What Is The Best Hardwood Flooring For Dogs

Hardwood Flooring With Dogs

What Is The Best Hardwood Flooring For Dogs

If you’re reading this, then you must be on the hunt for durable hardwood flooring that can stand up to dogs and pets. We went to the local experts to get the lowdown on what is the best hardwood flooring for dogs.

who installs hard wood floors best?

So you want hardwood floors, but you’re afraid of what your furry companions might do to them. It’s a legitimate concern. Between clattering claws, dirty paws, and puppy accidents, there is a lot that your dog can do to damage your beautiful wood floors. Now, don’t go searching for another flooring option just yet! Having wood floors with dogs can be a challenge, but with a little bit of planning, it definitely is possible.

We spoke at length to David Cribb, owner of Dodgson Floor & Window Coverings for the real answers to this topic. His insight was extremely helpful in putting together the list of the most durable hardwood options.

To help you in your search for the perfect hardwood option that fits all of your fluffy needs, we have created this helpful guide. In the first section, we cover seven different factors to consider when selecting your flooring, then we move into five of our favorite hardwood picks for pet owners.

Your Dog

The first thing to consider when installing hardwood flooring is, of course, the dogs. Are you a big dog or a small dog person? (Or both!) Is your dog high energy? Does he or she often tear around the house like a maniac, barking at who knows what? (I know mine does.) Obviously, the bigger your dog is, and the higher energy they are, the more likely they are to leave scratches and marks.

And let’s not forget about puppies. Having a cute little friend around the house is fun, but this family member comes with the risk of unwanted stains. Knowing how your particular dog could damage your floors is the first step in deciding on the best option for your home.

How does your dog react to hard wood floors

Hardness

When searching for a durable floor, the most important factor is the hardness of the wood. The harder the wood, the more durable and the more difficult to scratch. This makes intuitive sense, but how do you judge how hard the wood is? For this question, you should refer to the wood’s score on the Janka Hardness Scale, the industry standard for wood hardness.

This test measures how much force it takes to put a .444 inch steel ball halfway through the wood sample. For example, Douglas Fir has a Janka score of 660, while Brazilian Walnut (one of the hardest woods in flooring) has a score of 3,684! When selecting flooring, comparing these scores will give you a good idea of how well it will hold up under scratching nails. 

Prefinished vs. Unfinished Wood floors

Prefinished vs. Unfinished

Hardwood planks fall into two basic categories: prefinished and unfinished. Deciding which one will work best in your home is the next step in your flooring search. Prefinished planks have been sanded and treated by the manufacturer, while unfinished flooring must be finished and sanded on site. The most common finish applied by manufacturers to prefinished planks is an aluminum oxide finish, which gives the wood the highest level of durability and the longest lasting protection. Manufacturers typically apply 5-10 of these coats and cure them using UV light. Your dogs will have a much harder time scratching or staining prefinished floors.

However, prefinished flooring is more limited with respect to aesthetic details. For example, prefinished catalogues will have a more limited selection of wood species and board sizes. 

Additionally, it isn’t easy to change the look and feel of the wood once it’s installed. Aluminum oxide finish is extremely hard which means that refinishing or staining your floors will be a more challenging and time-consuming task. 

Unfinished planks, on the other hand, do not come with the super durable finish from the manufacturer, but they do allow you to install them precisely to your own taste and needs. There are plenty of finish options that can pet-proof unfinished floors. This simply requires a little extra planning. If you do go with the unfinished option, check out the next section which will guide you through choosing a finish to protect your floors.

Finish types

Finishing floors post-installation requires a fair amount of work. It can take anywhere from hours to days for a coat of finish to dry, depending on the type, so be ready to spend a few days away from home while the project is underway. The most important thing to remember when picking a finish is this: higher gloss finishes magnify scratches. Finishes like water-based polyurethane have a high sheen and are not preferable in a house with pets. On the other hand, oil-based polyurethane is durable, moisture resistant, and comes in several different levels of glossiness. The only downside to this oil-based option is that it contains a lot of Volatile Organic Compounds or VOCs.

These chemicals have a high vapor pressure at room temperature which means they become gases easily, and these gases are toxic to inhale in large quantities. The more VOCs a finish has, the longer you and your dog have to be away from home while the finish dries. The gold standard of finishes is acid-cured finish. While this finish does contain very high levels of VOCs, the result is worth the extended installation period. It highlights the natural beauty of the wood while providing a highly durable layer of protection that could last over 10 years. 

“Not all floors are finished the same”, explained David. “A floor that says lifetime finish is not necessarily talking about your lifetime with several children and lots of pets!” Many manufactures have a lot of broad statements and fine print in their warranties. You must do your homework.

Ease of Installation

As I mentioned in the previous section, the installation of hardwood floors is a labor and time intensive process. The time it takes to install a particular kind of flooring is an important consideration in your search for the perfect floor. As we have already seen, the finishing process for unfinished flooring requires days of work and curing before the floor is ready for people to walk on it. Moreover, many finishes require that you wait beyond installation before putting furniture back on the floors. During that time, the finish isn’t fully cured and will be more vulnerable to scratches. In addition, being away from home during the longer installation process could be stressful, especially if you own multiple pets. Prefinished floors, on the other hand, come sanded and finished, so you can walk on them pretty immediately after installation. When it comes to the installation process, there is no question that prefinished floors are quicker and less complicated, especially for pet owners. 

