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Best Open Concept Flooring in House with dogs, kids, cats

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  • Jul 31st, 2008 12:14 am
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Jr. Member
Dec 19, 2007
124 posts

Best Open Concept Flooring in House with dogs, kids, cats

Well, I finally had two designers come over to discuss my main-floor remodel. I think I will be taking down 3/4 of a wall and installing an island, to open up the kitchen to the living room/dining room area. On the other side of the kitchen is what I will make my office/library, which then opens to the powder room and a small foyer where the side door is.

My question is flooring. I would really love one type of flooring throughout the open-concept space and well, on the whole main floor. I love hardwood and thought I'd settled on oak (hardest) but now I'm having second thoughts.

I have pets who have big muddy paws, nails and wet fur when it rains/snows/thaws, plus 3 active kids who bounce in and out with friends all day long. I can't get rid of them :) but I don't want my beautiful and expensive floor to be destroyed either. And hardwood in the kitchen terrifies me!

Can anyone in a similar situation suggest what has worked for them? I did consider porcelain throughout, but I'm scared this will be a cold and ugly alternative for the WHOLE floor and really not my first choice. Has wood worked for anyone? I would, of course, put area rugs down and maybe I can convert the little foyer into a "mud room" to dry off the dogs before they come in the main area from the patio doors, as they do now. Thinking out loud...

Thanks for any input!

C
19 replies
Newbie
Jun 2, 2008
58 posts
5 upvotes
I'd do a nice warm coloured tile (travertine?) throughout with in floor raidant heating. Or you can just get your hardwood floor refinished every few years.
Deal Addict
Sep 11, 2006
1918 posts
10 upvotes
KELOWNA
If you are fixed on having floors that always look pristine, forget wood. By it's nature it will get dented,scratched, and marked. That's just wood and you have to adopt the idea that it's adding character or forget it. Meanwhile, dogs only scratch wood if you don't clip their nails. In my experience, I scratch the wood more than either of my dogs ever did and that was by moving furniture without the proper protective pads you are supposed to have on everything (that's called live and learn). You will have to be a bit more careful about taking shoes off, but otherwise wood is pretty easy to live with unless you get anal about keeping it perfect.

Meanwhile, if you like wood and are okay with with it looking like wood should look when people are actually living there, don't worry about it. I have had it in a kitchen with no problem (exception, the first floor I had was defective and the kitchen was where that showed up but after it was replaced, no big deal). You have to know and accept that if you drop a can, the floor will probably dent but again, that is part of the charm of wood.

The nice part of wood is even if it does get worn after a dozen or more years it can be refinished and there are min-wax pens to hide scratches and such that happen in the meantime. It's also nice to stand on and fairly quiet (compared to tile which is hard and noisy).

You might want to look at cork as an alternative. I have it in my kitchen here now and I swear it's the best floor ever. It's soft, quiet, never shows anything in the way of scratches (the dents I got from my fridge being moved back just popped back up after a while) and for kids and pets, it would be easy to live with (for some reason my dog loves laying on the cork more than my wood floors so it must be way more comfortable even on that level). There are lots of show homes using it throughout main floors and you can get various colours and patterns so you can have one solid floor or build in designs/borders. It's also very DIY friendly (it lays like click and lock laminate), doesn't require any special subflooring, and can go right over everything but carpet. Nothing has hurt my floor so far, not dropping knives pointy end down, having puddles of water, mud, or dropping cans. It still looks as good as the day it went down. What's really impressive is how nice it is to stand on. It's great stuff (and no, dog nails won't hurt it at all).

