What is linoleum flooring and how is it made?
Linoleum flooring (also known as resilient flooring) is made by oxidizing linseed oil which is then mixed with fine plant materials such as ground cork, pine resin, and wood flour. This is laid on top of a jute fiber backing. It is sold in large rolls or in a tile form and comes in an array of vivid colors and designs. It can be cut to create beautiful custom patterns and is known to be a sturdy alternative to hardwood, stone, or tile flooring.
How does linoleum differ from vinyl?
Vinyl is made entirely of synthetic material, while linoleum is completely natural. It is generally believed that linoleum is less harmful to the environment for this reason. However, more recent research conducted by the U.S. Department of Commerce's National Institute of Standards and Technology has shown that the manufacture, installation and life-time use of vinyl actually has a lower or equal negative impact on the environment when compared to linoleum. Linoleum is 100% recyclable, known to be antibacterial, hypoallergenic, and antistatic. Vinyl tends to be less expensive and more DIY friendly. Clearly both vinyl and linoleum have positive and negative aspects.
Who needs linoleum flooring?
Linoleum flooring is best for someone who is looking for relatively inexpensive flooring with a multitude of choices in color and design. There are some forms of linoleum that snap together and do not require glue which makes it an excellent choice for a Do-It-Yourself installer. Linoleum can be installed in almost any environment but is most often used in kitchens, bathrooms, and entryways. It is also great for someone looking for a hypoallergenic, antibacterial, or antistatic floor. For this reason, it is often used in office or medical facilities.
What are the advantages of linoleum flooring?
Linoleum is a tough, durable, natural product that is warm and quiet when walked on. It is offered in many different colors and designs making it very versatile. It is also hypoallergenic, antibacterial, and antistatic which makes it a good choice for home, office or medical facilities. The natural materials in linoleum make it stain resistant, fire retardant, and relatively easy to maintain. Linoleum is an exceptionally durable product that can last 15-25 years.
What are the disadvantages of linoleum flooring?
Linoleum is susceptible to moisture and can require more maintenance than vinyl flooring. In addition, linoleum can be more expensive than vinyl, and is sometimes manufactured with chemical agents that can damage indoor air quality. Linoleum also has a slight scent of linseed-oil that some may not prefer. It requires a smooth even subfloor as imperfections will show through the linoleum. Linoleum flooring does not add as much value to your home as other natural products such as stone or hardwood. Linoleum floors are affected by direct sunlight and color can fade as a result of prolonged exposure. Most linoleum floors require glue down installation and are not usually recommended for an inexperienced or DIY-installer.
Where can I install linoleum flooring?
Linoleum can be installed in almost any area, above, below, or on grade. Some manufacturers recommend it in bathrooms and basements while others won’t. Bathrooms and basements are often covered in linoleum but must be protected from moisture. If installed over a concrete subfloor, the concrete must have a low moisture emission rate and neutral pH. Most linoleum can be installed over hardwood, plywood, or other types of existing flooring but not carpet. Installing over particle board or chipboard is not recommended. Your subfloor should be as smooth as possible as any imperfections will show through your linoleum flooring. If you have a slope in your flooring, the flooring will follow the slope.
How much linoleum flooring do I need?
- Divide the floor into rectangles.
- Measure the length and width of each individual rectangle.
- Multiply the length by the width of each individual rectangle.
- Add your total for each rectangle together to get the total square footage.
- Add an additional 5-10% (depending on the manufacturer’s recommendations) of the total square footage to cover the waste factor.
What is the average lifetime of a linoleum floor?
Linoleum flooring is very durable and can last 15-25 years or longer. Care and maintenance are important factors in the life expectancy of your linoleum flooring.
Is linoleum flooring recommended for a self-installer?
It is generally recommended that glue-down installation methods are left to a professional as skill and special tools are needed. However, there are newer versions of click together linoleum tile that are much easier for a self-installer to tackle. If you do decide to install with a glue-down method, it is recommended that you use tile rather than rolled linoleum as it is more user friendly. Remember too that subfloor preparation is very important. Any imperfections in your subfloor can show through the linoleum flooring.
Can sunlight fade the color of my linoleum flooring?
