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Wood Floors vs. Laminate With Dogs

Dogs are tough on flooring. They have sharp, abrasive nails that scratch the flooring surface; large, heavy dogs wear down on the flooring and the finish; and natural dog activity, such as jumping, running, and scrambling around corners, is detrimental to the softer wood and flooring finishes in many homes. Laminate flooring, a hybrid of wood and plastic resins, is considered a durable alternative, but this flooring does have its drawbacks.

Scratch Resistance

Softwood floors, such as pine and birch, cannot withstand the destructive activities of dogs and still retain their pristine condition. Hardwood floors, while more durable than their softwood counterparts, are also destroyed by very active or heavy dogs. Durable finishes, such as aluminum oxide, may add more protection than other finishes. Laminate flooring is impact- and scratch-resistant, but large dogs or very energetic dogs will scratch the laminate surface.

Moisture and Stain Resistance

All flooring made up of wood or wood products will warp because of moisture. Dog urine is caustic, and may erode or stain the finish on wood flooring. Laminate flooring is impervious to stains. Only the most durable laminate flooring is water-resistant; most laminate flooring will warp if moisture seeps between the planks. Whether the flooring is wood or laminate, liquids should be carefully and immediately mopped up.

Dent Resistance

Softwood flooring is not dent-resistant; it is often chosen specifically for the patina and dents that appear over time and with use. Hardwood flooring resists dents and marks much better than softwood, but nonetheless cannot withstand constant traffic and sharp dog nails unless it has a highly durable finish and constant maintenance. Laminate flooring, however, is dent-resistant; it has a rigid plastic surface that will withstand dogs' jovial jumping and other effervescent behaviour.

Repair or Replacement

Sometimes a section of flooring may need replacement because of wear and tear from dogs, or the surface of the floor may need to be refinished. The buoyancy of softwood and hardwood flooring shine in this case: due to the solid wood construction of the planks, they can be either sanded down and refinished, or section of boards can be sawn out and replaced. Laminate flooring cannot be refinished, rebuffed, or repaired. It is possible to remove planks for replacement, but original flooring style and colour may no longer be available from the manufacturer.

The Cost Factor

Solid wood flooring is generally more expensive than laminate flooring. Both types of flooring have various levels of durability and beauty that obviously cost more as the quality of the flooring increases. Wood flooring is easier to repair and replace, while laminate flooring is not; this can be included in the cost factor as well. Dogs are tough on all floors--laminate flooring seems the better choice for durability, but wood flooring is the better choice for repair or replacement.

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About the Author

Rebecca Mecomber, a former radio broadcaster, has been a professional blogger and writer since 2006. Her articles and interviews have appeared in "The Wall Street Journal," Salon.com and several other publications, covering topics such as Federal Trade Commission policy and media regulations, blogging, home improvement and New York travel.