Best Flooring for Dogs & Cats – Scratch & Spill Proof Vs Comfort

big dog lying on carpet with catDid you know that there’s a dog in 40% of US homes? That’s a lot of dogs and a lot of long doggie nails tearing at your floors! Add in plenty of shedding (yes, cats too) and the occasional… erm… accident and you soon have good reason to think long and hard about which type of new flooring will be the best fit for you and the best flooring for dogs or other pets in your house build or remodel.

In this Home Flooring Pros guide we will look in detail at both the best and the worst floors for dogs and cats. Here’s our list and you can click the quick links to link to our review of each.

Before we move on let’s cover some key points…

First up, there are no hard and fast rules! There is no law against owning pets and installing carpet! Thousands of pet owners have done it and are happy enough.

If you have…

a) well behaved pets
b) always keep them well groomed with nails trimmed
c) own a good powerful hoover that you’re happy to use each week

… then it’s quite possible to mix pets with carpet. Conversely you know your pets and your lifestyle better than anyone and if  you have two large dogs who love nothing more than getting covered in mud every time they go for a walk then…well you’re going to have a problem on your hands if you install carpet throughout your home.

The second main consideration is… what do you mean by the best flooring for dogs and cats? Do you mean the best floors for them or the best floors for you!? In our guide we’ve ranked flooring by both criteria. So a tiled floor doesn’t rate at number one in our survey, despite the fact that for durability and ease of cleaning it’s clearly the best option, because for your pets it is a pretty hard, often cold and slippery floor.

So without further ado let’s take a look at the Home Flooring Pros list of the best flooring for your pets… and you!

The Best Pet Friendly Floors

  • Vinyl Flooring – Durable, waterproof, easy to clean and relatively soft.
  • Linoleum Flooring – Almost as good as vinyl and eco-friendly, but costs more.
  • Cork Flooring – Hypoallergenic, less rigid than wood but can be damaged by dogs.
  • Bamboo Flooring – Quality bamboo is tough but not so comfortable for pets.
  • Tile & Stone Flooring – Great for cleaning but hard and cold for pets.
  • Laminate Flooring – Durable but slippery and loud for pet claws.
  • Hardwood Flooring – Softer woods prone to scratches, hard surface for pets and avoid pet urine.
  • Carpeting – Pets love it but you won’t enjoy the cleaning or floor damage.

Vinyl – Top of the list for dogs and cats must surely be vinyl flooring. Vinyl sheet flooring is often referred to as resilient flooring for the very clear and simple reason that it is one of the most durable options available (on the understanding that you don’t skimp on price and quality). New luxury vinyl sheet, tile or plank flooring is an even better option thanks to its added thickness. Installed properly vinyl will wear well, with no scratches or tears, and with its water resistant qualities is a cinch to clean. Cat and dog hairs are quickly removed with a quick hoover and any urine accidents or vomit are easily removed without leaving a trace. A nice added benefit, certainly with luxury vinyl, is it’s comparative softness, compared with wood or tile. There’s a lot more give in vinyl which is both more forgiving for our pets and a lot quieter than the click, click, click or nails on a hard surface.

Vinyl floor prices are lower than many other flooring options, but if its durability and longevity you’re looking for then avoid cheap products, a thin vinyl floor is the kind of cheap inconsequential floor you might put down in the kitchen of a rental apartment, but don’t expect it to hold up well.

LinoleumLinoleum flooring is right up there with vinyl as an excellent pet friendly floor, but it is a little more expensive and there are less options available these days. Armstrong do a great range and we love Forbo’s linoleum products, which are branded as Marmoleum.

Linoleum has many of the same benefits of vinyl. It’s easy to clean, pretty much water resistant (although not as good as vinyl) and a softer, quieter flooring. Furthermore as a natural product it is an eco-friendly floor as well as hypoallergenic and antibacterial, which is handy with pets around. Also, while vinyl has its pattern/colors printed onto just its surface, the look of a linoleum floors is constant from the top surface of the floor through to the base, meaning scratches barely show up at all and the lifespan of the floor is far longer than vinyl.

