Cat on carpet and hardwood

The Best Apartment Flooring Options When Living With Pets

Pet owners know it’s important to consider units with pet-friendly floors. For most pet owners, the damage from pet claws and pet stains are their biggest concerns. Choosing a pet-friendly flooring to resist pet stains and is extremely scratch resistant is ideal. Be sure to read your lease agreement as many landlords often add a clause about pets. It’s worth taking the time to find the best pet-friendly apartment possible.

Here are some things a pet owner may want to consider when choosing the best floor option for both you and your furry friends in kitchens, family rooms or living rooms.

What’s the best flooring for living with pets?

Finding flooring types with a scratch-resistant finish for our furry friends isn’t easy, especially if you’re seeking the best flooring for dogs since they’re generally more active than cats. A dog’s nails, even when they’re clipped regularly, can do damage to wood floors. Other things to consider are stains caused by liquids, whether it’s urine or water from a water bowl.

Each type of flooring has a list of pros and cons. Dog owners might choose waterproof flooring options because they’re easier to clean after they walk their dogs while a cat or dog owner may look for the right flooring based on how easy it is to wipe off pet hair.

hardwood floors are the best apartment flooring when living with pets.

Most common types of floors in apartments

Most apartments have hardwood floors, luxury vinyl flooring or laminate flooring in the living room and dining room areas. Kitchens usually feature ceramic tile, vinyl flooring or porcelain tile because these are more water-resistant than hardwood flooring. Water and wood don’t like to mix so you’ll want to avoid using a mop with water or soap-based cleaners on any type of wood floor.

Not as common but also found in homes are cork flooring, bamboo flooring, luxury vinyl plank, concrete floors and natural stone.

Choosing the best type of flooring based on pet use

To help minimize the way scratches appear on floors, consider lighter stains, woods with more grains or lighter-colored tiles if leaning toward vinyl, laminate or ceramic options. The disadvantage of lighter colors is they might show more dirt trekked in from the outdoors.

Think about your pet and how they navigate their spaces in your apartment. If they can go weeks with unclipped claws and scratches are a bigger issue, go lighter. If trekking in dirt from walks is a problem, go with more patterns or darker colors.

dog on hardwood

Are solid hardwood floors good for pets?

Not all hardwood is the same. Homes can feature different types of wood species, grains, styles and thickness levels. It’s best to consider your budget and the look you want before buying or installing this type of flooring.

According to the American Kennel Club (AKC), it’s possible for pet owners to enjoy having a solid hardwood floor with some considerations. If you’re a wood floor lover, make sure you trim your dog’s nails regularly and you wipe up any messes immediately — whether accidents or muddy paw marks.

The organization also recommends engineered hardwood flooring with the most scratch-resistant finish available as one of the best flooring for dogs if you want that wood floor look. Another recommendation by AKC is to choose the hardest wood you can find, such as teak, mesquite or hard maple, if you’re adding new flooring. “Wood with a matte or low-gloss look will do a better job at hiding scratches,” the organization notes. “And be sure to finish your floor with a scratch-resistant finish.”

Hardwood floors offer a few benefits from a general lifestyle and use perspective. You can usually include them in any décor, whether traditional or modern and installed in most spaces. You can buff or refinish them multiple times before you’re left with a thin layer and need to replace the entire floor.

Refinishing damaged hardwoods

The manufacturing process of some engineered hardwood floors allows you to refinish after sanding. For best results, it’s best if the wear layer is thick. Ideally, you want the wear layer at least three millimeters thick, otherwise, you run the risk of damaging the floor to the point that you’ll need to replace it.

Still, even in high traffic areas, a simple buffing can usually remove unsightly scratches without needing to go through the expense and trouble of refinishing.

Some negatives of hardwood floors: water and wood don’t like to mix so you’ll want to avoid using a mop with water or soap-based cleaners on any type of wood flooring. Instead, use cleaners designed for wood and keep a duster nearby to clean up any messes. Also, wood can get expensive to buy and install. Finding options that are more readily available, such as walnut or ash, can help keep this flooring option more affordable than opting for exotic hardwood species where you’ll be paying a premium.

Other flooring options besides hardwood floors

Another option? Go with distressed or reclaimed wood. While not pet-proof, these flooring options look scratched and well-loved so any marks from pets’ nails aren’t noticeable.

Not a hardwood floor since it’s technically a grass, bamboo flooring has similar features to hardwood and between the two options, is usually slightly more affordable flooring of the two.

Is laminate flooring stain-resistant?

Laminate flooring is the favorite thanks to its stain resistance and durability. It’s also less expensive than hardwood, luxury vinyl tile, ceramic tile and natural stone. When paired with a strong sealant layer, it’s relatively scratch-proof, making it ideal as flooring if you have pets at home.

Laminate flooring can get slippery for pets so finishing it with some texture will help keep those paws from skidding all over the place. Like any flooring, you want to wipe off any surface moisture and keep towels handy by doors where pets walk in and out to clean up any excess moisture or dirt that trails inside.

cleaning floors

Caring for floors when you have pets

Not everyone has a say in which type of floor comes with their apartment or home. The best types are the ones that make it easy to keep clean and you’re not stuck giving up your security deposit because the floors need refinishing or replacing.

If you have any type of tile, such as porcelain, luxury vinyl or ceramic tile, keep in mind you’ll need to clean grout lines, as well as the tile when things get wet or dirty.

If you find an apartment you love but the flooring will be an issue with your pet, be proactive and think of solutions that will make everyone happier. Some pet owners throw down a thin-piled rug on hardwood, for example, to make it easier for their pets to walk around. Others will add that little mat beneath their pet’s food and water bowl to catch any spills and not let water sit on the floor for too long. If a room has thick or shag-type carpet and your pet can avoid that room, cordon off the room with a baby or pet gate.

Best floors when living with pets

Pets make our lives fuller and more fun and according to the Humane Society, 72 percent of renters have pets. Since more of us have pets than don’t, choosing apartments that are a good match to our lifestyle will go a long way toward an enjoyable rental experience. Taking the time to consider an apartment based on its amenities, whether that means the building includes a pool or a dog run, is one thing. But it’s overlooked details like flooring that sometimes get missed when looking at a place.

If you have pets, it’s a good idea to review apartments based on how your life, and the life of your pet, would be easier and more enjoyable. While flooring isn’t obvious, choosing the best flooring when living with pets will help you both enjoy the place and be as stress-free as possible.


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