be sure to mention your pets!
Bamboo is becoming a much more common site in homes and businesses. It is versatile, renewable, and is substantially less expensive then hardwood and high quality laminates. Although bamboo is actually a grass, some species are rated harder then maple and nearly twice as hard as red oak, meaning it is far more scratch resistant then other wood type floorings.
Best of all, it is extremely pet-friendly hardwood flooring! Bamboo is a tropical plant, meaning it is nearly impervious to water because of its tight grain. As accidents do happen, even in the most conscientious of pet homes, bamboo is a smart choice for people desiring an almost worry free, wood look floor!
Vinyl ‘Hardwood’ Flooring
Want the look of hardwood flooring without the headaches? In some applications, vinyl is the best choice for pet-friendly flooring and the ‘hardwood look’ is a reasonable compromise. Long lasting, scratch resistant, quiet, and low allergen, vinyl floors are not the linoleum of your parent’s era!
Some Tips for Beautiful Pet-Friendly Hardwood Floors!
Want to keep your floors beautiful for years to come, even though you share your home with Marmaduke and his three brothers? Some tips for long lasting good looks:
Pet nails can scratch some hardwood floors so making sure nails are always trimmed can make a big difference in how long your new floor looks ‘new’!
Keep a rubber-backed carpet under water and food dishes. Lift off the floor if it gets wet and always wash the floor underneath.
Use dog beds, area rugs, and runners on areas where your pet may like to lay down or play.
When you are not home, contain your pet to an area of the house that does not have hardwood flooring such as the kitchen or laundry area.
Does your dog have difficulty standing on hardwood floors? Buy a set of rubber bottomed ‘boots’ for your dog and put them on when he is inside the house.
Most important? Make sure whatever flooring you buy not only enhances the look of your home but also allows you to enjoy both your pet and your home. If you feel you are spending too much of your time cleaning or, worse, chasing after your pets to trim nails, put on boots, or vacuum up fur, you may have the wrong flooring. Do your research and get it right the first time!