When people think of linoleum flooring, many remember old-fashioned kitchen floors in their parents. or grandparents. homes. But what they may not realize is that linoleum is making a comeback - thanks to increased awareness of the environment.
Linoleum, also called lino, is made of renewable naturally-occurring substances including pine rosin, linseed oil, cork dust, and wood flour. The variety of colors and designs now available is enough to convince homeowners that there is a place in their homes for linoleum flooring. Tiles allow for a lot of creativity in the use of colors, shapes, and inlays to produce designer looks in any home. The ease of maintenance, comfort underfoot, and low cost make linoleum a good green alternative.
While linoleum had been mostly replaced by vinyl tiles and flooring sheets -- and is often mistakenly thought to be the same thing -- resurgence in the use of the original lino in the past decade means new life has been breathed into this product line.
Linoleum comes in sheets, tiles, and planks and is usually manufactured with burlap or canvas backing. It is glued to a floor wood underlayment using chemical adhesives. Sheets come in rolls that are 6.5 feet wide and between 65 and 100 linear feet long. Tiles are available in 13X13 inch or 20X20 inch sizes and may come with an "easy-lock" or clickable interlocking system for easy installation. Prices vary by manufacturer, but tiles cost approximately $4 a square foot.
Manufacturers of linoleum flooring may offer warranties covering defects for up to five years. Some companies require that the floor be laid by a professional for the warranty to apply. Installation work is not covered by the manufacturers' warranties so homeowners should check with their flooring professional about the additional coverage they provide prior to signing a contract.
The resilience of linoleum makes it a great material for high-traffic areas such as hallways and kitchens. With a life expectancy of many decades, its long-lasting sustainability is helped by the fact that the material "ages" well. As the linoleum hardens with time and exposure to air, it is said to perform better. It is water resistant -- good for mudrooms, kitchens, and bathrooms -- and doesn't generate static electricity.
Some people may have a sensitivity to the non-toxic linseed oil used in the manufacturing of linoleum. Homeowners should also know that linoleum requires a yearly resealing of the floor which is a little more maintenance than other flooring choices. Old linoleum can be difficult to remove as the adhesives stick so well.
Resurgence in the use of linoleum is greatly due to its environmentally-friendly qualities. Consumers and green builders appreciate that it is made from natural and renewable materials such as linseed oil, rosins and wood flour -- a byproduct of wood processing. Linoleum is non-petroleum based and biodegradable. It is purportedly non-allergenic in nature because it is made of natural products. The adhesives used to glue the lino to the subfloor have various chemicals which may alter the degree to which it is considered a green alternative.