Choosing the Best Hardwood Floors for Dogs and Cats

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Pets are the darlings of the family, but between accidents and scratches, they can do some damage to a floor. So, it’s no wonder that pet owners who are choosing floors for a new residence or installing new floors in an existing home ask: “What are the best hardwood floors for dogs, cats and other pets?”

Of course, any hardwood floor is a better surface for pet-friendly homes than carpet. All the allergens such as dust, mold and animal dander that can get buried in a carpet can be easily swept away on a hardwood floor. And cleaning up occasional accidents is no problem with a hardwood surface, whereas removing the stain and smell from an accident on the carpet can be a big challenge.

Choosing the best hardwood floor for dogs and cats comes down to choosing the best hardwood floors for large dogs – cats and small dogs aren’t heavy enough to do much damage.

Our recommendations for pet-friendly floors include:

Choose a harder floor…
Selecting a floor such as Hickory, Hard Maple or White Oak can protect your floor from damage, as these hardwoods are less susceptible to scratches than softer woods like Pine, Cherry or Black Walnut.

…or choose a stronger grain
Hardwoods with more dramatic grain patterns can help to hide scratches more easily. Red Oak and Hickory feature prominent grain that can effectively camouflage small blemishes.

Choose a scratch-resistant finish
Unless you have a dog that’s purposely trying to claw its way through your floor, most of the damage from a pet will occur in the finish layer. Some finishes are more scratch-resistant than others. For example, one of the best finishes for hardwood floors with dogs is a UV urethane with an additive like aluminum oxide, which results in a highly scratch-resistant surface. However, it’s essential to strike a balance, as too much aluminum oxide can make the floor appear cloudy or plastic-looking.

black dog on hardwood floor
Consider prefinished floors
Floors that are prefinished – i.e. sanded, stained and sealed at a manufacturer’s facility before being delivered to a job site – enable the use of much stronger and more protective finishes that can’t be used when floors are finished on-site.

Go low sheen
A floor with a matte or lower sheen finish will tend to show scratches less – the mark or imperfection in the finish won’t create such a high contrast from the sheen level of the floor.

Keep the color light
Surfaces finished with a lighter color tend to show scratches less since the marks don’t draw such a sharp contrast with the color of the floor.  Lighter floors are the best hardwood floors for dogs and cats as they hide pet hair better, while dark floors reveal scratches and hair from shedding pets far more obviously.

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