8 Great Pet-Friendly Flooring Options

Posted on Friday, July 2, 2021

Last week, we talked about how to clean up pet accidents on carpet, hardwood, and other types of flooring. And as promised, this week we’re following up with a look at some of the most pet-friendly flooring options for your home (or pet-friendly business).

It’s not hard to see that some flooring options stand up better to life with pets than others — in particular, waterproof or at least water-resistant flooring is likely to fare better than more easily stained or soiled varieties. But stain-resistance isn’t the only key to pet-friendly flooring — and of those that do claim to be water- and stain-resistant, which is the best choice for you and your pets?

Two puppies on stone tile floor. Photo by Elena Mozhvilo on Unsplash.
"You're going to get us a nice new floor to play on, right? Right!"

Things to Keep in Mind When Looking for Pet-Friendly Flooring Options

1. Accidents

We wrote a whole post on this topic last week (How to Get Dog or Cat Pee out of Carpet, Hardwood or Other Flooring, so we’re not going to go into too much depth on it this time, because there’s only so much of anyone’s work week that they want to spend reading or writing about pee, unless perhaps they’re a urologist. Plus, there are related issues of tracked-in mud, spills from food and water bowls, hairballs, etc.

For now, suffice to say that resistance to stains, smells and moisture is at the top of most pet owners’ minds when looking for pet-friendly flooring. 

2. Scratches

Another big concern is scratch resistance. Even if your flooring is water-resistant, if it’s not durable enough, your pets’ nails may mark it up and leave it looking dingy and worn. This is especially the case with dogs, as their claws don’t retract like cats’ claws do, though cats can also be a menace to carpet if they decide it’s a good thing to sharpen their claws on. 

Of course, keeping your pets’ nails trimmed helps with that, but even so, scratch-resistant flooring is a good idea. 

And by the way — no matter how much you love your carpet, please don’t declaw your pets! Many people don’t realize this, but it actually involves removing the tips of their toes, not just the claws. It’s very painful, and can leave animals with lifelong walking problems, chronic pain, and increased levels of aggression, biting and peeing in inappropriate places (I know, here we go talking about pee again…). It’s inhumane, and in the long run causes more problems than it solves.

3. Shedding and Dander

Another consideration, especially if anyone in your household has asthma or allergies, is choosing flooring that’s easy to keep clean and won’t harbour pet dander or become clogged with shed fur. We won’t be going into much detail about that here, because we just wrote an article on that a few weeks ago — see Best Flooring Options for Asthma & Allergies for the full story on allergy-friendly flooring.

4. Sound insulation

Another concern for many people, especially if you have downstairs neighbours, is sound absorption. Some kinds of flooring make the clack-clack-clack of dogs’ claws highly audible, while others provide varying levels of sound insulation to muffle not only claw-clicking but also barking and meowing.

5. Slipperiness

Finally, there’s the issue of how slippery your flooring is. This is particularly a concern with elderly pets, especially dogs. Arthritis, disc problems, hip dysplasia and other issues can cause them to have trouble navigating slippery floors. 

There are a number of things you can do to help your senior pet avoid slipping, but from a flooring perspective, choosing less slippery flooring types, or adding area rugs and stair or hallway runners, is a good idea.

Torlys RigidWood Firm Premier waterproof luxury vinyl flooring, in Skyline
Torlys RigidWood Firm Premier waterproof luxury vinyl flooring, in Skyline. Luxury vinyl is one of the best pet-friendly flooring options!

The Top 5 Pet-Friendly Flooring Options

So what are the best pet-friendly flooring options? Read on to find out!

1. Luxury Vinyl

Luxury Vinyl planks and tiles are a great pet-friendly flooring option. They’re very durable, super easy to clean, water-resistant (some types are even fully waterproof), offer better traction than many other hard flooring types, and may even have some degree of sound absorption, depending on the type you choose. And while the vinyl flooring of the past may have looked tacky, today’s luxury vinyl flooring is available in a vast array of patterns and shades, many of which look nearly identical to wood, stone or tile. 

Avoid sheet vinyl — it tends to have a thinner wear layer than planks or tiles. So rigid luxury vinyl planks and tiles with a thick wear layer are your best bet — and some varieties offer excellent waterproofing. Torlys’s EverTile, EverWood, RigidTile and RigidWood collections, for example, are 100% waterproof when correctly installed. We have some examples from these lines in the luxury vinyl section of our web site.

Marmoleum Striato Textura flooring in Rocky Ice
Marmoleum Striato Textura flooring in Rocky Ice — eco-friendly and pet-friendly

2. Marmoleum

Marmoleum — Forbo’s updated version of traditional, naturally-based linoleum — offers most of the same virtues as luxury vinyl, with the added benefit of being one of the most eco-friendly flooring options around. 

Marmoleum is made from 97% natural, 72% renewable and 43% recycled raw materials (no, those don’t add up to 100%, but that’s because many of the ingredients fall into more than one of those categories), in a factory that uses exclusively green energy, and claims to have the lowest environmental impact of any flooring type. 

