best flooring for pets

Best Flooring for Your Dogs & Cats

Whenever you are upgrading your floors, there are always lots of factors to consider when making your selection. Also a pet owner? Ensuring that you pick the best flooring for cats and dogs should be near the top of your list.


Pets can be heavy on floors. Their nails can leave scratches. Accidents can cause staining and result in odors that just won’t dissipate. Shedding means floors need to be cleaned regularly and thoroughly.

So, unless you plan on banishing your best friend to the backyard and if you don’t want your new floors ruined quickly, you do need to invest in the best flooring for pets.

Fortunately, since we are a nation of animal lovers, there are plenty of pet-friendly flooring options on the market for your next home improvement project.

To help you find flooring that you love and that can stand up to the wear and tear inflicted on it by your pets, we have come up with a list of the best types of flooring for animal homes.

Each option has pros and cons, but with a little perseverance, you will find the perfect flooring for your home.

5 Best Pet-Friendly Flooring Options

When you are looking for pet-friendly flooring, the two most important considerations are:

(1) Waterproof (or at least water-resistant)

No matter how well-trained your pet, accidents happen. And accidents are not the only way that pets bring water into the home. Food and water can spill out of their bowls, they can bring in mud on their feet and legs, create a mess after a bath or swim, and let’s not forget that some dogs drool, a lot.

Some floors can be permanently damaged by even a small amount of water if it is not cleaned up immediately. Waterproof, or at least floors with a high level of water-resistance, are necessary for any pet-home.

(2) Scratch-Resistant

Unlike our nails, dogs and cats’ nails make contact with the ground when they walk. This alone can cause scratches on fragile floors as their nails are much harder than your own. Add to that the natural clawing and scratching instincts of both cats and dogs, and they can make short work of a soft floor.

Pet-friendly flooring should be scratch-resistant since there is not any such thing as scratch proof. This generally means hard floors. It is also a good idea to look for floors with a strong protective layer on top, so they can be refinished. Also, it can be a good idea to go for designs where scratches will blend in rather than stand out.

With these criteria in mind, here are our picks for the best five pet-friendly flooring types.

1. Tile and Stone Flooring

Water-resistant, stain-resistant, and easy to clean, tile and stone flooring can hold up to whatever your pet dishes out. It is one of the best options when it comes to pet-friendly flooring.

Tile and stone flooring works well for pets of all ages. Whether you have a new puppy that is still learning to potty-train, or an older dog who has trouble controlling its bowels, these floors are very forgiving.

And if you forget to trim your pet’s nails, you don’t have to worry about them scratching or damaging your floors.

Tile flooring can be highly affordable, costing from us little as $1.00 per square foot, though good quality tiles can set you back as much as $30.00 per square foot.

Now, the downside is that while tile (including wood-look tile) and stone are convenient for you, they aren’t the most comfortable flooring for your pet.

These floors are hard and cold.

Cats can easily find a cozy couch or chair to rest in. But, if you have dogs, make sure that they have soft area rugs or a dog bed somewhere in the house for them to lie down on.

And if you live somewhere that gets cold in the winter, you may also want to consider installing a radiant underfloor heating system. Radiant heating will add warmth for both you and your pet.

Tile and stone flooring is definitely our top picks if you are looking for the best scratch-resistant flooring that is also waterproof. However, they are not the most comfortable for your pets, so make sure to add softness and warmth for them.

Pros:

  • Waterproof
  • Highly scratch-resistant
  • Easy to clean

Cons:

  • Can be cold underfoot and drain warmth from the room in colder climates

2. Cork Flooring

Cork flooring is an excellent choice for pet owners. It is attractive, resembling hardwood flooring, and it is also microbial.

What does that mean? If your pet has an accident on the floor, microbial flooring is less likely to develop bacterial growth, mold, or other harmful allergens.

So, while you want to clean it up quickly, if you don’t discover the accident right away, you can still remove it safely.

Another benefit of cork is that it absorbs sound. If you love your pet, but you are not a fan of the sound of feet as it traipses noisily through your house, cork is a good option.

Cork is also scratch-resistant. However, this doesn’t mean it won’t scratch. Keeping your pet’s nails trimmed is still a good idea.

Choose a lighter shade of cork flooring to minimize the look of scratch marks. And make sure to finish it with a tough, scratch-resistant finishing product.

Cork is also a highly affordable flooring option, costing between $2.00-$7.00 per square foot, and you may be able to find good options online for even less.

