The Best Hardwood Floors If You Have Dogs

2-year-old-oak-flooring-with-dogs.jpg This has been one of the hardest decisions for us to make…

We have dogs. And we know that we want hardwood floors in our log home. But dogs can ruin beautiful hardwood flooring in no time.

We know… Been there done that!

 

Our Current Hardwood Flooring

When we built the home we’re currently living in, we chose hardwood flooring throughout the entire first floor.

As I’ve mentioned before, there were relatively few choices that were left up to us in the build process… so in this case, we basically got to pick “which shade of brown” we wanted.

It didn’t matter. Because we were absolutely clueless about hardwood flooring at that time anyway. We ended up choosing a lighter shade of brown (more like “blonde”) oak wood floor. It’s solid wood, but it’s not the most durable under the heavy feet of 2 (for awhile there, it was 3) 70+ pound dogs!

The hardwood floors we currently have (see in these photos):
Bruce hardwood floors – solid oak – natural – dura-luster plus (urethane) finish – 3/4″ x 2-1/4″

 

Wear & Tear From Dogs

The bad part: The doorway to the fenced-in backyard is through the kitchen — the showcase room for all of that beautiful hardwood flooring!

And worse yet: The section of flooring that’s nearest the door has become extremely dented, pitted, and dirty in appearance — as a result of our dogs’ repeated visits to the great outdoors.

It’s partly our fault, because we taught our dogs to “drop” anything that they have in their mouth at the door, before they can go outside. Sometimes that’s a stuffed toy, and other times it’s a heavy bone from the meat counter at the grocery store!

Early on, when we were first training them to do this nifty behavior, the dents & pits weren’t noticeable at all. It wasn’t until a year or so of this type of activity that we started to notice that the dirt & grime had begun to accumulate inside of those dents and pits! And once it’s in there, there’s no getting it out.

Best I can tell, aside from refinishing the flooring, we’re pretty much stuck with yucky looking hardwood flooring near the back door entrance in this house.

 

oak-hardwood-floors-1st-year.jpg oak-hardwood-floors-2yrs-later.jpg

 

It’s really hard to tell from these photos, but if you look close enough, you can see that the floor on the right is chipped, dented, and it looks kind of grimey where dirt and dust have settled into the cracks. The urethane finish has definitely been put to the test near the back door. In person, it’s very noticeable.

ugly-oak-hardwood-flooring.jpgpretty-oak-hardwood-flooring.jpgHardwood floor near doorblue-arrow-down-left.jpg

blue-arrow-up-right.jpgFlooring in same room, away from door

 

 

The Best Flooring Choice For Dogs?

Now, fast-forward to our new, soon-to-be-built log home… and you can bet we’ve done some homework about hardwood flooring at this point!

While we still haven’t decided on the exact wood or style we’re going with, hopefully, we’ll be able to find a hardwood flooring that will be better at withstanding years of normal wear & tear, plus the added heavy traffic from our dogs. (We know we’re getting a darker wood this time. We have 2 black labs that shed a lot, and every little thing you can do to help “hide” that helps… even if it is just an illusion!)

At this point, we’re looking at Hickory as the wood choice. And definitely a wider plank than usual. (We currently have 3/4″ x 2-1/4″ wood planks and they’re just so small… and traditional.)

We also like the rustic, natural looking wood — that’s already pitted & stained, yet still looks clean and new.

I’ll be sure to add an update to this post once we make our final decision…

In general, here are some guidelines:

  • HARD WOODS: (most durable) oak, cherry, maple, hickory, elm, balsa, mahogany, sycamore
  • SOFT WOODS: (dent easily) birch, cedar, pine, redwood, fir, larch

What’s the “real” difference between hardwoods and softwoods?

Q: Can dogs scratch hardwood floors?
A: Yes. Even with the new stronger finishes, a dog’s nails can scratch wood flooring. The best prevention is to keep nails trimmed. Scratches can be repaired with a touch-up kit. If damage is extensive, you can lightly sand and apply a new varnish coat. – Bella Wood

 

Have Any Advice?

Have you found a hardwood floor that is durable and holds up to the day to day traffic of dog paws?

If so, please do share!

Or, feel free to share any tips that you’ve learned, or things you’ve heard along the way. Anything you can add to this discussion of dogs and hardwood floors will save future home builders with dogs both money and frustration in the long run.

