Choosing the Right Flooring for Pets in the Home

iStock 000009609047XSmall 300x238 Choosing the Right Flooring for Pets in the Home

When building a new home or remodeling an existing home, flooring choices are everything. With pets in the home, this becomes even more important, because pets are just as hard, if not harder, than people on flooring surfaces. What are the best flooring choices for pets in the home? Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of several types of flooring to help in the decision making process.

Hardwood Flooring

Though this is one of the most desired types of flooring in a home, it is not the best choice for homes with pets. Pet urine can stain the hardwood, leaving a terrible smell and a dark spot in the wood. Even if urine accidents are cleaned up quickly after the fact, the urine may still seep into the wood, causing damage. To remove these stains, you may have to go so far as to strip, sand, and refinish the floor. If the stains are contained to one small area, this is hassle enough, but if the stains all over the place, the entire floor may need to be redone. At times, the odor and stain may reappear because of salt crystals left behind from the urine that cannot be dissolved. If this happens, completely replacing the wood may be necessary.

Another thing some pet owners forget to factor in when it comes to hardwood is the pet’s water bowl. If possible, place the water bowl on a mat of some sort to help protect the hardwood from moisture when the bowl spills. Quickly dry the spill after it happens, because moisture can soak down into the wood causing it to swell and contract.

Keeping pets nails trimmed or filed will also be necessary to avoid extraneous scratches on the flooring. As pets walk or run across the floor, their claws may damage the surface. While some owners may elect to declaw their pets, it certainly isn’t a possibility for all.

If the flooring is coated with a high quality urethane, it will be more scratch and stain resistant. Sweep the floors clean at least once a week for best maintenance.

Bamboo is harder than the hardest hardwood flooring and is one of the best Pet-friendly flooring choices.

Laminate Flooring

Due to the hardness of laminate flooring, pet owners may turn to it instead of traditional hardwood. While this may work to provide the décor people want, it can be difficult for pets, especially dogs, because they will slip and slide as they walk or run through the home. This will cause their hips to move in unnatural ways, which may cause costly damage to their bodies. This is pronounced in smooth, high gloss laminate floors and can be mitigated somewhat by choosing a laminate floor with an embossed or textured finish. Laminate won’t show scratches as easily as some other surfaces, but because they are so slippery and uncomfortable to lie on, rugs are recommended throughout the home to help the pet.

Bamboo Flooring

Bamboo is an excellent choice for homes with pets, for many different reasons. It’s harder than the hardest hardwoods, meaning it will stand up to more traffic. It won’t wear out, and it’s completely renewable, so it makes a good choice for those who are trying to be green. It is stain resistant, so people don’t have to worry about accidents or spills. Due to bamboo’s hardness it will save money compared to repairing other types of flooring. For those who are trying to decide between using hardwood and vinyl flooring, choosing bamboo floors is a great compromise.

Cork Floors

Cork is a green flooring choice good for the environment and the health of the occupants, pets included. Cork is an antimicrobial type of flooring that will reduce the growth of mold and other allergens. Cork is scratch resistant, though it should be swept regularly to prevent scratching from particles of dirt left on the floor. It is an excellent sound absorption option, so as pets walk across the floor, it will not be as loud. While the flooring is water resistant, it is a natural product, so spills should be cleaned up promptly. Discoloration of this flooring will happen over time when exposed to sunlight.

Stone Tile Flooring

This type of flooring is amazing for pet owners because it does not scratch easily, and scratches don’t show as they do in other types of flooring. When pets have accidents on the floor, there is much less reason to worry over how this will impact the condition of the flooring. With these two factors considered, this is a good choice for pet owners, but the floors are hard and cold so they are not very comfortable to lie on, unless the floor is heated by radiant heat. Consider using area rugs and pet beds to alleviate this problem. Granite is the hardest of the natural stones and is the best choice for scratch resistance. Softer stones such as marble, slate, and travertine may require somewhat more maintenance than granite, especially if they feature a polished finish.


Much similar to stone, porcelain or ceramic tile is a good choice in terms of wear and tear for pets. It won’t scratch easily. If pets don’t manage to make it outside before relieving themselves, the urine won’t damage the condition of the floor as it would with hardwood. However, much like stone, the surface is hard and uncomfortable for pets to lie on, but rugs will help.

Vinyl Flooring

While most people wouldn’t think vinyl to be a very pet friendly flooring choice, the new luxury vinyl flooring is an excellent choice, and it’s great for small children, too. The flooring is scratch and stain resistant, low in allergens, easy to clean and maintain, and even quiet to walk on.


When it comes to pets, carpet is likely the worst flooring choice one can make, simply because it is easy to destroy. Even normal wear and tear on carpet in a pet-free home happens faster than with other flooring options. If carpet is the only choice because it is the most cost effective option for home flooring, the best thing to do is choose a carpet without loops as pet nails can snag on the loops and cause the carpet to wear faster.

While budget and ease of installation will be factors impacting the flooring decisions of a home, taking time to consider the best flooring options for pets beforehand may save money in repairs and frustration in the long run. Cutting corners on flooring to save money is not a good choice if the flooring needs to be replaced in a few months or even a year due to the wear and tear from the pets.

Related posts:

  1. Choosing the Right Flooring to Minimize Allergies
  2. Everything to Grain: Choosing Your Hardwood Flooring Board
  3. 10 Quick Features of Laminate Wood Flooring

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{ 57 comments… read them below or add one }

Deb May 17, 2013 at 6:33 pm

Hi Jessica,

Thank you for your well-stated rebuttal to Bob! I was feeling the same way, but you chose the best way to respond. Thanks again — I feel validated!

Deb May 17, 2013 at 6:40 pm

Check out this website for soft but waterproof tiles (I just found this site myself):

They use closed-cell technology which apparently doesn’t allow moisture seepage.

connie August 28, 2013 at 2:35 am

Found your site, so glad
My dog only pees in living room wood floor and misses the wewe pad (poor me)
want to replace the junk in my kitchen.Cloice is Vinly by Halo Floors called Something Different. I think it is a vinyl (high grade) or Porclian tile. The dog may in the future pee on this floor. Which tyoe do you recommend?

tom September 6, 2013 at 1:23 pm

Vinyl is definitely not a good choice with dogs. They can dig it up just as easily as carpet. The advice above is very misguided.

All Floors Inc. October 3, 2013 at 3:29 pm

When it comes to choosing flooring for dogs and cats, it is also a good idea to select floor that is stain resistant. You just need to make sure that you have both the group and the tile sealed when you have them installed. The reason for this decision is the fact that it will keep your floors looking immaculate while making them extremely resistant to the mud that dirty paws have the tendency to bring in from outside.

Cindy Sheridan January 26, 2014 at 9:45 pm

We are needing a floor for our basement family room and have pets. How would the cork type flooring work in a basement? Does it scratch or tear easily? Your site states it is a good choice for pets. Just need to know how it would work in a basement.

Betty February 6, 2014 at 5:30 pm

My cat pees outside the litter box what flooring do you suggest that is resistant and won’t stain

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