Muddy Paws Are No Match for the Best Flooring for Dogs (We Know, We Asked 5 Pros!)
Wood, stone, and more.
Published Jun 1, 2022 3:30 PM
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If you have a furry friend at home, you’re likely no stranger to mopping up paw prints or wiping away sloppy spills around the water bowl. While we love our four-legged companions, they do tend to be a bit…messy. And if you’re on the hunt for a new floor, you may be thinking your options are pretty limited. After all, you’ll want something low maintenance but durable enough to resist scratching (even if your pet isn’t allowed to play fetch inside!). Rest assured: Your options are plentiful. We asked product pros and designers to share their go-to materials for the best flooring for dogs that will have pets and their parents feeling pleased, listed below.
- Best for timeless style: Engineered Hardwood
- Best for realistic faux looks: Luxury Vinyl Planks
- Best for natural durability: Unpolished Stone
- Best for worry-free maintenance: Laminate
- Best for cozy comfort: Carpet Tile
Best for Timeless Style: Engineered Hardwood
Price range: $$–$$$ | Anti-slip: No | Water resistant: No | Scratch resistant: Yes
What we like:
- A range of types and stains to get the look you want
- Warm underfoot
- Naturally hard wearing, will patina over time
- Sustainable (made from natural materials)
- Can be pricey, depending on what you go with
- Unpack boards early to acclimate to your home’s humidity
- Water and wood will never be best friends (cupping and warping can occur!)
Why we chose it: This high-end look can last a lifetime (even if your dog likes to sprint indoors).
For real, natural warmth, hardwood can’t be beat. It’s one of the easiest ways to bring the outdoors in, and nearly every designer we’ve chatted with loves to use it throughout an entire home—in the kitchen, living room, and bedroom—because it’s so timeless. (I mean, this is the same material you’ll find in centuries-old palaces and castles.)
While we won’t completely steer you away from solid wood—you can always have it sanded down and refinished if water damage or deep scratching occurs—engineered hardwood is probably the better option since it’s more structurally and dimensionally stable, explains Jaclyn Genovese of Spaces by JacFlash. “When it comes to children and pets, there’s a higher risk of expansion and contraction due to fluid damages,” she shares, adding that it’s an easy surface to sweep dust, dander, and hair from. For a deeper clean, look to one of the best hardwood floor cleaners.
Genovese’s top recommendation is going with a harder species that is prefinished matte over something shinier, the latter of which is more likely to reveal scratches and fur. Though some engineered hardwood does have the potential to be refinished, you shouldn’t even need to worry about it if you go with a tough top layer. Look out for acrylic or aluminum oxide–infused finishes, which won’t murk up the look of the grain and still offer superior protection against scratching. Another note on this material: Wood can be tricky to install, and you want it done right; it’s best to enlist the help of a professional.
Best for Realistic Faux Looks: Luxury Vinyl Planks
Price range: $–$$ | Anti-slip: No | Water resistant: Yes | Scratch resistant: Yes
What we like:
- Not only resistant to scratches, but stains (and germs, for those with antimicrobial properties) as well
- Usually no acclimation time—install the day it arrives
- Can be floated over most preexisting hard surfaces
- Check the warranty, as these floors won’t last as long as their natural counterparts
Why we chose it: This is the ideal option if you want the look of reclaimed wood or luxe marble but are on a budget.
“Luxury vinyl flooring is affordable, durable, scratch resistant, and easy to clean,” says Decorist designer Maria DeLucia. But the best part? It can take on the look of pretty much any other floor covering, including hyper-realistic wood grains and marble veining, such as this take on Cararra. Couple that with improved printing techniques (with vinyl, the look is usually printed on the top layer) and low-maintenance benefits, and this flooring category can give you any look you want without having to deal with damage. In fact, DeLucia’s pick—NuCore—is just $3.39 per square foot and can be floated on top of nearly any floor without glue or nails.
Best for Natural Durability: Unpolished Stone
Price range: $$–$$$ | Anti-slip: Yes | Water resistant: Yes | Scratch resistant: No
What we like:
- All sorts of options: slate, travertine, and more
- Stick to textures for anti-slip grip and hiding scratches
- Ability to add a sealant for extra protection
- Can feel cold underfoot
- May require grouting
Why we chose it: Unpolished stone means your pup won’t slip and slide.
