What is the Best Flooring for Dogs – Laminate, Vinyl or Special Wood?

Dogs. They may be man’s best friend, but they can wreak havoc indoors on your furniture and flooring. Carpet is their favorite type of floor for comfort and traction but it’s not the best flooring by dogs for fairly obvious reasons. Unless your pooch is perfectly trained, you’ll spend more time cleaning than playing with dogs who pee indoors instead of out.

While we aren’t going to teach you how to help your dog go to the bathroom outdoors, we are going to discuss flooring options for our four-legged friends. We’re also going to include a few tips to ensure your new flooring stays in top shape, even when Fido streaks across it at a thousand miles an hour…

What Type of Dog do you Own?

From Labrador Retrievers to Poodles, there are a lot of dog breeds, and we love them all. With that in mind, the first thing you need to think about with flooring and pets is the type of animal you have… not the breed.

Is your animal prone to wild runs throughout the house or more of a lover than a fighter? That can make an impact in your choice of flooring as what works for an 8-pound Teacup Terrier might not be the best option for a 120-pound Anatolian Shepard. You need to keep your dog’s personality and activities indoors in mind along with their age or any ailments they possess.

If you have a senior pooch with hip issues, you may be better off sticking with carpet as hardwood, and other slick surfaces can do more harm than good. The amount of time they spend outdoors is something to keep in mind as well unless you enjoy cleaning up muddy paw prints.

The Size of the Area

The great thing about hardwood and other types of flooring for dogs is the fact you don’t have to run it in every room. You can keep carpet in the bedrooms, tile your bathroom and have a nice dark oak floor in your living and dining room. Your options are limitless in that regard, and it’s something you have to think about with pets as well.

Does your pet have free run of the house or are certain rooms off limits? That can also have a huge impact on the type of flooring you choose, especially if you’re on a budget. There is a considerable difference in the price of doing a few rooms instead of an entire floor.

You will need to know your square footage either way, but think about what rooms catch the most damage from your pet if you’re on the fence about install new flooring throughout your entire home.

Types of Flooring for Dogs

Whether your dog can fit in a cupboard or takes up the entire couch, each of these floor types are suitable for canines of any kind. Again, you’ll want to keep your dog’s needs in mind along with any other pets you may have in the household running loose.

Flooring Type

Scratch-resistance

Water-resistance

Traction

Tile

Excellent

Excellent

Excellent

Vinyl

Varies by type

Excellent

Good

Laminate

Excellent

Good

Good

Engineered Hardwood

Varies by type

Varies by type

Poor

Solid Hardwood

Depends on the hardness

Good

Poor

Tile Flooring

Tiles are an interesting alternative for sections of your home although it’s not generally what you’ll want in every room. You’re also not stuck with the classic slick tile of old as there are plenty of texture tiles and even carpet tiles you can remove and clean as needed.

With traditional tile, you won’t have to worry about dogs who pee or even large dogs as it ranks among the most durable flooring for dogs. You will have to think about the grout however as that can stain if liquids sit. Tile is easy to clean but isn’t necessarily cheap in ceramic or carpet form. Vinyl tiles are also an option and a great way to save some bucks.

Vinyl Flooring

This is something you may have walked across in older homes, but today’s vinyl flooring can look like stone and can even be precut to the perfect size for your room. Some flooring is also extremely resistant to scratches, including ones that come from dog paws, so it’s one of the best floorings for dogs. Want vinyl that looks like wood plank flooring? That’s an option as well…

Armstrong Flooring carries a nice range of vinyl sheet flooring and luxury vinyl tile while Home Depot, Lowes and similar shops have a large selection as well. You can pick up carpet and ceramic tile at either of those locations as well along with stores like Menards. Vinyl is one of the best types of flooring for dogs as it provides good traction along with stain and scratch-resistance. Some companies sell pet-friendly vinyl as well that is geared towards our furry friends.

Laminate Flooring

This flooring style has gained a lot of traction in recent years as manufacturers have improved the thickness and overall quality of their products. Laminate flooring can be between 6 to 12mm thick and consists of a fused top layer with on top of a fiberboard core. There’s no natural wood although you can find laminate flooring that looks just like it.

Laminate flooring has a wear layer just like regular and engineered hardwoods, but you can’t sand it down despite the top layer, so thicker is usually better. The cost of laminate flooring is very reasonable and comparable to vinyl, and it holds up well with pets overall aside from one area. On the downside, if not properly installed, water can creep between seams and damage a section so you urine and water need to be cleaned up immediately.