 

tenor-dog-left-muddy-paw-prints-on-hardwood-floors.jpg


RELATED:

Hardwood Flooring Tips For Homeowners With Dogs

Dog Groomer’s Hardwood Floors Hard To Maintain… Help!

Hardwood And Dog Water Bowls

Soft Claws: Nail Tips For Dogs

Murphy’s Oil Soap Anonymous

Cork vs Hardwood With Pets

 


Lynnette Walczak

I like to help people find unique ways to do things in order to save time & money -- so I frequently write about "outside the box" ideas that most wouldn't think of. As a lifelong dog owner, I often share my best tips for living with and training dogs. I worked in Higher Ed several years until switching gears to pursue things I was more passionate about. I've worked at a vet, in a photo lab, and at a zoo -- to name a few. I enjoy the outdoors via bicycle, motorcycle, Jeep, or RV. You can always find me at the corner of Good News & Fun Times as publisher of The Fun Times Guide (32 fun websites).

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Fun From Around the Web

  • none

    the only thing that i find that helps being a pet owner with hardwood floors is washing the traffic area of the dog daily. wipeing her paws at the door on muddy days keeps the floors looking nice too. and as said before, keeping the nails trimmed. throwing down a few area rugs, makes your floors not only warmer, but it also acts as a protector from your pets play time, which can really take a toll on your floors. hope these tips help.

  • none

    the only thing that i find that helps being a pet owner with hardwood floors is washing the traffic area of the dog daily. wipeing her paws at the door on muddy days keeps the floors looking nice too. and as said before, keeping the nails trimmed. throwing down a few area rugs, makes your floors not only warmer, but it also acts as a protector from your pets play time, which can really take a toll on your floors. hope these tips help.

  • none

    the only thing that i find that helps being a pet owner with hardwood floors is washing the traffic area of the dog daily. wipeing her paws at the door on muddy days keeps the floors looking nice too. and as said before, keeping the nails trimmed. throwing down a few area rugs, makes your floors not only warmer, but it also acts as a protector from your pets play time, which can really take a toll on your floors. hope these tips help.

  • Tina

    Hi Mary Beth. Can you tell me what kind of floor you are referring to “5″ Plank Hardwood that is scratch resistant”. Thanks.

  • Sammy

    I have cherry and it is the worst hardwood for dogs i’ve used yet (IMO). I’ve used maple and oak and oak seems to hide the scratches the best. It’s so frustrating! We remodeled and went with cherry based on recommendations and 2 years later we are debating on already sanding and refinishing. its embarrassing to have people come over it’s that bad. 2 huskies that are elderly so they don’t run but it doesn’t seem to matter. scratches everywhere! =(

  • tc
  • tc

    Hi,I have an old english mastiff and a golden doodle…and….THE BEST DOG FINISH FLOOR EVER!. I bought hickory with a ” dog finish” in 4″ planks from a place called Gaylord Flooring. It’s the most beautiful floor, everyone comments on it. It’s been 5 years now and it’s still beautiful…you can even see the scratches…you have to litterally get down nose to the floor and look at it sideways to see the scratches. It’s amazing. Gaylor in in Roslin Ontario, Canada. It’s worth a call to find out who the manufacturer is…and maybe you can get it in the states.Hickory Virginia Distressed by Gaylord Flooring in Tweed, ontario Canada…http://gaylordhardwoodflooring.com/gallery/hickory/

    Good Luck.

  • tc

    Hi,I have an old english mastiff and a golden doodle…and….THE BEST DOG FINISH FLOOR EVER!. I bought hickory with a ” dog finish” in 4″ planks from a place called Gaylord Flooring. It’s the most beautiful floor, everyone comments on it. It’s been 5 years now and it’s still beautiful…you can even see the scratches…you have to litterally get down nose to the floor and look at it sideways to see the scratches. It’s amazing. Gaylor in in Roslin Ontario, Canada. It’s worth a call to find out who the manufacturer is…and maybe you can get it in the states.Hickory Virginia Distressed by Gaylord Flooring in Tweed, ontario Canada…http://gaylordhardwoodflooring.com/gallery/hickory/

    Good Luck.

