If you have dogs but wish for hardwood floors, you may think that the two are irreconcilable. But you do not have to give up your dream of having both. While dogs pose a few challenges to the hardwood floor owner, a little bit of wood floor TLC and a minimum dose of awareness allows you to remain on top of the game and preserve the beauty of your floors. Here are a few steps to follow in order to reconcile your love for dogs with that for a well-preserved home.
1. Clip your dog’s nails. To avoid the cost of refinishing hardwood floors more than necessary, keep an eye on your pet’s nails. These are your wood floor’s enemy number one, and the problem is more severe when you have large dogs whose weight pushes their nails deeper into the wood. Include trimming your dog’s nails into your floor maintenance routine, whether you do it yourself using clippers made specifically for dogs and files to smooth the edges, or you prefer to use professional grooming.
2. Use dog booties or socks. This is a vastly personal preference and it is often met with resistance from your dog, at least at the beginning. If you find that this is the right solution for you, remember that such accessories may actually be of some benefit to your pet, not only your floors. They may help old dogs with traction or your little pet from constantly slipping on the floor. You can even choose booties with leather soles that your pet can wear outside, in order to make these periodic trips easier on you.
3. Use door mats and set up feeding stations. Since your dog needs to go outside even when the muddy weather does not cooperate, a mat in front of your door is the least you can do to prevent mud and dirt making it across your wood floor. Guarding your door with both an outside and inside mat means that your dog’s paws will get a chance to clean themselves at least partially before touching your wood planks.
Dogs are usually careless eaters that spread the food and water around their feeding bowl. Create a feeding station that minimizes the impact of water and food on your hardwood floor coating and planks by placing the bowls on a rubber mat. Use slip-resistant and heavy-weight pet dishes, so that your dog does not displace them when eating.
4. Clean immediately after an “accident.” Accidents are unavoidable, but pet spots on your hardwood floors are often not. As long as you promptly clean the problem spot, the urine will not damage your hardwood floors, nor will the waste travel through your planks and cause unsightly stains.
5. Keep up a good maintenance routine. Besides your daily and weekly cleaning routine, we are proponents of periodic buff-and-coat beauty treatments for your hardwood floors. These treatments remove the worn protective layer from your floors and replace it with a brand new one, before the damage gets to the wood. Hiring wood floor buff and coat professionals ensures that the job is done fast and well. Adding more coats of polyurethane and choosing a tougher finish makes your floors better fit to resist scratching.
6. Choose the right hardwood for your floors. Having a dog is a good pretext to familiarize yourself with the Janka scale of hardness. This is a system that measures the hardness and toughness of different species of wood – and a good inkling into how your wood floors will resist abuse. If you have a dog, it is wise to choose a harder type of hardwood, such as hard maple (with a Janka rating of 1450), strand-woven bamboo (3000), or Brazilian walnut (3684), and stay away from soft coniferous woods or other soft species such as American cherry.
7. Choose prefinished wood planks. While we are staunch advocates for finishing hardwood floors on site and we often talk about the artistry that goes into professional hardwood floor refinishing projects, we may have a change of heart when it comes to dogs. Prefinished wood floors are better in dealing with pets’ nails and scratches because the manufacturing process involves such extras as aluminum oxide finishes or curing the finish with UV light, which make the wood planks tougher.
8. Stay away from engineered wood with thin wear layer. Sooner or later, with all your precautions, a pet scratch is likely to appear on your floor. When the problem is localized, it is easy to replace one or two wood planks and get your floor back in shape. But pet scratches are rarely restricted to one area, especially when you have a playful dog and a tendency to forget about trimming his nails. In this case, you have a problem. Engineered wood with a thin wear layer is not designed to be refinished. Depending on the thickness of the top layer, you run the risk of reaching the inner core of your planks when sanding the floor down and having your wood floor refinishing contractors tell you that your cause is lost.
9. Choose the right color for your floors. Light-colored wood planks with heavy grain hide scratches and dents better. Consider oak for its rich grain, or species such as hickory or hard maple, that combine hardness with light color. Maple, for instance, is used for gym floors because it can take a lot of abuse and not show it, so it is a good contender for wood floors that come in contact with a pet.
10. Be the first to damage your floors. We’re kidding, of course. Or not. Depending on how you define handscraping your hardwood floors, you can give your planks a look that is both trendy and perfect in masking the dents and scratches inflicted by your dog.
Finally, remember that when it comes to pets, wood floors are better than carpets, which are even more difficult to clean and maintain in good shape. If you do not want to drastically limit your options in floor finishes, follow the advice above and you’ll be able to enjoy both your pets and your hardwood floors.