As every pet owner knows, pet accidents are inevitable. It's therefore vital for pet owners to use pet-friendly products and surfaces in their homes, and laminate flooring products are often ideal for this purpose. They are both cost-effective and easy to maintain even in the presence of pets. However, while laminate floors can withstand some pet accidents well, other scenarios are more challenging, and can lead to long-term damage that is difficult or expensive to repair.
Accident Response and Short-Term Effects
While laminate floors are resistant to some damage types, this doesn't mean they are impervious to staining, so vigilance and maintenance are important when dealing with accidents.
The best possible solution to pet accidents on laminate flooring is immediate cleanup and response. If your pet urinates or defecates on the floor, wipe away the faeces, or mop or wipe up the urine as quickly as possible with a highly absorbent towel or mop. This will minimise the chance of staining or scent saturation. It's also just as important to respond quickly if your pet vomits on the floor, as vomit can be extremely acidic, and just as damaging as urine, if not more so.
Finish by lightly going over the area with a laminate-friendly floor cleaner, spritzing rather than saturating the floor, then damp-mopping or wiping the area a final time. Consistent response in this manner means short-term effects of your pet's accidents on laminate flooring should be minimal.
Older Accident Effects and Solutions
While it's best to respond immediately to pet accidents, you may not always find the accident right away. For older accidents, use pet enzyme cleaning products to remove the scent of the urine at the molecular level. Removing the scent is vital, as any lingering scent may signify to your pet that the area is now an appropriate place to go to the bathroom.
Clean up faeces or vomit using laminate-safe cleaning products. Spray the site, then wipe or mop up gently, without using a lot of excess water, to decrease the likelihood of water damage or swelling to your laminate floor. Next, if at all possible, cover the area after cleanup and enzyme treatment with an object so that the pet can no longer seek out the spot for further incidents.
Food and Water Damage
Pet accidents aren't just about the occasional piddle--a pet's water dish, for instance, can be a real source of damage to laminate flooring over the long term, and as with repeated urine stains, can be difficult to spot-repair.
For this reason, be sure to put a mat or tray underneath your pet's water dish, as repeated water spills can eventually damage even the hardiest laminates. Do the same with the pet's food bowl, as this will not only minimise stains or damage, but help to minimise the attraction of vermin.
Laminate floors are highly scratch resistant, but repeated scratching or contact with a pet's nails can lead to long-term damage. Unlike wood floors, laminate floors cannot be traditionally sanded or refurbished to cover up scratches.
Help to minimise scratches or abrasions by keeping your pet's nails properly clipped, and by using rugs in high-traffic areas in homes with multiple dogs. Create designated play or sleep areas for your pet with rugs, mats, pet beds or other options so that the pet can play without inadvertently scratching up the floor or baseboards.
While laminate flooring can be ideal for pet owners who are vigilant about cleanup, those with multiple or especially incontinent dogs or cats may want to choose a laminate floor with a higher (commercial) AC rating of 4 or above, or go with a hardwood floor altogether instead.
Laminate floors can make instant cleanups easier, but they are also harder to repair after repeated pet accidents when damage has already set in. After enough volume or repetition, pet urine will not only stain laminates, but it can actually go into the grooves and cause permanent buckling or raised edges--something that doesn't occur with real hardwood flooring. While laminate floors are easy to install, they are extremely difficult to spot-repair--an important consideration for any pet owner.