If you’re anything like the majority of smart pet owners, the idea of pet-proof flooring seems too good to be true.
Indestructible toy, you say? Meet my English Bulldog/Pit Mix.
Urine odor eliminator? They didn’t test on a blind senior Maine Coon.
But pet-proof floors deliver! Though there will always be the determined destroyers who could chew a hole through the hull of a 737, these floors will weather more than the average barrage of paws and claws.
It should be noted that the reason there are multiple types of pet-proof flooring is due in part to the multiple species of pets and their multiple varieties of destructive capabilities. Along that line of logic, it may be necessary to experiment or consult fellow pet parents who have pet-proof floor coverings, ideally those with the same breed.
What Are the Best Pet-Proof Flooring Options?
Strictly speaking, there are only so many types of flooring viable for a home.
If you could tile your home with luxury-grade equestrian stall liners there wouldn’t be a need for this article. But alas, humans like to be comfortable and for the most part desire their home look decent enough to avoid the side-eye from neighbors, parents, and in-laws.
We’ll list the best types of pet-proof flooring below, then go into more detail in the following sections.
- Luxury Vinyl
- Textured Laminate
- Stained Concrete
It’s easy to notice two types of flooring conspicuously absent from this list. Hardwood and carpeting are two of the most common, and yet two of the least manageable flooring options for those with pets. Hardwood floors are notorious for wearing their age in every scratch and moisture stain, and carpets trap allergens, microbes, stains, odors, liquids, particulates, hair, and more.
While each option for pet-proof floor covering has its own merits, it’s important to understand what the pros and cons of each type are and how they relate to your needs as a pet owner, as well as the needs of your fur, feather, or scale babies!
Which Is the Best Pet-Proof Flooring Option for Me?
There are several factors to consider when deciding upon a flooring option for your home.
They vary by breed (chihuahuas may not scratch your floor but may leave more presents) and by the environment (precipitation, a floor’s mortal enemy), there are a few common considerations to be made when considering a flooring option.
- Price – cost of material and installation
- Comfort – comfort for both humans and pets
- Style – attractiveness and variety
- Durability – resistance to wear and tear, longevity
- Maintenance – ease of cleaning and repair
As we break down each type of pet-proof flooring, we’ll use these criteria to put each option in perspective and help you make the best possible decision.
Types of Pet-Proof Flooring: The Breakdown
Let’s take a moment to evaluate each flooring option using our list of criteria. Once we’ve taken a look at each, hopefully, it’ll be easier to make a decision about which type of flooring option is best for you, your pets, and your home.
Luxury Vinyl Flooring
There are two basic types of luxury vinyl flooring: vinyl plank flooring and vinyl sheet flooring. Vinyl sheet flooring is slightly cheaper but tends to be used in commercial settings, so we’ll be evaluating vinyl plank flooring in this article.
There is also peel-and-stick vinyl flooring, but the question of durability makes it unfit for a pet-proof conversation.
Vinyl plank flooring has gained ground as an affordable alternative to hardwood. In terms of price, it tops the list at $3.00-$7.00 per square foot, and installation costs are among the lowest of all flooring types, pet-proof or not.
Vinyl plank flooring is surprisingly comfortable.
Many manufacturers have gone through a lot of effort to ensure that it is giving when stepping. They are softer than both hardwood and laminate underfoot and reduce the pressure on sensitive feet and aching senior dog joints.
If not price, style is perhaps the primary reason vinyl plank flooring is so popular not only in pet homes but in all homes.
There is a huge variety of options in a large range of styles, colors, sizes, and patterns to create precisely the look you envision — while still enjoying how pet-proof vinyl plank flooring has become.
You’ll have a hard time finding anything so stylish capable of withstanding muddy paws, long hair and nails, knocked-over furniture, and too-roughhousing.
Kitty claws can’t grip to scratch, and birds and other small pets will find it easy to travel around, which makes it ideal for all kinds of pet owners — not just dogs!
