Many people think that the terms linoleum and vinyl are interchangeable when it comes to flooring. That is simply not the case. Let’s discuss the differences between the two and the advantages of using linoleum flooring.

WHAT IS LINOLEUM FLOORING?

LINOLEUM FLOORING

Linoleum flooring was patented in the 1800s. It consists of many eco-friendly materials, even though this term was not used when this product was first developed. Some of the components of linoleum include linseed oil, mineral pigments, recycled wood flour, and tree resins. These components are used to create the tiles, which are then mounted on a backing made from canvas or jute. This product is different than vinyl, which came to popularity back in the 1930s. Vinyl is made from pieces of synthetic resin called polyvinyl chloride (PVC).

HISTORY

Linoleum was first manufactured in Staten Island, New York in 1872. It soon became one of the most popular floor coverings in the late 19th and early 20th century. Its moisture-resistant properties made it a popular choice for bathrooms, kitchens, foyers, and hallways. A special grade of battleship linoleum was even ordered by the United States Navy to be used on its warships. Linoleum was used in fancy ballrooms, notably the Grand Ballroom of the Titanic. Although linoleum was an affordable choice for many people, vinyl was even cheaper and required little maintenance. Therefore, vinyl began surpassing linoleum in popularity in the 1940s.

THREE POPULAR VARIETIES

Achim Imports FTVGM32745 Tivoli Marble Blocks 12x12 Self Adhesive...

There are three common varieties of linoleum flooring you can purchase. Let’s discuss them here.

SHEETS

Sheets come in a width of 6.5 feet and are backed with jute. They can be installed over a leveled subfloor. No moisture should penetrate the flooring. The flooring can be glued with a water-based adhesive and flattened with a 100-pound roller. You must wait at least three days before moving furniture onto the new flooring to prevent damage.

Sheet linoleum comes in a wide variety of colors and patterns to provide many options for different looks. Sheet linoleum is much thicker and can be more difficult to cut than its vinyl counterpart. For this reason, some do-it-yourselfers have difficulty laying linoleum in sheet form. You may want to get the help of an expert for this linoleum flooring application.

If you install linoleum in the bathroom, sheet linoleum is what is recommended. Because linoleum is not waterproof, you will probably want to get the help of an expert with experience in laying linoleum flooring in the bathroom. An expert can lay the material with the minimum amount of seams, thus allowing as little moisture as possible to penetrate.

An expert will also be able to properly align seams so that they are watertight and aesthetically pleasing. Experts can also use a technique called flash coving. This is a technique which creates a way for the seams to become more water-resistant. Bath mats should be used in front of tubs to prevent excess water from gathering on linoleum flooring in bathrooms.

MODULAR TILES

This linoleum flooring comes in 10 by 10-inch or 20 by 20-inch squares. They also come in 10 by 20-inch rectangles. The backing is usually polyester instead of jute, which provides stability. The tiles have beveled edges to ensure a tight fit and nearly invisible seams. Installation is a similar process to that of the linoleum sheeting. Linoleum tiles provide the look of more expensive products like ceramic, stone, and porcelain, but at a lesser price.

CLICK-TOGETHER TILES

This linoleum tile is the friendliest for the do-it-yourselfer. These tiles have a fiberboard and cork backing. They come in 12 by 12-inch squares or 12 by 36-inch planks. They are tongue-and-groove and can be laid over subfloors that aren’t truly level. No adhesive is required. Furniture can be moved onto these floors as soon as the flooring is laid. Allow tiles or planks to sit in the room where they will be installed for two days. This allows the tiles to expand and contract according to the temperature and humidity of the room.

IS THERE A NEED FOR LINOLEUM FLOORING?

Linoleum is superior to vinyl in many ways. Let’s talk about some of the advantages here.

IT HOLDS UP

Many linoleum makers back their products with warranties, some of 25 years or more. With proper maintenance, linoleum can last up to 40 years. This durability is due to the fact that linoleum has color and pattern distributed throughout it, not just on the top of its surface. This is a key difference between linoleum and other flooring surfaces such as vinyl.

