Pets and carpeting tend to mix poorly. Pets can be very hard on carpeting, plus it is the least clean flooring option available. This fact is already problematic for people with allergies or respiratory problems, even without pets. Adding pets to the mix only compounds the problems of trying to keep everything adequately clean.
Hardwood flooring is also less than ideal. Any spills from the animal’s water bowl or other accidents can ruin the floor, even if it gets cleaned up promptly. Plus, pets tend to scratch wood floors. If you go with wood floors, be prepared to have higher than normal maintenance for both the floor and the pet.
If you want your home to be clean and comfortable, without feeling like a slave to your floor, there are other options.
This is possibly the most obvious answer. It comes at a variety of price points and can be quite stylish. You might think of vinyl as practical, but unattractive. If so, you probably haven’t toured a flooring showroom recently. It is not only easy to clean, it is quieter to walk on than many flooring types.
On the upside, laminate is beautifully scratch resistant. If you have a dog, we recommend getting embossed or textured laminate.
Stone is a beautiful natural material that is both easy to clean and scratch resistant. It also lasts practically forever.
Tile is also easy to clean, scratch resistant and water resistant. It also gives you a great many design options. If you are going for a certain look, this may be the best way to get it.
Please note: Laminate, stone and tile are all quite hard. For this reason, many people feel the need to add the occasional area rug to soften it in key places. If you are concerned about them being cold, there are options for addressing that. These include in floor heating systems and passive solar designs that use the floor as a heat sink.
Cork is a great option because the surface inhibits the growth of mold, bacteria and other microbes. It is scratch resistant and also very much absorbs sound. This is one of the quietest flooring options available, possibly even quieter than carpeting. However, like hardwood, it can stain. This makes it a bit more high maintenance than some other flooring options.
Bamboo is actually harder than many hardwoods. This makes it durable, stain resistant and scratch resistant. It also is easy to clean. Because it is actually a kind of grass, it is also a very sustainable material.
If you still would prefer either carpeting or hardwood, there are some tricks for making those options work better with pets. Not all hardwoods or carpets are created equal. Certain wood finishes are more pet friendly than others and a non-fuzzy, low pile (“industrial style”) carpeting is less problematic than, say, shag.