Cork (IMO) is a little more picky than some wood to shop for as the variants in quality is more than apparent. Some of the cheaper stuff (HD) does scratch badly and isn't recommended around water while others won't scratch at all and can be used in kitchens and bathrooms. It's pretty easy to see the difference if you use your finger nail to test the store samples. I managed to find a good one for $4/sq ft (lumber store) but have seen the same quality at around $8 (flooring store). The other cost factor is installation, and since it goes in quickly like laminate it's much cheaper to have installed than wood. The cork I used was also easy to cut which wasn't the case for the laminate I used in another house. I think my 100 sq.ft. kitchen was done in about 3 hours and I cut it with a small 4" saw blade vs blowing through about 4 7" blades when I did laminate in my last kitchen.

The other thing you might want to consider is using two different flooring materials but keeping the colour similar to cut the contrast down. That would help you keep the look you want without breaking up the space. I sure wouldn't go with porcelain throughout as it would be cold and hard to live with. You also have to have the right subfloors and proper installation or you will have some major headaches. It's also slippery when wet and you may find just the nature of it means more bruises for kids and slips for the dogs.
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Aug 22, 2003
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Great post as usual from Dustbunny!

I can tell you from our own experiences with 3 kids and 2 dogs and a cat that I never want prefinished hardwoods again after living with them in our last house. Within a year that hardwood was in serious need of refinishing. Now after living with laminate the last 5 years as long as we have kids and dogs we'll definitely not be installing hardwood on the main floor of this house. And I can that as someone who never pays installation, just for the product at a discounted price. ;) If I were you I'd seriously look at cork as Dustbunny suggested and maybe a natural stone for the kitchen and at the doors to outside in a similar shade. Natural stone also has the advantage of acting as thermal mass so depending on the orientation of your house with the sun in the winter it will actually help to heat the house a bit.
Deal Addict
Nov 9, 2006
1007 posts
Many people with wood floors use area rugs and runners for hallways for protection for the wood and to create a cozier feeling. Wood in the kitchen is fine as long as spills are quickly mopped up. Things tend to not shatter on wood floors in the kitchen as they do with tile. It's a huge investment though. Laminate flooring has come a long way and looks more like wood with a more practical aspect to it but it can be as expensive as wood if you want a good one.
[OP]
Jr. Member
Dec 19, 2007
124 posts
Thanks,everyone, for your input.

Dustbunny - wow - thanks for taking the time to lay out some options for me. Truth be told, I had not even considered cork, but it seems like an ideal option. Do you recommend any particular brand? Is the click-together kind better/more durable than the tiles? What colour do you have? Do you find it fades in any sunny spots?

In response to your post, I googled some cork floor galleries and I think I still need to get used to the look -- keep thinking of my old cork-wedge sandals from years ago!

I also don't mind the weathered hardwood look - I do think it adds character and warmth just to have wood. I'm relieved that some of you thought it wouldn't be a bad option rather than recoil in horror at the very idea! :)

Sorry you had a bad experience CSK's Mom...what kind of hardwood did you have in your old house? I've also considered laminate, but I've had terrible experiences with cheap laminate and it has turned me right off. I know there are good quality laminates, but if I'm going to pay that much, heck, I'm going for the real enchilada, you know?

Thanks again to all. Much food for thought!!!

C
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Sep 11, 2006
1918 posts
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KELOWNA
Well the only brand name I can remember is Quixote and that's only because that is the one I purchased. It generally all comes from Portugal so just do some shopping around and checking out the features the various brands offer and you will start to see which ones are worth the money. It's really worth checking out the flooring stores as that is where you will find the better brands. I found mine at a lumber store that imported directly so got a better floor at a better price than the flooring stores but by the time I found it, I knew what I was looking at.

I wouldn't go with cork tiles. Two reasons the first of which is how easy the click and lock is to install and second is that anything that ends up glued down needs a lot more prep to ensure an ultra smooth surface and I have heard the tiles tend to get paths where they eventually matt down a bit. The hard core of the click and lock ensures you don't have the problems an uneven floor or even a hair getting under a tile will have after a few years. Besides, any big accidents and you can cut out a piece of click and lock out and replace it virtually the same way you would replace a length of hardwood.

