All About: Real Linoleum Flooring

Kitchen Flooring Spotlight

If you've already renovated a kitchen or are just beginning the process, you know how overwhelming the details can be. Our Fittings and Material Spotlights are quick guides to basic kitchen fixtures and materials to familiarize you with terminology, pros and cons, and relevant reader reviews. Today we look at linoleum flooring - that is, real linseed linoleum flooring, not the cheap vinyl sheets that are often called linoleum. Do you know there's a difference? Learn more below:

Material: Linoleum

Overview: Real linoleum is an all-natural flooring option made of linseed oil, cork dust, wood flour, tree resins, ground limestone and pigments, all pressed onto a jute backing. It's long-lasting, easy to clean, and often contains recycled content.

Not To Be Confused With: Sheet vinyl. The word "linoleum" is often used incorrectly to describe any kind of sheet flooring, like PVC-based sheet vinyl, which is a very different product and without any of the eco-friendly, durable qualities of traditional linoleum.

Brands: Forbo Marmoleum, Nova Linoleum

Environmental Impact: Traditional linoleum is biodegradable, non-toxic, and formaldehyde-free, so it won't off-gas noxious chemicals into your home.

Pros: Durable, naturally anti-static and anti-microbial, over 120+ colors and designs to choose from, non-toxic, biodegradable, made from renewable resources, easy to install and maintain, colors deepen and patinas get richer when exposed to sunlight.

Cons: Somewhat porous and susceptible to acids.

Installation: Very DIY-able. Typically sold in sheets or individual tiles, which easily click together when installed over a smooth, flat subfloor.

Price range: $4.40 - $6.50 per square foot

Kitchn Reader Reviews:

We have Marmoleum, which I love - it's eco-friendly, easy to clean and comes in much better colors than the old 70's linoleum patterns. - Sisterrae
SO thrilled to see Marmoleum (linoleum) flooring installed and getting amazing comments. Too often, the hideous vinyl flooring a lot of us grew up with in our parents' kitchens is wrongly pegged as "linoleum" giving it a really bad name. Linoleum is a natural product created from linseed, has an amazingly long lifespan, and great for use in high-traffic areas. I worked on the interior design of the renovated Pasadena City Hall and some of the restrooms had the ORIGINAL linoleum that had been installed in the '20s - in amazing shape with the most beautiful patina. - Dunbar72
Real linoleum here and I'm happy with it. I was going to tile for a color change and going "upscale" but then I got to like the easy to clean (no seams or grout lines) aspect and learned to like the colors (not that bad really, brown/tan/orange). And the fact that it was eco friendly when installed pre-1955 and is eco friendly by still being in good condition is a bonus. - Faith BCK

Readers, do you have real linoleum flooring, either vintage or else made by Marmoleum or another authentic linoleum brand?

Related: Survey: What Kind of Kitchen Floors Do You Have?

(Images: Top photo - Leela Cyd Ross; Gallery - 1. Bethany Nauert; 2. Marmoleum; 3. Leela Cyd Ross)

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