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While we love all of our pets, there is no denying the mess they are capable of making in our homes.
This is especially true of flooring. From scratches, snags, and staining to general outdoor dirt and grime tracked throughout the house, it is vital that you are diligent in checking and rechecking your floors for collateral damage of pet ownership. Failure to do so can create real problems that if not dealt with right away can cause real, on-going problems in your home.
When I first moved into my fixer-upper split level home, I did not put much stock into the listing agent’s warning about the previous owner’s furry friends. It wasn’t until we pulled up the wall to wall carpeting that we were faced with the full-effect (and stench) of the animals.
There were a few spots throughout the house where the animals had accidents or spilled water and food bowls that were allowed to seep through the carpet and into the floor over time. Because of the nature of the carpets, the moisture could not evaporate. In some spots, the carpeting’s underlay was still wet!
The staining on the original hardwood flooring beneath the carpet was so extensive that we were forced to finish the floors in a dark walnut stain. Anything lighter would simply highlight the moisture marks.
Obviously this is an extreme case and probably the result of some neglect on the part of the homeowner, but who is to say that an accident from a small dog or cat behind the couch or in a closet wont go unnoticed by even the cleanest pet parents?
The bottom line is, a reactive approach to maintaining your flooring in a pet occupied home is a losing approach. Instead, set up your home with flooring options that are built to defend against muddy paws and reckless games of fetch near open containers.
In this article, we go over some of these options with a specific focus on carpeting: why it is a viable choice, even for pet owners, and the best carpet products and brands on the market today to help defend against animal messes.
It is a common misconception that carpeting is a no-no for the homes of pet owners. While we understand why one might think that, the fact of the matter is floor coverings like carpeting are more comfortable for pets.
Think about where your childhood dog spent the majority of their time. It is likely that after they were evicted from the couch or bed by your parents, they found a nice little corner of carpet somewhere in your house and made their own.
Carpet is also a non-slip surface. This means that each time you come in through the front door at the end of a long day, your pet won’t spin their wheels on the hardwood in their haste to greet you.
A floor covering of some sort will also promote peace and quiet in your home. Wall-to-wall carpet, for instance, further absorbs the sounds of crying puppies in a lightning storm or the endless click-clack of nails on hardwood as your pet roams the bedroom hallway at night, standing guard over their family.
Another common misconception comes from those who suffer from allergies or who are nervous about hosting guests who might. They wrongfully assume a carpet will latch onto the dust particles and pet dander, making your home ground zero for asthma attacks and allergic reactions.
According to the Carpet and Rug Institute and the Canadian Carpet Institute, wall-to-wall carpeting certainly does attract allergens, but it also traps them, keeping them out of the air as long as they are quickly vacuumed up.
In this sense, carpeting is actually the favorable option. Dander that falls to a hardwood or tile surfaces, on the other hand, causes a bigger threat as people, pets, or wind can easily stir it back up into the air.
Carpeting is typically made from wool, natural fiber, or synthetic fiber like nylon, olefin, or polyester. Depending on what you are looking for out of your floor covering, wool is commonly known as the most luxurious. It will give you the softest feel. Wool is also naturally flame resistant.
That said, wool is not stain free and far from affordable when compared to the other materials out there.
Fiber rugs are probably the most popular in part because of their affordability, but also because carpeting tends made from fibers to be stain resistant. As far as specific fibers go, nylon is more durable than olefin and polyester. The latter two, though, tend to be cheaper.
Carpeting is one of the household materials where VOCs or volatile organic compounds can be found. These are chemicals which can cause irritations like itching of eyes and throats.
Newer carpeting solutions have reduced levels of VOCs because of the harmful nature of the chemicals that have been discovered in recent years. What you should be looking for as you are carpet hunting are carpet products that are certified Green by the Carpet and Rug Institute.
There are carpet products that are designed specifically for pets. These are manufactured to prevent the spills and messes caused by pets to soak through carpet padding where they can be left to soak unbeknownst to the homeowner causing mold growth and bacteria.
Another viable solution is carpet tiling. These can make replacing sections of carpeting that have been compromised by your animals easier as you can merely replace damaged pieces
Regardless of whether or not your carpeting is made specifically for pets, you need to do your part in keeping them clean. Surely, proactive approaches and concern for the type of carpeting you put down will help, but that does not mean you are off the hook in terms of clean up.
Another line of defense against pet messes is to purchase a vacuum that is also green approved by the Carpet and Rug Institute. These can reduce airborne dust by nearly 95 percent. And of course, make it a priority to check for damp spots on the rug each time you set out to clean your home. Keeping your flooring dry is by and large the best way to keep your subflooring free from harmful bacteria, mold, and a pervasive smell.