true (natural) Linoleum flooring

Vinyl and linoleum are economical and versatile flooring options. They come now in a wide set of colors and patterns, and are easy to clean and install. But though very similar in their prices, features and uses, and sometimes confused with each other, vinyl and linoleum are rather different products.

Natural linoleum definition

Vinyl is a plastic, while linoleum is a natural product made of linseed oil, wood flour, tree resins, cork dust, ground limestone and mineral pigments pressed onto a jute backing. Linoleum is an environmentally-friendly option, vinyl isn't.

Vinyl poses environmental concerns because of the toxins involved in its manufacturing, using and disposing, while linoleum is used in hospitals and center cares because... of its natural bactericidal properties. Linoleum vs. vinyl flooring
Vinyl and linoleum flooring are different products. Vinyl flooring is often referred to as linoleum by some people, including retailers.

Some manufacturers are offering air-quality certified vinyl flooring, but vinyl will always remain environmentally-unfriendly at the manufacturing and disposal stages.

Natural (True) Linoleum flooring prices

Linoleum and vinyl flooring prices are very similar: about $2 to $5 per sq. foot, installed; that’s a bargain compared to other types of flooring.

True linoleum flooring - a healthy and Green Produtc

Newly installed linoleum floorings may have a pronounced and typical scent that some people dislike. It dissipates after some few months…Linoleum is a cheap, easy to clean, renewable, healthy flooring product, made from natural elements.

Linoleum is naturally biodegradable and anti-bacterial . If you are looking for a "green" and healthy flooring option, linoleum is one of the best choices.

Natural Linoleum Smell

Newly laid linoleum has an unmistakable odor associated with the natural materials (linseed oil) it contains. Though not unpleasant, some people dislike it. The smell dissipates within a few months.

Anyway, some manufacturers are offering special surface coatings that considerably reduces the linoleum smell.

True Linoleum flooring colors and patterns

linoleum colorsContrary to older linoleum products, new linoleum comes in a variety of colors and patterns.

Armstrong, the world's second largest linoleum flooring company, has 42 colors (8 basic colors: see image), allowing checkerboard patternsĀ and other designs.

Natural linoleum durability maintenance and repair

New linoleum flooring has a durable protective top layer and - unlike older products - doesn't require regular application of any protective finish. New linoleum flooring formulations are as easy to clean as vinyl - and also very easy to maintain.

Though water-resistant, true linoleum should not be subject to excess water; and should be kept free from loose dirt. Though wear-resistant, linoleum is damageable by sharp objects.

In case of excessive wear or accidental damage of the protective layer, use a neutral pH stripper and follow the manufacturer’s instructions; avoid products like ammonia and other common polishers and cleaners. The two major brands (Marmoleum/Forbo and Armstrong) are claiming that new natural linoleum can be easily and inexpensively re-sealed and repaired. They offer a long-lasting finish which can be less prone to definitive scratches and cracks than other types of flooring (laminates, wood, engineered wood, ceramic tile).

Natural linoleum & Pets and children

Marmoleum/Forbo (the world's leader in natural linoleum flooring) claims that some of the largest users of true linoleum are schools, care centers and hospitals (which is true) and that the primary reason for it is because linoleum holds up to heavy wear.

This manufacturer claims that linoleum can be a great choice in homes with pets and children (it seems a bit excessive claim...). This company does not claim that linoleum can't be scratched, but it claims that it can be easily repaired (linoleum is in fact very repairable, more than vinyl, laminated, or solid wood flooring.

Linoleum flooring - kitchens, bedrooms and bathrooms

Linoleum and vinyl flooring are common choices for kitchens, bathrooms, playrooms and entryways.

They aren't as hard and tiring for legs as ceramic tile and stone. And they are moisture-resistant. Though mainly used in bathrooms and kitchens, vinyl and linoleum are also a cheap option for other rooms; their new colors and patterns make them good choices for dining rooms, kid-rooms or bedrooms.

True linoleum vs. vinyl flooring

Like true linoleum, vinyl flooring is largely maintenance-free and very wear resistant. Vinyl flooring is less damageable, and more wear-resistant than linoleum. And like linoleum, new vinyl flooring comes in multiple designs and colors.

On the other hand, vinyl flooring is a synthetic product potentially unhealthy. It can be a source of volatile organic compounds (VOC's) and a cause of unhealthy air quality, something that manufacturers are working to overcome through new products. But its production releases harmful gases into the environment and its disposal will alwas be a problem. While ntural linoleum is the proven natural flooring solution, vynil flooring isn't.

Two samples of new vinyl flooring tiles, with their new colors Vinyl is also damageable by sharp objects, and you can’t simply lay another sheet of vinyl over the damaged sheet. It’s not easy to remove and replace old vinyl, unless using professional equipment.

sheet and tile natural linoleum

Which is better: linoleum or vinyl flooring?
The big advantage of linoleum over vinyl flooring is that it is a natural, environmentally-friendly healthy product, recommended for people suffering from allergies, asthma and other respiratory ailments. On the other hand, vinyl flooring may be more resistant to wear (though less repairable than true linoleum).
Installing linoleum tiles is a relatively easy DIY job. You "just" have to spread latex on the floor, snug the linoleum tiles against each other, and flatten it with a roller.

But installing sheet linoleum is a different issue: it requires experience and skill to cut and handle, and special tools. Professional installation is highly recommended.

As to vinyl flooring installation, it also ranges from the simple to the complicate. Pieced vinyl should also be installed by professionals. When installing, the floor surface should be perfectly clean and even, without bubbles or bumps.

For a book with full instructions on how to install linoleum and vinyl tiles, see: Installing Floors.

True linoleum brands

Armstrong, the american giant of vinyl flooring, is also selling linoleum; Armstrong is the world’s second largest linoleum manufacturer, after Forbo, a Dutch company, with a very well known line of products called Marmoleum linoleum).




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