My cork has a pattern in it (sort of a patch work look) and has been down just over a year. It also has a large west facing wide open window beating down on it and so far I haven't noticed any fading or colour change. The sun can kill anything so eventually some might happen but mine has a protective coating (which has probably helped) on it (which some comes with.. hence them being recommended for kitchens and bath applications, or you can get a coating to apply after it's laid).

You really need to see cork in person and walk on it to truly appreciate it. Pictures just don't do it justice. There are so many styles and colours you can do a lot with it. If you remember how nice cork sandals are to stand in you may have an idea of what the floor is like to stand on. I have a bad back and can stand on that floor so much longer than any other I've had. The good stuff is just such nice flooring all around. With kids you'd really appreciate how quiet it is and no dog nails clicking either.

The other bonus is it's considered a bit more environmentally friendly because the cork is a renewable resource.

As far as wood goes, I have to agree with CKsmom about the prefinished hardwood. I don't care what anyone says, that stuff just doesn't stand up like wood that is site finished. Here it's almost impossible to get that done anymore because the prefinished is so easy to put in and takes a lot less time and mess, but I've had 4 houses, 2 with site finished, 2 with prefinished and the prefinished trashed a lot faster. Maybe the coatings just aren't as thick or as strong, I don't know but there was definitely a difference in durability.
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Aug 22, 2003
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kriskap, hubby installed that prefinished hardwood in our last house. He's a flooring installer with over 20 years experience. It was a very expensive floor (retail price but we got it deeply discounted as an overorder for a job) from a top maker that was a stained oak. I won't name the brand because it wasn't defective, it did what wood will do. After that experience, we wouldn't install hardwood even if we were given it free. Ironically, one of the stores hubby installs for offered us over 300 feet of engineered hardwood a month or so again and we turned it down. It would be trashed in no time in this house with the kids, dogs, pool, etc. ;) Even with no paying for install and free product it still wasn't worth it for us. :)

I understand you've had a bad experience with cheap laminate but there is so much of it out there today it's still worth a look IMHO. Yes, the really good stuff can be just about as much as hardwood but from an flooring standpoint it will outlast the hardwood and be cheaper over the long run. I'll also say that hubby usually tells folks not to look at the cheapest or most expensive stuff but to look at the middle pricepoint stuff when it comes to laminate. There isn't much added value to the most expensive stuff over the middle pricepoint.

Dustbunny you have the same feelings we do about prefinished vs. site finished. Hubby and I both feel the big problem with prefinished is that the finish on the boards just goes over the tongue on the boards. Because it's not a continuous seal people often run into problems with stains coming from the bottom of the boards under the finish. We had it happen to us. Some of the spill made it's way between boards and created a lovely black stain under the finish. Those types of stains can't be removed by refinishing either. I'd like to put hardwoods upstairs and hubby says the only way he'll do it is if he site finishes them.
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Aug 6, 2004
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Winnipeg
Does anyone have experience with vinyl plank flooring? My wife and I are considering replacing the flooring in our kitchen with this. It comes in many simulated wood and tile finishes and appears to be extremely durable.
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Aug 22, 2003
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The vinyl plank is vinyl flooring Nightwing. It will take the day to day traffic and abuses very well over time. There are several options on the market right now that are worth checking out depending on your price point. Check out the Mannington site and have a look at their Adura line. I'm still leaning towards it for my kitchen because of the ability to do a custom install. HD also carries TrafficMaster Allure series which is vinyl but in a floating floor format. The planks have a peel and stick lip that only sticks to the next plank and not the subfloor...
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Nov 9, 2006
1007 posts
I've seen the Trafficmaster Allure down and it looks incredible but once you step on it you know it's vinyl and not wood. I think most people expect and want real wood now regardless of the pitfalls and I know people who have experienced a lack of enthusiasm from buyers for it when they have tried to sell their homes.
I don't know if I would like the look of a cork floor either in a large area.
Have you researched getting a wood floor and having it finished on site? I have no idea as to the increased cost but if you are going to have wood it appears this is the way to go.
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Aug 6, 2004
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CSK'sMom wrote:
Jul 27th, 2008 2:08 pm
The vinyl plank is vinyl flooring Nightwing. It will take the day to day traffic and abuses very well over time. There are several options on the market right now that are worth checking out depending on your price point. Check out the Mannington site and have a look at their Adura line. I'm still leaning towards it for my kitchen because of the ability to do a custom install. HD also carries TrafficMaster Allure series which is vinyl but in a floating floor format. The planks have a peel and stick lip that only sticks to the next plank and not the subfloor...
Most of the research that I've conducted thus far has favourable reviews consistent with your mention of durability. I'm currently leaning towards the TrafficMaster floating floor concept due to health and safety issues.

