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Which Wood Floor Options are Best for Dog-Friendly Homes?

Which Wood Floor Options are Best for Dog-Friendly Homes?
We don’t recommend wooden floors if you have dogs. But if you’re going to buy wood anyway, here’s what to choose and how to care for it.

While we’re unabashed dog lovers, as our several Golden retrievers can attest, we can’t recommend wooden floors as a top choice for dog-friendly homes. Even if you’re wiling to constantly trim their claws, your dogs are still going to gouge your finish and they’re not going to stay on your area rugs and runners, no matter how many treats you offer them.

If you’re lucky enough to own a dog, the best floors aren’t going to feature an ounce of wood; we’d recommend materials like vinyl, tile, stone, or carpet instead. But if your heart is set on wood the way it’s set on your four-legged friend, you’ll want to read this article to figure out which woods stand the best odds of keeping up with your dogs. All of our recommendations are as hard as wood gets, per the Janka hardness scale, the standard way of measuring wood toughness.

Consider Brazilian hardwoods – ipe, ironwood, or walnut is a top choice

Which Wood Floor Options are Best for Dog-Friendly Homes?
Brazil is beautiful, and the wood from this country is about as good as it gets for scratch resistance.

If you’re looking for dog-proof hardwood, Brazilian walnut, also known as ironwood or ipe, is about as good as it gets. With a Janka rating of around 3,684 lbf, there are very few examples of solid wood more resistant to gouging.

That said, you can choose from any of the Brazilian hardwoods without sacrificing quality; it’s really about your personal tastes and budget. Ipe in particular can even be found on outdoor decks due to its reputation for durability. When it entered the North American flooring scene some years ago, it commanded high-end prices as a high-end wood. These days, however, it’s dropped in price enough to be reasonably affordable if durable, pet-proof wood is your priority.

Domestically, look to hard maple for high Janka ratings

Which Wood Floor Options are Best for Dog-Friendly Homes?
A good domestic alternative is the maple tree native to the northern US and Canada.

If you don’t want wood shipped from faraway forests and jungles but do want toughness grown a little closer to home, you’ll want to consider hard maple. While the Janka rating isn’t as high–it’s typically around 1,450 lbf for either hard or sugar maple–it’s still strong enough to work for pet traffic; it’s been used for decades as a basketball court floor. That said, if you have particularly heavy dogs or dogs prone to digging behaviors on your floors, you can see some gouging over time. Fortunately, you’ll typically be able to sand it out.

What characteristics does wood need for durability in a dog-friendly home?

Which Wood Floor Options are Best for Dog-Friendly Homes?
If you’re going to choose wood, here’s what’s important, regardless of which species you choose.

If you want to use wood in a home with dogs, you’ll want it, ideally, to be pre-finished, to be an actual hardwood instead of a soft wood, and to be made from solid instead of engineered wood. Let’s look at these three factors in detail.

First of all, pre-finished hardwood floors are those that arrive at your home already sealed and stained with urethane to make them highly resistant to scratches, dings, and gouging. The alternative is site-finished or unfinished wood, which will be more water-resistant but less scratch-resistant.

Second, actual hardwoods are essential because you need woods that are “hard” to stand up to scratches. Soft woods, in contrast, simply aren’t going to resist dog claws for long, no matter how much they’re prepared with sealing and staining. Maple and oak are examples of hard woods; pine and fir are examples of soft woods.

Which Wood Floor Options are Best for Dog-Friendly Homes?
Stay away from engineered wood if you ever want to sand your floors.

Finally, you need solid hardwood and not engineered wood flooring. The reason here is because hardwood can be sanded dozens of times while retaining its structural integrity. Engineered flooring, in contrast, can only be sanded once in many cases before exposing the plywood base. If you never plan to sand away scratches, this won’t be a problem. But if you do, you’ll want solid wood and not engineered wood, which is really a hardwood veneer atop a mountain of plywood.

If wood isn’t the best choice for dog-friendly flooring, which floors are?

Which Wood Floor Options are Best for Dog-Friendly Homes?
Overall, carpet is probably the best compromise for durability and comfort.

