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Pets and Hardwood Flooring: Conflict or Coexistence?

Can pets and hardwood floors coexist? Well, both have been mainstays in homes for centuries, and experience has produced a wealth of wisdom about the pets vs hardwood conundrum. These tips for integrating pets and hardwood flooring will keep you happy, your floors looking fantastic and your pooch from sporting that sheepish, “Uh-oh, I’m in the doghouse now” posture.


Choose Hard Hardwood

That sounds like a brief stutter, but we mean exactly that. The hardness of hardwoods varies quite a bit on the Janka Hardness Test that engineers use to measure the force needed to dent wood with a small steel ball. As you see, some jobs are more fun than others.

The Janka rating of each flooring is usually listed in marketing material of hardwood sold in stores and online. Here’s a brief sampling of the hardness of available hardwood floors. The higher the Janka rating, the tougher the wood is and the better it will stand up to pet’s nails and potential stains, chair feet and dropped cast iron pans.

Brazilian walnut /Ipe: 3680

Bolivian rosewood: 3280

Bamboo: 2789

Golden teak: 2330

American hickory: 1820

Hard maple: 1450

White oak: 1360

White ash: 1320

Red oak: 1290

Heart pine: 1225

American cherry: 950


If your floors are already installed, the softer your wood specie is, the more precautions you’ll need to take with it.


Add a Coat or Two of Finish

Keeping scratches out of the wood is the key to delaying the need for refinishing your floors. Your local flooring specialist will recommend the right coating or tough sealer that won’t change the appearance of the wood.


Now that we’ve prepared the floor for the introduction of a furry friend or two, these methods for how to integrate pets and hardwood flooring will make the mix pleasant.


Keep Pets Off Hardwood Until House Trained – or If Unwell

Until your cat decides the litter box is not beneath its dignity (rabbits will use a box too) and the dog learns to hold it until you open the back door, keep them off hardwood. Use gates and closed doors for location control. Unpleasant warning warning: If any of your critters pee, poop or puke on the floor, clean up the mess promptly with a mild detergent solution, rinse with a damp cloth and dry the floor completely to prevent staining and moisture damage.


Trim Sharp Claws

The heavier your pet is, the more important it is to keep their nails trimmed. Squaring off sharp claws is more important than cutting them short, so trim gently. Note that rabbit nails get very sharp quickly, so frequent trimming might be necessary.


Reduce Romping on Hardwood

Hardwood will age fast if you frequently throw a Frisbee for Fido to fetch on it. Discourage kids from frolicking with the pets too. Excited kids and pets running, jumping and skidding around corners on hardwood are…hard…on…the…wood. Outside is best for this type of play.


Improve Their Comfort Too

Perhaps you’ve placed a throw rug where you stand on hardwood for long periods during duty kitchen duty or food preparation. To encourage your pets to be your kitchen companions, be sure to place a rug nearby for them. Just a little bonus tip to help your pets feel at home on hardwood without causing troubles for you.

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