Flooring for pets -- and their staff

Joan Fieldstone

December 22, 2015

By: Joan Fieldstone, Home Improv Advocate

In: FlooringInterior Design

I've lived most of my life with pets. When I was five years old, my parents came home from a trip with an adorable Cocker Spaniel puppy. Of course, we were hopeless at training him, and in an emotional family such as mine there was a lot of commotion when he did something he wasn't supposed to.

We lived in a split level home with a screened porch and patio. No one crated their dogs at the time, so when the dog messed, he had to stay either outside or someplace in the house that wasn't carpeted -- on the lower level where the den floor was covered in linoleum; in the kitchen, where the flooring was vinyl tile; or the bathrooms where there was porcelain tile. He also shed a lot, another trait my mother wasn't especially happy about.

After the Cocker Spaniel, my mother would never have another dog that shed. I don't recall any of them ever being allowed to sleep on the furniture or roam loose through the house when we weren't home. I'm surprised that with all Mom's worries about dirt and germs she wanted pets in the first place. But my she loved every one of the dogs - sometimes we even had two at a time.

My mother always had a housekeeper. Now that I have three cats and a dog, I understand how it's a full time job keeping the place clean with pets in residence. When I rescued my dog from the shelter three years ago, I was still working away from the house every day. After three months, I found I had to rip out the carpeting on the main level of the house. I replaced it with resilient vinyl plank flooring. Dog urine and carpeting don't mix.

My cats have their accidents occasionally, too, even when the litter box is pristine clean. What's a pet owner to do?

Best pet-friendly floors

I'm currently trying to decide on flooring for the upstairs bath and vanity areas. With the exception of the bathroom and laundry room floors that are cheap builder's grade sheet vinyl, the entire upstairs is carpeted, as well as the staircase. I'd love to replace all of the carpeting, but for now, I'm just shopping for the vanity and bath areas.

Porcelain can be a great choice with pets. It's easy to keep clean and waterproof if installed properly. Wood will stain and swell from pet urine. It also retains odors. If you have pets, you want to avoid hardwood floors unless they are coated in urethane. However, if you love the look of wood, the popular new porcelain tiles that look like wood are a great option.

Some of the harder bamboo flooring is the way to go if you want a green product. Be sure to look for sustainably grown bamboo, FSC-certified.

Finally, vinyl plank flooring that looks like either tile or wood like the Allure Ultra product available from The Home Depot forms a waterproof floor that resists scratches and pet poo and puddles. It looks great and is super easy to keep clean. And unlike tile, it has some give, so it's easier on your feet, legs and back. It's also not as cold or slippery as tile for the fur babies to lie, run, or play on.

When it comes to living with pets, you make some sacrifices.

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