Engineered Hardwood Flooring

If you’re not ready for hardwood and vinyl doesn't go with design scheme, engineered wood flooring may be just the thing for you. While similar to laminate flooring, there are some key differences as engineered uses a natural wood veneer over a core usually made of plywood. Depending on the thickness, it can be sanded down and refinished like real hardwood.

Engineered flooring isn’t nearly as scratch-resistant as our other options, and it’s considerably more expensive depending on the size of the room and style of wood you choose. On that note, there are hundreds of styles to choose from with engineered flooring and all of these planks have an amount of real wood. Bamboo is one of the more exotic options, but not necessarily ideal for heavier pooches unless its solid strand with an excellent hardness rating.

Dogs can have some trouble with engineered wood as its slicker than other styles of flooring and can catch scratches as well. You will want to pay close attention to the thickness of the top layer and finish. It’s also expensive compared to tile, vinyl or laminate although it can handle water better than solid hardwood flooring.

Solid Hardwood Flooring

When you can accept no substitute, you can always turn to hardwood flooring… the most durable flooring for dogs. The main concern will be your dog’s nails, so you’ll want to find a harder wood which is where the Janka scale comes in handy. It’s a test that measures the hardness of wood, and you will be able to find a rating for every type of tree.

If properly sealed and finished, real hardwood can repel water with ease. Finish is more important for this style as some shades will hide scratches better than others. If you opt for hardwood, keep those nails trimmed and prepare to buy a few area rugs or runners. If you’re curious about the different types of hardwoods available and how they stack up against one another, be sure to give this a read.

Pricing for solid hardwood flooring is in-line with engineered wood and cheaper at times. Installation can raise the price; however, if you need to hire a pro or rent tools for the job like a nailer or compressor. If you plan on going the DIY route, we highly recommend choosing boards with a click-lock system.

With hardwood, you will immediately want to wipe up any stains, keep the nails trimmed and prepare yourself for a few heart attacks when your dog tears across your new floor and slams into a wall. It is definitely going to happen unless you have rugs.

But What About Carpet?

Carpet may not be the best option for homeowners with dogs, but it’s the best flooring for older dogs (and most humans) when comfort is critical and slipping is not. The main con to carpet is the fact it stains if you have a dog who pees or has other accidents indoors. Dogs also like to “dig” even when there’s no dirt, so you may have to deal with that as well. If you’ve got thick pile carpeting, it can be a major problem.

Carpet is also something most consumers can’t install on their own, and it’s something you don’t want to attempt if you have a bad back or knees. On the plus side, you can find carpeting that is stain-proof which will take care of accidents but won’t stop them. Carpet also tends to hide hair better if you hate running the vacuum whereas hair piles up and collects in unusual places with hard flooring styles.

We aren’t going to go through all the types of carpet available for homes with dogs, but wool is the best from a material standpoint if you want something naturally resistant to stains and have deep pockets. While you can find some wool carpeting for around $6.00 per square foot, if you want quality carpeting with a unique style, it can go up to $21 per square foot which is considerably higher than any hardwood. By comparison, you can pick up Stainmaster PetProtect carpeting from Lowes from around $2.00 per sq. ft. in 12-foot sections. 

Keeping Your New Floors Clean

It doesn’t matter if you cover half your home in vinyl and hardwood or lay down plush carpeting – you still have to keep your floors clean if you own a dog. Cleaning up stains is only part of the challenge…

Dogs are notorious for bringing things into the house whether it’s a stick in their mouth or dirt on the feet. You can use a hand towel to give their feet a quick wipe before they set foot on your carpet or hardwood which can solve a lot more problems than you think. Needless to say, if your dog has been outside rolling around in the yard, you’ll want to give them a good brushing as well.

Making these things part of your daily routine is important, and while not convenient, your dog will quickly adapt to this routine. If they still leave muddy footprints behind, a wet mop or the Swiffer WetJet will be your new best friend. If using cleaning agents, make sure they are safe for your type of flooring.

With carpet, it’s an uphill battle, but you will want to invest in a vacuum cleaner built for pets. We are fans of the Dyson V6 Fluffy for hardwood, but you will want something with more power for deep pile carpeting or dogs that shed throughout the year.