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Old 06-20-2009, 11:15 PM   #1
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Best wood/laminate floors for dogs

I'm looking for some suggestions for specific brands/product series of floors that will hold up well to dog traffic. Currently there's carpet in the house but it's old and there's plenty of dog dander in the carpet no matter how much I vacuum and steam clean it. There's tile in some areas of the house but to me it's a little cold and unwelcoming in a family room. I prefer the look and feel of real wood but I think the dogs will tear it up so I've been looking at laminates. Does that seem accurate to say that the laminates will hold up better?

I've looked at all the stores around here and they all seem to carry a house brand that they say will hold up to dog traffic and oddly enough it just happens to be on sale. I feel like they're just pushing that floor because it's what will make them the most profit. We brought a sample of these floors home and tried scratching it with our dogs nails and of course it scratched right up without really putting much pressure on it. I'm not sure if it's just crappy wood or if that's just the nature of wood. It was an engineered maple if that makes a difference.

Information that might be useful:

  • One of the dogs is a Great Dane - about 100 pounds now. She'll probably fill out to 120 or so.
  • We live in Texas - this floor will be installed on a concrete slab that's ~30 years old.
Thanks in advance.


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Old 06-21-2009, 12:54 AM   #2
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You say you like the feel and looks of real wood, but you need to realize that a Laminate "wood" floor is not wood at all.

The backing material on the planks is usually some type of wood to give the Laminate planks strength, but what your actually looking at is a "photo image" of wood that is applied to the backing material and then coated with a hard coating which usually is a polyurethane with aluminum oxide to give the coating durability.

Next up the food chain is Engineered wood planks. Basically, the backing material is much like the Laminate planks (but usually thicker), but instead of using a photo image of wood glued to the backing, Engineered wood planks have a thin layer of actual hardwood (wood veneer) applied to the backing. Then usually the same poly coating applied over the real wood veneer ... Cost more, but a better product and will last longer than the Laminate planks ... So, your looking at real wood and not a fake photo image of wood.

On the high end of the scale, you have solid hardwood planks. The coating is also usually the poly with aluminum oxide for durability, but some solid wood planks have oiled finishes too.

Just depends hpw much you want to spend.

Good luck ....


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Old 06-21-2009, 09:45 AM   #3
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Hardwood = solid wood with a aluminum oxide acrylic urethane finish. Thickness of the finish will vary from one manufacturer to another. It can go anywhere from 3-9 coats, with 5-7 being average. A large dog will probably scratch hardwood over time. The good part is that hardwood doesn't look as bad if you scratch it as laminate would. It can also be refinished.

Engineered wood = Usually a plywood or composite base with a layer of real hardwood on top. The thickness of this layer will vary by product. The finish and durability are identical to hardwood.

Laminate = composite base with a photographic image on top. The wear layer is composed of Melamine, an extremely tough thermosetting plastic compound. It's harder than a urethane wear layer, even one containing aluminum oxide. Since the base material is all composite and there is no real wood top layer, the whole product is denser and thus harder, allowing for less indentation that real hardwood would have. The material will resist a dog's nails better than engineered or solid hardwood. The problem is, if you do scratch it, you will see it. If you scratch a real wood product there is real wood beneath it. If you scratch laminate, there is a composite material underneath. This can be touched up, but not made to look as good as a touchup on real wood.

Laminate sounds like the best choice for you in this situation. Don't get the idea that you won't see any scratches though. Laminate will show the scratches. They'll just be light surface scratches instead of deeper scratches like hardwood would get. As far specific laminates, take your pick. Virtually all decent brands will have nearly identical wear layers with an AC3 traffic rating. To get a tougher finish on laminate you step up into commercial products with an AC4 or AC5 rating. These have a thicker melamine layer, but they don't tend to look as good. The thicker the wear layer, the cloudier the color appears. If you want a commercial grade laminate, I'd recommend Shaw Commerce. This one is reasonably priced and has an AC5 rating I believe. We've had great luck with this one. Tarkett also has a new laminate line out that they claim is AC4, but they do this by using a composite backing made from all hardwood material instead of a mixture of woods. This supposedly makes the backing denser. The wear layer is still the same as normal laminate. I personally don't buy into this claim and I know Tarkett has had many issues withe their laminates in the past.
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Old 06-24-2009, 07:43 AM   #4
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Laminate would definitely be the hardest to scratch, but as the others said, once scratched, it is highly visible and can't be repaired. If you went with real wood, the scratches would be visible, but they look much more natural. I have two pretty big dogs and just under 1000 sqft of natural oak in my house and honestly, the scratches really aren't that bad. For the really bad ones, I have a small container of putty to fill them. I think it gives the wood nice looking character. And, unlike laminate, every couple years hardwood can be refinished to look like a brand new floor!!
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Old 06-24-2009, 12:41 PM   #5
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We put in hardwood floors, knowing the scratches were in our future from our fur child. We opted for hard coastal maple with a clear finish and some knots here and there which has done a nice job of camouflaging the scratches. Ultimately, we consider the scratches a version of "distressing" for which you'd have to pay up big money!
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Old 06-24-2009, 01:21 PM   #6
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jimithing - You have gotten a LOT of great advice and information here! Really good job everyone! Jimmithing - it would be great if you swung by and thanked everyone. Even better post on your progress, what you choose, take some pics when its in, etc.

Only thing I would add that hasn't been said - I do not like the 'feel' of laminates or other floating floors underfoot. They feel, well ... floating. make sure you walk on some beore making a final decision.
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Old 06-24-2009, 08:23 PM   #7
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Floating engineered 1/2" or over with a good pad vs regular hardwood = not much difference to my senses. I don't like the way laminate feels or sounds either.
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Old 02-17-2010, 02:02 PM   #8
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Who carries a laminate that is engineered laminate that has the best scratch resistance for dogs but won't break the bank?



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