It’s not 100% waterproof, but it is highly water-resistant and extremely durable, and widely used in hospitals and schools because of that. And it offers better grip than many other types of hard flooring — in particular, the variety known as Marmoleum Textura has especially good slip resistance. And there’s also an option called Marmoleum Decibel, which is backed with a thin layer of foam for optimal sound insulation. So all in all it’s an excellent pet-friendly flooring option!

Colorart ceramic tile from Centura, in Navy, has the look of distressed painted wood
Colorart ceramic tile from Centura, in Navy, has the look of distressed painted wood

3. Tile

The very most durable and water-resistant flooring is, of course, tile. Ceramic and — especially — porcelain tile are great at resisting stains, spills and scratches — that’s what makes them such a popular choice for kitchens and bathrooms. Plus, they’re available in a stunning range of colours, shapes and patterns these days, including some that look virtually identical to wood or stone. 

The only down side is that they’re cold and hard, and may be slippery, depending on the finish you choose. Avoid high-gloss glazes, as they’re likely to cause slipping problems — for humans as well as dogs! Unglazed ceramic tile is also not a great choice for this purpose, as it has considerably less water resistance. Your best bet is tile with a matte glaze finish. Thicker grout lines can also help improve traction.

Natural stone tile is also a fine choice, but be sure and seal it properly, as it’s not as inherently moisture-resistant as porcelain.

And with any sort of tile, be sure and provide your pet with soft places to sit and sleep, as hard tile isn’t the most comfortable thing to lie down on. 

Florence Elite cork flooring from Torlys, in Burl Western Saddle — a durable and comfortable floor for pets and people!
Florence Elite cork flooring from Torlys, in Burl Western Saddle — a durable and comfortable floor for pets and people!

4. Cork

I know, by now some of you are saying “But I want WOOD floors!” Well… Cork to the rescue! Hardwood isn’t really an ideal choice with pets (with a few exceptions — we’ll get to those soon!). It tends to be slippery, scratches too easily, and can also retain stains and smells and be damaged by moisture. 

But cork flooring is resilient, softer on paws than hardwood, less slippery, offers better sound insulation, and is inherently antimicrobial, so even if it gets damp, you’re less likely to have problems with mold or mildew. By nature it’s porous, but if properly sealed, can resist moisture well, though for optimal protection you’ll want to have it resealed periodically. Its scratch resistance is only moderate, but its other advantages make it well worth considering as a pet-friendly flooring option. 

5. Bamboo

Like cork, bamboo can be a good alternative to hardwood. But it’s variable in a lot of respects, so it’s important to shop carefully. Some varieties (notably strand-woven) are actually harder than hardwood, making them very scratch- and stain-resistant. And the resins used in manufacturing it make it fairly moisture-resistant as well, so it can actually be quite a good pet-friendly flooring option. Though as with tile, hard floors mean you’ll want to provide your pet with a soft sleeping area. 

Two kittens on a hardwood floor, looking anxiously at a Roomba. Photo by YoonJae Baik on Unsplash.
"Your flooring choice meets with our approval. This robot vacuum thing, not so much."

Pet-Friendly Carpet, Hardwood or Laminate?

Many articles on pet-friendly flooring options just say to avoid carpet, hardwood, and laminate, and there are valid reasons for that… Carpet is harder to clean and easier to stain than most types of hard flooring; hardwood can be slippery, scratches easily, and can absorb stains and smells from pet accidents; and laminate is also slippery and can be damaged by moisture. 

But — a lot depends on what kind you choose, with any of these options. Some varieties of carpet, hardwood and laminate are considerably more pet-friendly than others! So here are three more excellent choices to add to the list:

Relaxing Presence SmartStrand Silk carpet from Mohawk, in Newspirit
Mohawk SmartStrand carpet — like this one, called Relaxing Presence — is warranted against ALL damage from pets!

6. Pet-Friendly Carpet

No, it’s not a contradiction in terms! While carpet in general is not as ideal a choice as the other types of flooring we listed earlier, some types are much better than others. 

One that’s particularly worth mentioning is Mohawk’s SmartStrand carpet, which is made from a newer type of synthetic fibre called triexta, which is similar to nylon or polyester, but more stain resistant and made partly with renewable resources. SmartStrand fibre actually has ZERO moisture absorption, meaning that pet accidents are far less likely to be a lasting issue, and it comes with a unique “All Pet” warranty against damage from “all pets, all accidents, all the time”. Now that’s a pet-friendly carpet! We have several examples in the synthetic carpet section of our web site.

Plus the fact that they literally tested it with a rhinoceros is pretty endearing, not to mention impressive!

Another pet-friendly carpet option is Shaw’s Bellera carpet collection. It’s made from high-performance PET fibre for durability, with a special spill-proof backing to protect your subfloor, and built-in stain resistance, and comes with a “No Surprises Worry-Free Warranty” that includes pet damage. 