Another flooring preference of Genovese’s is natural, unpolished stones like slate or quartz-based sandstone—the same sort of materials you’ll see outdoors, in the elements, so a dog that loves to romp outside should be no problem here. “The organic elements make the floor more slip-resistant for paws, and more forgiving for day-to-day, heavier foot traffic,” she adds. In fact, designer Dee Murphy used a dark slate from Clé Tile for her own kitchen floor and it has stood up to four kids and two dogs no problem—all it needs is a swift sweep to keep it looking clean. And it naturally refuses to absorb water, thanks to its less-than-porous quality. “You can’t beat the combination of style, durability, and timelessness,” she has told us in the past. And if it feels a little too cold or rigid beneath your feet, all you need is a rug for added comfort. And yet, if stone still feels like too much of a risk, there’s always porcelain tile, which often features the same look.
Best for Worry-Free Maintenance: Laminate
Price range: $–$$ | Anti-slip: Yes | Water resistant: Yes | Scratch resistant: Yes
What we like:
- Affordable (less than $50 a case)
- Resists fading
- A breeze to install (just snap the planks together and you’re done)
- A range of looks—from wood to stone—and sizes
- Thinner than real wood
Why we chose it: No worries about water damage, scratching, and scuffing—or denting either.
Today’s laminate isn’t the same rubbery, tacky substance you might remember lining the floors of your grandparents’ house—this wood-based material has come a long way since then, especially its performance-driven attributes. Seriously, since laminate is often installed by locking plank to plank, it’s almost impossible for water to seep through any gaps—some brands are even approved for steam mopping. And the visuals have only improved, too, with realistic embossing (in other words, a stamped texture on the surface). DeLucia, for one, relies on Pergo.
“Pergo has been around for generations and has both style and substance with its different collections,” she argues. For example, the company’s WoodCraft line is waterproof (it comes with a lifetime residential surface and subfloor warranty) and scratch- and dent resistant; it also comes in longer, wider-plank sizes. But we particularly love the look of Outlast’s blond hickory.
Best for Cozy Comfort: Carpet Tile
Price range: $–$$ | Anti-slip: Yes | Water resistant: Yes | Scratch resistant: Yes
What we like:
- Ability to customize a look or pattern
- A soft surface your dog will love to lounge on (but is easy to clean)
- Puzzle-like assembly—no need for a pro
- Custom measurements are hard to get exactly right
Why we chose it: If you crave something soft underfoot, carpet tile can replace rugs.
You may be surprised to hear that hard surface flooring isn’t the only option for dogs—carpet can also be a fur-friendly floor. It will offer your pooch plenty of grip to traipse about your home with ease. But if committing to wall-to-wall coverage feels too much like traveling back to the ’70s, carpet’s tiled cousin is a welcome modern update.
Both Travis London, interior designer and founder of Miami-based Studio London Co., and DeLucia swear by Flor. “There are two things I love most: having a beautiful home and my babies,” offers London. “And I’m not willing to compromise the comfort of either. Being a pet parent means there will be accidents, and having a washable rug means I won’t have to sacrifice the beauty of my home.” The good thing about Flor, he explains, is that when there are accidents, you can just remove the one square, wash and dry it, and it’s back to new. “That’s a style that’s not only practical but also effective,” he adds. And you don’t have to worry about tacking on a rug pad to your order, as this particular tile stays snugly in place.
Flor comes in a range of colors and patterns, if you’re feeling more adventurous (there’s chevron, contemporary geometrics, and more), and a breadth of neutrals, including jute- and wool-like offerings. And since there’s no glue or nails required, you can quickly assemble this flooring in a flash without assistance. This particular product come in 19.7-by-19.7-inch squares, and you can either choose a predetermined quantity (similar to your typical rug sizes) or go with custom coverage. It’s also a rental savior if you can’t remove the outdated, unknown floor that came with your apartment—and we’d argue it’s easier to put together than peel-and-stick tiles.
If you’re looking for something even more unique, Heidi Steele, founder of Surface Resources, is a fan of terrazzo, which won’t absorb odors and refuses to stain. When a client’s style is more industrial or minimalist, DeLucia will point to sealed concrete (even better if you have radiant heat flooring during the cold winter months). “Concrete is easy to clean, does not collect dog fur, and resists all kinds of scratches,” she adds.
If you’re hoping for something warm, or better at sound abatement (especially if your pup gets a case of the zoomies in the middle of the night), cork is a surprisingly great option. “Cork offers great resiliency underfoot, thermal stability, and inherent antibacterial, allergen-free characteristics,” explains Steele, who is a fan of Amorim Cork Flooring. “Follow in the footsteps of Frank Lloyd Wright by choosing this eco-friendly flooring that ensures the comfort and well-being of all members of the household.”
How We Chose These Products
To figure out the best flooring for dogs, we sourced recommendations from the experts (or those who are pet parents themselves) in the categories they rely on for clients with a furry friend. The results are a blend of form and function—we found options for a variety of needs and households, whether your top priority is overall style, being able to easily mop up any messes, or not being distraught over a newfound scratch or dent. One thing’s for sure: Our favorite floors are just as beautiful as they are durable.
