Linoleum was one of the more popular flooring styles in the world for decades, and it has been around longer than most people think. This flooring material has been in production since the late 1800s, and while it’s been replaced by other styles in recent years, it’s still an excellent choice for a variety of reasons. In fact, it’s still one of the best flooring styles for certain rooms, and we think you’ll be surprised by the modern types of linoleum available today.
What is Linoleum?
Before we get to the pros and cons of linoleum flooring, it’s important to understand how it’s made. Like many materials, linoleum is made from a mix of substances, although linseed oil is the most prevalent ingredient. Cork dusk, rosin, wood flour, and various other fillers are used as well, which makes it a little more eco-friendly than most people realize.
The Advantages of Linoleum Flooring
We just told you one perk of linoleum thanks to the materials it’s made from, but did you also know it decomposes naturally with a bit of help from Mother Nature? Well, it does, and that’s something you can’t say about vinyl or laminate flooring.
Aside from the smell of linseed after installation, you also don’t have to worry about VOCs that can leech into the air. When properly maintained, linoleum can withstand the wear and tear that comes with daily life better than other styles of flooring.
Do you want a floor with some texture or a bit of glitter? That’s a possibility along with wild hues and prints that resemble natural materials like stone. The color range is vast with linoleum, and unless you opt for a sheet-based product, installation is typically easier as well. It shares some similarities with cork as well considering both are fire retardant and ideal for allergy sufferers.
The last bonus is one that’s often overlooked, but important if you have high-traffic areas in your home or pets and children. If linoleum gets dented or scratched, you won’t see a different colored layer beneath due to its unique design. That’s not the case with multi-layered products, and definitely a perk in our eyes.
Disadvantages of Linoleum Flooring
One drawback with linoleum is maintenance, although that depends on where you install it. You’ll need to polish linoleum floors if you want to maintain their condition, and you may have to do that several times a year if it’s in a place that gets a lot of foot traffic.
Linoleum is not waterproof, but water-resistant, which is a key factor if you plan to install it in a bathroom or kitchen. If it’s not properly installed or sealed, water damage can completely ruin your flooring. It’s important to not let water puddle up on the surface although sheet laminate holds up better than linoleum tiles or planks.
On that note, sheet linoleum is harder to install, so you’ll more than likely need to hire a pro. That raises the overall cost, which is in the middle of the pack compared to vinyl and other types of flooring. Do you have large pets? Well, linoleum isn’t the best choice for traction, and long nails can gouge even the toughest floors if you have a 100-pound dog.
Ambering is the biggest issue with linoleum, as sunlight can cause your flooring to darken or take on a yellowish hue. It’s not as bad with premium products that have a solid layer of coating, but something you may encounter nonetheless.
Linoleum vs. Vinyl
Almost every type of flooring has a competing style that’s comparable in some way. In this case, consumers usually find themselves debating the differences between vinyl vs. linoleum. While it’s true, they do have a lot in common; the discrepancies are quite significant.
A big difference between these two flooring styles is the way they are made. Simply put, Vinyl is a synthetic material that does not occur naturally while Linoleum is made from natural material. Both are relatively inexpensive, but vinyl is usually cheaper and easier to source locally. The price difference can be minimal, however, and both products can be ordered online.
Linoleum takes the edge in the durability department as well. Cork-backed versions can put an extra bounce into your step, and as the color is consistent, scratches don’t show up as much. You can also repair minor damage to linoleum with a little glue and fiber from a spare board. The warranty is a toss-up although linoleum flooring can outlast vinyl be a few decades when properly maintained.
How to Find the Best Linoleum Flooring
As you can see, linoleum isn’t going to be for everyone, but the pros certainly outweigh the cons depending on your needs. If you’ve decided to give this flooring a shot, you’ll want to keep reading as there’s more to finding the perfect flooring than just choosing a color or design.
Sheet, Tiles, or Planks?
The first thing you need to do when looking for linoleum flooring is deciding on the style. While consumers only had two options for decades, you can now purchase planks that are installed like a floating engineered hardwood floor.
Whether you’re looking for the best bamboo flooring or prefer vinyl, the thickness is always important. While it’s nice to know linoleum won’t show an unnatural hue if you do break its skin, thicker flooring feels better beneath your feet and will last longer.
Linoleum flooring thickness is measured in millimeters and one of the first specifications you should look for after choosing between styles. Plank-based linoleum is the thickest and can vary between 8 – 10mm when you include the top, middle, and bottom layers. Sheet and tile linoleum is thinner with most top products averaging 2.5mm in total thickness.
Compared to vinyl, linoleum is a very eco-friendly material. Some manufacturers use over 80% recycled materials in their flooring, which is a huge bonus if you are trying to go green. Want to qualify for LEEDS credits? That’s a possibility with the best linoleum flooring although you still have to be wary of sealants, finishes, and adhesives.
