The manufacturing process for linoleum differs from the process used to make vinyl flooring. Linoleum is made from a mixture of pigments, linseed oil and sawdust.This process ensures that the color pigment penetrates the full depth of the flooring. Vinyl flooring is a printing process that applies the color only to the surface. The linoleum is long-wearing and does not scratch easily. Any minor scratches or gouges will polish out. Linoleum is sensitive to acidic cleaning products and requires waxing to protect and maintain its beauty. With proper care, linoleum will retain its beauty for years.
Removing Wax Buildup before Waxing
Strip the wax from linoleum with strippers specifically recommended for linoleum. Strippers designed for vinyl can harm linoleum. Mix the stripper in warm water and apply with a mop, allowing a few minutes to soak. Work in an area 3 to 4 feet; trying to strip larger areas can result in the stripper drying on the floor. Scrub with a brush or nylon scrubbing pad and mop up with clear water. Rinse linoleum with clear water and allow drying. The floor will appear dull when dry. Do not use stripper on newly installed linoleum.
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Apply a liquid acrylic floor polish to linoleum that is clean and dry. Use two to three coats of polish. Give the polish time to dry completely between coats. The polish will develop more shine with each coat. To maintain the shine on the floor, reapply polish every three to six months. If the floor becomes dull in the high traffic areas, apply polish only to that area feathering the edges out onto the floor. The finish will buff to an even higher sheen if desired.
Linoleum manufacturers advise that a product labeled as a sealer for vinyl floors is potentially harmful to linoleum. Never use paste wax on linoleum. Completely stripping the floor and reapplication of acrylic sealer are recommended at 18-month intervals. Consult manufacturer's recommended care instructions for your linoleum flooring.
Tips and Helpful Hints
Vinyl and linoleum are not the same product and must be cared for differently. Determine if the flooring is vinyl or genuine linoleum. In a hidden area, scrape a small section of the flooring finish. Linoleum's color will be completely through the depth of the flooring. Vinyl, which is printed and heat-sealed onto a backing material, will show a loss of color and expose the backing material.
Linoleum manufacturers do not recommend vinegar for cleaning due to its acidity. Baking soda or cleaners specifically recommended for linoleum are better choices.