Against these benefits is the appearance of linoleum over time, as a natural product it is prone to fading and degrading so careful maintenance is more of an issue. Linoleum floors really benefit from being waxed and polished a couple of times a year to get the best out of them and this kind of aftercare is only going to be more essential in a household with dogs. Also because of the manufacturing process, with linoleum’s color/pattern constant throughout, design choices are limited to solid colors or mottled effects. (image of typical linoleum choices). It is for these two disadvantages that we rank it just below vinyl.

Cork – We suggest you add cork flooring high up on your “maybe” list when looking for the best flooring for dogs. On paper it has many elements that make it seem a perfect match for your pets. Like Linoleum it has hypoallergenic and antibacterial qualities, is less rigid and more forgiving than hardwood or tile and its structural makeup means it is resilient, durable and impact resistant.

That said, the finish of most cork flooring is closer to a hardwood floor than, say, vinyl and consequently it would be untrue say that cork is scratch resistant. Choosing a lighter shade of cork will help hide scratches and you should look to the higher quality products with a tough finish. Something else to bear in mind…while you can polish or add a new coat of finish to a cork floor, it is not a floor that you can easily re-sand or refinish like solid hardwood. As cork is a fairly expensive option it is worth considering the overall lifespan of a cork floor in a house with pets.

Beware the unfinished and very soft cork glue down tiles that you might have seen in the odd bathroom or two. While they are nice and soft and warm for a bathroom environment (and easy to install) they really are too soft for the rest of the home, especially a home with pets.

BambooBamboo flooring too is another option to add to the “maybe” list. If you have your heart set on some form of wood floor then it’s true that bamboo can be a sensible option (although of course not strictly speaking wood). Why? Well it’s all down to the hardness of your floor, the harder the surface the less easy it is to scratch or dent. Manufacturers use the Janka test to assign a hardness rating to their floors and some bamboo flooring products score very highly.

Please do your research and look specifically for bamboo flooring manufacturers who draw attention to the hardness of their products. The bamboo floor should definitely be strand-woven, other forms of bamboo and cheaper products made from immature bamboo plants can be quite soft and won’t stand up well against energetic pets.

Tile and Stone – As we mentioned in the introduction, if you’re only interested in your own ease and comfort then ceramic and porcelain tiles or natural stone flooring is definitely the best floor for dogs and cats. Tough, stain resistant, water resistant and easy to clean this type of flooring can stand up to anything. Cats won’t mind it too much either, they can always find a soft chair or bed to curl up on, but dogs can find a tile or stone floor pretty hard and uncomfortable. Cold too unless you have radiant underfloor heating, if you go with tile or stone be sure to get plenty of rugs put down in strategic places.

Laminate – While we put vinyl and linoleum at the top of our list of best floors for dogs, many other online resources and homeowners plump for laminate flooring. It’s hard to argue with the logic…laminate floors are renowned for their incredibly tough clear melamine wear layer making them almost scratch invincible against cat and dog claws. This same layer makes the surface of the floor pet stain resistant and like other hard floors their easy to keep clean with a hoover and a damp mop. Add in the low cost of laminate floors and it seems like a no-brainer…right?

However, in our humble opinion, laminate isn’t hugely “pet-friendly”, that’s to say friendly to your pets, especially dogs. That same transparent wear layer that is so resistant to scratches also acts much like an ice-rink for animals, pets get little to no traction at all on its surface and this can be a real health hazard especially to older animals. Laminate, like all the less pet friendly floors, is also a hard surface which again isn’t conducive to comfort, so be sure to get plenty of area rugs or pet beds down if you’re going with laminate.

Also, be warned, if you don’t like the tip tappity sound of little feet on a hard floor then laminate might just drive you a little crazy too. Laminate is known for having a bit of a hollow and louder sound to it compared to other flooring like solid wood or tile, so you can imagine the extra amplification laminate will bring to your dog’s footsteps.

Hardwood – So this is the biggie, most homeowners want to know about the best hardwood floors for dogs. Well, if you have your heart set on hardwood floors, and many, many homeowners do, then the answer is to install the solid or engineered hardwood floor with the toughest finish and/or the highest Janka hardness score. Pre-finished factory produced hardwood flooring typically comes with several layers of tough finish that creates a protective wear layer. If you invest in a top quality floor with over 8/9 layers of finish you have yourself a pretty strong floor that will stand up to a lot of wear and tear.

