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Dogs are man’s best friend, but they sometimes can be flooring’s worst enemy! Here are some of the best types of hard flooring for dogs, alongside tips for dealing with scratches and dog urine.
Although carpets are comfy, we recommend hard flooring for dogs such as laminate flooring, engineered wood flooring or vinyl floor tiles. They’re easy to clean, and you can still have rugs and cushions for your dog.
The ideal type of dog-friendly flooring should be:
Three popular types of flooring for dogs are laminate, engineered wood and luxury vinyl tile.
Laminate – A wooden core, with a printed image on the top, laminate is a great value option. It’s easy to clean and maintain, and dog nail scratches don’t look as bad. However, laminate isn’t fully scratch-resistant, and not all styles are waterproof. Laminate can also be slippery, unless textured.
Engineered Wood – Easier to install and maintain than solid wood (and cheaper), engineered wood still gives the luxurious look and feel of real wood. It’s the best wood flooring for dogs, but you’ll still need to be diligent about cleaning up pee to avoid staining. Some woods can scratch easily too.
Luxury Vinyl Tile – Textured vinyl with a rigid core, LVT is the relative newcomer to the flooring market. Ideal for using in kitchens and bathrooms, luxury vinyl tiles are fully waterproof. They combine a durable, scratch-resistant surface with realistic wood, stone and tile effect looks.
We think the best flooring to have with dogs is luxury vinyl tile. It’s more stain and scratch-resistant than competitors, is waterproof against urine, and still looks great.
If you’re choosing laminate flooring…
If you love the ease, value and variety of laminate, there are plenty of styles suitable for dogs.
Look out for higher thicknesses and waterproof laminate – some laminates make a big deal of being pet and dog-friendly. Another factor to look out for is abrasion classification or AC rating; the higher the rating, the better the scratch resistance. A3, A4 or A5 rated laminate is best for dogs.
With good cleaning and care, laminate flooring shouldn’t be stained by mud or urine.
Smooth, slippery laminate can be a problem for dogs, especially seniors and excitable puppies. In these pet-friendly times, you can get non-slip laminate flooring for dogs. Look for textured laminate styles that mimic the feel of wood grain, as these give your dog’s paws more grip on the floor.
If your existing laminate isn’t non-slip, improvise with rugs or even non-slip booties for your dog.
If your existing laminate is of a lower AC rating, you may end up with some scratches from your dog’s nails. Luckily, dog scratches on laminate floors can be easily remedied with wax pencils or putty.
Choose a wax pencil the same colour as your laminate to fill in the scratch, then buff to blend.
For deeper dog scratches on laminate, coloured repair putty can help – just ensure it has a chance to dry and harden before letting your dog back inside. If all else fails, replace or cover it with a rug!
If you’re choosing engineered wood flooring…
Nothing beats the look and feel of a wood floor. However, it can be higher maintenance than laminate or luxury vinyl tile flooring, and may not be the best choice for boisterous dogs.
The top layer of engineered wood flooring is still real hardwood, but it’s easier to install, often cheaper, and can be used easily with underfloor heating. As the surface of solid wood and engineered wood flooring is essentially the same, both can be scratched by dog nails.
If you’re choosing a dog-friendly wood flooring, look for lighter colours and harder wood species. You could also choose rustic or distressed wood styles, which will camouflage any dog-related imperfections.
Choose oiled rather than glossy lacquered finishes; these will show up dog scratches even more.
Wood flooring and dogs can co-exist peacefully, but you’ll need to have a solid cleaning routine.
Clean up dog urine, poop and food as soon as it gets onto wood flooring. Wood is a natural product, and can be damaged or stained if dog urine is left to absorb – it can even cause lingering smells. There are many cleaning products marketed especially for removing little accidents from wood.
If you have hardwood where you feed or bathe your dog, use rugs or sheets to protect it. You can also read our separate blog on cleaning engineered wood flooring.
Apart from choosing a distressed, rustic or paler colour of wood, there’s not that much you can do about dog nail scratches on wood flooring. Trimming your dog’s nails will help prevent them.
If your wood flooring gets scratched, you can buy stain-filled markers to tackle individual scratches, choosing a colour that matches the wood. You can also buy wood stains, to deepen the colour of your wood flooring. For deeper scratches, try a specialised wood filler, then sand it and stain.
But what about luxury vinyl tile flooring?
As we’ve said above, we think luxury vinyl tile is the best choice for dogs. It’s tough and easy to clean like laminate, and now comes in a huge variety of wood and tile effects for the style-conscious.
LVT has scratch-resistant and waterproof properties, making it the most durable and dog-proof flooring around. Luxury vinyl tile is still a relative newcomer to flooring, compared to laminate and wood. It’s becoming popular for its low maintenance and suitability for kitchens and bathrooms.
If you love the look of stone and tile, luxury vinyl tile is cheaper and warmer underfoot.
Luxury vinyl tile is extremely easy to clean and maintain, and water and urine won’t absorb into it. Unlike wood and some laminate styles, there’s little chance of dog urine damaging your floor.
An advantage of hard flooring is that it works well with underfloor heating – an alternative to radiators or electric heating. Dogs also enjoy underfloor heating, and it’s safe for them to lie on!
Underfloor heating won’t make a floor so hot it burns, and is safer than radiators for dogs.
Carpets are a dog’s favourite type of flooring, as it’s ideal for naps wherever they want. However, carpet can harbour doggy smells, mites, hair and dirt from your dog, making it harder to clean. Longer pile carpets can also snag on your dog’s nails, making them a potential hazard.
We’d recommend hard flooring as the best type of flooring for dogs, as dirt is harder to absorb.
To get the best of both worlds, use rugs and cushions alongside hard flooring like laminate, engineered wood or LVT. Some are small enough to roll up and toss in the washing machine.
When buying hard flooring, some styles are marketed as dogproof or dog friendly. They will also have a guarantee of how many years your flooring will last before it needs to be replaced.
Depending on the guarantee, hard flooring can last anywhere from 5 years to over 25 years.
When choosing a flooring to have with dogs, consider how long you intend to keep it. Scratch resistant luxury vinyl tile looks the same for many years, while wood may get some scratches.