It can be overwhelming picking out floors for your home, especially if you have little furchildren. Should you use tile, hardwood, engineered hardwood, vinyl, laminate or carpet? This is a hard question to answer and has many moving parts; what kind of dogs do you have, what look are you going for, what area of the house is this in, what kind of climate do you live in. But don't worry I'm going to talk a little bit about each of these to give you my opinion of using hardwood floors with pets (or children, they're basically the same right?)
As you might know we have two Australian Shepherds, Jillian is a mini and Harvey is a standard size aussie. To put it briefly, they are INSANE. I don't have children yet but I often imagine that having two toddlers may be easier some days. They are needy, dirty, annoying, loud, destructive but also cute, loving, protective and very very loyal. They are very active and always doing something to get into trouble. We've owned three houses thus far and they have all had very different flooring, so I’m going to give you a review on all of them and then tell you my opinion on what type of floors to use with pets.
1. Grandchamp- our first home in Florida that we completely gutted had pergo, tile and carpet when we bought it. Since this was our first rodeo we learned a lot about what textiles we loved and which ones we hated. The pergo was extremely loud and echo-ey due to the dogs nails, but it could withstand anything. After endless debate we replaced the entire downstairs with engineered pewter maple, with the exception of tile in the bath/laundry area. Upstairs we kept primarily carpet with tile in the bathrooms.
I’ve linked all three in the pictures so it will take you directly to the site we bought them from.
The hardwood floors looked BEAUTIFUL… that is until my dog ripped through the house like a mad man. We had many debates about using tile versus hardwood floors with the dogs. In Florida, you see a lot of tile, mainly because there is so much moisture. But we thought tile wasn’t going to give us the high end look we were going for. So we settled on hardwood, next we had to figure out what color, application and finish we wanted.
When researching flooring options, we found out that there are different ways to attach hardwood floor; you can float it, glue it or nail it. Since we had a concrete slab our options were floating or gluing. Floating the floor means that you use underlayment and then just click the edges together so their nice and snug. Gluing means that you glue every piece down to the concrete, like how you use thinset for tile. Gluing won us over due to its sound proofing ability (I also didn’t like the thought of potential buckling). We tested it out by dropping golf balls on the two options at the Lumber Liquidators store and found out that the glued down floor was much quieter. We had an open floor plan and rambunctious dogs so we wanted to make sure the house didn’t echo too much. There are also different levels of water proofing when it comes to picking out the glue. The team that installed our floors came out and measured the moisture in our slab and discovered we had some areas of high moisture. We didn’t want this to come back and bite us in the butt so we spent the extra money and got the glue with the highest water proof capability.
We choose an engineered hardwood floor. This means that the flooring is comprised of different layers; plywood, the “wear layer” and then the finish. Engineered floors have a thinner “wear layer” meaning they cannot be refinished like traditional hardwood floors can be (I will touch on this again later). There are also different qualities of engineered flooring, some having a much thicker wear layer than others. Having a pool and being that the moisture was already present in the concrete slab, I was really worried about moisture. I had read that engineered hardwood wouldn’t buckle as much as traditional hardwood floors if it gets wet. Which proved to be true. We had a water leak from the 2nd floor that dumped about 20 gallons onto the dining room floor and it sat there for 30 minutes until we could fix the water line. We set up fans overnight and eventually the wood laid back down and you could hardly notice the floor had ever gotten wet.
The floors were absolutely stunning when they were installed but I quickly learned what I hated about having hardwood with dogs.
They are soft- meaning that when my dog trampled from the 2nd floor, down the stairs, through the main entry and out the dog door- he decimated the entry way. When Jill chased balls with all the intensity in her little body, she scratched the floors. When we drag a stool across the floor, it scratched the floors. Unless you and you pets walk around like little fairies, I would suggest choosing a harder wood like cherry or mahogany.
They are glossy- meaning that every footprint, dog slobber, Swiffer stroke and wet ball left a mark on the floor. I would mop or Swiffer them daily and they would still look smudgy and streaky. If you choose to get hardwood, I suggest you choose one that is not so glossy; a nice matte or even wood scrapped finish can hide a lot of blemishes.
They are not tile- I know this seems like a dumb thing to point out but you don’t realize how easy tile is to take care of until you have hardwood. When our dogs scratched the entry way and it was time to list the house I had a refinisher come out to give me a quote on fixing the entryway…apparently it can’t be done when you have engineered floors. I was told that you could refinish an engineered wood at least once, WRONGO. Instead they gave me a quote to replace the section- it would’ve cost $1500 to replace a 10' x 10' section…no thank you. We decided if a buyer really wanted the house but was on the fence due to the scratches, we'd give them a credit and they could deal with that on their own. At least with tile you can clean the grout or even paint it. Hardwood is much harder to take care of.
All in all, I loved the look of the flooring in this house but I would not recommend it if you have active dogs or even an active family. It will show wear and tear like nobodies business.
2. Woodland- Our second home that is currently a rental home has a Cherry "Luxury vinyl" with a mix of tile in the bathrooms and some sort of weird vinyl in the kitchen. We always though "luxuurrryy" vinyl was a cheap material but we became very impressed with how it withstood our active dogs.
It is inexpensive compared to many flooring options but in my opion, the best bang for your buck. If you have a busy home that doesn’t need to be ritzy glitzy, this is the stuff for you. We could drag anything over this and not one scratch could be seen. My dog could play fetch all day or tear through the house, and not one scratch. This stuff is a miracle. The only thing that ever affected this floor was a wall plug in, whatever wall plugins are made out of can ruin the finish of anything.
3. Avenue- This is our third and current home while Nic is in law school. It has a little bit of everything, aside from carpet. The main living area has maple hardwood floors, the bedrooms have Horizontal Carbonized Bamboo, bathrooms have tile, basement has vinyl tile that we painted and the unfinished basement is concrete that we painted (I have a separate post about painting the tile and concrete here).
Bamboo is another godsend. If you’re looking for a more traditional hardwood floor that will stand the test of time, this is it. Bamboo has more of a stripped look to it so it doesn’t go with everything but if you can make it work, this is my flooring of choice. It combines the feel of hardwood floors with the durability of the vinyl floor. Scratches are still noticeable but it is nothing compared to the pewter maple mentioned above.
The lighter maple that you see in the kitchen is soft and glossy like the pewter maple but it doesn't show the wear and tear as much. I believe this is because it is a lighter color maple. I do love this floor and it goes perfectly with the vibe in here but I don't think I would use it in another house. The bamboo is where it's at.
Growing up we had a mix of these different floors but we never had a dog that would tear through the house to go bark at something outside, destroying anything in its path. Or a dog that would do anything to catch that squeaky yellow ball. Don't get me wrong, we love our dogs to no end but they have wreaked a little havoc on our floors.
You can never go wrong with tile, especially in high traffic areas or areas with a lot of moisture; bathrooms, kitchens or laundry rooms. If I was renovating a house right now, I would choose between a vinyl or bamboo flooring depending on the design of the home. I view carpet as a good choice for children, bedrooms or stair wells. It does trap a lot of dust, dirt and hair but it is far more wearable on stairs and more comfortable in bedrooms.
I hope you enjoyed this post, let me know if you have any questions about the flooring I used or if you have any opinions of your own, I would love to hear them!