Similarly, some woods are just naturally harder than others so if you’re looking for the best hardwood floor for dogs always go for the tougher species. Imported exotic hardwoods like Ipe, Brazilian Cherry, Walnut and Acacia flooring dominate the top end of the table and when looking at domestic woods White Oak, Hard Maple and Hickory are all strong choices (be aware that these hardwoods all come with a higher price tag). Certainly you would do well to steer away from the soft hardwoods like Pine, Teak or Larch.

Generally though, dogs and hardwood floors don’t mix and are not recommended by manufacturers for families with pets, you can certainly limit the damage, but dogs, especially larger breeds, will wreak havoc in the long run. At least with solid hardwood floors you can re-sand and re-finish the damage, whereas with engineered hardwood once the damage is done you have just one chance at a re-sand if you’re lucky.

Furthermore, wood floors don’t like liquids, so urine and vomit, not to mention the dogs water dish are all potential threats to the wood. Dog and cat urine can stain and discolor wood floors and the bad odors can be very hard to get rid of if urine seeps down the cracks. And if liquids are left to stand too long then they can often seep into the wood itself and cause swelling.

Again, it is worth mentioning that there are no hard and fast rules when it comes to flooring for pets. Putting the urine issue to one side (not all cats or dogs have regular accidents) if, as a homeowner, you like the current trend for distressed, hand scraped and generally rustic hardwood floors then dog scratches really won’t be a concern or problem, merely adding to the patina of your floors. Many homeowners like a well-worn wood floor and if you’re one of them go ahead and invite the dogs in, just don’t expect the manufacturers to honor their life-time guarantees!

Carpet – Do we really need to explain why pets and carpets don’t get along? 😉 We’re sure if you asked your pets which flooring they would choose they would tell you carpet every time. Soft, comfortable and warm, why wouldn’t they prefer to lay on a deep plush carpet over a rock hard, cold tile? And if nothings too good for your pets then go for it, but on a practical level this is the flooring that’s most likely to take the worst beating from your pets.

The best carpet for pets is the one specifically manufactured with pets in mind. Smartstrand and Stainmaster are both well-known brands of carpet well suited to the various risks associated with cats and dogs. Look for a carpet that is pile cut rather than looped (so no to Berber) so pets don’t get their claws caught in the threads.

And look for a stain and, as far as possible, odor resistant carpet to give you maximum protection against dirt tracked in from outside and any urine accidents. Nylon and polyester carpets are a good place to start before making sure they have built in stain protection.

Pet Friendly Flooring Brands

So far we have concentrated on the best types of flooring for dogs, cats and other pets, but what about the top flooring brands? Many of the household flooring manufacturers are selling products specifically designed with pets in mind. Here is a summary of what’s available online and from major retailers.

  • Mohawk: Offers a couple of products aimed squarely at pet owners. SmartStrand is their branded carpet designed to be moisture resistant, easy to clean with stain protection. They also produce waterproof vinyl planks under the brand name Solidtech designed to cope with any and all pet accidents.
  • Armstrong: While not specifically a flooring for pets their new Vivero range of luxury vinyl is advertised as both waterproof and extremely scratch resistant.
  • USFloors: Their COREtec vinyl plank flooring range is waterproof and ideal for pets.
  • Stainmaster: Durable and family friendly flooring, their PetProtect carpet and PetProtect vinyl flooring are both worth considering.

Finally In summary

Our suggestions above are just a guide to finding the best flooring for dogs and every flooring type can be suitable for certain pets. Whichever floor you choose, try to follow these suggestions:

  • Trim your dog’s nails. Sometimes dog owners just focus on the messes their dogs might make and don’t think about them scratching up the floor. Scratching can be just as destructive as any mess a dog can make and potentially last much longer.
  • Keep their toys in a separate room that can take abuse, or just keep them outside. You don’t want your dog to get too rambunctious in the same room you keep your priceless Ming vases and Faberge eggs, now do you?
  • Keep water and food in an easy-to-clean room. Maybe keep these in the kitchen so you can easily mop or sweep up any mess that gets made. It may be smart to go a bit further and put an easily cleaned mat under their food and water.
  • Speaking of mats, use walk-off mats near the doors your pets use to enter and exit the house to catch the big messes they may drag in. Make sure the mats can be easily wiped down or tossed into the washer.

