Linoleum and vinyl flooring are two of the more affordable options available for homeowners today. They are ideal materials when you need to replace flooring on the fly, but both styles can hold up for decades. In fact, many consumers can find themselves stuck debating the differences between linoleum vs. vinyl considering they have more in common than most flooring types.
Our guide will help you find the right match for your home by breaking down the pros and cons of each product. That includes critical areas like durability and cost, along with things like room ratings and the pet-friendly factor.
Multi-layered flooring in sheet, tile or plank form
Multi-layered and generally sold in sheets
Resilient with warranties from 10 to 30 years for luxury flooring
A forgiving style of flooring, but prone to dents and dings
Pet hair is easy to clean along with accidents
Low-maintenance overall, but sharp claws and standing water can be problematic
Designed to resemble stone, wood, and other materials in tile and plank form
Limited from a style standpoint, solids, patterns and multicolored options available
Can be difficult to repair, but easy to maintain daily and over time
Requires occasional waxing, the coating makes a difference with overall care
The Green Factor
Not easy to recycle, potential for VOCs, certified products available
Eco-friendly and made from recycled materials
Unique Concerns & Special Properties
Construction makes touch-ups difficult, fading
Hypoallergenic, potential for yellowing
Typically handles moisture well, water-resistant to waterproof options available
Not suitable for areas with moisture or below-grade rooms
Planks and tile are DIY-friendly and very easy to install
Professional help may be required
$2.00 to $3.50 per sq. ft.
$3.00 to $5.00 per sq. ft.
If you’re thinking about installing vinyl flooring in your home, you have three options to consider with sheet vinyl, luxury vinyl tiles, and luxury vinyl planks. In most homes, consumers opt for luxury vinyl planks or tile, although sheet vinyl is still an excellent choice for some locations in your home.
All three styles bring the same level of comfort to your home, but sheet vinyl is made in a slightly different fashion. While each product has a backing and wear layer, luxury vinyl products have a high-quality image that can look like wood and other materials.
Linoleum is also layered, but constructed in a different way. The bottom layer or backing is generally made from jute or cord and topped by linoleum. A wear layer or surface treatment is applied to the top layer to protect it from foot traffic, fading, and light damage. What’s in the layer of linoleum can vary, but it’s generally a combination of linseed oil, wood flour, rosin, and other fillers.
The colors you see on linoleum floors are embedded throughout the layer, not printed and protected by a wear layer. While linoleum flooring is typically sold on a roll, you can find linoleum tiles from a handful of manufacturers.
Durability & Comfort
Linoleum isn’t the most resilient flooring option for your home, but it’s tough and can handle daily wear and tear with ease. There are also variants of the product that bring an additional layer of durability to the table. High heels can damage linoleum quickly, and the same goes for any heavy furniture or objects with hard edges. On the plus side, due to its through-body color, some forms of damage do not show easily.
Luxury vinyl flooring is more resilient than sheet vinyl, so it isn’t as easy to scratch. You can “dent” it if you aren’t careful, and if you do experience damage past the wear layer, it may be difficult to hide. It’s suitable for areas in your home with high-foot traffic, and while high heels won’t be an issue, seams can be if the planks aren’t properly installed.
Overall, vinyl flooring is durable but shows damage more easily than linoleum. Both have sold warranties, but you’ll get a longer one with linoleum as we’ve seen products with 40-year guarantees. From LVT, LVP or sheet vinyl, you can expect between 15 to 25 years on average. In regards to comfort, that comes down to the backing and underlayment, but we feel linoleum has an advantage in that department.
We’re not going to spend much time here as it’s safe to say both vinyl and laminate flooring are pet-friendly in all forms. Hair is easy to see and clean as long as it isn’t the same color as your flooring, and urine isn’t an issue as long as you clean it up quickly, and it’s not near an unsealed seam.
The same goes for other accidents your pets can have in your home although linoleum is quicker to stain and isn’t as moisture resistant as vinyl. Sharp claws can potentially be an issue with linoleum as well, so vinyl gets the slight edge when it comes to the pet-friendly factor.
One of the interesting things about luxury vinyl products is the image layer as it allows manufacturers to produce flooring in a wide range of colors and styles. With planks, you’ll get an endless array of wood-look options that mimic everything from oak and walnut to Brazilian cherry. Luxury vinyl tiles can replicate stone or have a pattern while sheet vinyl gives you the widest range of options from wood and tile to traditional patterns.
Linoleum doesn’t provide the same array of colors or styles as vinyl. It’s not even close from that standpoint, but it does have a distinct advantage of vinyl flooring in one regard. The colors design options are virtually unlimited considering we’ve seen everything bright pink to dark purple along with multi-colored options. Depending on your tastes and the current décor in your home, linoleum can actually provide a more modern vibe than luxury vinyl flooring.
