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 soon-to-be-built 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.
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 flooring we currently have (seen in these photos) is 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.
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.
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
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.
UPDATE: So, Which Floor Did We Pick?
Well, we never ended up building the new log home (yet — it will happen one day). Instead, we found a great deal on a different house and have been here ever since.
It might be helpful to know that our “new” home has red oak hardwood flooring throughout the entire first floor and part of the second floor.
We still have a dog, and the floors here still look great – after 6 years in this house!
I attribute that to a few things:
- There’s a thick coat of polyurethane on top for added protection — but we didn’t install these floors, they were here before us.
- We’ve only had 1 large 90 lb dog (instead of 2… or 3) in this home with us — during the entire 6 years that we’ve been here.
- Our dog does not run on these hardwood floors — he’ll trot quickly, but not run in the house.
- The previous owners only lived in this “brand spankin’ new house” for 6 months before we moved in — so the floors were in immaculate condition to begin with.
- We care for and clean our hardwood floors differently than we did before (in the photos above) — now we only use Bona hardwood floor products.
So yeah, I can safely recommend red oak hardwood floors if you have dogs.
But common sense still comes into play here. For example:
- Harder woods are still better than softer woods — especially if you have a very large dog (or more than one dog, or dogs that tend to run on your floors a lot).
- How you care for your floors has a lot to do with how well they’ll hold up to dogs — and normal wear & tear.
Most of the problems we had with our natural oak floors (pictured above) were due to improper care and cleaning on our part. We used to use Pine-sol and water to regularly clean those floors. (I know, my heart drops every time I say that.) At the time, we simply didn’t know how badly we were hurting our floors — it was our first house. As you probably know, water alone on hardwood flooring is incredibly damaging. And to top it off, we were basically stripping the floors with Pine-sol every time we “cleaned” them. We were pretty much begging for a dull, lifeless, and unprotected finish on those poor floors!
That was before we knew better. Now we only use Bona hardwood floor products and trust me, it makes a difference!
You can see photos of our “new” red oak hardwood floors — and our 90 lb. dog — in these 2 articles:
- Bona Spray Mop vs Shark Steam Mop On Hardwood Floors
- Steam Cleaning Hardwood Floors: What You Need To Know
More Tips If You’ve Got Dogs
- 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
I like to help people find unique ways to do things in order to save time & money — so I 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 over 10 years before switching gears to pursue activities that I’m truly 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 & helpful websites).