Further Reading:

Animal Behavior College – More pet friendly advice you can trust.

Pet Friendly Flooring – Could this be the answer to all our pet flooring problems?

Cali Bamboo – Flooring video from happy bamboo floor homeowners.

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30 thoughts on “Best Flooring for Dogs & Cats – Scratch & Spill Proof Vs Comfort

  • January 23, 2015 at 8:13 am
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    My family and I are currently in the process of remodeling our home. We have 3 very small dogs, and are oldest dog has a illness where he frequently has accidents. He’s our sweetest littlest guy and we have tried to leave him and the other 2 in “pee proof” areas of the house, but life happens and it doesn’t always work out the way we had hoped. Unfortunately, the pee had ruined our carpet (that we previously had) and now we are needing to pick out a much more suitable floor. We live in Southern California, about 1 mile from the beach and have been told so many different things about various floors, climate etc., that we are now confused on what to get. We were originally going to buy the porcelain flooring that looks like wood but we weren’t super impressed with many of the colors/lack of sheen as well as the fact that they are so cold and uncomfortable (as you had mentioned). We had also looked into the Cortec and Armstrong (vinyl planks) but our contractor had never used vinyl planks before and was hesitant which kind of turned us away (that and reading reviews about “shrinkage” and plank separating). Finally, we were told to get bamboo. We really really loved the bamboo because of course, we wanted hardwood but was never seen as a “dog friendly” option for us. I had heard about buying prefinished bamboo and then having it “sealed” to make it much stronger and water resistant, but I had not heard if it really does “pee proof” the floor. Anyway, I would be grateful for any and all suggestions regarding this and if possible, would also greatly appreciate your recommended brands. Thank you kindly!!!

    Reply
    • January 24, 2015 at 2:18 pm
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      Hi and thank you for the question. For an idea of reputable bamboo brands take a look at our bamboo flooring reviews. As I understand it though your main concern is with pee accidents, in which case, yes; buying a pre-finished floor and having it sealed will definitely help protect you from such problems, but why limit yourself to bamboo? You can get prefinished hardwood floors or pre-finished cork floors and both could also be sealed so…if you really love the look of bamboo then great, but if you would actually prefer hardwood then take a look at that too.

      Reply
  • June 30, 2015 at 12:37 am
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    I have cork flooring and have to say it is one of the worst floors if you have pets. It scratches very easily. I have a cat that occasionally vomits and unless you clean it up soon after the accident, it is difficult to get off. The worst part, however, is it does not tolerate wetness. This cat just started urinating on the floor and it is looking water logged. It will have to be removed as the urine as completely ruined it.

    Reply
  • September 28, 2015 at 8:34 am
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    With regard to Quimbo123’s comment: we are in the same situation — 3 very small dogs — and the old one frequently has large pee accidents in the middle of the night that are not caught until morning. Our 5 year old Mohawk laminate floor is absolutely trashed, so I would never recommend laminate. I am super hesitant to install wood after seeing what happened to the laminate. I haven’t looked at the wood-look porcelain tile yet, but I suspect it will be the most moisture resistant. Can someone who has had it awhile with pee-prone dogs let us know what brand and how it is holding up?

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    • October 4, 2015 at 9:03 am
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      Being in the Tile, marble and remodel business for thirty five years, I have seen the best and worst situations of flooring. The worst is any type of wood in any area that can have water problems, IE kitchens and bathrooms. Sure looks great until the water leaks under it. Usually from a ice/water hose at the refrig. or a leak at the sink.- Demo time. I never recommended a kitchen wood floor and never put it down first and than install the cabinets on top.
      Any fired tile has a glass surface, rough or smooth. Red backs are softer and tend to chip more if something sharp is dropped. White/gray backs (porcelain) much more durable. You usually get what you pay for in quality.

