Pet Friendly Flooring: A Primer

Pet Friendly Flooring

What is pet friendly flooring?  As every pet owner knows, our furry friends can wreak havoc on our home’s floors, from leaving scratches and gouges on hardwood floors to potty mishaps. If you are considering buying a new home or remodeling your existing residence, there are some excellent options available for durable, attractive pet-friendly flooring. Whichever option you select, you will want to keep four qualities in mind when shopping:

  1. Resistance to damage
  2. Pet traction
  3. Resistance to scratches
  4. Pet comfort

Pet Friendly Flooring or Not?

Tile Flooring

Stone or porcelain tile is a top pick for durability. The tile’s nonporous surface won’t stain or scratch, plus it’s moisture-proof, making cleanup a breeze. As for appearance, the tile can be made to look like either stone or wood. Other ceramics also work well; just avoid porous stone tile, as it needs to be sealed periodically. The only downside to tile is that its cold and hard surface provides little to no comfort underfoot. You may consider radiant heating and area rugs to add comfort and warmth. And don’t forget the pet bed to give Fido a cozy place to relax!

Pet Friendly Flooring - Tile

Porcelain tile flooring. Image courtesy of


Concrete Flooring

Concrete floors in a home? You bet! Today’s concrete floors are stylish and can be sealed with a protective film sealer or floor finish so that pet urine can’t leak through the pores. Concrete flooring provides numerous advantages to pet owners: it is easy to clean (just swipe with a towel or mop and water), it resists pet dander and allergens, and it is scratch-resistant. Another plus is that concrete flooring is nontoxic. “Volatile organic compounds,” or VOCs, can be emitted by carpet, padding, and adhesives that are used under vinyl and linoleum. Since concrete floors are stained with nontoxic pigments, they don’t release VOCs, which can be harmful to your pets. Disadvantages: concrete provides little to no comfort underfoot, and it can be quite cold. The good news is that you can use radiant heating to keep your pets comfortable in cooler temps.

Pet Friendly Flooring - Concrete

Concrete flooring. Image courtesy of

Hardwood Flooring

Hardwood flooring is another option that seems to be everyone’s favorite choice for its clean, classic look; however, it is not always the best choice for pet owners, as wood is more prone to scratches, stains, and water damage. The best wood choices are harder species such as oak, hickory, Brazilian cherry, mahogany, sycamore, walnut, and bamboo. Softer woods, such as larch, hemlock and pine, are much more prone to scratches and dents, particularly if you have a larger breed dog. The harder the wood, the more resistant it will be to your dog’s nails. If you do decide to purchase hardwood floors, you may wish to choose a factory-finished wood. Pre-finished wood floors are stained and sealed in the factory with multiple layers of tough-as-nails aluminum oxide-urethane finish. If you are refinishing your hardwood flooring, you will want to use oil-based polyurethane, which lasts much longer than water-based polyurethane. Water- based polyurethane is thinner, and you often need four to five coats to equal the durability of three coats of oil-based. In addition, oil-based polyurethane costs less than water-based, generally 10-25 percent more.


Hardwood Flooring is not so pet friendly

Hardwood flooring damaged by pet nails.

Vinyl Flooring

Vinyl is an ideal flooring choice for pet owners, and there are a plethora of attractive styles from which to choose. Vinyl flooring is budget-friendly, durable, low-maintenance, and easy to clean. Other advantages: vinyl provides excellent traction for your pet, promotes low levels of allergens, and is quiet underfoot. The only disadvantage to vinyl flooring is that water spills can cause lifting or mildew growth.

Pet Friendly Flooring - Vinyl

Vinyl flooring. Image courtesy of

Laminate Flooring

If you love the look of hardwood but not the expense, you may consider laminate flooring. Laminate looks similar to hardwood, but is more durable, provides a much easier clean-up after your pet, and is water-resistant. However, despite its hardness and durability, it can be quite slippery, particularly if you are interested in a smooth or high-gloss laminate floor. The best choice for pet owners is a laminate that has a textured finish to reduce slipping. The downside to laminate is that it is not as long-lasting and timeless as hardwood.

Pet Friendly flooring - laminate

Laminate flooring. Image courtesy of

Cork Flooring

Cork flooring is the go-to choice for green living, and it is finding increasing popularity among those who are looking for eco-friendly flooring. Cork flooring has several advantages: it requires little maintenance, it is water-resistant, and it is a naturally antimicrobial material that will reduce the growth of mold and other allergens. It is quiet underfoot and sound-absorbing, as well as warm and pliant: sure to keep you pet’s paws comfortable. Keep in mind, however, cork can become scratched by sharp nails, and it can discolor over time from exposure to sunlight.

Cork Flooring

Cork flooring. Image courtesy of

Bamboo Flooring

Like cork, bamboo is an excellent choice for homeowners interested in green living, because it won’t wear out and is completely renewable. Bamboo can be pet-friendly; however, its strength and durability depends upon the type of bamboo. Bamboo is technically a grass, but it’s classified as hardwood. There are two types, “regular” and “strand” bamboo. Strand bamboo is much stronger, and strand woven even stronger. Regular bamboo (unstained) is stronger than carbonized/camelized (stained) bamboo; the process of carmelizing the sugar weakens the wood during the heating process. Finally, the quality of bamboo varies greatly, since it is usually imported from China. You will want to avoid purchasing bamboo from one of the “big box” stores, where the flooring is cheaper, but typically hasn’t been treated properly. Big box store bamboo can have several flaws:

  1. The bamboo is harvested too early and hasn’t had enough time for proper growth.
  2. The products are air-dried rather than oven-dried, resulting in softer, less durable flooring.
  3. The softer part of the bamboo has been harvested.

Prepared properly, bamboo can be a great choice for pet owners, as it will resist scratches and is stain-resistant, so you don’t have to worry about accidents.

If you are interested in bamboo, it is imperative that you buy from a reputable flooring store and purchase a quality brand.

bamboo flooring

Bamboo flooring. Photo courtesy of



Although carpet provides cozy comfort for paws, it is definitely not an ideal choice for pet-owners: carpet collects hair, pet dander, stains, and unpleasant odors. If you must select carpet, look for colorfast solution-dyed fibers, as well as a moisture-proof synthetic backing and a moisture-resistant pad. Since dog nails can snag on loop styles, select a cut pile carpet. There are also new options such as STAINMASTER® PetProtect® carpet, which has built-in stain resistance that won’t wash off.  It is made from SuperiaSD® fiber, a solution dyed nylon 6,6 polymer engineered with inherent stain resistance and built-in color that resists fading.

Carpet is not pet friendly

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