If you have pets, such as dogs or cats, you may think having hardwood floors is out of the question. Flooring professionals may try to dissuade you from hardwoods and direct you to materials that may hold up better to the wear and tear that comes with having pets in your home. You may be surprised to know, however, that you can still enjoy hardwood flooring in your home without too much additional effort on your part.
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When you have pets, you know the potential for an accidental mess will always exist. However, you can take precautions to minimize the potential damage. Paired with the right type of hardwood, you will be enjoying your flooring for years to come.
Know Your Woods
It is important to know which types of flooring are best for homes with pets. Some types of wood are harder than others are and will hold up better under the feet of your dogs or cats no matter what their size may be.
You will want to avoid woods that are soft because they will be more prone to scratches and dents, and choose only solid hardwoods.
It is important to note though that all woods, no matter what their hardness is, are susceptible to scratches and dents; it is just the nature of the beast, so to speak. As Hardwood Floors Magazine points out, a pet with trimmed nails, walking normally on a hardwood floor should do no damage. However, if that same pet is constantly running back and forth over the floor, it may wear the wood down along its daily path.
One way to make sure you are getting a suitable hardwood is to compare the Janka rating of the woods you are considering. The Janka test rating is the amount of force that is required to drive a steel ball that is approximately half an inch in diameter into a piece of wood. The higher the Janka rating, the harder the wood and the more force it will take to dent or scratch the wood. This chart gives you an idea of the range of ratings for different woods.
Therefore, when you are choosing your flooring you will want to avoid most softwood varieties of cherry, walnut, and pine in favor of woods such as oak, maple, and hickory that are some of the more popular choices for hardwoods. You may also want to consider going with flooring that has a more rustic finish versus a smooth finish because it will hide scratches and dents better.
Keep in mind that the harder the wood is, the more you will pay for the flooring, so you will want to shop around for the best price.
How to Minimize Damage
You can take steps to minimize any damage by being sure to protect your flooring. Make sure your hardwood flooring is well sealed–it is advised to apply at least three coats of polyurethane or wax on the flooring to protect the wood.
Putting runners or throw rugs near entryways will help collect any water, dirt, or mud that your four-legged and two-legged friends and family may track into your home. Be sure to put down mats in areas where you feed your pets or where you keep their water bowls and litter boxes. Water spills can stain your floors and cat litter can be abrasive to your floors.
If you are in the process of housebreaking a puppy, you will want to be sure to confine it to a small area or a crate. You should put down absorbent puppy pads until it is fully housebroken to protect your floors. Urine can cause nasty stains on your hardwood flooring that turn the affected areas black if not quickly and properly cleaned up.
General Maintenance of Your Flooring
Regardless of whether you have pets, all hardwood flooring requires regular maintenance in order to maintain its beauty and to prolong its life. Regular sweeping and vacuuming will help to keep it clean and minimize damage from dirt and sand that may be tracked into your home, which can have the same effect as sandpaper over time.
With pets, the additional obstacle of dealing with shedding will also require frequent sweeping and vacuuming in order to keep up with the hairy mess. A useful tip is to consider your pet’s fur color when choosing the color of your hardwood flooring. Darker hair will not be as noticeable on a darker floor, while lighter hair will blend better into a lighter color wood flooring.
Accidents Will Happen
You should be prepared for the inevitable occasional accident, whether from your pets or family members. From water spills to puppy potty accidents, don’t fret; there are ways to minimize the damage before too much harm is done if you act quickly.
The Daily Puppy advises to first remove any throw rugs or mats that may have been urinated on from the floor.
They then suggest blotting the area with paper towels to absorb the liquid, but avoid wiping the floor with the towels because this will only send the urine deeper into the wood.
You will then want to pour a small amount of vinegar on the stain for several minutes and then work it into the wood with a soft-bristled brush before blotting the remainder up with clean paper towels. Do not use ammonia, as it will attract your pet back to that area to relieve itself in the future.
To finish, sprinkle some odor neutralizing power, which is available at many pet supply stores, on the area to remove any remaining odors that may lead your pet to urinate in that area again. If the stain remains, you can take further steps to lightly sand and reseal the area as advised by The Daily Puppy. The trick is to always quickly clean any affected areas.
Removing Water Spots
Water is an enemy to wood and very often, water spots can occur on hardwood flooring. Depending on the extent of exposure, they will appear as white or black spots. The difference between the two is that white spots are present when the moisture is trapped in the finish of the floor. Black spots are caused when the moisture has bypassed the finish and seeped into the actual wood and will require more work to remove. Again, your best defense is to quickly clean up any spills before spots can occur.
If you have white water spots, DIYLife suggests rubbing a small amount of mineral spirits into the spots in a circular motion with extra-fine steel wool. Once the stain is gone, blot up any excess moisture. You may need to refinish the area.
Black spots are more challenging to remove and require more extreme measures.
You may want to consider having the floor professionally repaired if you feel you are not up to the task. It may be just as easy to replace the boards in the affected area then to try to repair them. If you choose to repair on your own, you will need to realize you may not be entirely successful. MyCleanLink offers other suggestions for removing stains from hardwood floors.
Minimizing Scratches and Dents
No matter how hard you try to prevent them, it is inevitable that your floor will become scratched. Throw rugs and runners will help minimize this in high-traffic areas, but with dogs and cats running around, you will eventually have scratches.
There are products such as vinyl nail caps that can be glued onto your pets’ nails or little booties that can be worn on their feet, but your most dependable defense is keeping your pets’ nails trimmed to help decrease scratches on your floors. Once you start hearing clicking on your floors, it’s time to get Fido or Fluffy to the groomer.
If you choose to groom them on your own, you’ll need nail clippers or a Dremel tool to file their nails down. ToyBreeds.com offers helpful advice on how to maintain your pets’ nails.
The great thing about hardwood flooring is that it can be sanded down and refinished to remove scratches if you choose to remove them. Then you can start from new once again. A quality hardwood floor can withstand several rounds of sanding and refinishing over the years.
Benefits of Flooring over Carpeting
Making the decision to put down hardwood flooring instead of carpeting may help reduce the effects of allergic reactions for those in your home who may have pet allergies. No matter how clean you keep your pets, they will still produce dander, which may irritate those who are sensitive to it. Carpeting may hide accumulations of pet dander more than flooring will. Those who have allergies to dust or pollen may find their symptoms improving once you replace your carpeting with flooring.
Additionally, when you are in the process of housebreaking your pets, it is more difficult to successfully remove urine stains from flooring than from carpeting. The urine will seep into the padding underneath and into the subfloor. This will continually attract your pet to this spot regardless of your attempts to neutralize the area.
You are no longer limited in your flooring choices when you have pets. As long as you realize that you will need to take appropriate precautions, you will be able to have hardwood flooring in your home. Eventually you may find that your pets are less of a threat to your floors than your children are.
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