While cork flooring is not entirely “pet-proof”, it is an option that provides a natural warmth similar to hardwood flooring, yet it is more resistant to many pet-related flooring challenges.

Pros:

  • Microbial resistance to bacteria and mold
  • Absorbs sound

Cons:

  • Scratch-resistant, but less so than tile and stone options

3. Bamboo Flooring

Like cork, bamboo flooring is another great option if you want a natural, wood-like look with pets.

It is extremely durable, stain-resistant, and scratch-resistant. So, you can feel at ease as you watch your pet run across your brand-new floors.

Just make sure to choose the right bamboo flooring as not all bamboo is created equal.

Choose one that has a high rating for hardness according to the Janka test. Strand woven bamboo floors hold up better than other types of bamboo flooring.

While Bamboo flooring can be purchased for as little as $2.00 per square foot, though you probably need to spend between $4.00 and $7.00 per square foot for decent quality bamboo flooring.

Bamboo flooring is also easy to maintain. So, whatever your pet drags into the house from the outside is easy to clean up.

Food and water spills or pet accidents won’t damage these floors either if cleaned up properly.

Plus, bamboo is very sustainable. So, you are also doing something good for the environment when choosing bamboo.

Overall, bamboo flooring is an excellent choice at a great price point for a home with pets, as long as you choose one that is hard and durable.

Pros:

  • Both stain and scratch resistant
  • Environmentally friendly

Cons:

  • Need to be careful when selecting this type of flooring as bamboo floors can vary greatly in quality

4. Luxury Vinyl Flooring

Luxury vinyl flooring is a great choice if you have pets. It can mimic the look of natural stone, tile, or hardwood, but it is much easier on your pets (and your budget).

Luxury vinyl comes as either luxury vinyl planks (LVP) and luxury vinyl tile (LVT).

LVP and LVT work well with pets for many reasons.

First, luxury vinyl is very durable.

If you use a good quality product and install it correctly, it can withstand many of the challenges that come along with pets. And it won’t scratch or tear.

It holds up well against accidents and food or water bowl spills. Most luxury vinyl is water-resistant, and some varieties are even waterproof.

It is easy to maintain and easy to clean.

Plus, it is soft underfoot. So, you and your pets will be comfortable while walking and resting.

So, if you are looking for budget-friendly flooring that you and your pets will enjoy, luxury vinyl is an excellent choice. You can find quality LVP flooring for between $3.00-$7.00 per square foot.

Pros:

  • More affordable than other pet-friendly flooring
  • Scratch and water resistant

Cons:

  • Less desirable when it comes to resale value

5. Engineered Hardwood Flooring

While any type of hardwood flooring is not recommended for pets, if you must have hardwood, then go with engineered hardwood.

Engineered Hardwood Flooring

Just be sure to choose one that rates high on the Janka test such as Brazilian cherry or white oak. And you want it to have a tough, scratch-resistant finish on it.

In case your pet does scratch through the finish, go with planks that have a thick veneer. If the top layer is thick, you can sand it down and refinish it a few times.

Another way to help hide the scratch marks is to choose flooring that already has a “rustic” or distressed look. These styles already look worn, and any scratch marks will naturally blend in.

Also, remember to clean up any accidents or spills immediately to protect your floors.

So, if you don’t mind spending a little more on high-quality engineered hardwood, it is possible for pets and hardwood floors to coexist in your home.

While you can expect to get standard engineered hardwood for $4.00-$7.00 per square foot, but if you are looking for the best quality, expect to pay $7.00-$12.00 per square foot.

Pros:

  • Desirable when considering home resale value
  • More water-resistant than traditional hardwood floors

Cons:

  • Not as water or scratch resistant as other options

Flooring To Avoid With Pets

If you plan to install new flooring, and one of your goals is that it should be pet-friendly, some flooring types are best avoided.

Now, if you have your heart set on any of these floors, you can still have them. Just keep in mind that you may have to make some compromises or work extra hard to maintain them.

The first, and probably most obvious of these, is carpet. Especially thick, plush carpets, unless you choose a carpet specially designed for pet owners.

Carpet stains easily. Plus, cats like to claw at it and dogs like to chew on it.

Solid hardwood flooring should also be avoided. Pet accidents or spills can permanently damage and warp them.

Plus, they can easily get scratched up. So, if you insist on hardwood, you are better off going with engineered hardwood.

Laminate has not traditionally been considered a good choice for pets. It can warp if it gets wet unless you manage to get your hands on one of the waterproof laminate options manufactured recently.