      Reply
      • October 4, 2015 at 10:21 am
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        Thanks Bob, great feedback. Yes, I’m with you. I get why people want wood in the kitchen, it can look great, but it wouldn’t be my first choice.

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        • October 16, 2015 at 8:08 am
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          being in insurance I can tell you that wood floors in areas with water is just ASKING for a claim. Kitchen it is usually the ice maker, as mentioned, or the seal from the dishwasher failing, or the kitchen sprayer faucet seam failure as most of those are plastic. Or just plain old washer wear and tear in faucets and the drip drip, that saturates before you discover it. Or if you leave windows open in a downpour rainstorm will ruin a wood floor. Not to mention just high traffic and spills that aren’t wiped up fast enough.

          Ditto in a bathroom…the humidity, the damp, the prospect of mold settling in between is an issue. Water unless you have marine varnish in layers in a bathroom usually suffers if you use the bathroom. Because most are as careful as they should be about getting moisture off the floors.

          Wood is gorgeous in low traffic areas imho.

          Now add in pets…ah NO, I have had dogs all my life and I think vinyl flooring is the best choice. Because sooner or later, it must come up, and for my $$$ that choice makes sense, is easy clean, and more sustainable than the others. I put the vinyl wood look planks down in my kitchen after the floor was trashed by a dishwasher leaking all over creation, and I said NEVER again. People think it is wood, I don’t have the issues I had trying to keep the wood from moisture, dings or scratches. It isn’t that expensive, so if it gets torn up…I don’t cry over replacement costs.

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          • October 16, 2015 at 11:43 am
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            Great feedback Savannah…thanks!

          • March 20, 2016 at 2:43 pm
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            Savannah- please let us know which vinyl you went with! anxiously awaiting your response. We all could appreciate you sharing as we continue to explore flooring options. Thanks sooo much for your expertise!!

          • April 2, 2017 at 11:00 am
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            What brand did you use?

    • April 2, 2017 at 10:55 am
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      We have wood look tile in the main areas of our house. Totally pee resistant but we need to replace bedroom carpets due to all the cat accidents. Our elderly cat has many accidents but we love her. It is too hard underfoot for bedrooms. What would someone suggest in bedrooms.

      Reply
  • October 12, 2015 at 8:30 pm
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    We also had to tear out our carpet because we have pets. They have accidents. I don’t like tile as the grout lines are hard to keep clean and it is very cold and hard on our pets feet too. We put vinyl wood look planks in our dining room to try it out. We bought it at Home Depot. Next I wanted to try a different vinyl from Lowe’s that is a floating plank. We put that in the family room. Hate it. It scratches and doesn’t look as real as the vinyl that glues down. I highly recommend the vinyl wood look plank that sticks to floor. Everyone thinks it’s real wood. So We are tearing out the Lowe’s flooring and doing the whole house including bathrooms with the vinyl from Home Depot. If you want to know the exact flooring email me. Pam

    Reply
    • October 16, 2015 at 8:13 am
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      I put the vinyl plank wood look flooring in a mud room…and the stupid washer leaked right after it was installed, but NO worries-it held up, that convinced me that for the $$$, for the look, for the endurance it offers, it is a good choice. I put it in an entry way in a mt cabin…that gets snow abuse, it has done excellent there too…

      Reply
      • October 19, 2015 at 7:03 pm
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        Wow! That sounds good Savannah! Can you tell me what brand of flooring you choose?
        We were ready to go with a Mohawk product until we saw a lot of reviews saying to avoid it.

        Thanks,
        Pat

        Reply
      • November 11, 2015 at 5:18 pm
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        savannah, I too would love to know the brand you used. thanks

        Reply
      • February 8, 2016 at 1:07 am
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        We are looking at remodeling are front room, kitchen, and two Hall ways. We have 4 kids and five dogs they are all ways tracking mud,snow,water,hair,and dirt, I mop at least 2-3 time a day. I would like to know what brand,and who you got your flooring through thank you for the help.

