Ten years ago when we visited an animal rehoming centre in Canada, I vividly remember filling out a form which asked if you had considered all of the potential implications of having a dog. Of course, a bit like when you have children, back then we thought we knew it all, but we were in no way aware of all the many small ways that dog ownership would change our lives over the next decade.
Six years later and back in the UK, we found ourselves trying to choose flooring for the downstairs of our house, flooring that suited both us and the dogs. Because yes, dog friendly flooring is an actual thing, not because you are trying to make the flooring comfortable for the dogs, but because we we wanted a surface that would survive the daily wear and tear of claws and mud.
I did a lot of googling at the time trying to find the right answer and four years later it seems like a good opportunity to revisit our decision making…
At the time our options were : carpet, tiles, laminate flooring, engineered wood flooring, solid wood flooring or vinyl. There are a few other options like rubber and cork, but they aren’t popular choices and we didn’t consider them at the time.
We had carpet downstairs before building work begun and ended up (when the budget ran out) keeping it in one room downstairs. Carpet does hold up surprisingly well, but it’s not as forgiving for the daily build up of dirt as some other flooring. In high traffic areas it gets noticeably dirty every day, so it needs a lot of vacuuming and you need to invest in a carpet cleaner so you can give it a deep clean a couple of times a year. We decided it wouldn’t be practical for us.
Floor tiles stand up to almost anything as far as pet ownership is concerned, they are easy to mop clean and hard enough not to be damaged by claws, but although they look and feel wonderful in a warm climate, in the UK they can feel cold and not very homely unless you have underfloor heating. If you are, as we were, renovating a house, underfloor heating can be an expensive addition. Adding it to our living room would have meant digging out the floor so we could create space to plumb it in. So the additional labour and material costs meant it was ruled out.
Laminate flooring can be a really budget friendly alternative to wood flooring, but it has one big downside when it comes to pets. The laminate surface can scratch and then can’t be repaired, which makes it a bad match for dog claws (particularly if you have a 35kg dog). I have laminate flooring in my cabin in the garden. It’s a low traffic area and people rarely walk on the floor with shoes on and yet I have several scratches on it which show up noticeably when the sun shines.
Engineered wood flooring
Our eventual choice was engineered wood flooring. This type of flooring is made of layers of timber with a surface of solid wood. It’s more affordable than solid wood flooring and because the layers of wood are built up sandwiched in different directions, it’s less inclined to warp or expand, but crucially you can still sand it down if it gets damaged. If you are a DIYer (we were) it’s easier to fit than solid wood. After four years ours looks in pretty good condition. We do have a small area of damage (from a wet rug being left on the floor) but we haven’t yet needed to sand it down yet.
Solid wood flooring
Generally more expensive than engineered wood flooring (at least in part because you have to have professional installation) and more susceptible to moisture damage particularly in rooms like kitchens or bathrooms. The big advantage of solid wood over engineered is that there is more wood to sand down if you need to. Solid wood flooring can last a lifetime, if your budget stretches to them they are a great investment.
Vinyl flooring isn’t a concept that grabs most people, so much so that it’s now being marketed as “luxury vinyl flooring”. Vinyl flooring is all around us, it’s often the most popular choice of wooden effect flooring that you see in commercial buildings. It’s the flooring they use at Center Parcs, you see it in spas and often in shops too. It looks just like wood, but it’s really hard wearing. It’s easy to fit, easy to clean and some brands have extremely long guarantees. However it has two downsides, if you look at it really closely it does look a little bit plasticy and some people can’t get past that and it’s more expensive than some alternatives.
This is a collaborative post
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