Linoleum Makes a Comeback

This practical and eco-friendly flooring is being rediscovered by homeowners.

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Linoleum is making a comeback as a new generation discovers its benefits. An all-natural alternative to vinyl, it’s extremely durable, withstanding heavy traffic and scratches, and lasts for decades. Linoleum comes in a wide variety of colors, from quiet neutrals to vibrant hues, and the color runs all the way through rather than being printed on the surface. Choose from sheets or tiles. Sheet linoleum lends itself to vibrant designs through borders and insets, while tiles can be arranged in virtually any pattern imaginable.

Linoleum has been available for more than a hundred years, but in the 1960s it was mainly relegated to commercial settings, such as hospitals, as more homeowners began choosing less-expensive vinyl. Today, a new generation is discovering linoleum's longevity, environmental benefits, and cutting-edge designs.

Options

An all-natural alternative to vinyl, linoleum comes in a wide variety of colors, from quiet neutrals to vibrant hues, and the color runs all the way through rather than being printed on the surface. Choose from sheets or tiles. Sheet linoleum lends itself to vibrant designs through borders and insets, while tiles can be arranged in virtually any pattern imaginable.


Factors to Consider

How to Clean. Sweep, dust, or vacuum linoleum regularly. Re-apply finish as needed, anywhere from every couple of months to annually. If a yellow cast appears (a film caused by the oxidation of linseed oil), exposure to artificial light or sunlight will cause it to disappear.

Best for: Any room.

Pet Friendly? Extremely. Linoleum withstands paws and resists allergens such as pet dander, and it's a comfortable surface.

Underlayment. With proper preparation, linoleum can be installed over virtually any flat, dry, clean surface. In most cases, a plywood underlayment is recommended for the best results.

The Lowdown

Linoleum is manufactured from renewable, all-natural materials including solidified linseed oil, cork dust, and wood flour. Along with being durable, fire-resistant, biodegradable and recyclable, linoleum contributes to good air quality: It is antistatic, meaning it repels dirt and dust, so it's easy to clean and hypoallergenic. Plus, it contains no potentially harmful VOCs (volatile organic compounds).

Linoleum is quiet, warm and comfortable. It comes in a variety of colors and designs, and it can be repaired if damaged. Keep in mind, though, that durability can vary, and linoleum requires regular refinishing. It also may expand and contract from moisture.

Linoleum costs about $3 to $6 per square foot, uninstalled, making it a very affordable flooring option. Experienced do-it-yourselfers can install linoleum tile, but sheet linoleum is best left to professionals.

Next Up

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Made from tree bark, cork flooring is known for its natural beauty and eco-friendliness.


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