Best Flooring for Pets: A Complete Guide

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best flooring for pets - a complete guide

When it is time to replace your flooring, one consideration a lot of people overlook is their pets. Our floors serve several purposes, and aesthetics is only part of the equation. We also take into consideration the comfort level, which should extend to our pets.

This article will cover the best flooring options for homes with pets, and give you several factors to consider when choosing the right flooring solution for your home. I will also cover some floor types to avoid and teach you how to care for your new floor.

The Best Flooring Options for Homes with Pets

The comfort of our fur-babies when it comes to flooring is best suited with these options:

  • Luxury Vinyl Plank. LVP is rugged, textured and waterproof.
  • Natural Stone or Tile. Cool, low maintenance options for padded feet.
  • Laminate. Stain resistant and low cost, low maintenance solution.
  • Engineered Hardwood. Simple installation with easy cleaning and lasting looks.
  • Carpeting. Surprise! The right carpet may be your best option.

Considerations When Buying Flooring with Your Pets in Mind

buying flooring with your pets in mind

Before you head out and just buy any new flooring, there are several factors you should think about first. Below is a brief overview and explanation for these factors.

Type of Pet

The type of pet you have (or pets!) will be a big factor in the type of flooring you need to consider. Different animals have different needs.

Dogs and cats are fairly similar, however, each has their own special needs or restrictions.  Cats can knead and claw at carpet, for example, where dogs may scratch laminates. 

If you have other pets, like rabbits, reptiles or birds, they will need special consideration as well.

Age of Pet

The age of your pet is also a factor. Younger animals are able to adapt better than older pets. You may need a floor with more cushion of forgiveness for elderly pets.

However, young pets can easily live a life with firmer, more sturdy surfaces.

Stage of Pet Training

Another pet factor is the stage of training.  If you are house training or litter box training your pet, absorbent flooring may not be the best option.  You will also need to factor in stain and odor resistance, ease of maintenance and cleaning requirements.

Likewise, if your pet is housebroken or fully trained, you can get away with more options that may not be as “pet-friendly” to younger, accident prone paws.

Floor Types Available

It will also help to know the various floor types going in. Keeping your options open in the beginning and narrowing down as you consider these factors will greatly help your chances of finding that ideal flooring type.

You may not need to know subtypes, for example all the variations of carpet, pile, thickness and material, but it will help. You should also know the differences between laminate and vinyl, tile, linoleum, stone and any other flooring type you come across in your research.

Installation Methods

How the floors will be installed is another factor. This angles more towards your free time and budget. DIY floors like LVP and engineered wood are ideal for saving money.

Flooring like carpet, or tile, though, may require special tools and professional installation. Determining how much you want to be involved as well as how much you are willing to spend for someone else to install for you are always going to be major considerations.

Additional Features

You will also want to check your flooring type for additional features. Things such as odor protection, stain resistance and topical treatments to prevent chewing or training accidents may be worth the additional cost they bring.

However, each one needs to be considered separately with cost, benefit and maintenance all factored in.

Cost and Warranty

Finally, you will want to know how much you are spending for the flooring solution. Not only the cost of materials, but the cost of installation and time as well.

The more a flooring costs (in general, but not always),  the better the warranty and the longer it will last . If your budget is smaller, you can get a decent floor, but you may be doing this cycle again sooner than you want.

Check the warranties carefully, too. Many flooring options offer long-term warranties of up to 20 to 30 years. Some even offer a lifetime warranty. However, if you read the warranty details closely, you may find that some options are void if you have pets, or do the installation yourself.

Make sure you know every aspect of the floor, its cost and the warranty before you make a purchase.

The Best Flooring Options for Pets

the best flooring options for pets

Below, I have outlined the best flooring types for homes with pets. Each one is reviewed and compared and with your pets in mind. Read through the list and find your next flooring solution.

1. Luxury Vinyl Plank (LVP)

LVP is one of the most affordable, low maintenance and pet friendly flooring solutions on the market. With over two dozen brands and upwards of 200 styles to choose from, you can easily find the perfect look.

The biggest draw to LVP is how easy it is to install. The DIY floating flooring solution provides you with a long-life floor that holds up to stains, pets, regular cleaning, high traffic and even water.

Most LVP is  100% waterproof , allowing you to focus on training your new puppy and not having to overreact when accidents happen.

The planks also come smooth or textured, which is great for pets. Textured flooring gives older animals something to grip to when walking or rounding a corner. This helps prevent slipping and falls which can turn into injuries.

LVP also  has great climate dispersing, which helps it stay cooler in hot weather and warmer in cold weather . Your pets will love to lay out flat when their temperature needs adjusting.

You will also love how easy LVP is to maintain. With regular sweeping and mopping the floor will maintain its look and durability for years to come.

However, if planks do get damaged, they cannot easily be repaired. This means that you will need to replace the individual plank by pulling up flooring to that section. Luckily, this isn’t a common occurrence.

