Q: I am interested in getting hardwood flooring for the main floor of our house. This is the main walkway through the house, so durability is key. We also have a large dog!
A: I would definitely suggest site finished. Pre finished, aluminium oxide coatings are very hard, but that actually becomes a problem if the floor starts to look beaten up, since these coatings resist abrasion, which is exactly what needs to be done to a finish to create a mechanical bond and adhesion of a refresher coat. A large dog will leave marks and nail impressions in just about any wood, regardless of how hard it might be. It is important to keep their nails clipped and filed smooth. I would stay away from any tight grained woods such as maple, since many scratches are hidden by heavy grain (such as oak), which maple doesn’t have. A good choice for you might be Hickory. Quite hard, yet a grain similar to oak. Ash and oak would be other good choices.
I will also suggest an alternate finish to urethane top coats. I have been working with a tung oil based finish recently. Excellent penetration into the wood. It does build similar to polyurethane, though it is a more elastic type finish rather than a hard top coat. It is very easy to touch up and re coat with no adhesion issues or the possibility of swirl marks from Inter coat buffing, since this product co adheres. No buffing is needed. You can check this out at www.waterlox.com.