Why Linoleum Lives On

From on December 27, 2007 in Flooring

Invented nearly 150 years ago, linoleum flagged in popularity when cheaper vinyl came into the market in the 1950s. In the past decade, though, linoleum’s come back with a whole new wardrobe of colors. While vinyl’s patterns are merely printed on the surface, linoleum’s colors go all the way through the material. Once considered drab and muddy in appearance, linoleum’s updated selection of shades and patterns are also protected with stronger sealants against dirt and stains.

For the most part, however, linoleum hasn’t changed much from its original form. Here are some of the reasons why this resilient flooring material has survived the persnickety standards of generations of homeowners.

  • Linoleum is made from natural and mostly renewable materials, primarily linseed oil, wood and cork powder, resins, and ground limestone, all pressed into a jute backing. Vinyl, on the other hand, is synthetic.
  • Linoleum is non-allergenic and naturally anti-microbial. This is why schools and hospitals often install it.
  • Environmental toxins are not used in linoleum’s manufacturing or disposal. It is biodegradable at the end of its lifespan and many makers, such as Armstrong, make linoleum flooring deemed environmentally responsible.
  • Linoleum, especially the inlaid variety, is extremely durable and can be expected to last up to 40 years, even in high traffic areas such as kitchens and mudrooms.
  • It is available in many thicknesses, as well in rugs and tiles that can be floated over existing floors.

Since it can be cut, linoleum can be installed creatively with patterns and bands. It is easy to clean with sweeping and occasional damp mopping. Linseed oil, the primary ingredient in linoleum, is water resistant.

However, keep in mind that like hardwood, linoleum will sag under standing water and will be damaged by continuous moisture or a wet sub floor. Also, while the material itself is natural, make sure the adhesives it’s installed with contain no VOCs or low VOCs. While linoleum tiles such as Marmoleum Click are an easy option for DIYers, most vendors recommend professionals, such as CalFinder’s certified flooring contractors, to install the sheets.