All-in-all vinyl plank flooring is the most affordable option whose durability is among the best in the biz. It’s exceedingly easy to clean, and it’s among the most comfortable in pet-proof flooring options.
It’s gotten a bad rap because the (laminated) coating that makes laminate flooring pet-proof also makes it very slippery. Some pets — even people! — lose traction when they’re moving quickly or have mobility problems. But as we can all imagine manufacturers of laminate flooring have gone to great lengths to ensure people and pets are safe and comfortable.
One of the ways makers of laminate flooring manages the problem of slip is by texturing the surface of the panels or embossing them. This both adds to the illusion of hardwood or stone, and provides a more tactile surface for feet, paws, and claws.
Textured laminate competes with vinyl plank flooring at the lower end and middle of the spectrum, but gets pricey in the luxury range. You can get embossed laminate flooring for about $3.00-$10.00/sq ft.
Because some pets have difficulty maintaining their footing even on textured laminate floors, we can’t give it the highest comfort score. However, because of the underlayment in most laminate floors, they’re actually quite comfortable for most people and giant pets.
If you’ve ever been in a home with high-quality laminate floors, you’ve seen how beautiful they are. The point of laminate is to mimic another material (typically wood), so laminate is limited in its stylistic variety. If you miss hardwood but are concerned your pets can’t play safely, textured laminate is a great alternative!
Laminate and vinyl are on par in terms of durability.
Vinyl will last up to 50 years depending upon installation, and laminate lasts around 30. Granted, laminate is susceptible to moisture where vinyl is not, and therefore is at a slight disadvantage compared with vinyl.
Though they are still not the ideal surface for senior or mobility-challenged pets, a textured laminate floor is still a better alternative than hardwood. Laminate flooring, while almost on par with vinyl flooring, is slightly more expensive and less durable, and for that reason gets a slightly lower score.
Stained concrete is more popular today than it ever has been, and for good reason! It’s cheap both to install and maintain, it’s stylish, and where it isn’t comfortable it is incredibly durable.
It’s likely no surprise to anyone that stained concrete is among the cheapest pet-proof flooring options out there. At only $2.00-$4.00/sq ft., stained concrete tops the list for value.
Stained concrete is virtually limitless in its options. Though its somewhat unconventional, the variety of stains and colors make personalizing infinite. You can even stain or bevel designs into it!
This probably doesn’t need an explanation. Standing on a concrete floor for long periods of time isn’t comfortable, and the echoing effect makes noise levels occasionally frustrating (say, trying not to initiate Barkpocalypse after hitting the bar).
Concrete is endlessly repairable and inside a home is almost eternal. While it can’t be used on upper stories, stained concrete in a level house will remain forever. However, foundation issues will appear in high contrast through cracks in the floor.
Stained concrete is nearly endless in versatility, with options for color, texture, design, and pattern. It rarely wears (even when it does, you can fix it right up!), though it is the least comfortable of our options.
As with laminate and vinyl, the variety of tile options are endless. However the pet-friendliness of these floor covering options varies with material, so they cannot be considered equally.
If you decide tile is the best option for your home, go with ceramic or porcelain. It doesn’t absorb liquid and doesn’t accumulate bacteria and other baddies. Avoid stone and natural tiles, as they absorb liquid and have lots of crevices that trap grime.
Ceramic and porcelain tile are more expensive than laminate, vinyl, and concrete flooring, coming in on average at $7.00-$20.00/sq ft. Ceramic tends to be cheaper, while porcelain will usually cost you more. While it’s isn’t the most expensive of our flooring options, it’s also not the cheapest.
Tile is simply not as comfortable. Ceramic and porcelain floors tend to be cold and hard underfoot, and don’t impress in support. Natural tile is warmer and softer but is neither durable or easy to clean, and is still much less comfortable than some of our other options.
Tile is very diverse in color, glaze (exterior coating), size, shape, and grout. Some tile options even mimic the appearance of laminate and vinyl flooring. However, tile tends to appeal to a specific aesthetic and can easily be installed poorly.