ProsCons
100% WaterproofNot easily repaired
Textured for gripMay be too hard for larger pets
Stays cooler in warm weather 
Low maintenance 

2. Natural Stone or Tile

Stone and tile floors are some of the most sought-after when it comes to our pets. There are a lot of benefits to having these harder, colder floors in our homes. There are several negative aspects as well, though.

While stone and tile are  easily 100% waterproof , that isn’t everything. However, your home can flood and stone or tile would most likely remain undamaged. The problem is that they are smooth.

For animals who run around the house or like to play around, the potential for slipping and falling are greater. Rounding a corner can easily result in larger dogs having their rear legs go out from under them and slamming their hips into the hard surface. For older pets, this can mean serious injury.

The floors stay cold, though and this can help your pets stay cool. They will love to lay and stretch out on the colder surface to cool their bellies and paws.

Tile is easily stained though, with or without pets. Colored foods and liquids, muddy footprints, and other staining items like sprays and chemicals, can all leave their mark. For this reason, natural stone and tile floors are higher in care and maintenance than other floor types.

One of the biggest drawbacks, though, is that these floors almost always require professional installation. Unless you are heavy into DIY projects, the cost of installation may put you over budget.

The  good news is that you can repair these floors, they are easy to clean and have long warranties . When installed, tile and stone can also produce some of the most beautifully aesthetic flooring on the market, subjective, of course.

ProsCons
Stays coolHard and not forgiving
Long warrantiesNot usually textured
More easily repaired than other flooring optionsMay require professional installation
Eye-pleasing style 

3. Laminate

Laminate is quite similar to LVP.  Laminate planks are simple to install, last for decades and can bring warmth and beauty to your home. 

The main issues with laminate planks is that they are never 100% waterproof. Because of their wood and fiber filled core layers, water-resistant is all you will get.

You will notice that there are some laminate brands marketed as waterproof. However, also note that this is not the individual planks, and only for sections not with an exposed edge (like around your baseboards).

Laminate doesn’t need to be mounted to a subfloor, either. Like  LVP it is an interlocking plank system that is considered free-floating . It is also highly durable. Depending on the AC rating of the laminate, high traffic areas and pets are no real match for the planks.

Laminate, because of its fiber core, is softer to walk on, which most pets enjoy. The forgiveness underfoot makes the floors among the most comfortable to walk on. Larger, heavier pets will enjoy laying on them.

Laminate has another downside, though, and that is the ability for it to hold stains. Because you can’t repair laminate (again, like LVP), you need to be on top of any spills, messes or accidents before they have time to set or dry.

ProsCons
Soft under footNot 100% waterproof
Great wear protectionCan stain easier than other flooring
15+ year warranties 
DIY Installation 

4. Engineered Hardwood

Engineered hardwood is a mixture of hardwood flooring and LVP. It has all the advantages of hardwood, without all of the pitfalls. Mixing style with durability,  engineered hardwood is one of the best floors for pets .

Like laminate and LVP, engineered hardwood comes in planks that lock together. It is simple to install and can be quite water resistant. The top layer is natural hardwood, so you do get the feel, texture and appearance of actual hardwood.

However, because it is a layered core, there are a few downsides. Mainly the planks are near impossible to repair. They might crack or split or become uneven. In most situations, the homeowners leave these new imperfections as it adds to the look of the natural flooring.

However, pets may have a more difficult time with it. Claws can get in the separations and lifting edges are a trip hazard.

Hardwood, though, is a great way to add warmth to a room without raising the temperature. It is mid-range in cost, and comes in several styles, widths and colors.

You will find that  engineered hardwood has a great warranty and holds up under heavy foot traffic . As long as you don’t confuse engineered hardwood with natural hardwood, you will have an ideal flooring that fits your home and does well with pets.

ProsCons
DIY InstallationHigher maintenance than other options
Keeps cooler in warm weatherHigher cost than other planks
Lengthy warranties available 

5. Carpet (Low-Pile)

When doing your research you will come across a lot of people telling you to stay away from carpeting with pets when shopping for new flooring. However, it is actually a great flooring solution.

The carpet itself, along with the  padding underneath make it the softest and most forgiving flooring option available . It isn’t without its risks, though.

Carpets, and in particular the carpet pad, are easily stained. The pad can hold odors and may need to be replaced if pet accidents become an issue. For this reason, it isn’t recommended as a new flooring solution when you are house-training.

However, all animals do well on carpet. Young and old alike, the soft flooring is comfortable to walk on and lay on, it provides traction and doesn’t promote slips and falls.

Each pet is different, though. Dogs can chew and cats can claw at carpeting, especially around the baseboards. However, this is a training issue that can be prevented or eliminated.

Carpeting generally doesn’t have as long of a warranty as the hard flooring solutions above, but they aren’t too bad, either. There is more cleaning and maintenance involved, too. However, the biggest drawback is that carpet requires professional installation.

Looking beyond that, though, and you have a soft, durable solution that can match any décor in almost any room.