    • David Alexander Gaylord

      Gaylord Hardwood Flooring manufactures all of its own flooring. The process is all done in Ontario. We ship flooring all throughout Canada and the United States. Our customers love our dog finish and we love our customers. -Gaylord Hardwood Employee and Family Member

  • http://www.facebook.com/Wellster John Weller

    The best hardwood floors for dogs are oil finished floors. Oil finished floors do not look at all the same when scratched and when they are they can be simply mopped with a soap solution that cleans and restores the floor. They are available by several manufacturers in the US. Oil finished floors are the standard in Europe, do to the fact that the Europeans plan on keeping their wood floors for life. They float their floors and when they move the floors come with them. Oil finished floors never need to be sanded and refinished and only need to be cleaned residentially to restore most wear and tear in extreme cases they can be re-oiled and will look brand new with no sanding or harsh chemicals.
    Check out Du Chateau, Revolution Mills, Catalina Hardwood all are great options. Revolution Mills is my favorite but you can check them out for your self. Oil finished floors are 100% better option to plastic covered floors.

  • Kelli Smith

    Loved your article AND the pic of the lab looking up at your from a floor filled with muddy paw prints. That looks very familiar (I even had the black lab). I recently moved into a house that is wall to wall carpet and it’s driving me crazy… especially in the downstairs by the back door. I know what they’re bringing in from outside, and that it’s all just deep down in the carpet… yucky. Don’t mind so much on the upper floors, but gotta find some wood for this downstairs area. I had the EXACT same problem you described. My lighter oak floor (I can’t remember brand or how good the quality was – it wasn’t outrageously expensive when installed, so maybe I got a lower grade, not sure) was just really a mess back by the back door where the dogs go out. I make mine drop their toys/bones before they go out too (so funny, I felt like I could have written your post)… so same dents, finish completely worn off, scratch marks, etc. The rest of the first floor wasn’t quite as bad, but it definitely scratched if I wasn’t super careful when I moved things. One of my labs is just deathly afraid of having her nails trimmed (I can literally do one at a time and it’s an ordeal)… so I’m always going to have scratch problems no matter how much I try to keep their nails perfectly trimmed. I’m also looking for a HARD hardwood that has a really strong finish. I’d considered going with laminate, but I don’t know… there’s just something about the real wood (but I guess none of it is really “real” though… it’s all processed materials”) that I just love. I just saw all the amazing comments… so am going to go through them all now for all the excellent recommendations. Thanks again for the great post.

    • http://thefuntimesguide.com/ FunTimesGuide

      Oh wow, Kelli. How funny that there are so many similarities between your story and ours :-D

    • Rico

      We hate carpet as well… on a day that we were actually hardwood floor shopping, were talked into buying a Kirby vaccuum.. Still haven’t bought Hard woods. We have an English Mastiff, Boxer and a Pom. Our carpet looks good considering the dogs we own and I am comfortable saying it is clean! It is a better insulator that wood and more comfortable…. I couldn’t stomach the thought of spending that amount of money on a vaccuum, but I don’t regret it. Wood floors = on hold. And we have a light carpet too! My thoughts… We are considering an Elm Floor when we do replace, but not sure???

  • Kelli Smith

    Loved your article AND the pic of the lab looking up at your from a floor filled with muddy paw prints. That looks very familiar (I even had the black lab). I recently moved into a house that is wall to wall carpet and it’s driving me crazy… especially in the downstairs by the back door. I know what they’re bringing in from outside, and that it’s all just deep down in the carpet… yucky. Don’t mind so much on the upper floors, but gotta find some wood for this downstairs area. I had the EXACT same problem you described. My lighter oak floor (I can’t remember brand or how good the quality was – it wasn’t outrageously expensive when installed, so maybe I got a lower grade, not sure) was just really a mess back by the back door where the dogs go out. I make mine drop their toys/bones before they go out too (so funny, I felt like I could have written your post)… so same dents, finish completely worn off, scratch marks, etc. The rest of the first floor wasn’t quite as bad, but it definitely scratched if I wasn’t super careful when I moved things. One of my labs is just deathly afraid of having her nails trimmed (I can literally do one at a time and it’s an ordeal)… so I’m always going to have scratch problems no matter how much I try to keep their nails perfectly trimmed. I’m also looking for a HARD hardwood that has a really strong finish. I’d considered going with laminate, but I don’t know… there’s just something about the real wood (but I guess none of it is really “real” though… it’s all processed materials”) that I just love. I just saw all the amazing comments… so am going to go through them all now for all the excellent recommendations. Thanks again for the great post.