If you are buying quality laminate flooring from a reputable manufacturer, you should have access to a wealth of data. That includes the type of finsh used and information on the adhesive if you’re using tiles. Regardless of the method of installation, you don’t use nails or staples as you can with hardwood flooring, so adhesives aren’t something you can get around unless you buy a floating laminate floor.
While we aren’t going to touch on all the finishes or adhesives, there are some certifications you can look for. The NSF 332 tag means it is certified as resilient flooring while FloorScore ensures it’s safe for use indoors by passing IAQ tests.
On average, you can expect to find a warranty of around 10 years with high-quality linoleum products. That’s on the upper end, and many brands have budget lines that top out at around 5 years while others have flooring that’s guaranteed for a lifetime. With that in mind, the lifespan of linoleum is usually double that number when sealed, cleaned and polished as needed.
You may also want to consider a commercial grade product depending on where you plan to use it. They often have longer guarantees, even if you may not get as wide of a color array. In case you were curious, ambering or darkening is not covered under any warranty, and you’ll want to read the fine print when it comes to cleaning and maintenance as well.
Linoleum Flooring Cost
One of the questions we’re asked the most involves the cost of linoleum flooring. Well, that answer all depends on the brand and whether it’s tile, linoleum rolls or plank flooring.
We found plank linoleum flooring with click-lock systems to be the most expensive, and comparable to engineered hardwood in some cases. A rough average is around $4 – $7.00 per square foot for boards – it’s definitely a specialty product.
Tile and sheet linoleum are a little closer in price. You can expect to pay between $2 - $4.00 per square foot depending on the quality and style. It’s not exactly cheap like some forms of flooring including vinyl, but it is far from expensive in this form.
DIY or Hire a Pro
The price you pay for the product itself is only half the battle if you plan to use linoleum in your home or business. You also have to consider the installation cost of the flooring, whether you do it yourself or hire a contractor.
Installing a floating floor system is something anyone can do as you won’t need glue or many tools – just time and a good back. Classic linoleum tiles with adhesive backing are also fairly easy to install if you want to handle things yourself. The prep work can make things tough depending on your existing flooring, but it won’t cause a headache like sheet linoleum.
With that in mind, you may need specialized tools with sheet or tile linoleum like a floor roller. You will require adhesive with any sheet-based solution as well, and sealing those floors is a must. Alternatively, a contractor or flooring company that handles installations can take care of all your needs. You will still have to pay extra to have your existing flooring removed and preparation, but our tool should give you an idea of what to expect.
The Best Linoleum Flooring Brands
25 Years / 5 Years
20 Years / 10 Years
Linoleum is a unique material, and while it was the top flooring style in the U.S. and abroad for a long time, it’s not as easy to find as it used to be. In other words, you may have to special order material for your project, and there are not many manufacturers currently producing linoleum in comparison to engineered flooring or vinyl. There are plenty of colors and patterns to choose from, however, and here’s what you can expect from three of the top, reputable brands…
Forbo Flooring Systems
Forbo Flooring Systems is at the top of the food chain when it comes to linoleum. While their product is actually called Marmoleum, it’s available in a wide array of colors and styles. They have flooring that’s suitable for anyone’s home and office, and you get a choice when it comes to the method of installation as well.
Marmoleum comes in around 7 different styles from marbled to modular if you’re looking for commercial flooring for your business or want something tough for your home. On the residential side, there’s Marmoleum Sheet, Click, and Modular Tiles. Marmoleum Sheet is a traditional product that’s 2.5mm thick with Jute backing and 79 inches wide. There are three series available with Marble, Solid and Linear, although Marble offers the widest selection of colors with 90. They range from a bright Greek Blue to shades like Fruit Punch and Dandelion.
The colors available from the Solid collection aren’t quite as wild, but you’ll have 70 to choose from including some interesting options like Welsh Slate and Chocolate Blues. The textured surfaces continue with the Marmoleum Linear lineup, and while there aren’t as many shades, you won’t find bright, embossed colors like Red Roses elsewhere.
Marmoleum Click is a thicker product at 9.8mm which includes a 2.5mm layer of linoleum on top. Their 5G Click Cinch LOC system makes installation a breeze while taking glue out of the equation. The sections come in three sizes with 90, 60 or 30 x 30 cm and in colors pulled from the Solid Sheet series. The company’s Modular Tiles are the same thickness as their linoleum sheets, but easier to install if you want to do it yourself. There are over 50 colors and textures to choose from with this range.
While we love the sheer volume of Forbo’s linoleum lineup, their warranty is only 5 years even if their products will last a few decades longer. Their commercial warranty is 10 years, however, and most of the same colors and styles are available if you want a little more peace of mind from a longer guarantee.
