Pet-Friendly & Kid-Friendly Wood-Look Floor

My sister and her husband recently bought a new home that they plan to remodel, and they asked for my opinion on what flooring material is best for both dogs and kids…

Like many people, they really like the idea solid hardwood floors, but not the maintenance that comes along with them.  Hardwood floors are no doubt beautiful, warm, and inviting, but they scratch easily, swell and shrink with different humidity levels, and also absorb liquids.  Those are not ideal qualities for a household with dogs and kids.  Can you imagine all those spilt drinks or untrimmed nails on your beautiful hardwood floors? Yikes!

An often easy alternative to solid hardwood floors is engineered wood or laminate.  Both of which are easier to maintain than real wood (less likely to scratch, swell, or shrink), but still neither are meant to handle liquid accidents unless they are cleaned up immediately, and let’s be honest, we don’t always catch those things the second they happen.

Knowing all of this, and realizing their desire to have a wood-look floor, my recommendation to my sister and her husband was to go with a wood-grain porcelain tile.  It has the appearance of wood, but not the maintenance nightmares, and most importantly it won’t absorb any liquids. Your kids can even drive any of those ride on toys – which is the best, without worrying about a scratch.

I go to a veterinary conference every year and participate in a materials debate with other designers and architects in the industry, and almost every year, we get asked “what flooring material do you most recommend for animal facilities?”  There’s always some variety to our answers, but by far the most recommended flooring type from everyone in the debate is porcelain tile.  To me, it’s just one of those tried and true materials for floors that works in both animal facilities and households.  It’s durable, it’s easy to clean, and it comes in a wide range of aesthetic styles.

The wood grain porcelain tile look is very popular right now in the designer world.  It helps provide that warmth and natural texture that people crave from traditional hardwood floors, and yet at the same time it also feels very modern and contemporary.  I find that juxtaposition very exciting as a designer.  It’s unexpected that something as old as wood could feel so fresh and modern.

While porcelain tile is one of my all-time favorite floors, it still has some downsides (I always have to remind people that there is no such thing as a perfect floor).  One of the biggest flaws is that tile is very hard, which makes it uncomfortable to stand on for long periods of time.  Wood floors, laminates, vinyls, carpets – all of these flooring options have a bit of give to them as you walk.  Making them better for joints in adults, kids, and also your pets.  Yes, just like us, as dogs get older they become more prone to ailments such as arthritis and hip dysplasia.  A simple and easy solution is to purchase rugs to place throughout your house for some added comfort to your family’s feet and paws.

Porcelain tile can also be one of the more expensive flooring options for homes.  Compared to most carpets, laminates, or vinyls porcelain tile can easily cost 2 or 3 times the amount to install.  However unlike those other options, porcelain tile rarely ever needs to be replaced because of performance failures.  Usually tile floors are only replaced because they’ve become outdated.  Styles, colors, textures, and even the shapes and sizes go through trends.  What’s popular in the tiling industry today, may not be in 15 or 20 years, and as a result tile is usually replaced for aesthetic reasons.  To me, that’s a sign of a good floor.  The material itself doesn’t break down, instead it holds up for so many years it becomes old-fashioned.

Regardless of the flaws, I still believe a wood grain porcelain tile is the best option for my sister and her husband, and any others looking to incorporate a durable, easy to clean, and attractive wood-look floor for their pet-friendly, and kid-friendly homes.

Below are some examples of wood grain porcelain tiles that I have encountered over the past few months.  Some are from animal facilities (one & two), one is from a local brewery (three), and there’s even one from my own house (four).  Each one has a unique look and feel, so no matter your personal taste, there’s a wood grain porcelain tile out there for you.

(one)Wood Tile Floor - Carson City Nevada(two)
Wood Tile Floor - SEGD(three)StarrBrothers(four)KitchenFloor

Tile in Photo One: Daltile, Acacia Valley, Alder AV07, 6″x36″
Tile in Photo Two: Daltile, Emblem, Beige EM01, 7″x20″
Tile in Photo Three: Unknown
Tile in Photo Four: Daltile, Yacht Club, Sea Anchor, YC04, 6″x24″

All photos taken by The Barkitect.