If we’ve convinced you at this point to choose a flooring besides wood, you might be wondering which options are actually recommended for pet-friendly homes. For us, the answers are simple: carpet, tile, and vinyl, with stone if you have a taste for the exotic. While each of these floors still has its disadvantages, they collectively offer the best blend of durability, aesthetics, and comfort for humans and dogs alike in our books. Carpet, in particular, will give you by far the best reduction in allergens if anyone in your home is allergic to your dogs.

Which vacuum cleaners do the best job of cleaning pet hair from wooden floors?

Which Wood Floor Options are Best for Dog-Friendly Homes?
A Parquet head is the best way to care for a wooden floor, particularly one ravaged by dog claws.

When it comes to removing pet hair from floors, there are two types of cleaning heads you’re going to want for your vacuum: a Parquet head and an electric brush head. The Parquet head is essential for cleaning bare floors efficiently, as the brushes will both polish the floors while removing pet fur and hair instead of simply blowing or pushing it around with air currents.

Which Wood Floor Options are Best for Dog-Friendly Homes?
And if you want whole-house cleaning, the aptly named Cat & Dog is your vacuum.

An electric brush head isn’t necessary for bare floors, but it’s by far the best way to clean carpeted floors, and since most homeowners with pets aren’t going to have bare floors exclusively in their homes, it makes sense to have one machine capable of tackling both floor types at once. Unfortunately, there are relatively few machines on the market that include both cleaning heads. Two exceptions are the Miele Complete C3 Cat & Dog (reviewed here and here) and Miele Compact C2 Electro+ (reviewed here and here). Between the two, we prefer the Cat & Dog due to its larger cleaning capacity and the additional powered mini brush that makes cleaning fur from upholstery much easier. However, either will do an excellent job on all flooring types and help you win the war against your four-legged shedders.

You  can buy the Miele Complete C3 Cat & Dog here on Amazon or buy the Miele Compact C2 Electro+ here.

Canadians can buy the Miele C3 Cat & Dog here or buy the Compact Electro+ here.

If you find our research on PMC helpful, you can follow our efforts to keep maniacally reviewing home cleaning tools by shopping through our links above. We promise to keep fighting the good fight against every horror children, animals, and grown, yet messy humans can inflict upon a clean home.

The 4 Best Dog-Friendly Floors and Pet-Proof Vacuums

The 3 Best Dog-Friendly Floors and Pet-Proof Vacuums
We’ll walk you through the pros and cons of the most commonly chosen pet-friendly floors.

While there’s no doubt that having pets–and dogs in particular–are good for the mind, body, and soul, it’s equally fair to say that they can be somewhat destructive, particularly when it comes to floors and upholstery. While we can’t help you train your dog to stop licking your couch, we can recommend floors that are more likely to make both your dogs and you happy.

It’s important to remember that both of your needs matter: as a person, you’ll primarily be interested in floors that are easy to clean and that aren’t easily scratched. It’ s also nice if they don’t carry sound very far. Your dog will primarily be interested in traction; this will become particularly important as he or she ages, as older dogs are more likely to have trouble getting up from lying positions. Today we’ll look at which floors are best for dogs and their owners as well as which vacuums will give you the best odds of keeping up with fur, dander, and everything else your dogs leave behind.

Vinyl floors – cheap, durable, and just enough traction

The 3 Best Dog-Friendly Floors and Pet-Proof Vacuums
Vinyl is plastic, and plastic is durable, if not pretty.

Vinyl floors work well for dogs because they’ll keep them cool in the summer without overheating them in the winter. More importantly, they’ll also give your dogs enough traction to move across floors without slipping and sliding, even when the floors are wet. They’ll work well for you because they’re inexpensive and can easily be installed without professional help. Similarly, because vinyl is just about everywhere, you’ll have good odds of finding it for cheap. And when it comes to durability, vinyl is one of the best options on the market today.

Ceramic and porcelain tiles – easy to clean, waterproof, but potentially slick

The 3 Best Dog-Friendly Floors and Pet-Proof Vacuums
Ceramic is gorgeous but it can be slippery.

Ceramic and porcelain tiles are a mixed bag for dogs. On one hand, they’re going to be cool and comfortable all year long for dogs, but on the other, they’re going to be slippery when wet. Older dogs in particular are more likely to struggle with them if they’re highly polished. If you choose tile, make sure your grout lines are thick; these will give your dogs the traction they need to stay upright throughout their lives.

