I recently worked with a client who has five dogs. Actually, only three of them are hers and two are foster dogs – she’s looking after them until the rescue can find them new homes. She loves fostering dogs because it helps save lives, so it’s something she will continue to do in her new home.
If you have pets, you can probably relate to her fixation on flooring. All it takes is one “accident” to ruin carpet. Sure, you can steam clean the carpets, but if urine gets into the pad, all the steaming in the world won’t get out the stench.
Then, there’s the hair issue. One of her dogs is an old English sheepdog – basically a giant fur ball on four legs. She says that no matter how often she vacuums and sweeps there will invariably be a couple of large fur puffs lurking somewhere in the corners.
With a tight budget, she can’t afford to replace carpeting in her new home, so at the top of her wishlist was a home with dog-friendly flooring. “Ok,” I said, “what type of flooring is that?”
She researched the dilemma so her answer came quickly. Of course, this narrowed down the number of houses that fit her needs, but we actually found one. She compromised a bit because there was carpet in one of the bedrooms, but overall she’s happy and she has agreed to allow me to share her flooring research with you.
Pull up a corner of your carpet and take a peek beneath. The chances are good that you have concrete under there. If you were to rip out the carpets, with a little work and little money you could have a very trendy floor that is ideal for dogs.
Concrete can be polished, stained, painted and even stenciled. You can texturize concrete floors to make them look like wood or tile. And, best of all, basic acid staining is a DIY project.
Sealed concrete is impermeable to anything the pooch throws at it, no matter which end it comes from. It won’t peel, crack or warp. The downside, however, is that it’s cold in the winter, unless you cover it with area rugs (which won’t work with an un-housetrained dog).
Let’s get this out of the way upfront – vinyl stinks after its installed. In fact, it is notorious in the flooring world for emitting VOCs right after installation. VOCs are volatile organic compounds – basically gasses that stink and cause health problems. The EPA says that VOCs “include a variety of chemicals, some of which may have short- and long-term adverse health effects.”
In reality, vinyl floors emit far less formaldehyde than laminate floors. But, that is just one VOC.
Now, not all vinyl flooring materials are unhealthy. If you decide to install vinyl, look for manufacturers who are FloorScore certified or have received the Indoor Air Quality Certification. Armstrong vinyl tile and vinyl sheet flooring is FloorScore certified and Naturcor has attained Indoor Air Quality Certification.
My client decided to go with luxury vinyl plank flooring in a wood-look pattern and really, standing on it you would never know that it’s not laminate or wood. Best of all, she says these floors are moisture and stain resistant (although that’s being debated online) and, if you purchase the glue-down planks that snap together, it’s an easy DIY project. Lots of money saved on the installation. Check out these gorgeous vinyl floors at HGTV.
My client went back and forth between vinyl and tile. Both offer the wood-look she was after. The vinyl was less expensive to install, however, so it won in the end.
Tile floors can be ceramic, porcelain or stone. Like concrete, they can be chilly on the feet in winter. Also like concrete, if you drop something breakable the chances are pretty good it will shatter. Or, in the case of ceramic tile, the tile itself may break. Unlike concrete, when they’re wet, tile floors are quite slippery. Other than that, though, they take a lot of abuse (and pet accidents).
They also add to a home’s value, according to Realtor.com. Again, they are pricier, especially the installation, but if you have dogs and you don’t like vinyl flooring, this is your best option other than concrete.
What might, or might not work
Cork – soft on the feet but easily scratched by dog’s nails. Now, there is a new product, Cork Vi-Plank, and retailers are claiming that it’s moisture resistant. It is composed of two layers of cork (making it nice and cushy) covered in vinyl. The pros at Cancork Floors, Inc. however, beg to differ with the manufacturer’s claims. They say (at Houzz.com) that the planks DO warp if moisture sits for even 24 hours. The pro goes on to say, however, “Technically a glue down cork floor finished with 2 coats of polyurethane = water proof floor.”
What doesn’t work with dogs
Hardwood — Animal urine and vomit contain acids that will ruin the finish on wood floor boards. Their nails can cause scratches. Even spilled water will seep into the seams and wreck a hardwood floor. In her research, my client came across an article on a hardwood flooring sales website that offered a “solution” to the damage pets can cause on wood floors. Train the dog, use pee pads until their trained and declaw them. Some solution, huh?
Laminate – don’t believe the hype you may read online that laminate is durable. Pet urine WILL warp the floor and replacing damaged planks can be pricey. Even sweeping debris on a laminate floor runs the risk of scratching the surface.
Linoleum – Like cork, linoleum scratches and tears easily. It’s also a high maintenance flooring material if it’s not sealed.