Best wooden floor for cats and dogs

Imagine, you are buying your first home, a new home or renovating your old home and you decide that you are going to invest in a new hardwood floor, adding beauty and value to your home.  Its move in day.  Your furniture is just right. Your beautiful new floor is shining in the light and you take a deep breath, let it out and smile.  

And then the kids let the dog in.  
And the dog, overexcited already because it is somewhere new and is picking up on the excited vibes from the family, comes flying through the house, claws clattering on the newly finished hardwood flooring.

And then it tries to stop in front of you, using its claws to dig in.  
And leaves some stunning scratches in your brand new floor.
Oh dear.

Or – you go out for half an hour and leave the dog in the house and when you come back, you don’t notice that the dog has messed on the newly placed rug.  A few days later you discover a horrible stain underneath the rug on your wooden flooring where the dog has gone to the toilet.

Unfortunately, dog saliva in water bowls (and urine) have high ammonia levels, so unless this is cleaned up quickly, staining (discolouration) will occur.
Another oh dear.

Generally speaking, cats don’t cause too much damage to timber flooring, unless they are a little Kamakazi and run amok throughout the house.  Damage caused by cats is generally from them leaping up on surfaces not normally reserved for cats and causing carnage and mayhem and knocking things over.  

Not a scenario one wants to experience, but unfortunately, this is all too common.

So how can you find that balance between wooden flooring that is easy on the eye and easy on the paws (and claws).

Let’s take a look.

Wooden floors for the whole family

Preventive measures


The good news is, there are many easy solutions to ensuring your animals and your wooden floors can co-exist in harmony.  

  • Keep your pets’ claws trimmed or clipped.  This helps to minimize scratching the surface of your floor.
  • Toilet training – properly train your dog using training pads and if/when appropriate, installing a dog door so the dog can take itself out.  Training pads have an absorbent surface with a plastic backing, so this prevents any liquid travelling through the pad onto the wooden floor underneath.  If you do come across an accident, cleaning it up quickly will help to lessen the damage done.
  • Putting dog bowls onto a tray to help prevent/minimize splashing on your wooden floor is an easy solution (or moving it to an area that doesn’t have wood under it, or outside).  Making sure you regularly clean up the area is also a good idea.
  • Due to cats being cats, lords of their domain and unanswerable to anyone, there is no solution to them running amok.  I guess the preventative measure here is . . . don’t let them inside!  But that defeats the purpose of having a cat really.  Thankfully there are some floor types that are more suitable for pets.

Best Hardwood Flooring options/finishes

Flooring is one of those things that can make or break the décor and attractiveness of a home.
For instance, scungy, smelly carpets can drive buyers away, but a rich, warm wooden floor can really elevate a place to that next level.

The colour of a new hardwood floor won’t prevent scratching from dogs’ nails, but choosing a lighter wood species with a fair amount of grain in it (like European Oak), will have the tendency to camouflage scratches and dents, making them less noticeable.

Surface Texture
Surface Texture, such as a brushed surface, bandsaw marks and handscraping can also help to disguise the scratches and dents caused by pets in your home. The surface is far from perfect and is already textured, so the appearance of scratching or dents is minimized as compared to a smooth surface hardwood floor.

Timber Species
Different types of hard wood floors have different “hardness” (for want of a better word). Our NZ Natives (Kauri/Matai/Rimu), are notoriously prone to denting and scratching, no matter the finish put on them. An Oak (either European, French or American), is a good, affordable “harder” timber choice, or an Australian Hardwood (Ironbark, Jarrah, Blue Gum, Brushbox, Blackbutt to name a few).

Oil/Hardwax or Polyurethane finish

Oils and Hardwaxes, if maintained correctly, are an easy care and durable living surface. If your floor is maintained, any liquid spills/messes should pool on the surface of your floor allowing for quick clean ups. However, any spill/mess that is there for any period of time will stain. If you have a dog that regularly soils inside, then perhaps an oil/hardwax finish would not be appropriate for your home. The flip side to this is that if you are wanting to disguise or repair scratch marks in your floor, applying a small amount of oil to the affected area can help minimize the appearance of scratches on your floor. Give us a call if you’d like some tips on how to do this.

Polyurethanes are a more stain resistant, however, if your dog (or cat) badly scratches the floor, then a re sand and coat of your floor would be required. This unfortunately means (generally speaking), moving all of your furniture out from the areas you need to have resanded, moving out of the house while the work is being carried out, and then the cleaning of your home to remove all the very fine sanding particles that will end up in your home. While sanding machine technology has improved greatly over the years, the very fine dust particles from the sanding machines still manage to escape the vacuum.

Non-wood alternatives

We’ve done a side by side comparison of hardwood vs laminate flooring and one of the features of laminate flooring is its durability. Generally speaking, laminate flooring is a more scratch resistant and stain resistant surface than timber. It has a synthetic protective layer which makes it more durable to claws, paws and the spills that come with our inside pets. It is also more resistant to sun damage which can affect solid timber and carpets alike when exposed to daily UV light.

Wooden floors for the whole family

Can we have wooden floors and inside pets?
Yes absolutely.

Cats, dogs, hamsters – whatever we have, our pets are family members and we love to have them inside with us, cuddling up on rainy days. And the good news is there are ways to make it work.

We hope this article helped you with your research. If you have pets and would like some guidance or advice on what the best options for you and your family are – we are here to help. Feel free to give us a call or send us an email and we will throw the ball in the right direction.

We have had pets AND wooden floors in our house for over 25 years 🙂

best wooden & laminate flooring