Plus, its texture can be slippery for pets. This can be troublesome, especially for dogs who may be prone to hip injuries.

However, recent technological advancements in the industry have spurred us to review a few dog-friendly laminate flooring options.

Maintaining And Cleaning Your Pet-Friendly Floors

Whatever type of flooring you choose, keeping it clean is important.

Animals track dirt and debris inside the house. They also leave pet hair and dander.

And even if you have a cat who never ventures outside, it may leave a trail of litter that can harm your floors.

So, here are some tips to help keep your floors clean:

  1. Create a routine for whipping out your pet hair vacuum, and sweep often.
  2. Mop hard surfaces on a regular (though less frequent) basis.
  3. Clean up accidents such as pet urine immediately. Use homemade remedies or purchase a special pet product to neutralize it.
  4. Place a mat under food and water bowls to prevent spills from making contact with your floors.
  5. Some floors need refinishing every six months to a year. Mark your calendars and keep up with this to protect your floors.

With a regular maintenance routine, you can keep your floors in good shape, even with pets.

Tips To Minimize Pet Accidents

If you have pets, you can expect the occasional accident. It will happen.

Dogs may not be able to wait as long as you need them to. Cats can miss the litter box, or refuse to use it in protest.

Tips To Minimize Pet Accidents

However, there are some ways that you can minimize the frequency of accidents.

First, if you have a new puppy, make sure to read up on house training. And be patient.

Or, you can hire professionals to train the puppy for you.

If your dog is older and starts having accidents, it may be a sign of a medical issue. The best place to start is by having your pet examined by a vet.

Stress can also cause dogs to have accidents in the house. If there are changes in the home that are stressing out your pet, try to find ways to help it through this time.

Cats may go outside the litter box for many reasons. If the litter box is too dirty, the cat may avoid it.

Sometimes behavioral or medical issues are to blame. If the reason is behavioral, cats will typically go in the same place repeatedly.

Clean the area thoroughly with an enzyme cleaner so that they cannot detect their new spot anymore. If necessary, rearrange furniture and close doors so they can no longer access it.

And try cleaning and changing the location of the litter box.

If your cat goes in different places outside the litter box each time, it could be a urinary tract infection or another medical issue. You may need to take the cat to the vet.

Just remember, if you have pets, you will probably have accidents on your floor. Try to be patient with your pets and figure out the root cause of the accidents.

And clean your floors up immediately to prevent damage to them.

FAQs About The Best Flooring For Pets

What Is The Best Waterproof Flooring For Pets?

If you know your pet is prone to accidents or loves bringing mud and water into the home, you may decide that you need waterproof flooring. Tile and stone flooring are the best waterproof options, as they won’t be damaged or retain stains.

But tile and stone do not appeal to everyone as a look, and it can be very cold underfoot, especially if you live in cooler climates.

Luxury vinyl flooring, which can be purchased to look like hardwood, makes a good alternative option. But while this is generally promoted as an affordable flooring, don’t go for the cheapest stuff. You will need to pay extra for a waterproof option.

What Is The Best Luxury Vinyl Plank Flooring For Pets?

Luxury vinyl plank (LVP) flooring can be an excellent option for pet-friendly households. But you do need to be careful about which LVP you choose.

While LVP is promoted as an affordable flooring option, you will want to be looking at the higher-end LVP flooring options if you have pets at home.

First, while most LVP is water-resistant, you do need to pay more for waterproof. This is worth it. Most LVP floors will be fine if you clean up any spills within 30 minutes. But the fact is, if your dog has an accident, it is usually when you are out, so it could be sitting there for much longer.

You will also want to go for an option with a thick wear layer. This is the top layer that determines how durable, stain- and scratch-resistant a floor is. If you have pets at home, you are probably looking for a wear layer of 20 mil or more.

What Is The Best Hardwood Floor For Pets?

Generally speaking, solid hardwood floors are not recommended as pet-friendly. But engineered hardwood works better than other types.

Solid wood is not recommended because these supple floors tend to be easily damaged by pets’ nails, and any kinds of spills can cause permanent damage and staining. If the spill is big enough, the floor can even become warped.

But if you do have your heart set on hardwood flooring, engineered hardwood can be a possible option. Rather than being a single plank of wood, engineered hardwood layers thinner planks of wood.

This makes it better at dealing with moisture, as it warps and flexes less easily with moisture.

What Is The Best Flooring For Pet Urine?

