Can Pets and Hardwood Floors co-exist?
A new hardwood floor can add a significant amount of beauty and value to your home. However, many homeowners worry that their new floor will not survive once introduced to their four-legged family members. With rough housing, chewing, and accidents, there are multiple opportunities for your beloved pet to ruin your new investment. Ultimately, it comes down to choosing the right flooring and a few pet-care tips to keep your floors in the best-shape for as long as possible.
If you have ever owned a dog, you know the routine. Accidents happen, nails rip into hard surfaces looking for traction, eating areas turn into disaster areas, etc. All of which can wreak havoc on a hardwood floor. The acid in animal urine can damage the finish and the wood floor boards. Large, active dogs with long, sharp nails digging into hardwood can cause scratches and dents. Spilled food or water, when left for extended periods of time, can seep into hardwood plank seams and lead to unsightly water damage.
The good news is that there are easy solutions to rectify these problems and keep your new hardwood floor looking its best. Since hardwood flooring has a smooth surface, it actually makes the job of cleaning up after pets a lot easier than carpet, which can harbor a multitude of germs, urine and allergens that can go unnoticed and soak through the carpet into the pad making it difficult or impossible to remove.
Tips to Help Preserve your Hardwood Floor
Accidents can be prevented with proper training of your dog, and in the meantime training pads can be put down inside in places your dog is prone to having accidents. These training pads should have an absorbent surface and a plastic backing, preventing any liquids from traveling through the pad to the hardwood. If any accident on the hardwood does occur, make sure to clean it up right away or damage can occur.
To prevent scratches on your hardwood flooring, make sure your dog’s nails are routinely clipped or trimmed. This is especially important with larger breeds, as they will exert more pressure on the hardwood if they are running around or playing inside. Keep mats near doors leading to outside. Leave a towel by the door so you can easily wipe your dogs paws off after going outside.
To contain messes during meal-time, simple solutions include using a heavy, stable bowl for water to prevent spillage and having a durable, waterproof mat under food and water bowls to protect the hardwood underneath. Mats made of materials like rubber will also help to keep bowls from moving around, which could cause water spillage or scratching of the hardwood.
Recommended Hardwood Flooring Choices for Pets
Although no real hardwood floor is invincible, there are certain specifications you may want to keep in mind when it comes to choosing a hardwood floor for your pet friendly home.
Pre-finished Engineered Flooring – The biggest benefit of pre-finished flooring over site-finished wood flooring—is a harder, more durable finish. Most of the major manufacturers of hardwood flooring these days use an Aluminum Oxide finish. This includes minuscule flecks of aluminum oxide (which is what sand paper is made of) suspended in the layers of the finish, creating a stronger surface coating. Additionally, manufacturers are able to cure prefinished hardwood planks under UV lights, hardening the coats of finish even more. This gives prefinished hardwood flooring a bit of an edge over site finished flooring in the scratch department.
Color Choice – The color of the new hardwood flooring won’t prevent scratching from dogs’ nails, but it will work in your favor to more easily hide scratches and dents. Lighter wood species with a fair amount of graining like oak has a tendency to camouflage scratches and dents, so they are less noticeable than they would be on a wood species with little or no grain or a dark stained hardwood floor.
Surface Texture – Much like the coloring of your hardwood floor, surface texture can also help to hide scratches or dents caused by pets in your home. Hand-scraped flooring is becoming more popular in homes for the warmth and character it adds to a room, but since the surface is already textured, appearance of scratches and dents become minimized as compared to those on a smooth surface hardwood floor.
Hardwood Wood Species – Different wood species used in the production of hardwood flooring offer different levels of hardness. There are incredibly soft wood species, like American Cherry; and at the other end of the spectrum, there are incredibly hard wood species, like Brazilian Walnut. The hardness of a wood species will determine how drastic a dent will be if something hits the surface of the wood. Because American Cherry is one of the softest wood species available, it’s not recommended to be used in areas with heavier traffic (including areas where active pets may wander). Maple offers both a beneficial light color (as mentioned previously) and the hardness needed to stand up to busy households with pets. Other light colored and hard wood species you may want to consider are Hickory or White Oak.
If you’re looking to add hardwood to your home and not sure what type is best for your family, we can help. Schedule an appointment with one of our wood-flooring experts today and we can help guide you to the perfect choice to suit your lifestyle that will add value and beauty to your home for years to come.