Wood floors in a Kennel = dog scratch blues

Q: A few people have told me that they think this might be white oak….I don’t know that for sure. My dog has been running around on the unfinished floor for weeks now (as a test) and only in the sunlight do I see nail marks from his paws. Here’s the questions: I have seen floors sanded and polyurethaned and then the dog gets yelled at all the time for running and scratching the floor up.

I don’t want to go through that I don’t want to have to keep sanding and reapplying polyurethane on the floors every year either. What’s a gal to do??? A man at the Home Depot here suggested that I clean the floor really well and just apply turpentine on the bare wood as a natural sealer. Please advise me. I have to complete this task soon and I want to do it right the first time. I’ve seen your Q and A list and those people are kicking themselves for their hard work gone bad. I don’t want to go through that. When I am done with the floor, I will restore the baseboards.

A: Every finish requires maintenance or periodic recoating of some sort. It doesn’t matter if it be polyurethane top coats, penetrating oils or wax. There is no “do it once, do it right and never do it again” type of coating.

What you are going to get, regardless of the type of finish you use, are claw impressions in the wood. The best thing you can do is keep their nails well trimmed and filed smooth. A good quality polyurethane offers very good protection against dirt, grit and spills. I have done jobs with this finish where a large dog was present. After a year there were hundreds of nail impressions in the wood itself, but the finish had not been compromised or ripped from the floor.

An alternate would be to apply a penetrating oil. You can read about such products at www.duraseal.com, who also manufacture a product called Renovator which is used to maintain and restore floors finished in this way. www.circa1850.com also has several oil type finishes, with one being a tung oil, varnish combination. These finishes are all low lustre, which is the way you will want to go. While they are much easier to touch up or spot fix that polyurethane, they are also less resistant to spills, such as dogs having an accident, slobbering, or splashing their drinking water, and require more constant effort to keep looking good. So, it is a trade off. You can use a top coat polyurethane and re coat it every 1-2 years, but is difficult to impossible to spot fix, or use an oil finish which will require more frequent touch ups and periodic re coat with the same product or the Renovator mentioned. Oil and wax is an option, but wax will quickly become spotted and has poor water resistance. It does offer a lot of slip, but this may be counter productive, since your dogs will apply more pressure to their claws in an effort to gain a grip. Hence, more and deeper nail impressions.

If you leave the floors unfinished, they will soon become grayed with black stains from any spills. Eventually, the floor will be destroyed.

On the positive side, I understand that white oak is the choice for making wine barrels. Harder and more resistant that red oak. It could be a good candidate for the oil type finish.

I hope this helps. You are going to have to choose the product you believe offers decent protection and is less annoying to deal with.