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
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Today the original concept has been replaced by modern linoleum that is flexible and durable like the original, but in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
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
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.