Tiles will work well for humans because they’re completely waterproof (hence why bathtubs and dishes are made from porcelain and ceramics), because they only take seconds to clean, and because they require next to no maintenance. The cement board underlayment in tile also means they aren’t going to transfer sounds from clicking paws and and claws, making them a particularly quiet floor.

Carpets – super comfortable, lots of traction, but tougher to clean

The 3 Best Dog-Friendly Floors and Pet-Proof Vacuums
Carpets win on comfort but lose on cleanability.

Dogs love carpets. They’re comfortable for puppies,provide sensory stimulation for active adults, and are comforting to senior dogs while offering a natural scratching surface for play and exploration. Carpets will also provide more traction for dogs of all ages and sizes than any other flooring option on the market, even when wet, and even when your dogs lose muscle strength  or coordination in their later years. And from a human perspective, there isn’t a floor more comfortable than carpeting, regardless of which pile or style you choose. Carpets are also by far the best choice for allergy sufferers, as they trap allergens in their fibers with a greater efficiency than any air purifier on the market.

Carpets will also keep a far more even temperature throughout the year than any bare floor while providing a sense of reassurance and coziness that you just won’t get from any other floor covering. Kids play on carpets; it’s where life happens. But carpets will also be the most difficult surface to clean, as the very fibers that make them inviting to humans and pets alike are also the ones that make it hard to remove dog and cat stains in addition to fur. Be sure to choose a good carpet cleaner (we recommend the Bissell Big Green) and vacuum cleaner (we share our recommendations below) if you choose carpeting.

Hardwood and engineered wood – attractive, scratchable, and sometimes sandable

The 3 Best Dog-Friendly Floors and Pet-Proof Vacuums
Wooden floors are a mixed bag when it comes to longevity.

Finally we come to hardwood and engineered wood floors. Dogs will appreciate both because they keep a more even temperature through the year than most bare floors due to being made from organic materials. They’ll also appreciate the increased traction they get from them compared to most synthetic floors, particularly when wet.

You’ll appreciate their beauty, charm, and the increased resale value they offer your home. However, you won’t appreciate how readily they can be scratched by your dogs. And while you can resand solid hardwood several times to buff out scratches, you can only do that once or twice with engineered wood before you’re staring at a plywood floor instead of whatever veener you originally paid for.

Which floor is the best compromise for dog and human needs?

The 3 Best Dog-Friendly Floors and Pet-Proof Vacuums
Overall, we’d choose carpets or vinyl if we had to pick two.

As you can see, it’s not so easy to find a floor that makes both dogs and their human companions happy; dog-friendly floors tend to be less fancy and not nearly as durable as human-preferred floors. Ultimately, we’d recommend either carpeting or vinyl as the best compromises for dog owners. While both floors have their flaws, they offer the best odds of making both humans and their four-legged friends happy.

Which vacuums are best suited for cleaning homes with cats and dogs?

The 3 Best Dog-Friendly Floors and Pet-Proof Vacuums
And when it comes to vacuuming, we’d buy a Miele Cat & Dog and call it a day.

When it comes to cleaning up after cats and dogs, we recommend two specific tools that are hard to find on the same vacuum: a Parquet head for efficient cleaning of bare floors and an electric brush head to effectively power through carpets of all piles and styles. Two of the few vacuums that include both cleaning heads are the Miele Complete C3 Cat & Dog (reviewed here and here) and Miele Compact C2 Electro+ (reviewed here and here). We prefer the Cat & Dog due to its larger cleaning capacity and the inclusion of a mini powered brush for removing pet hair from upholstery, but if you’re on a smaller budget, the Electro+ will clean bare and carpeted floors just as well.

You  can buy the Miele Complete C3 Cat & Dog here on Amazon or buy the Miele Compact C2 Electro+ here.

Canadians can buy the Miele C3 Cat & Dog here or buy the Compact Electro+ here.

If you find our research on PMC helpful, you can follow our efforts to keep maniacally reviewing home cleaning tools by shopping through our links above. We promise to keep fighting the good fight against every horror children, animals, and grown, yet messy humans can inflict upon a clean home.