Linoleum Flooring: The Truth about Today’s Linoleum
If you’re someone who loves to go barefoot around the house, think about adding linoleum to your kitchen floors. There are a number of reasons, but in a nutshell, linoleum is warmer on bare feet, easier on ankle and knee joints than tile, comes in a huge variety of patterns and colors, is cost-effective, water-tolerant, and is a natural product.
I know, your grandmother’s house had linoleum, and it was dull, cold, lifeless, and hard to keep clean. But that’s all a thing of the past. The new linoleum has a great deal to offer. Let’s look at some of linoleum’s advantages.
First, let’s examine the composition of linoleum as opposed to vinyl flooring. Vinyl flooring is made of chlorinated petrochemical materials, while linoleum is made from linseed oil combined with wood flour or cork dust, ground limestone, and color pigments, over a burlap, jute, or canvas backing. In fact, the very name linoleum is derived from the Latin names for two natural materials: flax (linum) and oil (oleum).
Given their difference in composition, vinyl flooring will melt if someone accidentally drops a cigarette or a match on it, but linoleum won’t. The pattern on vinyl flooring is imprinted onto the top surface of the material, but a linoleum pattern goes all the way through. That means that as a vinyl floor wears down, the pattern gradually disappears. However, the same amount of wear to linoleum only reveals new color, since the color goes all the way to the bottom.
Linoleum is also very durable and can last up to forty years, even in tough, high-traffic commercial situations. Ironically, it was that very durability that led to the decline of linoleum use in homes. People simply got tired of it long before it had outlived its usefulness.
Over time, vinyl flooring, which came in many more patterns and colors, made serious inroads into replacing linoleum as America’s favorite kitchen flooring material. But that didn’t mean it was superior to linoleum. Since it had a cork backing, linoleum was quieter, provided insulation that made it warmer on bare feet, was more forgiving if someone dropped a dish or coffee cup, was easier on the legs and backs of women who spent lots of time in the kitchen, and was easy to keep clean.
If you’re an environmentalist, linoleum wins over vinyl, hands down. It’s made of completely renewable natural materials, and no toxins are released into the environment during its manufacture. That’s one major reason why linoleum is making a strong comeback in new construction and remodeling projects.
It’s not the same stuff your grandmother had on her kitchen floor. It’s vibrant, dust-resistant, environmentally friendly, and will probably outlive the people who install it. What could be better than that?