  • Kelli Smith

    Loved your article AND the pic of the lab looking up at your from a floor filled with muddy paw prints. That looks very familiar (I even had the black lab). I recently moved into a house that is wall to wall carpet and it’s driving me crazy… especially in the downstairs by the back door. I know what they’re bringing in from outside, and that it’s all just deep down in the carpet… yucky. Don’t mind so much on the upper floors, but gotta find some wood for this downstairs area. I had the EXACT same problem you described. My lighter oak floor (I can’t remember brand or how good the quality was – it wasn’t outrageously expensive when installed, so maybe I got a lower grade, not sure) was just really a mess back by the back door where the dogs go out. I make mine drop their toys/bones before they go out too (so funny, I felt like I could have written your post)… so same dents, finish completely worn off, scratch marks, etc. The rest of the first floor wasn’t quite as bad, but it definitely scratched if I wasn’t super careful when I moved things. One of my labs is just deathly afraid of having her nails trimmed (I can literally do one at a time and it’s an ordeal)… so I’m always going to have scratch problems no matter how much I try to keep their nails perfectly trimmed. I’m also looking for a HARD hardwood that has a really strong finish. I’d considered going with laminate, but I don’t know… there’s just something about the real wood (but I guess none of it is really “real” though… it’s all processed materials”) that I just love. I just saw all the amazing comments… so am going to go through them all now for all the excellent recommendations. Thanks again for the great post.

  • Amy

    Note, we did the wider plank, the scratches show up more on the wider plank wood floors. We are considering a high quality laminate that won’t chip or fade…. Beware of wide planks if you have an animal.

  • Darren

    We tried SoftPaws for a few months on our two Golden Retrievers. They worked okay when they didn’t fall off. The real problem was the moisture that gathered inside the plastic next to their nails. It caused the nails to soften and split. Eventually we had to stop the SoftPaws experiment.

  • Darren

    We tried SoftPaws for a few months on our two Golden Retrievers. They worked okay when they didn’t fall off. The real problem was the moisture that gathered inside the plastic next to their nails. It caused the nails to soften and split. Eventually we had to stop the SoftPaws experiment.

  • Darren

    We tried SoftPaws for a few months on our two Golden Retrievers. They worked okay when they didn’t fall off. The real problem was the moisture that gathered inside the plastic next to their nails. It caused the nails to soften and split. Eventually we had to stop the SoftPaws experiment.

  • claulipa

    Thank you for your post,I have a Saint Bernard, a Schnauzer and a nasty carpet that I want to replace with hardwood floor. I have been reluctant to do so because of the scratch problem. What I have been thinking about doing is to put ceramic tile in the high traffic area, from the front door all the way to the kitchen and hardwood in the other areas.

    • http://thefuntimesguide.com/ FunTimesGuide

      Claulipa – I agree with you. That’s what we’re planning as well… tile in the high traffic areas — especially around doorways. Then hardwood everywhere else.

  • Sm Connors

    IMO hardwood floors and dogs are just a no-no. I had originally purchased solid oak hardwood flooring but returned it and purchased the newer luxury vinyl plank because of the dogs, the wear and tear factor, the warranty and the stain/waterproof qualities. It’s practical not only economically but aesthetically and functionally. Because it’s solid vinyl it can stand up to dogs drooling, spilling over their water bowls and having accidents. It can stand up to grit, sharp nails and heavy traffic and best of all the better quality LVT planks look and feel like real wood, some of them so well that its impossible to tell the difference once they’re laid down. The array of colors and finishes available is incredible. I’ve seen LVT plank that looks and feels exactly like hand-scraped hardwood. Installation is also a breeze and the flooring comes in self-stick, floating or for use w/adhesives. I think animal owners should definitely consider LVT plank as an option with beautiful results.