This is where tile loses out. Because you have to maintain not only the tiles – which chip and crack – but the grout, which discolors and flakes easily. Heavy-duty grouts and tiles exist but will raise the cost of installation and material.
Tile is a great idea for stylish homeowners because of its variety in style and ease of repair and replacement. It comes up short against laminate and vinyl, however, when compared with their durability and ease of maintenance.
Cork Tiles or Planks
Cork is a soft tree whose wood is compressed and combined with resin to form the cork we all know.
It’s the most sustainable of the options, though any demand (like bamboo) starts a surge of irresponsible farming. It is gaining popularity, especially in tiny homes where its weight and springiness make adventure a lifestyle.
Cork rides the average at $2.00-$12.00 per tile. This price reflects the average thickness for cork tiles, but thicker tiles are more comfortable and understandably more expensive. If you or your pets don’t have mobility issues, the investment may not be necessary.
As mentioned, cork has a naturally springy texture, and thicker cork means more comfort. Cork is especially beneficial for aging or arthritic pets due to the natural springiness of the material, so consider it if you have large, giant, or senior pets.
While cork comes in a variety of patterns and variations, it is still wood and appeals to those looking for a light, natural floor. If that’s not what you’re looking for, cork won’t be for you.
Durability is the biggest downfall of cork flooring. Because of cork’s springy makeup, it’s easy for heavy furniture to indent it, and for dog, cat, bird, or reptile claws to scratch it.
However, its microbial nature protects cork naturally from the development of mold and other allergens that accumulate when urine or feces sit on surfaces. This could be an advantage for people and pets who routinely suffer from allergies.
Cork is a great, eco-friendly option for those in tiny homes, arthritic pets, or for those who suffer from allergies or related illnesses. Because of its lack of durability and specific styling, however, it isn’t as versatile as vinyl, laminate, or concrete.
At this point in the list, you may be asking yourself “Are there ANY pet-proof wooden flooring options?” Unfortunately, hardwood floors are notoriously bad for pets and their owners.
But fear not! Bamboo is a rapidly-trending, affordable alternative that appeals to the hardwood lover’s aesthetic more than bamboo.
Cheaper than other “hardwood” floors, bamboo floors are actually grass compressed and processed. Bamboo averages around $5.00-$15.00/sq ft. While this is a much cheaper alternative to hardwood, it still isn’t comparable to concrete or vinyl.
Bamboo is harder than most wood flooring options, and as such can be uncomfortable without a substantial underlayment (which can drive up prices). In addition, sealing bamboo against its mortal enemy — moisture — can weaken its natural structure, causing it to give unevenly in some places.
Popular with contemporary builders and homeowners looking to modernize, bamboo is a light, contemporary option used by major architects and interior decorators. However, similar to cork, bamboo has a narrow range of aesthetics which it complements.
Because bamboo is harder than most wood floors, it is resistant to the majority of pet damage. However, when bamboo is processed and treated to be darker, it weakens the structure of the bamboo which can eventually lead to wear damage.
It is also extremely susceptible to water and moisture, so it is not a pet urine proof flooring option. Even muddy paws or sopping coats in regions with higher precipitation can do serious damage.
All-in-all, bamboo is a great option for trendy homeowners in arid climates. It is a relatively cheap and durable alternative to hardwoods but loses strength the more it’s processed.
Decide What Pet-Proof Flooring Option Is Right for You
The more you know!
Now you’re aware of what options are out there, and what their individual pros and cons are. You took it upon yourself to discover the best choice for you and your pets. You know your babies better than anyone and can make the best decision about your animal family.
With a pet parent willing to go to such lengths to ensure they are happy, healthy, and thriving, your pets will have the best lives a pet could ask for!
You did the research! Now go out and find a vendor, find an installation specialist (or do more research to install it yourself) and start your pet-proof flooring project today!