Overall, linoleum flooring is relatively easy to maintain, although it requires a little more care than vinyl sheet flooring or luxury vinyl planks. It will need a thorough cleaning at least once or twice each year and waxed periodically depending on the wear layer. You should also be cautious of the cleaning products used on this type of flooring.
We also feel that luxury vinyl and sheet vinyl are easy to clean, although you will need to choose a recommended cleaning product for this style as well. If you’re using planks or tile, your floors will also need to be sealed. On a daily basis, you can clean either style with a broom or dust mop, but vinyl easier to maintain over the course of its lifespan.
The Green Factor
Vinyl is a PVC-based material, and using plastic can have a direct impact on our environment. While some products are easy to recycle, vinyl flooring usually isn’t one of them. As it’s synthetic, no trees are harvested, so it’s green from that standpoint, but it also has the potential to leech VOCs into the air.
Thankfully, there are a number of agencies that set standards for indoor air quality, so you can find safe sheet vinyl flooring and luxury planks as long as you understand the certifications available for this type of flooring.
As for linoleum, it’s very eco-friendly and one of the greener styles of flooring in its class. That’s due to the organic material used in the product, which generally consists of filler and can be up to 80% of your flooring in some cases. Adhesives can be a problem when it comes to VOCs; otherwise we consider linoleum an excellent option if you’re trying to go green.
Unique Concerns & Special Properties
One unique property of linoleum is the fact it’s hypoallergenic. That’s ideal if you suffer from allergies, and design of sheet linoleum gives doesn’t allow for dust and dirt to sneak into crevices. On the downside, it’s slippery when wet, and yellowing from sunlight can be a major concern with cheaper products.
Vinyl can also be slick if wet but typically provides more traction when in plank or tile form. Fading can be an issue with these floors as well if the quality is poor, and they are also hard to repair. Boards are easy to replace, but minor damage is difficult to touch up unlike flooring featuring through-body color like porcelain tile or linoleum.
How water-resistant a material is often dictates where you can use it, and flooring is no exception. While linoleum has plenty of advantages of vinyl in other areas, moisture and water aren’t one of them. Because of the percentage of wood or organic material in this product, excess moisture, high humidity or floods can be a problem. You can get around some of those issues during the installation process, but linoleum is best-suited for the upper levels of your home and rooms that don’t see a lot of moisture.
Water-resistance is one area where vinyl excels over linoleum and almost every other style of flooring on the market today. If you’re using planks or tile, water can still be an issue at the seams, but high-quality luxury vinyl planks are usually water-resistant to a degree. Plastic makes this possible, and you can even find flooring rated as 100% waterproof as well. As long as you follow the manufacturer’s guidelines and choose a product with the proper rating, you can install vinyl in any room of your home.
Whether you choose a click-lock system, tiles that require glue or go with a floating floor, vinyl is fairly easy to work with. Tile and planks are the best route to go if you plan to install the flooring yourself, and sheet vinyl can be tough to work with depending on the room and square footage. They can also be installed on top of existing flooring in some cases or subfloors that have seen better days.
You’ll want an even surface for any sheet-based product, however, including linoleum. It can be easy to install if it’s an area large enough to take an entire sheet, but when seams are involved, things can get tricky. It’s also not as flexible as vinyl, which is another reason you may want to call in a pro for linoleum.
Neither style will require expensive tools, but mistakes can be costly with any flooring that comes in a sheet. For that reason, we give luxury vinyl products a significant edge – especially when you consider our next area.
Vinyl and Linoleum Flooring Cost
Whenever something is billed a “luxury” good, you can usually expect to pay more for it. While that’s true with luxury vinyl boards and tile, they are still considered affordable in comparison to hardwood, carpet, and several other flooring styles. On the high end, you may pay over $5.00 per square foot but on average prices range from $2.00 to $3.50.
Sheet-based linoleum can run anywhere from $2.50 to over $8.00 per square foot. Like with vinyl, it depends on the quality, but also the brand name. With that in mind, most products are around $3.00 to $5.00 per square foot, so it’s more expensive than vinyl overall. It’s can also be a little harder to source locally as while it’s eco-friendly, it’s still considered a dated type of flooring by some homeowners. When it comes to the resale value of your home, neither product will have a significant impact.
Now that you understand a bit more about vinyl vs. linoleum, you can clearly see there are some major differences between these products despite their obvious similarities. If you’re still on the fence about linoleum or think it’s too retro for your home, this may help to change your mind while consumers leaning towards vinyl should remember some products are more luxurious than others.