Yes, linoleum is affect by direct sunlight and can fade in color where sunlight shines. It is recommended that you keep blinds or drapes closed on sunny days to protect your flooring when possible. Color can also be affected when coming in contact with oxygen. Don’t be surprised if your floor appears to be a different color if you rearrange your furniture. This usually evens out within a relatively short amount of time.
What should I do before I begin to install my linoleum flooring?
The single most important step when installing linoleum floors is subfloor preparation. You must make sure that your subfloor is clean, even, and dry. Installing flooring over an improperly prepared subfloor can cause major issues. Your linoleum flooring will often take on the texture of the subfloor beneath making any imperfections show through. Inspect your linoleum flooring carefully before installation and also make sure you have the necessary tools. Always read your manufacturer’s instructions completely before beginning installation and make sure you understand them. If not, contact your manufacturer for clarification.
Why do I need to roll my linoleum flooring after installation and how do I do this?
You should roll your linoleum flooring after installation to remove any air bubbles and ensure that the linoleum is totally bonded with the subfloor. For best results, you should use a roller that is at least 100 lbs. For tile self-installations when a professional roller is not available, you can use an ordinary kitchen rolling pin and roll the flooring from the center to the outside edges. You may want to protect your rolling pin with plastic wrap to prevent glue from contaminating it. Be sure to use enough "elbow grease" to ensure complete adhesive transfer to the back of the linoleum product if you choose to use a rolling pin.
Is there a difference from tile to tile in the same box when purchasing linoleum flooring?
Yes, linoleum is a natural product. The appearance is not an imprinted design. Tiles can vary slightly in color and appearance.
Should I use an underlayment when installing my linoleum floor?
An underlayment is generally recommended as subfloor imperfections will often show through your linoleum flooring. An underlayment is a quick and effective fix that will also help to protect your subfloor be sure to properly treat all seams in the underlayment as these will show through as well.
How do I properly clean and maintain my linoleum flooring?
You should clean up any dirt or debris with a broom or a vacuum. Vacuuming with a solid floor attachment as a beater brush can damage and lift linoleum. To clean dirt that won’t come up with a broom or vacuum, mop with cool water and, only when necessary, a cleanser recommended by the manufacturer. Dry any excess water from the floor. Never use an abrasive cleaner, oil cleaner, or dish detergent. If the floor begins to loose its shine, follow your manufacturer’s recommendations to strip and re-polish your floor.
How can I get the longest life out of my linoleum floor?
There are several steps you can take to help maintain your linoleum floor.
- Use a doormat outside all exterior doorways to collect any dirt, abrasive materials, moisture or other substances that can harm your floor. The more these materials come in contact with your floor, the less it will shine.
- Use felt pads on furniture to reduce scratching or gouging.
- Linoleum floors are affected by direct sunlight and are prone to color fading. Keep blinds closed and direct sunlight off the linoleum floor on sunny days when possible.
- Keep large animals with long nails off the floor and other sharp objects as they can scratch and damage the linoleum.
- Keep liquids off the floor as much as possible. They can leak through seams damaging the linoleum and the subfloor.
- When moving appliances or heavy furniture, never slide them across the floor.
- If you notice an opened seam, close it as soon as possible according to the manufacturer’s recommendations to prevent further damage.
Can I walk on my linoleum floor and mop it immediately after installation?
If you used a glue-down installation, it is not recommended that you mop or walk on your linoleum floor immediately. If the seams are disturbed before the adhesive has set, it can damage the floor. Check with your manufacturer to find out how long before you can walk on or mop your floor. If using click together, glue-less methods you can generally walk on or mop your floor immediately after installation.
Is there anything I can do to make my linoleum floor shine more?
The polish on your linoleum floor can be dulled by daily use. To fix this, you can usually apply a new coat of polish to your floor according to the manufacturer’s recommendations. Always make sure you thoroughly sweep, mop, and dry your flooring before applying any floor polish.
How do I remove dried adhesive from the surface of my linoleum flooring after installation?
Gently wipe it with mineral spirits and a soft towel or use a solution recommended by the manufacturer.
How do I repair a chip or scratch in my linoleum flooring?
Chips and deep scratches in linoleum generally cannot be fixed completely, but can be hidden or concealed. Many linoleum manufacturers have products specifically for repairing chips and scratches. These products generally work best, however there are some at home products that can be used to help. To remove scuff marks try rubbing a drop of mineral spirits over the mark. Then wipe away with a soft cloth and water.