One thing to check for when buying linoleum is to ensure the manufacture includes a coating to prevent ambering. Ambering, also called blooming, occurs when an unprotected linoleum floor darkens or yellows from sunlight. Note that linoleum can become dented or torn by sharp objects such as high heels and knives. However, linoleum is quite resistant to dirt, grime, and scuffing.

If you do need to repair your linoleum, you will need a remnant from your installation. Remove small pieces of the linoleum remnant with a sharp utility knife. Grind them with a mortar and pestle. Then, mix the tile remains with clear wood glue to form a sort of paste. Apply the paste you have made over the damaged area. Dry overnight. Sand the area with 250 grit (or finer) aluminum-oxide paper. Reseal the area with floor finish from your flooring’s manufacturer.

IT IS EASY TO MAINTAIN

Linoleum flooring can be easily washed with a non-ammonia cleaner. You can sweep with a broom, vacuum, or use warm water to keep dirt from building up. A rag and mild detergent can remove many more difficult stains. If your linoleum becomes scratched or stained, you can buff it out to restore it. This is due to the coloring of the flooring being present throughout the material and not just on the surface.

If your flooring does not have the protective coating from the manufacturer that prevents it from ambering, you will have to clean and wax it every two to three years. If this step is too much work for you, choose a linoleum with the protective coating already applied by the manufacturer.

IT IS WATER RESISTANT

Linoleum is resistant to water, which provides an advantage over some other flooring options such as wood. This makes it a great choice for high-traffic areas such as foyers and hallways, where wet shoes may be common. Linoleum flooring is not waterproof, however. A burst pipe or flood will cause the material to curl.

water resistant

Image from PX Here

IT IS GOOD FOR THE ENVIRONMENT

The word linoleum itself can be broken down into its Latin roots; “linum” means flax or linen, and “oleum” means oil. Because linoleum is made from natural materials, it can be easily recycled. Some recycling plants accept it. It can also be ground and used as a mulch. Due to its natural components, linoleum flooring does not release volatile organic compounds (VOCs).

IT IS REASONABLY PRICED

The average cost for linoleum flooring ranges from $2.50 – $3.50 per square foot. In comparison, vinyl can range from as low as $.50 – $8.00 per square foot, depending upon materials purchased. Hardwood and ceramic tiles average between $5.00 – $15.00 per square foot. Stone tiles range from $7.00 – $20 per square foot. Costs are approximate and are according to Home Advisor’s Flooring Costs Overview.

3 BEST PLACES TO USE LINOLEUM FLOORING

Here are some rooms in your home where linoleum flooring can be best utilized.

KITCHEN

KITCHEN

Image from Alinea Designs

Linoleum flooring is easy to clean. That makes it a great choice for the kitchen, where spills and messes are common. Linoleum is considered to have antimicrobial qualities. It is resistant to mold and mildew. You can easily clean linoleum flooring with a non-ammonia cleaner or mild detergent for tougher stains.

FOYERS

foyers

Image by Sonja Lovas from Flickr

Have a high-traffic area? Worried about wet boots and mud? Linoleum flooring could be the answer. Its water resistance makes it an ideal choice for a foyer, where wet shoes are routine.

FAMILY AREAS

living room

Image from Dekor

Do you have a playroom or family room? Consider linoleum flooring. It has antistatic properties, which makes it easy to clean away pet hair. In addition, it is easy to sweep away dust and dirt, which makes it ideal for those with allergies. You can even create rug-like patterns or borders with linoleum to give your room a more homey look.

Do you have a playroom or family room? Consider linoleum flooring. It has antistatic properties, which makes it easy to clean away pet hair. In addition, it is easy to sweep away dust and dirt, which makes it ideal for those with allergies. You can even create rug-like patterns or borders with linoleum to give your room a more homey look.

CONCLUSION

Linoleum may be viewed by some as old fashioned, but it is a versatile and affordable option for flooring. For those that care about the environment, it is both a renewable and recyclable resource. Its quality is superior, as its color goes the whole way through and it is resistant to wear.

For those with pets and/or children, it has antistatic and antimicrobial properties, making it easy to clean and keep clean. With a little creativity, it can even be arranged in artful patterns, giving the look of rugs or borders. Stripes or starbursts are also unique patterns that can be created with this adaptable material. Linoleum flooring can be used in most any room of the home to create a durable, yet stylish look.

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