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 d├ęcor 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. How to Deal With Pet Urine And Pet Spills On Your Hardwood Floor

This Learning Center belongs to you. We invite you to contribute to it.

Have you got a question about what you've read here? Tell us about in the comments section. 

If you're an expert in the field, and see something that is inaccurate, tell us, and we'll make the correction. 

Also, if you think there is important information that is absent from any of these articles, please let us know!

{ 3 trackbacks }

Best flooring for dogs? Choosing a floor for a golden retriever. | Meet My Ugly Baby
December 3, 2011 at 4:14 pm
Tips for Choosing Flooring Materials for Mountain Homes
August 23, 2013 at 2:09 pm
What Type Of Glucosamine What Kind Of Flooring Is Best For Dogs | glucosamine for dogs
October 9, 2014 at 6:23 pm

{ 67 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

homepage May 14, 2014 at 4:45 pm

The Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certifies wood according to stringent ecological and forest management
criteria. Do not just take a companies word for the quality of
their product, but do your own homework to find out which flooring will actually meet your needs.
The wood tiles should be stored in the room they are to be
installed in for at least 24 hours so they can acclimate to the temperature and humidity.

SLA May 20, 2014 at 3:30 am

Tile is not necessarily the best option … we have decades-old Saltillo tile in our downstairs. When we bought the house no one told us we needed to have the tile re-sealed every couple of years. So we’ve been here ten years, and suddenly our 12-year-old cat decided to pee in the same place on the floor over and over and over … in the beginning it was often at night, so we didn’t know what was going on until she’d done it three or four times. When we finally caught her, we cleaned it up right away, of course. By then it was too late … she’d stained the tile, the urine had soaked into the tile and the grout and the smell … UGH! We tried using an enzymatic cleaner on the tile, just poured it on, let it sit until it tried; poured it on, washed it off; nothing helped. We are now in the process of trying peroxide-and-diatomaceous-earth poultices to draw out the urine, but this is a long, laborious process, and I dont think it will work, in the end. (And, in the meantime, because we have the poultice on, we keep it covered with foil and we have a motion-detector-activated fan aimed at the spot, she has found a NEW place to pee. The litter box now sits in the middle of the living room. Not entirely acceptable, even with a cover, but what can we do?) So I think in the end we will have to spend the $8,000-$10,0000 we were quoted to have all the tile in the great room ripped up and replaced. So be SURE your tile is well-sealed or not porous before you count on tile floors to stay clean with pets!

Susan May 22, 2014 at 11:53 pm

SLA can’t you just remove the stained tiles? We have 7 dogs and 8 house cats so looking for a flooring easy to clean, waterproof, and slide resistant. Love it to be a do -it yourself but just not sure what way to go yet. I wish I had found more answers to whether vinyl planking was waterproof. Has anyone used the Karndean Loose Lay planks?

Valerie June 4, 2014 at 3:41 pm

SLA, I have the same problem………right now there are 6 small dogs living in my home. Needless to say, my tile floors are a mess. I am in the process of using an enzyme cleaner, however, I am leaving it on for a week at a time. I pour it on. Spread it out. Cover entire area with plastic drop cloths so the enzyme remains wet and has an opportunity to really work. I also put the legs of my diningroom chairs and table in cups containing the enzyme. I’m hoping this works as I wish to put my home on the market. SO……….now I am wondering, when I move, what is the best flooring to put down. I’m almost leaning towards a sheet vinyl for where the dogs will be. I doubt their habits will improve quickly. I use puppy pads, however, one mistake and all the dogs have to claim the new area.

Valerie June 4, 2014 at 3:43 pm

Susan, hoping someone answers you! I’m in the same boat!

Hermes June 10, 2014 at 5:09 pm

We bought our home last year and it came with bad carpet. We did not bother to change it because we have 6 dogs and it will only mean a huge waste of money. We just had it professionally cleaned and have been doing carpet shampooing ourselves every so often. Carpet condition has deteriorated so bad that all stains and smell dont go away anymore even with powerful pet cleaners/enzymes. Thinking of just finally ripping off the carpet and doing our floors. What is the most pet friendly, water and stain proof, most durable and most economical as we are on a tight budget. Areas would be foyer, formal living, diningroom and stairs. Considering installing new carpet on family room and upstairs bedrooms. Thanks.

Rose urban August 23, 2014 at 2:47 pm

What happens to bamboo if dogs pee on it . Does it smell? Is it cleanable.

Arati October 7, 2014 at 4:12 pm

Thank you for this wonderful article.

Giorgia October 14, 2014 at 12:07 am

Rose urban? did you find out about bamboo?
I have 7 dogs and I they all seem to enjoy marking the territory! Help!

Pocohontas 1 October 14, 2014 at 11:19 pm

have 2 dogs & wee-wee pads, these 2 guys seem to miss wee-wee pads, need to know the HONEST – best flooring for my 2 – 5yr old yorkie babies. HELP…

Leave a Comment

Notify me of followup comments via e-mail. You can also subscribe without commenting.