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history of linoleum

Linoleum flooring may look and feel modern, but linoleum floors have been around since 1860. According to legend, linoleum inventor Frederik Walton was inspired to create the material when he noticed linseed oil forming a sheet atop a layer of paint. Based on this observation, he blended together linseed oil with tree resins, ground limestone, cork dust, wood flour, and pigments. He pressed this mixture onto a jute backing, and that's how the first linoleum floor was created. The same ingredients are used to produce today's linoleum floors.

Walton coined the word linoleum to describe the product, combining the Latin words "linum" (flax) and "oleum" (oil). Linoleum flooring quickly rose to popularity following the 1860 patent date. In 1864, Walton created the Linoleum Manufacturing Company, and within five years the England factory was exporting linoleum flooring to the United States and Europe. American production of linoleum flooring began in 1874, with the construction of the first linoleum factory on Staten Island.

Linoleum flooring found a place in many homes, where it was appreciated for its beauty, low cost, and ability to withstand high amounts of traffic. Linoleum's popularity declined in the years following World War II, as the advent of vinyl flooring put the two at odds with cheaper vinyl floors winning out. Linoleum floors were seen as a luxury item at the time, and have seen varying levels of popularity since the 1950s.

These days, linoleum flooring is seeing a return to popularity. Since it's made of organic, recyclable materials, linoleum flooring is considered to be a green floor. In fact, the green flooring industry is featuring linoleum as a superior option to manufactured vinyl flooring. Linoleum floors are also known for their hypoallergenic properties, making them a fine choice for hospitals, health care facilities, and the homes of allergy sufferers. The construction of linoleum flooring allows for a variety of beautiful inlaid color and pattern variations, making it a fine choice on appearance alone as well.