Linoleum Flooring Types

Monday August 31, 2009
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The invention of linoleum was one of those quirks of history: An Englishman, Fredrick Walton in 1855 chanced on noticing the rubbery, flexible skin formed on a can of oil-based paint and felt it had the potential to replace India rubber. The skin happened to be solidified linseed oil (linoxyn). Walton continued experimenting and finally came up with the forerunner of linoleum as we know it today. The name was derived from a combination of the Latin words linum (flax) and oleum (oil).

The first linoleum manufacturer in the US was the American Linoleum Manufacturing Company founded on Staten Island in 1872. The company was jointly owned by Walton in partnership with an American, Joseph Wild. It was soon followed by two competitors.

Linoleum was popular as the ultimate in inexpensive floor covering ideally suited to high traffic areas. At the end of the 19th century and early part of the 20th, linoleum was extensively used in passages and hallways and in the area surrounding carpet squares. But in the last century it was more associated with kitchen flooring because of its water-resistant properties and the fact it could easily be cleaned and the kitchen kept hygienic. Furthermore because of its resilience, it was more comfortable to stand on.

Today the original concept has been replaced by modern linoleum that is flexible and durable like the original, but in addition possesses greater brightness and translucency and is less flammable. It is accredited with a useful life of between 25 and 40 years.

Linoleum is essentially made of organic materials which in most cases qualifies it as eco–friendly flooring. Because of its supposedly non–allergenic properties, linoleum is often the preferred flooring choice in health care facilities and hospitals.

Today, linoleum is sold in three forms – sheets, tiles and planks:

Linoleum sheets come in a width of 2 meters (6'7"), which makes them difficult to handle. A perfect sub floor is required when using linoleum sheets. Additionally, because of the width sheets will have to be cut and joined which requires a degree of expertise. Installing a floor with linoleum sheets is best left to a professional.

Linoleum tiles are relatively easier to handle and can be installed over an existing floor provided it is smooth and well attached to the sub–floor. Installing a floor using linoleum tiles can be done by a DIY enthusiast exercising due care.

Plank linoleum comes in the form of planks that are the easiest to install. Floating linoleum planks are of the click type that joins together very easily. A floating linoleum floor requires no adhesive either.

Linoleum flooring is available in an attractive range of all colors and a wide choice of patterns. Maintenance it relatively easy as linoleum flooring needs just dusting and mopping or better still be vacuumed.

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Talkback – Leave a commentThere are 2 comments

I wonder if anyone remembers this floor covering? I believe this must have been an earlier form of linoleum. It was cheap to buy and was affordable by many working class families back in the pre fifties. It was quite fragile and could be broken or cracked. Its pattern would fade with wear and sunlight. I remember people using oodles of red mansion polish on it which tended to make it rather slippery. I am unsure of it's constituent parts, but remember that when broken or cracked it revealed an inner layer of what looked like pitch. I don't remember it having the same distinctive smell as Lino. Does this ring any bells??
August 12 2011
Thanks, great info!
This is a great article, very informative about linoleum flooring. I never knew linoleum was one of the eco-friendly flooring types. When I think of linoleum, I think of my grandmother's kitchen. Thankfully it sounds like today's linoleum floors are a bit more colorful and modern.
September 5 2009
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