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The best flooring for dogs and other four-legged friends is, among other things, durable. Popular varieties of beautiful hardwood and luxurious wool carpets don’t stand up well to daily wear and tear, so if you’ve fantasized about filling your home with high-maintenance flooring, you might want to think twice.
“One of the biggest problems with pets is their nails,” says Ebeth Pitman, director of brand development and marketing at Armstrong Flooring. Even well-trimmed nails can gouge hardwood and snag carpet. Muddy paws and pets thats are not yet housebroken are also a bad match for carpeting. Stains and smells can be impossible to remove, even with the best industrial-strength cleaners.
Still, that doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice style for durability—as long as you choose your surfaces wisely. Here are some flooring options that will keep both you and your furry pals happy.
Poured and sealed concrete
Concrete resists scratches of all kinds, is easy to clean in case of accidents, and doesn’t collect pet fur. Plus, it gives off a stylish industrial vibe that’s all the rage right now. The downside is that it’s hard and can be quite cold in the winter. If you live in a chilly climate, radiant floor heating is an option. Another easy way to soften concrete floors and add warmth is to cover them with inexpensive, easy-to-wash rugs.
Tile is another great option for people with pets: It’s durable and easy to clean. Although, if you have animals with serious bladder control issues, keeping the grout clean might be a challenge. But for most pet owners, tile is a smart, liquid-proof surface with tons of different design options. If you’re dreaming of wood floors but don’t want to risk it, consider faux-wood tiles.
Luxury vinyl is another fantastic option for pet owners set on keeping their floors pristine.
“They’re highly durable, long-lasting, and resistant to moisture, scratches, and dents,” says Pitman. Plus, they diminish that “click-click” sound your pets’ nails make on the floor. Stylewise, vinyl has come a long way. Most vinyl floor tiles and planks are designed to mimic stone or wood patterns. And it’s affordable!
Laminate is another artificial wood product that’s extremely strong: The sealant layer on laminate makes it scratch- and scuff-proof, though it canbe damaged by liquids if they’re left to sit for long. Laminate is less expensive than wood, concrete, or most tile. The only potential issue with this type of flooring is that the layer that protects the laminate is very slippery and can have your pet skidding all over the place. If you’re going to go with laminate, consider a finish with some texture to help your buddies get traction.
If you absolutely must have hardwood floors
Pets don’t have to dash your dreams of a hardwood-filled home. If you’re willing to live with the real thing, you still have options.
“Hardwood floors and dogs can live in harmony, with a few rules,” says Pitman. She recommends making sure dog nails are trimmed frequently and messes are wiped up immediately. Consider engineered hardwood with the most scratch-resistant finish available. Go for the hardest wood you can find such as teak, mesquite, or hard maple. Wood with a matte or low-gloss look will do a better job at hiding scratches. And be sure to finish your floor with a scratch-resistant finish.
Another option? Distressed or reclaimed wood. It’s supposed to look scratched, so any blemishes caused by pets just add to its beauty. Right?
If you absolutely must have carpet
Carpet adds a cozy look to bedrooms and family rooms, so it’s no wonder that it’s still a popular option for many homes. If you can’t live without it, consider installing carpet specifically designed to resist pet stains and odors. Choose a nonwhite neutral that won’t show dirt as quickly, and vacuum frequently to keep fur from building up (or invest in a robot vacuum to do the cleaning for you).
Carpet tiles are another good choice if you live with pets. The tiles are easy to remove for cleaning, and if one is damaged beyond repair, you only have to replace a single tile, not the entire carpet.
This post was originally published at Realtor.com.