  • Jaki

    We have been trying to sell our home for several months now and the biggest concern is the condition of our floors. The floors have scratches everywhere and the scratches are the worst in the kitchen where we spend most of our time. I have a golden retriever and quite frankly, I can’t blame her. I had hardwood floors in two other homes I lived in with no problems. The first experience was with Bruce oak hardwood floors. I had two dogs at the time. You definately could not see any scratches anywhere on that floor after five years. Our second home also had oak hardwood floors in a lighter color and again we had absolutely no problems with that floor and had a dog then too. I am not sure of the brand but the floors were finished in the home as opposed to pre finished. My third house has Bruce maple floors in the color cinnamon. These are the worst floors I have ever had. Not only are they scratched, they have faded. When you lift up any area rugs in the house you can see a dramatic difference in color. My neighbors on each side of me have these same floors in a ligher color but even their floors are faded and severly scratched. This is a subdivision with the same builder who used this flooring. This particular flooring was an upgrade for these homes and now they are a joke. Unfortunately, I had no choice in picking the material used as our home was a spec home. I will not spend the money to refinish them because the same result will occur with this material and we would be wasting thousands of dollars. If we don’t sell our home soon we will take it off the market and probably stay another two years but we may have to rip up the floors and replace them and carpet other rooms that currently have hardwood flooring. Currently the entire first floor is hardwood. DO NOT PURCHASE MAPLE HARDWOOD FLOORING !!!!!! No matter what anyone tells you about them–they tell you it is one of the hardest floors–do not believe them as they will scratch the day you step foot on them. I don’t know what is the best material but I’m starting my search and if I find out I get back to this site. Good luck to everyone.

    • Rico

      Just a thought. Are your faded floors in front of a window?? Does that window have Low E coating on it? Low E blocks out the harmful sun rays that would fade your wood and other materials. It’s not a result of the wood characteristics, it’s most likely the windows lacking the Low E that the builder put in your home?
      My two cents.

  • Llepage

    I am considering Brazilian Cherry in my log home livingroom. I worried the cherry might be to red to go with the pine logs. Did you put the brazilian in your home?

    • http://thefuntimesguide.com/ FunTimesGuide

      Still haven’t made a decision on the log home flooring yet. We moved into another home before starting construction on our log home. I’ll update this post when we make a decision on the log home flooring we ultimately choose :-D

  • TLaura

    Hi –

    My problem wasn’t dogs, it was men!!

    We had a clay (actually, Har-tru) tennis court in our yard and I was unable to “train” my husband and sons to take off their shoes at the door. The result? The granules of Har-tru clung to the soles of their tennis shoes and over time, destroyed my wood floors. Imagine gluing sheets of sandpaper to the soles of your shoes, and you’ll have some idea of the type of wear I’m talking about. When we remodeled, I insisted on running a few rows of porcelain tile adjacent to the door — problem solved!! The Har-tru does not affect the tile finish, it sweeps up easily and most of the grainy material does not make it to the hardwood floors.

    It’s worth considering, but don’t choose a soft tile like marble which will scratch , or you’ll be right back where you started.

  • Landa

    We just had our hardwood floors refinished and did some research and found out about a product called soft paws. Little vinyl caps that go over your dogs nails. So far our dog is tolerating them very well. Now we don’t have to worry!

  • NHalford

    we use soft paws on cats at our vet hospital. Never heard of using it on dogs….can’t see it staying on when they play and run.

  • Dan

    About two years ago we installed a Formica laminate floor product called Quintessa. While this is not a true hardwood floor, we have found the look and durability to be excellent. With a lifetime warranty for wear, fade and staining, we have been very pleased with the product. Also it has a commercial laminate floor rating. It was very simple for us to install. While we only have one large dog (90lbs) and are not good about keeping the nails trimmed, I have not found any scratches on the floor. I would recommend an upgraded laminate under layment for a better feel and install. We used a product called scuba silent under layment. Again, this is not a true hardwood floor, but the look, durability and maintenance we have found to be outstanding.

  • Rico

    I was told to lean towards Elm and not a Rotary cut wood. I was advised to use a wood that is straight cut, can’t think of the actual cutting process??? I have an English Mastiff, Boxer and a Pom… while we have just started the shopping process for wood floors, upon the advice will probably lean towards the Elm in a straight cut.

  • http://twitter.com/DebbieGartner FloorCoveringsInt’l

    I have found the distressed hardwoods and hardwoods with stronger graining, such as red oak, do a good job of hiding the scratches. Also, lighter colored woods and those w/ a satin finish show scratches less than dark and glossier types of woods.

