Linoleum, sometimes also called marmoleum, was once so popular that it was used as a luxury material in the Titanic. Over the years, however, as less durable vinyl became available and trends changed, its popularity diminished. Linoleum sheets are still available today, however, and are enjoying a resurgence as an affordable, green alternative to other types of resilient flooring.
Linoleum has been a flooring option for nearly 150 years and is still available, although the name has taken on different meanings. It was patented in 1850 by Frederick Walton, who mixed linseed oil, limestone powder, cork, resin and wood dust with pigments to create a durable and affordable flooring that lasts up to 40 years if maintained properly. Although technology has changed considerably since linoleum was first produced, it is still made in sheet form with the same basic natural ingredients.
Linoleum vs. Vinyl
Up until the 1940s, linoleum referred only to the natural product made from linseed oil. With the invention and mass production of vinyl flooring, however, the term was commonly used to describe both real linoleum and vinyl flooring sheets. Vinyl sheets are still produced in modern colors and designs, but they are not the same as real linoleum. Vinyl is a petroleum-based product that lasts only about 10 years. The color in vinyl does not go all the way through the product, like it does with linoleum; if vinyl is scratched or gouged, the pattern is permanently damaged.
Modern linoleum is available in both sheets and tiles. Sheets come in various widths and thicknesses for both residential and business applications. They can be cut to fit any room, and several colors can be combined to create custom patterns. Seams are tacked and rolled so they become invisible after installation. Linoleum sheets are not as simple to cut or install as vinyl and should be installed by professionals to ensure that the seams remain secure and concealed throughout decades of wear.
Real linoleum is made from natural, renewable materials, and its durability reduces landfill waste, as it doesn't need to be replaced often. It can be refinished in case of damage, because the color and pattern go all the way through the material. Linoleum is also easy to clean, antimicrobial and static free, which means pet hair, dust and lint won't cling to it. The color also develops a rich patina over time instead of fading or yellowing.
- Photo Credit Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images