I have a 40 year old home that has 3 layers of vinyl flooring currently in the kitchen. The first layer is glued down to the subfloor, and I suspect at least as old as the house, which has me concerned for possible asbestos problems if I try to remove. The other two layers do not appear to be glued down, at least from what I can tell near the forced air vents.

I'm hoping that I can remove the top two layers of flooring with minimal effort and leave the bottom layer undisturbed. This would probably cause an issue for the vinyl which needs to be glued in place.
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Sep 11, 2006
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KELOWNA
For any of you who are interested in the Trafficmaster Allure, there is along thread about the ups and downs that's been running on the H&H forum. It seems there can be issues with the glue strips if they aren't properly rolled after. http://forums.houseandhome.com/showthre ... llure&f=10

CSK'sMom, that lack of finish between the boards is one of the issues I had with one of my floors too (the one I have now is so tight it isn't much of an issue). The one floor I had was dark so you could really see where they had not gone down the sides properly (yet it was acceptable by the standards set by the wood folks) and that seeping inbetween was just awful to deal with. Meanwhile I had never seen a finish peel up like the floor I had (and it was mid-high range). It had to be all ripped up and replaced. It really does seem to me that one solid coating of protection is just better than having it on the individual boards and the finish of site done seems harder (maybe it's thicker?).

As for cost of site done floors, I've heard it's a bit more given the extra time involved. The wood itself is a bit cheaper. The real thing to bear is the time and effort as you really have to be out of the house for about a week so it's a big job (prefinished can be laid quickly and you can move your furniture around while it's being done, site finished and you have to clear everything out). When the staining and sealing is going on you can't have dust being disturbed or anything else going on in the house usually and if you go 3 coats of finish, that is at least 3 or 4 days just for that part of it. The bigger issue seems to be finding people who still like doing it and are good at it.
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Oct 24, 2007
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I just had a water leak in my house and all the flooring on main floor needs replacing :eek: Currently there was hardwood in the kitchen which was getting very scratched and dented (2 kids and a dog), and I always worried about spills or kids wanting to "help" washing dishes.

I've been considering the floating laminate for the entire main floor (entrance, hallway, living/dining and kitchen. Thought it would be nice to keep it the same to open up the space a bit. But still worried about the water from boots, or from spills, etc. Also worried it too would scratch and dent.

Also considered ceramic in the kitchen and hall and keeping hardwood in the living/dining. But worried ceramic would break if you dropped a can or pot, etc. on it. Or that it would be slippery if got a bit wet.

Help! How do I choose?
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Aug 6, 2004
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susan123 wrote:
Jul 30th, 2008 8:55 am
Also considered ceramic in the kitchen and hall and keeping hardwood in the living/dining. But worried ceramic would break if you dropped a can or pot, etc. on it. Or that it would be slippery if got a bit wet.

Help! How do I choose?
My parents have ceramic in their kitchen, and have never broken a tile, but you can pretty much forget saving any glassware that falls including correll corning-ware.

The main issue they find, is that ceramic tile is extremely hard on the legs and feet when standing for any length of time. Mats with rubber backing can be used, but they usually cover up patterns and add another level of cleaning to the mix.

Mark
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