Nova is a brand we touched on in our guide to cork flooring, and they have a small selection of linoleum as well. What makes their product special is how it’s designed as their flooring is the thickest and the easiest to install.
Nova makes a floating linoleum floor system that takes the guesswork out of the installation process. That’s because you can choose 12” x 12” tiles or 12” x 36” boards which snap together in a matter of minutes. The top layer is 2mm of linoleum while the middle is 6.8mm of HDF followed by 1.2mm of cork on the bottom.
These boards and tiles feel sound underfoot compared to other types of linoleum, which is good if you’re not used to vinyl or similar forms of flooring. It’s also topped off with a layer of UV-hardened PU finish for additional protection. Both styles are simple to install, and while you won’t need glue, you may want to pick up a roll or two of their cork underlayment.
While this linoleum doesn’t come in a series of have a fancy moniker, there are 12 colors currently available. That includes hues like Champagne and Breeze if you want something simple along with brighter colors like Rojo and Sunflower. Another bonus of Nova Distinctive Floors linoleum is the warranty as you’ll get 20 years for home use and 10 years commercially.
Whether you are in the market for new carpet, luxury vinyl planks or laminate flooring, Tarkett has a product for everyone. That includes consumers that need something resilient and want to take a different approach with linoleum.
Tarkett’s linoleum lineup is in the commercial class, but one you’ll want to consider if you prefer eco-friendly flooring. Their linoleum is made from 94% natural materials with xf² surface protection and is certified Cradle to Cradle. There are also 5 collections available, and while many have a commercial vibe, most are suitable for residential use as well.
Harmonium xf Veneto is their largest series with 62 colors ranging from the marble-like Veneto Bituminous to a lovely shade of Amber. Lenza features solid colors with a striated pattern and is 2.5mm while Veneto Acoustiflor provides additional sound reduction and organic hues. The last two lines are Tonali, which features marbleized linoleum and Etrsuco with five 5 vivid colors.
There’s a lot to like about Tarkett’s linoleum, especially if you appreciate green products. Their flooring is 100% recyclable; FloorScore certified and meets all the key environmental standards. You’ll get a 5-year guarantee with Tarkett flooring but will need to hire a contractor or contact a specialty shop for pricing.
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Linoleum Flooring FAQ
Q: What is the best method to clean linoleum flooring?
A: For easy cleaning, a good broom or dust mop, although spray mops are usually a safe option on this type of flooring as well. If using a vacuum cleaner, make sure you can raise the roller brush or turn it off to keep from potentially damaging your flooring.
Q: Is linoleum a good choice for rooms with floors that slope?
A: Yes, but it can telegraph any imperfections from your subfloor as well. If there are dips or other problems that would prevent a smooth installation, leveling compound may be required.
Q: How long should I wait to walk on new linoleum after installation?
A: It’s not recommended to walk across linoleum immediately after it has been installed as it can cause issues with the seams before the adhesive has a chance to properly set.
Q: Is Marmoleum the same thing as linoleum?
A: Yes. Linoleum is the name of this type of flooring, but Marmoleum is a brand of linoleum.
Q: Can you use linoleum on countertops?
A: It’s entirely possible, although most flooring manufacturers have stipulations in their warranties tied to a traditional installation process.
Q: What’s the best area to install linoleum flooring?
A: While linoleum can be installing in any room of your home, it depends on the rating. Some manufacturers have products deemed safe for below-grade rooms, and the subfloor is just as important as where the flooring will be installed.
Q: What is the easiest type of linoleum to install?
A: Plank-based linoleum or linoleum tile, although the selection is limited compared to sheet linoleum.
Q: What’s the average waste percentage for linoleum flooring?
A: It can vary to a degree from one manufacturer to the next, but we found that 5 – 10% is generally recommended.
Q: Is linoleum easy to repair if it becomes damaged?
A: No. While it is resilient and can outlast other types of flooring, linoleum is not easy to repair or replace.
Q: Is linoleum applicable for LEED points?
A: Yes, but the accreditation may differ by brand. This eco-friendly material is often sold as a green building material.
Q: Do I have to use a floor roller if I plan to install linoleum myself?
A: Yes. Whether sheet-based linoleum or tile, you will need to roll the flooring for a proper installation. The weight of roller can vary anywhere from 30 to over 100 pounds, so check the installation instructions beforehand.
Q: Is asbestos an issue with linoleum flooring?
A: It used to be a significant concern decades ago, but isn’t today with new styles of linoleum. With that in mind, high-quality linoleum from the top brands is certified by agencies like FloorScore to ensure it won’t release harmful VOCs into the air.
Q: Can I install linoleum on my wall?
A: It’s entirely possible and something we’ve seen, but you will want to check with the manufacturer and find a brand rated for use on walls.