Often mistaken for vinyl flooring, real linoleum flooring has been around for decades. Linoleum is a durable, eco-friendly, and beautiful flooring option. Although many homeowners mistakenly call vinyl flooring “linoleum,” real linoleum flooring is quite distinct from its vinyl counterpart. Linoleum was first used in homes in the United States during the late nineteenth century. It fell out of favor in the mid-twentieth century as new flooring products grew in popularity. However, linoleum has surged in popularity due to its natural ingredients and environmentally friendly composition.
Linoleum is a Sustainable Flooring Choice
Linoleum is made entirely of natural and renewable ingredients, making it a great flooring choice for anyone interested in sustainable or “green” design. It is composed of linseed oil, pine resin, wood or cork flour, and natural pigments; the backing is made of natural jute fabric. All of these materials are easily and quickly renewable.
In addition, some linoleum products are made from pre-consumer recycled materials. The cork or wood flour used in its creation is often waste material from other industries.
Advantages of Linoleum Flooring
Along with the environmental advantages of using linoleum flooring, it also has numerous other advantages over other types of flooring. Because of its natural composition, linoleum tends to warm up to room temperature more quickly than other hard-surface flooring options; this fact makes it feel warmer underfoot. It can also be used over in-floor heating systems. Linoleum is very durable and scratch-resistant. The pigment and pattern of the product go all the way through the thickness of the sheet. This makes scratches and gouges harder to see if they do occur. Linoleum is also soft underfoot, making it easier to stand on for long periods. Linoleum offers anti-bacterial qualities inherent to the product. Like other resilient flooring types (such as vinyl flooring), linoleum is also resistant to harboring dust or dust mites. It has anti-static properties as well, making it less likely to attract dust and easier to clean.
Disadvantages of Linoleum Flooring
As with any natural flooring product, linoleum does have limitations and disadvantages. Because it tends to absorb moisture, you should not install linoleum in areas with high humidity, such as full bathrooms. It is also not recommended for stairways. Linoleum can discolor due to the ultra-violet light of the sun. As with any flooring, you should take care not to expose the floor to direct sunlight during the day. In addition, areas that are NOT exposed to natural light can take on an amber-colored haze on the top. This “ambering” effect is not permanent and will disappear when the areas are exposed to natural light. Often, the ambering will disappear within a few hours in rooms with high sunlight. Linoleum is available in both sheet and tile options, as well as a floating floor option. Sheets and glue-down tiles require specialized installation; it is not recommended that homeowners attempt linoleum installation independently. This adds to the overall cost of the project. In contrast, the newer floating linoleum planks and tiles are easier to install, allowing homeowners to do it themselves. The floating floor can be installed over concrete floors, unlike the glue-down linoleum option.
Maintenance of Linoleum Flooring
Linoleum requires little maintenance, but it is more difficult to care for than vinyl flooring. After installation, it is recommended that linoleum be covered with a protective topcoat to seal the surface and make cleaning easier. This topcoat needs to be reapplied periodically; the traffic level will determine how often it should be recoated. Occasionally, the topcoat finish should be stripped before recoating to prevent excessive build-up on the floor.
Vacuuming or sweeping is the best way to keep linoleum looking its best. A barely-damp mop can be used for cleaning, as well; you should not use large amounts of water on linoleum floors. There are cleaning solutions made specifically for linoleum. Cleaners with a high Ph level, such as ammonia, should be avoided. Stubborn dirt can be scrubbed away using non-scratching scrubbing sponges. Felt pads on the bottom of furniture legs will prevent scratches to the floor. Linoleum comes in a wide array of colours, most often in a swirled pattern. From rich reds to bold blues and natural neutrals, there is a linoleum to complement any home decor.