Our Shopping Checklist
Types of Flooring for Dogs
There are all kinds of options when it comes to floor coverings, but for pet-friendly homes, it’s best to prioritize a material that’s durable, scratch-resistant, and easy to clean. Experts we reached out to recommend sticking to the main categories:
- Hardwood—specifically prefinished, engineered hardwood—can still be safe for dogs (just skip a superslick oiled coating). This is a natural, organic material derived directly from trees, and it’s resilient and long-lasting. While engineered wood is best to stand up to liquid spills and messes, a solid wood floor can always be repaired. “Energetic young pets will inevitably make scratches on any floor,” points out Bacher. “You can mend particularly scratched wood floors by recoating them or even sanding them down.”
- Laminate may not be “the real deal,” but it’s still a viable product to consider, especially when it comes to the price tag. While the category, much like vinyl, has gotten a bad reputation for being faux, both of these offer some seriously realistic visuals, along with crazy performance promises like moisture resistance and being scratchproof. Laminate is made from several thin layers of particleboard fused together through a lamination process (hence the name)—and now with new and improved locking systems to keep water out. And while sheet vinyl is perfectly fine, there’s a lot to be gained going with its newer, rigid counterpart: luxury vinyl tile or planks.
- Carpet is all about comfort. It’s warm and soft underfoot for both you and your dog, and is likely the most anti-slip option you can find. Manufacturers have really upped performance for wall-to-wall coverings, but carpet tiles are even easier to remove and clean, so you don’t have to worry about a spill seeping through the surface to your subfloor.
Although finding the best flooring for dogs isn’t as simple as picking out a surface that visually appeals to you the most. There are other factors to weigh when figuring out the right fit for your pet and home. For instance, are you installing above or below grade (like in the basement, where things can get pretty humid)? Are you trying to keep noise transfer down to a minimum? What kind of subfloor do you have? This is important information to know and helpful to have with you when talking to a flooring retailer, sales associate, or contractor.
When it comes to deciding which flooring material is best, one of the top features to keep in mind is durability, argues Steele. That’s why it’s important to look out for scratch resistance and other innovative features that protect the floor against water.
Checking the product’s general warranties doesn’t hurt either, especially considering that installing some flooring in particular rooms or levels of the home can void any form of protection against defects altogether.
Design and Color
While worry-proof maintenance is usually the top priority for dog owners, we understand probably better than anyone that you want a floor covering you love to look at. If you’re not sure what color wood or stone to go with, Steele advises sticking to midrange tones, which can do a much better job at camouflaging strands of fur and debris. “Medium-toned colors with texture or a pattern help hide wear and tear best, which is why I love wood-grain patterns so much,” offers DeLucia. “You can also match the color of your dog if they shed a lot (but that might be a bit hard-core for most).”
Maintenance and Care
While going with one of our top picks means you don’t have to stress too much about catching accidents on time or discovering scratches in your floor’s surface, one of the easiest ways to prolong the life of your flooring is to keep it clean—which can be as easy as placing a doormat at each entrance your dog walks through. Because you might be quick to spot a muddy paw print, it isn’t as easy to notice a buildup of fine particles, which, in high-traffic areas, can wear away at any type of flooring. That’s why you’ll want to vacuum regularly (and mop when necessary and if applicable).
Q: How can I prevent my dog from scratching my floors?
Unfortunately, dog nails do have a tendency to scratch floors—that’s why it’s so important to seek out a scratch-resistant finish. Otherwise, regular trimming helps prevent wearing away at your floor’s top layer.
Q: Is there an easy way to keep my floors clean?
As cute as a dog can be, if you have a shedder or a pup that loves a good romp outside (or laying down in any muddy puddle they can find), keeping your home clean and tidy can definitely be a challenge. We recommend enlisting the help of a robot vacuum—such as the Roborock dual vac-and-mop in one—or an all-purpose cleaner, such as Casabella’s multisurface mop.
Q: I love hardwood, but my dog struggles to walk on it. Anything I can do to compromise?
DeLucia’s trick? Layering a rug, especially one that’s easy to wash (Ruggable, Revival, and Tumble, for instance), is great for pups—especially older dogs with joint issues. “These rugs can be cleaned in your washing machine, so maintenance is easy-peasy,” says DeLucia. “They also have great designs, like the lapis blue ink drop design by Jonathan Adler, which is one of my personal favorites.”
The Last Word
The best flooring for dogs is made from materials that can stand up to long claws, seasonal shedding, and the occasional accident. Designers and experts recommend wood, vinyl, stone, laminate, and carpet, each of which promises superior performance. Plus going with a timeless look is sure to fit any style of home.