A 2022 guide to linoleum flooring and why designers love it

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You may have seen linoleum surfaces in older homes or remember them from your grandparents’ house. That’s because linoleum has been used for decades, primarily because it’s durable, attractive, and long-lasting. And not because it’s obsolete! Linoleum is enjoying a resurgence, thanks to the aforementioned qualities. “Linoleum has a specific, distinctive look. The design aesthetic hasn’t really changed,” says Jane Rohde, ASID, FIIDA, Chartered Architect and Certified Interior Designer and Technical Consultant for the Resilient Floor Covering Institute. “Linoleum is more abstract with rich pigments and marbled swirls but no wood planks or stone patterns.

Invented in 1860 by Frederick Walton, linoleum was widely used in businesses and homes until the 1960s. Still popular in Europe, where it is made, there has been a resurgence of interest in linoleum in the United States. United in recent years as people seek out products derived from natural ingredients. Available in sheets and tiles, it’s a fun and durable flooring option. “Most people change floors for aesthetic reasons long before the product wears out,” says Rohde.

Here’s what else you need to know about buying linoleum and how to use it.


What is Linoleum?

Linoleum is a resilient (soft) floor covering made from natural ingredients including linseed oil, which is pressed from flax seeds; Cork; limestone; wood flour; and pigments. These substances are combined with resin to hold them together. It is then spread and hardened. A protective surface treatment and jute backing are added, and the product is cut into sheets, 12 x 12 inch tiles or 12 x 36 inch planks.

Designer Leandra Fremont-Smith wanted the 120-year-old New England home to feature period details, so she opted for linoleum floors and a vintage-inspired shade of white from Farrow & Ball .
Jeffrey R.Roberts

Linoleum’s rapidly renewable content makes it appealing to homeowners who want to choose bio-based products, but each product has some impact on the environment because it requires energy to manufacture, Rohde says. However, linoleum may contain recycled content. Plus, leftovers from the manufacturing process can be reused when ground into linoleum powder to return to the mixer, meaning they’re almost indefinitely recyclable and there’s very little waste.


Is linoleum flooring a good choice?

example of linoleum flooring in a designer bedroom
Lobster red bridges old and new in the farmhouse kitchen designed by Tom Scheerer. Like Fremont-Smith, Scheerer wanted to roll out a new floor that didn’t necessarily feel too new compared to the other antiques, so he landed on Aronson’s Linoleum.
FRANCESCO LAGNESE

Besides using renewable natural ingredients such as linseed oil, jute, cork and tree resins, linoleum is also extremely durable and abrasion resistant. It also feels soft and warm underfoot. Because the color and pattern are consistent throughout the product, it also holds up better than some other types of resilient flooring. For example, you’ll still be able to see the pattern if you scratch or nick it, says Rohde.

Most linoleum manufacturers warranties are 5 to 15 years depending on the product, but linoleum is likely to last much longer in your home. While older linoleum was criticized for yellowing due to linseed oil oxidation over time, modern formulations have evolved with stabilizers to address this concern, Rohde says.

Whether or not this is the best choice for you is very personal. “Look at the overall picture to decide if it’s right for your home. Think about your expectations, the activities that take place in this space and what is most important to you,” says Rohde. “Don’t choose a flooring type based on just one attribute.”


Are linoleum and vinyl the same thing?

Although they are often lumped together when people talk about flooring, linoleum and sheet vinyl are not the same product. Linoleum is made from natural materials with the color and pattern throughout, while sheet vinyl is made from synthetic materials with the pattern printed on it.

Is linoleum easy to install?

Installing sheet linoleum is generally not for the do-it-yourselfer. But you may be able to tackle linoleum tiles if you’re patient and meticulous. Either way, make sure your subfloor (the surface the linoleum will be installed on) is super smooth and free of flaws, because you don’t want any dents and flaws showing through the finished product. , says Rohde.

example of linoleum floor
In this family kitchen in a New York apartment designed by Christopher Maya, Forbo linoleum flooring and bentwood chairs are practical and classic choices.
lucas allen

What’s the best way to clean linoleum?

“Linoleum doesn’t need to be waxed or polished because it already has a protective surface treatment,” says Rohde. Instead, follow the manufacturer’s maintenance instructions, which generally recommend sweeping frequently to remove sand and dust. Stains and spills can be wiped up with a damp mop and a neutral floor cleaner specified for use on linoleum floors (acid cleaners will damage linoleum). Another tip for keeping linoleum in good condition is to make sure furniture legs have felt runners to prevent scratches.


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