  • Nclazylayer5

    They have tile now that looks like wood. It gives you that wood look with the durability of tile =) It looks great if you choose one that best resembles wood.

  • Kkrueger

    I have the same issue with dog’s nails and wood floors, except my floors are even worse! We bought a home with heart pine floors and they look terribly scratched. Looking into other hardwood choices, we’ve discovered the Janka rating for rating the hardness of different woods.( You can find one in the Lumber Liquidators “magazine”.) It seems that the Brazilian hardwoods are denser and harder than American wood floors.

  • kristenb

    We live in a log home that has Douglas Fir wood flooring. This is a soft wood and I don’t understand why the original owners didn’t use a hard wood for the flooring – I’m guessing it had to do with cost. This floor has dings and scratches everywhere. It looks terrible! A friend of mine said it “looks rustic and goes with a log home”. Kind words, but to me it always looks like a dirty floor! It’s about 20 years old and looks older than that! If I get to build my own house I would never use soft wood as the flooring…only oak or another comparable truly hard wood. We had oak flooring in a 50+ year old house and it looked great and took a beating without showing it.

  • Tbarcena

    we had to redo our floors in the house.did my homework and found that bamboo floors were the hardest. They are also a reusable source so are considered green ( an added benefit for the earth friendly folks). I have a lab and golden and the floos have held up great. We also placed felt pads on our furniture to help prevent any scratching. We did get a few scratched from my husbands recliner but the felt pads on the bottom have stopped this. The bamboo floors are easy to clean since you can take a soft broom and sweep up the fur and dirt. I then use the Bona hardwood floor mop and this makes the floors shiny and clean. hope this helps. I will keep getting bamboo as long as I have dogs

  • Bliss7

    We are going to install “Alston Winston Collection Rosetta Hickory ” flooring. It looks beautiful.
    http://www.alstoninc.com/asp/shopexd.asp?id=51
    I have been told it really withstands dogs. I tried scratching the sample with a fork and couldn’t leave a mark…so I am hopeful!

  • Sher the green floor goddess

    We refinish wood floors and I’ve seen hundreds of floors damaged by dogs over the years. Forget about finding a finish that is hard enough to withstand dog scratches. Go for a repairable finish. Urethane is not an easily repaired finish. It is layers of film, and they don’t blend together when you sand out a spot and repair it. Penetrating oil finishes are not as tough as urethane but they are easily repaired. As the finish is in the wood, not on top of it, repairs blend right in. Oil finishes are common in Europe and becoming more popular here in the USA. These are not to be confused with oil modified polyurethane. Better yet, try a wire-brushed, oiled finish. Wire-brushing removes some of the soft grain, and make the floor more slip resistant. See at greenfloorgoddess.com

  • AB

    I am researching the same and have found that Brazilian mesquite and cherry are much harder than their US counterparts. I do know from experience, that using moisture cure polyurathane is excellent in preventing wear and tear. It is the formula that is used on basket ball courts.

    • http://thefuntimesguide.com/ FunTimesGuide

      AB – good to know!

  • freeway2000

    How about bamboo flooring? Does it have durability or exhibit softness? Thanks, I enjoyed your page.

    • Ryan@shopGRF

      Bamboo is an excellent choice, just make sure it is strand woven!  

  • Lme_kitty3

    Ive been researching hardwoods to survive my Great Dane and on a few blogs I’ve noticed that Acacia seems to be the hardwood of choice. It comes in many great shades and doesn’t seem to be as expensive as other exotic hardwoods. It’s native to Austrailia and Africa

    • http://thefuntimesguide.com/ FunTimesGuide

      Lme_kitty3 – THANK YOU so much for sharing that info about Acacia hardwood flooring and dogs!

  • Mkhatib

    Thanks for sharing.  We also have a 140 pound dog.  Yes, he stays indoors for part of the day.  We have used laminate in our house and it sure is reliable.  Not only has he chased the cat around, but I have dropped a hammer on it and it didn’t scratch.  :)

  • http://thefuntimesguide.com/ FunTimesGuide

    Via Twitter, @BetterHomeShow recommends Mannington flooring for dog owners: http://www.mannington.com/ [Source: https://twitter.com/BetterHomeShow/status/210722562290884608]