Depending on how long you’ve been a homeowner, you may never have encountered linoleum flooring. It’s one of the older styles that’s still in production today, although not quite as popular as it once was. It also shares plenty of similarities with sheet vinyl flooring, which makes it an excellent choice for certain areas in your home.
In this guide, we’re going to talk about how linoleum flooring is made along with the benefits it can bring to your home. We will also discuss the installation process while answered some popular questions about this material so you can decide if it’s the right choice for your home.
The History of Linoleum Flooring
Linoleum, in its original form, was far different than the material you’ll find in homes today. Back in 1855, an Englishman named Frederick Walton got the idea for linoleum flooring after noticing how skin formed on the surface in a can of oil-based paint.
While the oxidation process was slow, Walton thought it could be a potential replacement for India rubber, and succeeded with a patent a few years later. That version wasn’t durable, however, so it wasn’t until 1863 that Walton found his true success with his second patent.
A year later, the Linoleum Manufacturing Company was founded in Staines, England. By the 1870s, linoleum had grown in popularity across the globe until the 1920s. That’s when vinyl flooring first burst onto the scene and stole the spotlight from linoleum in part because of its resiliency. Linoleum is still produced today and is actually a more natural alternative to vinyl.
It’s typically comprised from a combination of materials like cork dust, wood flour, pine resin, and solidified linseed oil along with mineral fillers. There are some variations on the traditional process and interesting hybrids like Marmoleum as well.
Linoleum is sold in two formats depending on which brand you choose. The most common form is sheet linoleum, but tiles are available as well, although they are mainly found in commercial settings. While sheet vinyl and sheet linoleum have a lot in common from an installation standpoint, modern linoleum is considerably harder to install.
With Forbo and most forms of linoleum, you’ll need to use a roller that weighs well over 100 pounds. They aren’t difficult to use, but once you factor in adhesives, tool rental fees, and time – you’re probably better off going with a pro.
Linoleum tiles are easier to handle but still tricky to install unless you have experience with this type of material. If you’re interested in finding out more about how linoleum is installed and the cost of the process, our guide has you covered.
Linoleum Flooring Pros and Cons
Even the most budget-friendly flooring can cost quite a bit once you factor in installation. Unfortunately, there’s no such thing as cheap linoleum these days, and given the similarities with sheet vinyl, it’s essential to weigh the pros and cons of linoleum flooring.
Linoleum Flooring Pros
- Resiliency – While both linoleum and vinyl flooring are resilient, linoleum has the edge in one critical area. Vinyl flooring has an image layer, but linoleum features through-color construction. That means the patterns or colors are found all the way through the flooring – not just on the surface. It also provides more cushioning underfoot than similar types of flooring.
- Water-resistance – When you need flooring that can handle muddy feet, moisture, or the occasional spill linoleum is an excellent choice. This type of flooring is perfect for bathrooms, kitchens, and laundry rooms. Keep in mind, it’s not entirely waterproof, so caution is needed with seams, which is another reason a top-notch installation is critical.
- Eco-friendly – Linoleum is made from materials that are recyclable and renewable. That makes it a green alternative to synthetics like vinyl flooring. It doesn’t leech VOCs into the air like other materials, although you may have rooms that smell of linseed oil for a few weeks after the initial installation.
- Low maintenance – Whether you suffer from allergies, have pets, or just want flooring that’s easy to clean – pre-finished linoleum is an excellent choice. A broom or dust mop can keep it tidy on a daily basis, and a spray mop can clear up spills that would stain other styles of flooring in a matter of seconds.
Linoleum Flooring Cons
- Limited Selection – If you’re partial to flooring that mimics wood, you’re out of luck with linoleum, although color selection will never be an issue. You can find linoleum in a variety of colors but may have trouble finding it locally as it’s not a widely produced type of flooring material. Only a handful of companies currently produce high-quality laminate in the United States.
- Discoloration – This is an issue you can encounter with most types of flooring, but it’s more prevalent with linoleum because of the materials it’s made from. Referred to as ambering, this process happens due to sunlight exposure and linseed oil in the linoleum. It’s common, however, and top quality products will have finishing to help keep this from happening.
- Expensive – One of the biggest reasons vinyl has been able to gain an edge over linoleum is pricing. Linoleum is more costly to manufacture, and given the fact there aren’t as many companies producing it, the cost of linoleum can be high. It’s not on par with solid hardwood or high-end LVP, but it is more expensive than comparable types of residential flooring.
Q: Can linoleum be repaired?
A: Yes, although it depends on how bad the damage is to begin with. Refer to the manufacturer if you have damage to your linoleum currently or
Q: Do I need underlayment for linoleum flooring?
A: Traditionally, no, as it’s geared to be glued down to a subfloor without any additional padding or underlayment.
Q: Can you use linoleum with radiant heating systems?
A: In our experience, it’s entirely possible with several brands, but you’ll want to check with the manufacturer beforehand.
Q: Is Marmoleum the same as linoleum?
A: More or less. Forbo calls it by a different name but refers to it as linoleum, and it’s still made from wood flour, linseed rosin, and jute.
Q: Do the new styles of linoleum need to be stripped?
A: As long as you purchase a high-quality product with a proper topcoat, you shouldn’t have to strip and seal modern linoleum flooring.