ProsCons
Inexpensive solutionRequires professional installation
Soft and forgivingHigh maintenance
No slips or falls 

Proper Care and Maintenance Tips

maintenance tips

Regardless of which flooring option you go with, you will need to take care of it. Proper cleaning and maintenance are an essential part of having floors.

For carpet, regular vacuuming is required. You will also need to spot treat any stains, accident areas or spills. You should also invest in regular steam cleanings and carpet shampooing to keep the carpet clean, deodorized and fresh.

For hard flooring surfaces, a sweep and damp mop are generally all you need. Some floor types will require special cleaners to protect the surface layers. You should also avoid true wet mops on floors that aren’t waterproof.

If you have flooring that is attached to the subfloor with glue or adhesives, steam mopping should never be performed. However, damp mops and dust mops are ideal for most situations. If you have accidents, spills or messes, they need to be cleaned up or treated right away, no matter how “proof” the flooring is.

We recently did an article on the best brands of carpet.

Flooring for Cats Vs. Flooring for Dogs

flooring for cats vs flooring for dogs

While I am not ignoring other pets, cats and dogs are the most affected by our flooring. Most other pets, such as hamsters, gerbils, reptiles and rabbits spend more time in tanks or cages than on our floors.

Cats and dogs, though, have varying needs and you should consider closely which floor type works best for your pet. Using the considerations listed above you should have a good idea of the floor type you need or want.

Let’s take a quick look at the ideal floor types for cats and dogs, specifically, though.

Cats do well on most floor types, however the best options are:

  • LVP. Due to the waterproof and stain resistance, LVP is the top pick for homes with cats.
  • Engineered hardwood. This floor type is more expensive, but holds up well to the pouncing and clawing done by cats.
  • Laminate is an option if your cat or cats are fully litter box trained. Because it can stain, though, it is the least advised of this group.

For dogs, the top choices are a little different.

  • LVP is still the top choice. It just has too many positive aspects to be ignored.
  • Carpeting is also ideal, especially for older or larger dogs who may need the added padding.
  • Laminate is also great with the exception of a new puppy still being house broken.

Flooring Options to Stay Away From

While you can make an argument for or against almost any floor type, there are a few you should stay away from when you have your pets in mind.

Marble isn’t a good choice as it is highly expensive, and not forgiving at all. Claws can scratch the surface and maintenance is high. Unless your pet never touches the ground, marble isn’t a good option.

Hardwood should also be avoided. Unlike engineered hardwood, traditional hardwood can stain, crack and is quite pricey. While it does look great, it isn’t waterproof, can stain or become discolored easily and training pets on it is difficult.

Laminate or vinyl sheets should also be avoided. Unlike the plank variations listed in this article, the sheet style flooring is quite thin, easily tears or rips and can be difficult to maintain. Because it isn’t thick, it offers no cushion and requires glue and adhesives for installation.

Frequently Asked Questions

best flooring for pets faqs

Here, I will answer some of the more commonly asked questions from people about the best flooring for pets. If you have further questions, please look for the comment section below the article.

Q. Are there better options for flooring than what is on this list?

  1. A point can be made for all flooring types, and you will ultimately need to go with what works best for you. This list was made with lots of research and took into account hidden variables such as cost, availability and functionality.

If you aren’t happy with these choices, you can also look for cork or bamboo flooring. While more difficult to maintain and harder to find at affordable prices, these two options are great for homes with dogs and cats for their antibacterial and stain fighting properties.

Q. What is the best flooring option for pet urine?

  1. stone and tile offer the best protection against pet urine. They won’t stain and are easily cleaned up, even if the urine is dry. They also don’t hold the odors which can lead to more frequent accidents.

LVP is also a great option, as long as you pay a little more for the 100% waterproof vinyl and not the cheaper styles that are only water resistant.

Q. Which floor type is ideal for cats?

  1. Cats like to scratch, knead and claw at all things, including the floor. For this reason, as well as the possibility of spraying or accidents, stone and tile make the best flooring option. Neither will stain easily, hold odors or be damaged by clawing.

You will also find that stone and tile are easily cleaned and maintained, though they do cost more because of the required professional installation needs.

Q. Will having pets void my new floor warranty?

  1. It can, but in general instances, it isn’t likely. You will need to read the warranty agreement and fine print to be sure, but in almost every case, pets fall under the normal wear and tear sections.

However, keep in mind that chewing damage, clawing damage or even urine stains will fall outside these parameters and won’t be covered by your warranty.

Conclusion

There isn’t a single “pet-proof” flooring option available. With each floor type there will be good things and negative aspects that need to be considered.

This article aimed to show you what to look for when shopping for a new floor and gave you the best options for floors in homes with pets. Hopefully, you are better prepared to start your shopping, armed with considerations and the right questions to ask to get the ideal floor for your specific needs.

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AUTHOR

Nora has more than 5 years experience in the floor covering industry, acquiring vast knowledge about installation and material selection. She now enjoys working as a writer and an interior decorator. Her work has been featured in The Spruce, Homes & Gardens, Southern Living and Real Homes. See full biography here.

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