If you are concerned about pet urine, then it is worth considering waterproof flooring. The best options for this are tile and stone flooring or waterproof luxury vinyl plank flooring.

These floors should not be permanently damaged or stained by pet urine, and they should also not retain nasty odors.

Is Laminate Or Vinyl Better For Dogs?

Hands down, vinyl is better for dogs than laminate when you are looking for the best type of flooring for dogs.

Laminate might seem like a good option on paper since it seems like it would be easy to clean, but in fact, it can warp quite badly when it gets wet. Some new water-resistant options are slowly becoming available on the market.

Furthermore, laminate can be very slippery underneath dogs’ paws. This can lead to accidents. Plus, they are more likely to dig their nails into the floor in order to steady themselves.

Vinyl flooring should feel secure underfoot for both you and your dog. Most vinyl flooring options are water-resistant, and if you are willing to pay a bit more, you can also get waterproof options. It is by far a superior choice for dog owners.

The Verdict

While there is no such thing as a pet-proof flooring, there are certainly options that hold up better in pet-friendly households.

Which one is right for you depends on your taste. As you want your home to be pet-friendly, it is still your home. You want it to reflect your style and preferences, and fit your budget.

If you want the easiest, most durable pet-friendly flooring, ceramic or stone tile might be your best bet. Just remember it is hard and cold, so provide a soft rug or pillow for your pet to cuddle up on.

For green options that can accommodate your pets, cork and bamboo are great choices. But don’t skimp on the materials; cheap versions of these floorings can easily be damaged.

The most budget-friendly, easy-to-maintain flooring for pets is luxury vinyl. However, this option may not help you with the resale value of your home, so if you plan to move in the near future, keep this in mind.

Hardwood flooring is considered the best for resale, but it is not the most pet-friendly flooring. If you do want hardwood, look for engineered hardwoods that can better handle the challenges of pets.

Whichever option you choose, just remember that accidents will happen. And scratches are always a possibility with certain types of floors.

Try to keep your pets groomed and trim their nails frequently.

With regular upkeep of your floors and your pets, you can have nice floors in a pet-friendly home.

If you have any comments or first-hand experiences with pet flooring, please post them below or share your pictures via our social media.

Jennifer Lester

About Jennifer Lester

Jennifer Lester is a freelance writer, blogger, and home improvement finatic. She loves to write about things that will transform your house into your dream home. Jennifer is a graduate of Texas A&M University. LinkedIn.

14 thoughts on “Best Flooring for Your Dogs & Cats”

  1. Avatar
    Genevieve Meadows

    NO to BAMBOO!!!!!!!! Pet urine causes discoloration badly!!! It also attracts ants!!!! Unfortunately, we learned this the hard way!!!!

  2. Avatar

    I’m having a hard time deciding On what flooring to use if I should use luxury vinyl tiles or laminate tiles I was told that the laminate is harder to scratch them that luxury vinyl tile we have an 85 pound German Shepherd which is best

  3. Avatar

    Looking into luxury vinyl plank flooring for my home. What I am finding is it is very expensive. Are there any companies that have warehouse sales that might be cheaper on the pricing?

  4. Avatar

    We used Karndean vinyl tiles on our kitchen floor after a kitchen fitter convinced us of it’s durability. What a mistake! Not only was it extremely expensive, it shows every water mark and shows claw and heel marks. A nightmare!

    1. Avatar

      You would have to seal it well after you stain it. I can guarantee anypet pee will be absorbed by the concrete if you don”t!

  5. Avatar

    Do you know if bamboo hardwood flooring or hardwood is better for pet care in the household for a german shepard dog? Well written article.

  6. Avatar

    I recently had vinyl plank installed and it has scratched TERRIBLY. The company I bought from won’t do anything and says it is my fault. What do you suggest to fix it? Your article says LVP doesn’t scratch?

      1. Avatar

        I have cortex vinyl floors and they did not stain if left overnight. The pet urine just pulls on the surface and then I wipe it up and use the next year of 1/3 vinegar and 2/3 water and wipe it again

  7. Avatar

    Please recommend cat litter mats that can be used on luxury vinyl that won’t discord the floor. We are told nothing vinyl, however it seems that cat litter mats are VINYL. Help! and Thank You.

    1. Avatar

      I use puppy pads or reusable puppy mats under the kitty litter. Sometimes my cat misses the litter box so the puppy pads work great. I just replace the pads. Easy cleanup and easy to sweep up the sand when they track.

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