Hardwood floors are a desirable feature for many homeowners, but for those who are also pet owners there may be concerns about whether canine interaction will eventually ruin the flooring. Wooden floors are prone to damage and can be potentially hazardous for your pet, if extra precautions aren’t taken. These simple tips will help pet owners ensure that their pets and wooden floors can coexist happily.
One of the biggest factors in how durable a wooden floor will be to pets, is how strong the wood is. You would be mistaken to think all woods are the same, as some are far prone to damage than others. Oak is an ideal wood for floors, as it is very strong, light in colour, easily available, and affordable. There are other woods equally as strong as oak, but these are often more expensive. A benefit with oak being light in colour is that light wood shows less visible damage than dark or stained woods. Alternatively you could go for a distressed or aged looking floor so any damage looks natural. No matter which wood you go with, utilizing carpets and pet mats is key to preserving the flooring.
Now that you have the right wood you need to choose a finish, and there are a lot of floor finishes on the market. The two most popular floor finishes are oils, and varnishes. An oil is a great finish as it offers a natural look and feel, although an oil will not provide enough protection to withstand the damage caused by pet claws. Then there are floor varnishes, these offer a durable and hardwearing finish, making them ideal for preventing scratches and dings caused by pets, although the looks isn't as natural. You can build up layers of floor varnishes, so you can increase the level of protection. Be sure to use a varnish which is made for floors as other generic internal varnishes may not have a same strength or durability. There are also anti slip floor varnishes available for an added level of safety for both you and your pets.
Once you have chosen a floor varnish you will have the option of choosing a sheen level. This is a an important decision to make as the sheen level plays a huge role in how visible scratches, and damage can be. Sheen refers to how shiny or reflective a finish is, and the more shiny the finish the more visible damages will become. For this reason it is recommended you try a matte or satin as these sheens will help hide minor damage. If you are unsure what sheen level you would like conduct a test area first, so you can find the right sheen for you. Another tip to preventing scratches is to give your pet soft toys that won’t scratch the floor. Ropes and rubber toys are the best options!
Once you have the floor, finish and sheen sorted, you now need to consider how you are going to care for, and maintain the floor. We all know pets have the occasional accidents, and this needs to be cleaned up as soon as possible to prevent this from damaging the finish or wood. As well as that, pet's may get dirty paw prints on the floor, and this getting into any cracks could damage or discolour the wood. When cleaning these marks always use a wood floor cleaner, as other domestic cleaner could contain chemicals that may harm the wood, and finish. Apply wood floor cleaner directly to a damp cloth, or mop, and wipe clean afterwards.
5. Pet Safety
When applying a finish to your floors, always keep pets well away as they may accidentally ingest products or could compromise the finish. It could be safer, and easier to ask a friend, family member, or neighbour to have them for a day or so, while you apply the finish. Floor cleaner like any other cleaners should always be used with precaution around pets. Ensure pets are not in the room while cleaning, and it is wiped dry afterward, to prevent any chances of your pets consuming any cleaning liquids. Providing your pet with anti-slip play mats will keep both your floor and your pet safe too!
6. Other Tips
There are a couple of other measures you can take to help limit the damage caused to a floor by your pets. Ensure claws are trimmed regularly, pets are potty trained, put any water bowls on a mat to prevent water getting on the floor, place a floor mat by outside doors to remove dirty paw prints, and if there are any areas which received excessive use cover with a rug or mat.
There is no guaranteed method to stop damage to your wood floor caused by your pets, but by following these steps you can seriously reduce the effects your pets have on hardwood floors.