The floors in our homes work hard, which means they must be hardwearing. We constantly walk on them, often traipsing in dirt. Our children and animals do the same often making it a challenge to keep them clean.
Most dogs dig – if they’re given a chance – and unless they are relegated to a life outside of the house will invariably bring sand or worse still mud into the house. If they go outside when it’s raining, they will often shake themselves when they get back indoors, peppering every surface with little drops of water. Many dogs slobber and some become incontinent, which can be a huge problem especially in homes that have carpeted floors.
Ultimately, we want out floors to feel comfortable underfoot and to look as good as possible. So, what are the best types of flooring for our homes? More specifically, which types are best if you own a dog?
Most tiles are tough and hardwearing. They are generally easy-to-clean and are not easily damaged by dirt or the claws of dogs. Rugs and small carpets can be used over tiles for warmth and ambiance.
There are many different types of flooring, all of which have a role to play, depending of course on your needs. The two primary categories though relate to the type of material used on the surface.
- Hard flooring incorporates the most hardwearing surfaces including wood (lumber), engineered wood, laminate floors, tiles, and possibly even flagstones.
- Soft flooring, generally fitted over either concrete or wooden floors comprises carpeting and other “soft” finishes like vinyl.
Both types are considered pet-friendly, but if you’ve got dogs you need to consider maintenance issues relating to claws, muddy feet, and dog hair. If you have a puppy you also need to consider the implications of house training. How easy will it be to clean doggy-do off your floors? Depending on the floor surface it may not be too difficult, but if you don’t do it quickly there’s the added chance of being left with a lingering odor that is a little more difficult to eradicate, particularly if the surface is carpeted.
Additionally, most happy dogs wag their tails, which can result in all kinds of things being knocked to the floor. Even a glass of water can leave a stain, let alone the damage a glass of red wine can do!
Although generally hardwearing, some “hard” flooring surfaces are not as dog friendly as you might imagine. For instance, dog claws can cause extensive damage to floorboards of various types, especially those that are made with softer woods, including some hardwoods. This can be confusing. While most softwood lumber – cut from coniferous trees (including pine) – is soft, some, like redwood, is reasonably hard. Hardwood lumber, on the other hand, is cut from deciduous trees, including oak and cherry. Both red and white cedar, several types of fir, and black cottonwood are all quite “soft” hardwoods.
A pet-friendly wooden floor needs to be relatively hard, unless you go for something completely different. It’s a bit ironic, but some companies sell flooring that is made from recycled hardwood – and this has gorgeously distinctive marks in it from old nails and old (now treated) insect infestation. If shabby chic is your style then this could be the answer.
Both engineered wood flooring and laminate flooring can be dog friendly, and both types are eco-friendly and sustainable.
Tiles are generally a good pet-friendly option, although some porous tiles might stain. Highly glazed tiles won’t be easily damaged, but they do tend to become slippery when wet, which can be hazardous for both humans and dogs.
Generally more comfortable underfoot than hard flooring soft flooring, soft flooring primarily refers to carpeting that may be laid over screeded concrete, or on a wooden or engineered wood base. Undoubtedly warmer than most types of hard flooring – especially tiles – carpeting is often blamed for allergies and conditions like asthma. In reality, if carpets and other so-called “soft” surfaces are kept clean the dust-borne allergens that cause problems are easily eliminated.
On the other hand, research shows that dust and other tiny particles that carry allergens are more prolific in rooms that have hard flooring. This is because dust and airborne allergenic particles stay in the air simply because there’s no way for them to settle into a hard surface.
There is also a compromise: to use a rug or carpet on top of a hard floor surface. Either way, it is essential to keep all surfaces clean.
If you opt for carpets, buy the best you can afford and use top quality equipment to vacuum regularly.