Hardwood Floor Instillation

Texture and Color

A simple way to keep your floors looking beautiful with pets is choosing the right wood texture and color. Even with the hardest wood possible and the most durable finish, there still is potential for scratching. One easy trick to minimize the visibility of scratches is to buy distressed hardwood flooring. These planks have a more weathered look, containing more knots and natural marks than other options. Some people love this rustic look, while others don’t prefer it. It really just comes down to taste.

Even if you aren’t drawn to the extremely rugged look of distressed wood, you may consider purchasing a wood species with stronger graining. The natural grain will help hide floor damage. As far as color is concerned, lighter colored woods tend to show scratches less. For example, oak is a lighter hardwood and makes great flooring for pet owners. 

Hardwood Floor Maintenance

Maintenance

The final consideration in your search for flooring as a pet owner is maintenance. How difficult is it to refinish the floors? How long before they need to be refinished? How do I keep my floors looking clean and beautiful? All of these questions are very important, especially for the dog owner. The first step to keeping your hardwood floors looking like new is to clean up all spills as soon as you see them. No matter how stain and water resistant your flooring is, hardwoods and moisture do not mix.

Make sure to place a tray under your dog’s water bowl to catch spills. The next step in protecting your hardwood is cleaning your dog’s feet. Your pets can track in dirt and rocks that will scratch and stain your floors. Making a habit of regularly sweeping your floors will limit the buildup of grit and other hard particles that can cause scratches. 

If you start to feel that your floors need a face lift, then it may be time for a refinishing job. One thing we haven’t covered yet in our discussion is engineered versus solid wood floors. Which should you pick? What’s the difference? The solid option is hardwood all the way through, while engineered wood is made up of a relatively thin layer of hardwood affixed to a layer of good-quality plywood.

As a pet owner, you should definitely go with solid wood, since engineered wood can usually only be sanded down once, whereas solid woods can be sanded and refinished multiple times. The life span of finishes varies considerably. Generally, the longer lasting and more durable options are more difficult to refinish. Some polyurethane finishes need to be touched up every few years, while the aluminum oxide finish lasts over 25 years! Whatever kind of floors you land on selecting, a little bit of intentional cleaning and the occasional refinishing job will go a long way in keeping your floors looking like new.

If you’re reading this post, you are probably in the midst of deciding on a hardwood floor option. You may feel overwhelmed by the vast choices on the market. You are not alone! This is one of the most common questions we get in the showroom, so we can help! Below are five solid picks for good looking hardwood that’s both durable  and pet friendly. 

Red Oak

This domestic hardwood is a common choice for homeowners who want a long-lasting, cost-effective option. This wood species is widely available and cheaper than many other options. While it isn’t the hardest wood on the market, it is hard enough to withstand your dogs. Red Oak has a stronger graining than many other oak species, making it an ideal choice for hiding pet scratches. Its lighter color contributes to its ability to hide damage. Additionally, the lightness of the wood matches the light color of wood finishes, meaning that scratches in the finish will be less obvious. When it comes to durable and affordable hardwoods, Red Oak is a solid option. 

Acacia

If you are looking for an exotic hardwood at a reasonable price, Acacia is a great option. It has strong, beautiful graining and is extremely hard, ranking above both oak and maple on the Janka scale. However, the thing that really makes Acacia stand out as a hardwood choice is its unique grain patterns. The patterning of the wood is rich and variable which gives you the freedom to select from an array of grain colors. Choose what you like! In addition to the aesthetic freedom provided by Acacia, it also has a natural wax coating, making it more resistant to moisture and easy to maintain. Giving your home a unique and beautiful atmosphere is easy with this exotic flooring. 

Acacia Wooden Flooring

Picture From Shaw Floors

Maple

If rough graining is not your preference, then Maple is a great choice. Its smooth grain and light coloring make it a great choice for homes with a minimalist design. This domestic hardwood is quite durable. Gym floors and bowling alleys are often made of it, so it can withstand your pets. In order to better show off the smoothness, many homeowners choose to purchase this species in wider board sizes. This creates a hardwood look that is both unique and refreshingly light. Moreover, its price is comparable to oak, so it won’t break the bank. If you love hardwood but want a lighter tone that will hold up against pet damage, Maple is the way to go.

maple floors protected from pets

Brazilian Walnut 

If you want darker flooring that won’t show all of your pet scratches, this exotic hardwood will do the trick. Brazilian Walnut is one of the hardest woods in the world, meaning that scrambling doggy paws will have a hard time scratching it. In addition, it has natural moisture resistance. Even if your floors eventually show some wear and tear, you can refinish this hardwood many times without ruining its natural look and feel. While it is a more expensive option, it is worth the investment since it will serve you and your family for years to come. 

Brazilian Walnut Hardwood Floors

Picture From Brazilian Hardwood Floors

Hickory 

Hickory is the hardest domestic wood on the market. If you want a visually interesting combination of wood grain and color, Hickory provides the perfect blend. The graining of the wood is typically darker while the rest of the wood has a lighter shade. The graining in Hickory is even stronger than Maple, so it will do a good job hiding scratches. Hickory takes stain very well, meaning you will have lots of color options whether you choose prefinished or unfinished planks. Because of the large selection of color options and variegated texture, Hickory is a highly versatile wood type. This kind of flooring ages well, retaining its original look for years. If you want to maximize both durability and style choices, you can’t go wrong with Hickory flooring.

When selecting floors for your home, hardwood flooring is always a great option. It provides both durability and aesthetic appeal. In addition, it increases the value of your home. While dogs can make life with hardwood floors more complicated, they are not a deal breaker. With a little bit of research and planning, you can effectively protect your flooring from your pets without sacrificing any of your style.