The best flooring for dogs, cats, or the best flooring for pets in general can be a rather subjective conversation; so, let’s attempt to be as objective as possible.
With so many product factors to consider, we’ve compiled a condensed list of the top 5 Pet-Friendly Floors to help you make a more objective decision. Beyond these features, we make recommendations based on design aesthetics and – most importantly – safety, comfort, and well-being of our beloved pets. If you have a high tolerance for frequent deep-cleaning or even full replacement, then choose any floor you’d like. Otherwise, let’s get to the best flooring for pets.
For purposes of staying focused on the most important criteria, we have not included price as a factor for this conversation. We remain clear on making an informed choice of pet-friendly flooring based on three primary product qualities, including resistance to:
The scratching and damage that can occur from pets with toenails or claws, and the problems of staining from liquid or solid “accidents” occasionally occurs with just about every pet, at one time or another. These combined issues can eliminate some flooring from our choices – unless you are prepared to go through frequent and thorough cleaning, as well as occasional replacement of the entire floor.
We believe the American Kennel Club (AKC) and most realtor organizations would agree on these highly-rated pet-resistant floorings.
Best Pet-Friendly Flooring
- Luxury Vinyl Flooring
- Cork Floors
- Bamboo Floors
- Sheet Vinyl
- Poured Concrete
- Ceramic Tile
- Natural Stone
- Special mention: Carpet stair runners
Let’s get into the details, shall we?
Luxury Vinyl Floors
Available in either tile or plank forms, both luxury vinyl plank (LVP) and luxury vinyl tile (LVT) offer the same resiliency as vinyl and can be assembled with “click-and-lock” systems. Luxury vinyl is considered a very good floor for pets due to water, dent, scratch, and stain resistance qualities. LVP and LVT are thicker and more durable than a standard vinyl sheet flooring and has an improved wear layer that is much more resistant to scratching. Modern luxury vinyl comes in many, many different designs and is often hard to distinguish from stone, natural wood, or ceramic flooring. This is a very affordable flooring that also reduces the “clickety-clickety” sound of your pet’s nails on the floor. View photos of Luxury Vinyl Flooring
Natural cork flooring is another relatively new type of flooring that can be a very good choice for pet owners. It is a good choice for homeowners who want the look of hardwood in a flooring material that is resistant to scratching and staining. It also resists the growth of bacteria and mold.
Cork is both resilient enough to absorb sound and hard enough to be somewhat resistant to scratching. It is not, however, scratch-proof, and you should keep pet’s nails well-trimmed. But it is a decidedly better choice than hardwood for homes with larger, more active pets.
Another flooring that looks remarkably similar to hardwood is bamboo, a natural material made from processed fibers of farmed bamboo. Most people are surprised to learn that most forms of bamboo are actually harder than hardwood, making it extremely scratch-resistant. However, bamboo comes in several different types, and make sure to choose a flooring with a high hardness rating, as indicated by the Janka test. Bamboo flooring that is strand-woven tends to hold up best in homes with pets.
Bamboo is also quite resistant to moisture and stains, thanks to the resins used in the manufacturing process. Pet stains wipe up very easily. If there is a drawback to bamboo, it is that claws will click audibly when your pet walks across the surface. This is not a sound-absorbent flooring.
Sheet Vinyl or Vinyl Tile
Older types of standard sheet vinyl and vinyl tile have good resistance to stains and moisture penetration, but the clear wear layer is rather thin and heavy pet traffic can scratch it over time. One advantage, though, is that standard vinyl flooring is quite inexpensive, and replacement every few years does not require a large investment. Standard vinyl is not a very elegant flooring and it is rarely a good choice for living rooms, dining rooms, or family rooms. It does nothing to improve real estate value. But it can be an excellent inexpensive flooring for areas that see moisture, or for utility areas.
Poured, Sealed Concrete
Concrete flooring is sometimes considered harsh and industrial, but perceptions are changing, and concrete can be an excellent flooring for many homes, especially those with a modern decor. Concrete can be treated in a variety of ways, including polishing, texturing, staining, and chemical treatments, which can achieve a variety of visual effects that work well in modern and contemporary living room styles.
Concrete is hard, and if sealed, it is virtually impervious to pet stains. The hardness of the surface can also be softened in a living room using throw rugs and area carpets. If these pieces become damaged by your pets, they are easy enough to machine wash or replace. Radiant below surface heating systems can also eliminate the cold feeling that comes with concrete floors.
Please note, some polished concrete floors be slippery and, therefore, may not be best suited if your dogs run throughout the house. Hip injuries might be the result of large dogs running on slippery flooring.
Ceramic Tile Flooring
Ceramic flooring—both traditional ceramic tile and porcelain tile—is a great option for pet owners because the material is so durable that even the biggest dog’s paws and the sharpest cat’s claws won’t be able to damage it. If you use glazed ceramics, the material will also be impervious to stains and liquid penetration. At the same time, the glaze can be printed by the manufacturer to take on a variety of designs or patterns, giving you a wide range of decorative options for your living room. Grout lines can be stained by pets, but this can be prevented by occasional resealing of the grout.
Be sure to regularly seal unglazed ceramics, such as terra cotta, as they are not naturally stain resistant. These floors are typically softer than glazed ceramics and pet’s claws may damage the floor. If you prefer ceramic tile for your home, be sure to select glazed, mat-surface tile.
Natural Stone Floors
Slate and other natural stone varieties are affected by the same aspects as unglazed ceramic flooring. Stone floors might be more visually appealing and natural to some than ceramic. That’s a personal choice, of course. In either case, both ceramic and natural stone floors need to be sealed regularly to ensure it remains impervious to water penetration and stains. If properly cared for over time, natural stone can be a great, long-lasting choice of floors for pet owners.
Important info: Polished and refined materials such as marble and granite can be scratched by pet nails. A better choice might be natural products like slate and limestone, which have a rougher, textured surface. Did you know, a multi-colored stone may help hide dirt, hair, and debris better than a solid color.
Honorable Mention: Carpet Stair Runners
If you live in a home with wood stairs, we strongly recommend carpet stair runners to keep your pets from slipping and falling on the stairs. Yes, humans need to be careful, too; however, this is about the pets. They can and do slip and get hurt. Learn more about our stair runners and see stair runner pictures or more inspiration.
Not the best floors for dogs or pets
- Harwood or Engineered Wood
Carpeting in Cary or any other town near Raleigh, for example, is a difficult flooring material for homes with many pets as claws can shred the fibers and since stains may penetrate deep into the carpet, pad, and even sub-floor with lasting effects. See pictures of carpeting.
People are sometimes drawn to plastic laminate flooring since it looks like hardwood and is thought to be stain-proof. But moisture can seep through the cracks of laminate flooring, and the surface wear layer is more susceptible to scratches than almost any other hard flooring material. Some customers report the “clickety-click” of pet toenails is more noticeable with laminate floors. Finally, laminate can be a very slippery surface, and some pets may suffer hip injuries from sliding around on the floor. In most cases, laminate flooring will hold up just fine with small pets. If you are attracted to laminate flooring, you might also consider luxury vinyl flooring, which has a similar look and much better performance for pet owners. View pictures of laminate floors.
Engineered wood floors and Hardwood Flooring
Although it may perform somewhat better than solid hardwood, engineered wood flooring uses a surface layer of true hardwood that can be scratched. And because the surface layer is relatively thin, you can’t refinish these floors the way you can with solid hardwood. Although attractive, these floors are easily damaged by pets. While solid hardwood floors and engineered wood flooring may not be ideally suited for larger pets, either of these floors will serve you well if you have smaller dogs or cats. View pictures of wood floors.