How To Mitigate and Treat Pet Damage on Hardwood Floors

Everyone loves their pets, but our furry friends can cause some problems around the home. If you’ve ever had home carpeting, then you may have dealt with a pet causing stains. However, even durable hardwood floors can suffer damage as a result of pets. The good news is that there are a number of ways you can prevent or at least minimize issues like scratch marks and moisture damage as a result of cats, dogs, or other animals.

How Your Pets Can Damage Your Wood Floor

The nails of any pet can damage a hardwood floor, but this is especially true for large dogs. When dogs are travelling around the house, they use their nails for traction. If their nails are too long or they’re running, their nails can cut deep scratches in the floor’s finish or even reach the hardwood itself. These problems can be mitigated by ensuring that your pet’s nails are well-trimmed to minimize the damage they cause as they run around the house. Another step you can take to protect your floors is to put down carpets or runners in the places they travel most, like the areas around doorways or their food. Taking these steps will help you avoid needing to repair the floor constantly. You should also be sure to clean your pet’s paws to prevent grit and dirt from ending up on the floor as this can cause surface damage.

How To Protect and Repair Your Wood Floor

If you want to be proactive in protecting your hardwood floors from pet damage, another measure you can take is to make sure that at least a few layers of finish are applied to the floor. This will help preemptively prevent damage by creating a thicker layer of finish over the wood. That means that when your pet begins scratching, it will only be scratching the finish rather than the wood. This is important because repairing the finish is much easier than repairing damaged wood. 

If the floor does get damaged, you may be able to repair it yourself if the damage is minor. For damage to the finish, you can simply apply another layer of finish to the damaged area. If the damage is only a small scratch you may still be able to repair it yourself. You can potentially buff the scratch out by lightly using a bit of sandpaper along the grain of the wood.

If the damage does reach the wood underneath, you may be able to repair it by sanding down the plank and resealing it. This can be quite a bit of work, so your best bet is to reduce the risk of damage happening in the first place. One step you can take to reduce potential damage is to use a firmer, more durable finish on the wood if you know you’ll have pets travelling across it. This will help the floor’s surface withstand the wear and tear that results from pets to begin with.

If the damage is too extensive, it might be time to call in a wood floor expert for a professional hardwood sanding and refinishing. They can take your pets into account when resealing, which will reduce more expensive damage in the future, saving you money in the long run.

Wood Floor Moisture Damage From Pets

Another potential source of damage to a floor that pets can cause is moisture damage. This issue can occur from spills around their water bowl and also urine. When pet urine is left on the floor for too long not only can it cause the boards to discolor and leave dark stains, but it can also cause the wood itself to adopt an ammonia smell that can be very difficult to get out with extensive repair work.

If your pet does pee on the floor, the speed with which the mess is cleaned up will play a big part in how much your floor is affected. If you catch the urine quickly, you can easily clean it up with some paper towels and a disinfecting spray. It may also be beneficial to cover the affected area with baking soda after wiping up the liquid and covering up the soda with a cloth. Leaving this spread out overnight can help reduce any potential smells left behind by the pee. 

Mitigating Wood Floor Moisture Issues

For accidents that you weren’t able to spot quickly, a surprising tool that can help clean up the mess well is a vinegar solution. A mixture of white vinegar and water in a 1:3 ratio will help clean up the urine while reducing the smell long-term. Another good tool to use are enzyme-based cleaners as the enzymes help break down the proteins in the urine, thus reducing any odors. 

Unfortunately, if the stain sat for a while and discolored the floor, it’s going to take some more work to fix it. You may need to sand the wood in the damaged area and refinish it to remove both the stain and the smell. If the stain has seeped deep into the board and refinishing doesn’t fix it, then you’ll have to replace the impacted planks completely. 

Pets often will urinate in the same place once it’s been marked. To stop this behavior from repeating, you can take steps to ensure that your pets only go in the places they’re supposed to. For cats, you should make sure their litter box is kept clean with fresh litter. They should have easy access to the litter box as well, and experts even recommend having one box on each floor of a house. You should also look out for territorial behavior with pets and take steps to curb it as it can lead them to urinate around a house more. Blocking the area for a time to keep them from peeing there and cleaning the area properly can also help reduce the chance that the behavior is repeated.

When To Call In Hardwood Floor Experts

While pets will always cause some wear to a floor, being aware of the risks they pose and some ways to mitigate damage to your floor can help you keep your space clean and beautiful. Sometimes years of pet damage can build up to a degree where you need to call in someone with a high level of wood floor expertise. In this case, the PA Wood Floor Experts at Artisan Wood Floors can help you decide if you need to repair, sand and refinish, or even deepclean and recoat your wood floors to bring them back to life, and keep them protected for years to come! Call Artisan Wood Floors today at (215) 515-7355 and ask for Steve!


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