Dogs can cause serious damage to most floors, especially unfinished flooring. Thankfully, laminate flooring comes with a protective coating that prevents most scratches and is easy to clean.
Laminate flooring is good for dogs because of its hard, protective coating; this keeps dog nails from scratching the underlying fiberboard and makes it easy to clean messes, such as urine.
In this article, we’ll cover why laminate flooring is a good choice for dog owners as well as how to protect your floors from dog nail scratches and other kinds of pet-related damage.
How Having Dogs Can Damage Your Flooring
Dogs are certainly a joy to have, but can do serious damage to your flooring if you don’t take the proper precautions. Thankfully, some floorings are sturdy enough to be able to handle these risks of damage.
Urine Stains and Odors
The number one threat to floors that comes from owning a dog is their urine. Where a hard finish can protect against scratches and tracked dirt and debris can cause a mess, urine can actually seep through a protective coating and cause serious odors to develop.
When urine is first deposited onto the floor, it is mildly acidic. While in this acidic, liquid state, it can develop bacteria and create a color change due to chemical reactions with the dye, some of which are permanent. Much of this is due to the ammonia in liquid urine, which also has a distinct odor.
The odor is also caused by the bacteria that develop in urine before it dries, both as it grows and once it dies. If the humidity in the area is high, this odor will be even stronger.
As the urine dries, it becomes alkaline or basic and becomes even more difficult to remove. It develops salts and crystals, which need to be removed in order to totally remove the odor. It should be noted that when you begin cleaning a dried urine spot, you will at first notice a greater odor from the ammonia gas being released, but this will go away once you’ve cleaned the mess.
Dog nails can also pose a threat to laminate flooring, although the hard finish on the flooring provides a good layer of protection against this damage.
Regardless, dog nails that are long and sharp may cause some scratches to develop, and there is also a chance that the debris tracked into the house by dogs will cause small scratches.
Dog nails are more likely than cat nails to cause scratches to the flooring because they are always exposed.
Benefits of Laminate Flooring for Dog Owners
There are many benefits of laminate flooring, particularly for dog owners and other people with pets. Laminate flooring is very resistant to damage and provides an easy-to-clean surface so that stains and pet-related messes are not a concern. This is especially true if you have a sealant covering the joints between floorboards.
Scratch and Stain Resistance
Laminate flooring is naturally resistant to scratches and stains because it is topped with a hard, protective coating of aluminum oxide mixed with resin and cellulose. This prevents hard or sharp objects from penetrating the underlying fiberboard, as well as any moisture or liquid that could stain.
Easy to Clean
Although stains are unlikely to stick on laminate flooring, you should still clean them as soon as possible while they are still dry. You should also maintain a regular cleaning schedule regardless of spills, mopping the floor every two months or so.
Thankfully, this process is simple with laminate flooring. You simply need a slightly damp, gentle mop and water-based cleaner, like unscented dish soap. Vinegar will also work as a cleaning agent, although any waxes or oil-based products should be avoided.
Drawbacks of Laminate Flooring for Dog Owners
Unfortunately, there are also drawbacks to using laminate flooring as a dog owner, including the possibility of longer-lasting urine odors and slipperiness. Although these issues can be treated and prevented, you should be sure to understand the risks involved.
- Moisture damage: Because laminate flooring is made from paneled pieces, there are gaps between floorboards that can allow moisture to seep in and damage the fiberboard’s underlying layers. If urine were to seep into these gaps, it would not only cause moisture damage but also cause major odors to develop and stay in the flooring.
- Slipperiness: Laminate flooring is also very smooth, making the floor slippery for dogs, who cannot grip the floor very well due to their exposed nails. Dogs also track in dirt, which actually makes the floor even more slippery.
How to Make Your Laminate Flooring More Dog-Friendly
There are a number of ways to make your laminate flooring more dog-friendly, both by preventing damage and by making the floor more comfortable for your dog.
How to Prevent Urine Stains and Odors sticking in laminate flooring?
The most important way to protect laminate flooring against pet damage is to potty train your dog and clean urine promptly and thoroughly. Urine can leave permanent, difficult-to-remove stains that alter the dye’s structure.
A small wet vacuum or spot removal machine can work wonders in thoroughly cleaning urine, especially followed by the application of distilled white vinegar and water. This mixture should be two parts vinegar, one part water.
Enzyme-based cleaners are also a great choice for removing odors because these will eat the bad bacteria causing the odors. A good choice for an enzyme-based cleaner is Nature’s Miracle Stain & Odor Remover.
You should avoid cleaning urine with any cleaner that includes ammonia or bleach, which can actually make permanent staining more likely.
Another good step to take to prevent urine odors from sticking in laminate flooring is to seal the gaps between floorboards with silicone caulk or a polyurethane sealant. More in my post here.
After a thorough cleaning, you can apply either type of sealant first to the perimeter of the room, then to all the joints between floor and cabinet, and between the floorboards themselves. Make sure that you work from the side of the room opposite the door, moving towards the door so that you don’t paint yourself into a corner.
You can do this with a small brush to avoid painting too much of the board or a caulk gun if you’re using silicone caulk. If you are using a caulk, you should also remove any excess with a wet, gloved finger or putty knife.
How to Protect Laminate Flooring From Dog Nails
Dog nails are one of the biggest threats to flooring that come from dog ownership. Although laminate flooring is scratch-resistant, you may want to take these additional steps to be sure that your floors are protected from even the biggest and most energetic of dogs.
- Trim your dog’s nails about every three to four weeks.
- Use nail caps, like the Brostown Soft Nail Caps.
- Use runners or rugs in areas with high dog traffic.
Following these steps will ensure that your dog’s nails are as soft as possible and that the areas of your floor used most will not see damage from mild but chronic scratching.
Making Laminate Flooring Less Slippery
There are a number of ways to make laminate flooring less slippery, which can make it easier for your dog to get around the house comfortably.
- Avoid applying wax to the floor.
- Apply sealant to the cracks between floorboards, not the entire surface.
- Sweep and mop regularly.
- Purchase a slip-resistant floor spray, like Slip Doctors Non-Slip Spray
- Use rugs with rubber backings.
- Use doormats near doors to prevent people and dogs from tracking in dirt.
NOTE: Keep in mind that slippery floors can be seriously dangerous for both dogs and people and that laminate flooring on its own can be very slippery, even without an extra finish.
Wrapping Things Up
Laminate flooring is a good choice for dogs because it has a natural protective coating that keeps dogs from scratching the underlying fiberboard. However, urine presents a bigger threat to laminate floors, so you should be sure that your dog is potty trained and that you clean any urine spills as quickly and thoroughly as possible.