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Pets and Hardwood Flooring

Pets and hardwood flooring – can they co-exist in your home? Our customers ask us this question all the time. The fact is you don’t have to sacrifice the beauty of hardwood floors in your home just because you have pets; however, there are some important tips for pet owners to keep in mind when selecting hardwood flooring.

Sharp claws and hardwood flooring don’t mix

No hardwood flooring is scratch proof, especially when it comes to sharp pet claws and nails. But generally, the harder the wood, the more resistant it will be to scratches. Softer woods, such as American Cherry, American Walnut, and Pine may not be the best choice for pet owners, as these woods tend to scratch and dent more easily. Harder woods such as Oak, especially Red Oak, Hickory, and hard Maples are better choices.

Hardness isn’t the only factor to consider, though. It’s also important to look for woods with stronger grains, as they do an even better job at hiding scratches. For example, Brazilian Cherry, which is a harder wood than Oak, will actually show more scratches than Oak due to its smoother grain. Woods that include distressing techniques such as handscraping can also serve as a great camouflage for pet scratches.

Also consider finishes. Hardwood flooring coated with a high-quality urethane finish will be much more resistant to scratches and stains than unprotected woods. Many high-end engineered wood floors include a highly scratch-resistant UV-cured polyurethane wear layer that can last for years. Keep in mind that high-gloss finishes will reflect light, which can make any scratches more visible. So less-glossy satin finishes, may do a better job at hiding scratches.

Wood color may also play a factor in your hardwood flooring choice, especially if you are concerned with shedding. Pet hair and dander, as well as scratches, will be more obvious on a darker-colored hardwood.

What you can do to minimize pet scratches

Once your floors are installed, there are several things that you can do to help minimize pet scratches:

  • Keep your pet’s claws/toenails clipped and, if possible, file any rough edges.
  • Wipe any dirt or grit off of your pet’s paws before your pet comes in from the outside.
  • Use rugs in high-traffic areas, especially at outdoor entrances.

Fortunately, pet scratches rarely cause permanent damage to hardwood floors. Visible scratches can usually be covered with a new coat of finish. Any scratches that go through the finish to the actual wood can be sanded out and then re-coated. When considering engineered hardwoods, it’s important to select a style that can be sanded and refinished later, if needed.

Avoid standing moisture

Any moisture that seeps into the seams between the planks of your hardwood flooring can cause damage. Pet urine in particular, can be especially corrosive if left sitting on a hardwood floor. This is why it is important to clean up spills and pet accidents as soon as they occur.

Following these additional guidelines will help defend against moisture damage:

  • Do not place your pet’s food and water bowls directly on hardwood floors. Instead, consider using waterproof mats.
  • Ensure that rugs or mats placed near entrances are absorbent to help soak up any moisture tracked in from rain, snow, and mud.
  • Promptly remove soiled mats or rugs from the floor, as they can trap moisture on the floor’s surface.

Keep in mind that if a section of flooring does become moisture damaged or stained, it can sometimes be sanded and re-stained/re-coated, but often moisture-damaged planks will need replacing.

Questions about pets and hardwood flooring

If you are a pet owner and have questions about the best hardwood options for your pet, please give us a call or stop in out showroom.

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