With any type of carpet, though, you may want to consider having it made into an area rug for ease of cleaning underneath in case of accidents. We can cut and bind any carpet into a custom area rug, precisely to your specifications — contact us if you’re interested!

FuzGuard waterproof laminate flooring by Fuzion
FuzGuard waterproof laminate flooring by Fuzion: fully waterproof, super tough, and 55% more stable than standard laminate

7. Waterproof Laminate

Most types of laminate flooring are vulnerable to water damage — but not all. Some are actually certified waterproof

For example, Fuzion has a waterproof laminate collection using a special waterproofing technology called Tidal Core, that comes in a great variety of wood- and stone-look designs — plus they’ve got a very high abrasion resistance, so they’ll stand up really well to your pet’s claws. We have several varieties in the laminate section of our web site. 

Mohawk's RevWood (Select and, especially, Plus) is another great waterproof laminate variety, plus it's textured for added realism, which helps provide traction for your pets' paws. Torlys has a number of varieties of waterproof laminate as well — plus Torlys floors have a special system to allow you to easily lift out and replace individual planks or tiles if they do get damaged somehow.

Laminate can still be slippery, though, so if you have elderly pets, either look for a textured variety, or add area rugs and stair or hallway runners to help provide traction for them. Also, its hard surface can be a bit noisy when walked on (particularly by dogs’ claws) so you may want to consider a sound-absorbing underlayment.

Shaw Floorté Magnificent SFN waterproof engineered hardwood flooring, in Frosted Hickory
Waterproof hardwood! This is Magnificent SFN, from Shaw's Floorté range, in Frosted Hickory.

8. Waterproof… Hardwood?!

Hardwood’s generally not considered a good choice with pets, but we know many of you love it! We’ve seen experts argue back and forth in articles on pet-friendly flooring as to whether solid or engineered hardwood is a better choice with pets, or at least a less bad choice. And there are points to be made on both sides.

But one particular standout choice is Shaw’s Floorté range, which includes a special collection of fully waterproof engineered hardwood. Yes, really! It’s also got a special ScufResist protective coating, giving it 6x more protection against scuffs and scratches than regular hardwood, and an attached Soft Silence® acoustical pad for noise reduction. All of which combines to make it an excellent pet-friendly flooring option for hardwood lovers! We have two Floorté collections, Magnificent SFN and Exquisite, in the engineered hardwood section of our web site. 

Happy black and white dog looking up from hardwood floor
"I really think you should go with the Frosted Hickory, Dad. Not only is it waterproof, but more importantly, the colour will complement my eyes."

Pet-Friendly Flooring Tips & General Advice

  • Whatever type of hard-surface flooring you choose, lighter colours will show scratches less. There are a lot of lovely whitewashed and pale grey wood and stone looks around these days, which are great for this purpose as well as giving your home a wonderfully light and airy look. 
  • Another great option for hiding scratches and stains is distressed or weathered wood designs, which is a trend we’ve been seeing a lot of lately in both real hardwood and things like luxury vinyl, laminate and tile. The natural variability of the patterns not only adds visual interest, but camouflages any damage your pets may have been able to inflict. The Colorart tile we showed you above is a dramatic example of this trend, and the particular shade of Magnificent SFN hardwood above is a subtler one.
  • Matte or low-sheen finishes are best, not just for hiding scratches but also for reducing slipperiness — both for elderly pets and for tired, sleep-deprived humans!
  • Many types of flooring are rated for scratch and scuff resistance with an Abrasion Classification (AC), ranging from from 1-5. Dog owners will want at least AC3. 4 and 5 are mostly for commercial use, and thus available in fewer designs, but some types of residential flooring do go that high — Fuzion’s waterproof laminate, for example, that we mentioned earlier, is mostly AC 4 or 5
  • With wood or bamboo, the Janka hardness scale may be useful for finding the most durable options.
Cat staring with worry at a chicken and a toy BB-8 robot, on a tile floor. Photo by Daniel Tuttle on Unsplash.
Floors need care, whether occupied by cats, chickens, or very small robots. 

Caring for Your Pet-friendly Floors:

  • Vacuum up shed hair and dander often, and mop hard surfaces regularly to get what the vacuum misses.
  • Put a placemat or washable throw rug under your pets’ food and water bowls. 
  • Trim your pets’ nails regularly, to avoid scratches — and also trim any tufts of fur between their paw pads. Too much fur there can cause them to slip on hard floors, making them more likely to dig their claws in for traction.
  • Always familiarize yourself with the care and maintenance instructions for any type of flooring you get.
  • Know whether or not your floor needs periodic resealing or refinishing, and keep track of when it’s due for that.

So that's our round-up of the best pet-friendly flooring options! Not every product we've mentioned is on our web site (yet — we're always adding new products to it!), but they're all things we either carry in the store, or can order in for you, so feel free to contact us to find out more about any of them, or to get started on installing your new pet-friendly flooring!