        Reply
      • February 14, 2016 at 7:12 am
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        Still deciding…which did you use? I’ve got 2 big dogs, and the flooring will cover an open area including living room, kitchen (with dishwasher), and a half bath. Thanks.

        Reply
      • September 14, 2016 at 11:00 am
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        Savannah, we are interested in putting in luxury vinyl flooring. Are you still liking it? We have 2 dogs and are looking for flooring that can take their abuse. What brand and style did you use? Thanks for your feedback.

        Reply
    • December 28, 2015 at 3:43 am
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      Savannah, what brand of vinyl plank flooring did you use? My dog has ruined my carpeting with urine stains and I want to install vinyl plank flooring throughout my condo but so many brands on the market now it’s tough to know which is best.
      Thanks

      Reply
    • March 20, 2016 at 2:47 pm
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      Hi Pam,
      Can you email me the brand of vinyl flooring from home depot.
      Thank you,
      Melissa

      Reply
    • May 21, 2016 at 12:52 pm
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      Hi Pam, what was the name of the flooring from Home Depot you used ?

      Thanks,
      Chris

      Reply
    • September 24, 2016 at 3:24 am
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      I would love to know the brand of Vinyl Flooring you used from Home Depot. Please email me asap if you can…looking to buy asap

      Reply
    • August 29, 2017 at 11:44 pm
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      What flooring is it please. We have three dogs, three cats and two kids!

      Reply
  • November 12, 2015 at 10:44 am
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    I need advice. We have two large German Shepherd dogs. We are going to replace most of the carpet in our home but I want the flooring to withstand their playing in the house. I was thinking of travertine. The carpet we have now has pulls from their nails…I don’t know what kind of flooring is underneath the carpet. Anyone have any suggestions? We live in New Mexico where the humidity is very low.

    Reply
  • June 6, 2016 at 5:12 pm
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    Has anyone heard from Savannah about brand of luxury vinyl plank flooring she used and is so happy with?? My sweet dogs are small but their pee has ruined my carpet. First loved CoreTec Pro, then read lots of horror stories about planks lifting (uses click flooring), others like Armstrong don’t have colors or wood look that suits me. Karndean has great looks but only glue down application and some report you can see all the imperfections if sub floor not perfect. Also Karndean has lots of requirements for cleaning and stripping none of the others have. Sometimes too much knowledge is as bad as too little but since the for this project is around $15K, I can’t afford to make a mistake. Any other suggestions out there?? Thanks.

    Reply
    • June 17, 2017 at 3:44 am
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      Hello Barbara,

      I am wondering what flooring you finally put down. I had Kardean put down about 4 years ago and love it. The sub floor was perfect before it was laid, and mine wan not glued except for the wet areas, Now I have a little rescue dog 5 years old and trying to house train it, so it is easy to clean.
      Beverley

      Reply
  • November 25, 2016 at 9:53 pm
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    Wish people like Savannah and Pam, when glowing about a product, would let us know what the product is so others can make an educated choice.
    I’m as much in the dark now as I was before I started reading all this.

    Reply
  • March 16, 2017 at 3:07 pm
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    I installed Cortec Plus Gold Coast Acacia in my dinning room last October. We have 2 giant dogs and one of them vomits when she drinks too much water (seems like a flood). We needed a floor that could hold its own with dog nails, vomit, and drool. So far, this flooring has held up fantastically. I put pads under the table legs and other furniture to help protect the floor. We also have an area rug under the table. The dogs have ran and skidded across the floor with their nails digging at the floor, without any damage occurring. Spills have been very easy to clean up. The seams have held together very well. I have read mix reviews on this product, but glad I listened to our local flooring company (Ambassador Flooring) and went with Cortec. The dinning room was our test room (plan B was to pull it up and use for the basement). Now, we are replacing all of the main level with cortec. I will mention our subfloor was in great condition (level and clean). I also installed the floor by myself, directions were easy to follow and YouTube is a wealth of information for DIYers.

    Reply
  • May 28, 2017 at 2:44 pm
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    I have put down the vinyl floor planks in my kitchen, looks great but my dog had a pee accident and it got in the cracks. Anyone reccomend something to seal it to make it “Pee” safe ?

    Reply

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