Finding a Floor that's Pet Friendly Finding a Floor that's Pet Friendly

Deciding to have a dog or cat is a long term commitment. While pets can be counted on to love unconditionally, pet owners often find themselves at the end of their ropes, as they see that new carpeting taking on a brownish tinge. Or how about that hardwood floor? Pet claws can scratch and gouge that shiny finish. Sure, you can refinish a hardwood floor, but how often are you willing to do that?

Animals are a source of constant surprise. They grow bigger than you thought, as when a "medium-sized" puppy doesn't stop growing until he can rest his chin on the kitchen counter. And "minis" or "toys" can often inherit all of the standard genes, from both parents. Instead of weighing 9 pounds, he now weighs a sleek 15 pounds, with claws that can dig to the other side of the world in about fifteen minutes. There goes that hardwood floor! And the carpeting? Watch out!

Pets, just like people, are not perfect. They have accidents all the time (with the occasional "on purpose" thrown in for good measure). They get sick, and they throw-up. That top of the line carpeting, with its 10 year warranty, now looks like it was used to line the floor of a first century vomitorium. And the warranty? It only covers "normal" wear. When you have pets, there is no such thing as "normal wear."

A pet owner must choose pet-friendly flooring, and these days there are many floorings from which to choose:

Carpeting

Carpeting is the preferred choice for many a homeowner. It cushions the step, and it is kind to the knees. Best of all there are now stain resistant carpets that will allow you to completely clean up after your pet, if you act fast enough. Look for the following features:

1. Make certain that your carpet has a performance rating of at least 3.5. This provides advanced stain protection.

2. Choose a carpet without loop fibers. Loops can capture a cat or dog's claws, pulling the yarn and causing irreparable damage.

3. Choose polypropylene and polyester fibers, since they are naturally stain resistant. They are also easy to clean, and they must be cleaned promptly. However, it must be understood that some stains will be with you forever. Be certain that you read and understand the warranty, so that you know the exact limitations. (Warning: If you, your pet, or your child have allergies or asthma, the chemicals used to make wall-to-wall carpeting may trigger an attack).

Laminate

Laminate is a tough, "looks-like-real" flooring. It is comprised of 3 layers:

The Surface Wear Layer (the part you see) is made of a tough aluminum-oxide. It can look like hardwood, tile, stone, or brick. This layer is actually a photograph of a real floor, which repeats to look exactly like any floor pattern you desire.

The Core (or carrier board) is made up of a variety of materials, mostly high density fiberboard (HDF) which is a durable engineered wood product, made to resist moisture. However it doesn't take glue as well as high density wood particleboard. (If either you or your pet has allergies, this glue could present a serious health problem.)

The Backing ranges from a paper layer to a full plastic laminate layer. Obviously the plastic laminate makes the floor more resistant to moisture. (Warning: If you, your child, or your pet has asthma, some of the chemicals in laminate can trigger an asthma attack, if your flooring is not properly sealed).

In addition to health considerations, laminate flooring cannot be refinished. It's also pricey, so if it is scratched or stained, you will have no choice, except to replace it. Consider buying an extended warranty policy, which covers replacement, should your floor hold a stain. Buying cheaper, to save money, should not be an option. It's worth the expense to know you can depend on your laminate flooring.

Hardwood

For many people hardwood floors are the only option. If that is true for you, you can still insure that your floors are pet friendly. Here are a few tips to keep your floor in shape and you and your pet happy.

• Make certain that your hardwood floor has 3 coats of an oil-based urethane finish, preferably satin sheen, to assure protection.

• Sweep, vacuum or dust mop, at the very least, weekly; every other day, if possible.

• If you're pet has an accident, wipe it up immediately with a dampened towel. Do not use harsh chemicals like ammonia or bleach. Never mix ammonia and bleach, since it will form chlorine gas.

• Clip your pet's nails regularly.

• Provide a mat or rug underneath water-bowl and food dish. Replace rug if it gets too wet or stained.

• Hardwood can be refinished again and again, if necessary, and it is possSible to do spot refinishing. Hire a professional for that spot repair.

Luxury Vinyl

Luxury vinyl is not your mother's vinyl floor. Today's luxury vinyl can give you the look and feel that you want, whether it is slate, stone, marble, or ceramic. Luxury vinyl has many pet-friendly attributes, and it is wonderful for small children. The following are the best reasons to go for a luxury vinyl floor:

Low-Allergen - This is great for allergies, and especially for the asthmatic child or adult.

Moisture Resistance - Spills can be wiped up; and those accidents will not leave a tell-tale stain behind.

Very Quiet - The tick-tick-tick of your pets nails will be a distant memory.

Ease of Maintenance - A quick dusting and a damp-mop is all you need.

Peace of Mind - No more worries about spills, stains, or scratches. You can enjoy your pets, instead of worrying about your floors.

Bamboo

The newest craze in flooring, bamboo, is a wise and affordable choice for the pet-friendly home. Although bamboo is really a grass, it is much harder than the hardest hard wood. Some bamboo species have been given a rating that places it higher than maple and double that of red oak. Bamboo flooring is the floor of choice for conservationists. It is renewable, and it never wears out. It has many attractive qualities, such as:

A Unique Finished Appearance - Lovely in either natural or darker tones, bamboo has eye-catching patterns due to its nodes and the tightness of its grain.

Affordable - Top of the line flooring can be as little as $4.00 a square foot, and it comes pre-finished.

Naturally Stain Resistant - Because bamboo is a tropical plant it is nearly impervious to water, especially the woven stranded construction variety. This just could be the perfect compromise between vinyl and hardwood.

Whichever flooring you believe to be right for you, remember to enjoy your pets. They are with us for such a short time, and they make our lives that much richer for the time that we are allowed. Don't let worries over flooring steal the joy of that warm body pressed against you. After all how much is it worth to a have perfect, unconditional love?

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