Eco-Friendly Linoleum

If you’ve ever lived in an older home, you’re familiar with linoleum flooring.  But what you may not know about linoleum is that it can be an environmentally friendly flooring option.  Linoleum is made from linseed oil, which comes from the flax plant.  Other ingredients include wood or cork powder, resins and ground limestone with miineral pigments providing color. Who’d a thunk it?

Believe it or not, linoleum has actually been around for over a century, but fell out of favor when newer vinyl products were introduced in the 1950’s.  But with new technology and products hitting the market, linoleum is quickly becoming a popular and inexpensive flooring option with:

  • Low cost product offerings in both tiles and sheets;
  • Easy installation, including installation over other flooring;
  • Incredible durability;
  • Comfort and resiliency underfoot; and
  • A range of product offerings for contemporary settings along with more historically accurate settings in homes from the early 20th Century.

While plenty of people have horror stories of removing old linoleum flooring, it’s become much more friendly to install and remove, as it is usually placed on a backing or cork or another material, which also gives some sound insulating properties. 

There are some considerations for using linoleum flooring, including:

  • Linoleum should not be used in basements and some manufacturers warn against bathroom installations.  The linoleum itself is moisture resistant, but if moisture gets under the linoleum, it can cause a problem.  Check manufacturer’s specifications before installing.
  • Linoleum comes in both sheet form and tile form, like vinyl.  Some of the tile products can become slightly warped or lift a little in the corners if moisture get under the linoleum. 
  • Some of the sheet products are recommended to be professionally installed.  If you plan to install sheet linoleum on your own, check to make sure this does not void any warrantee for the product.
  • When first installed, linoleum releases a slight odor from the linseed oil.  It can cause a slight headache, but is completely non-toxic and dissipates. 
  • Newer linoleum can have a slightly yellowish tint to the surface as a result of the linseed oil drying.  It does disappear when exposed to light.  If you’re checking new linoleum samples for colors, make sure you expose it to light for several hours to ensure this film has disappeared completely.

Bottom Line

Linoleum has come full circle, from its early 20th Century popularity to its 21st century reappearance as an eco-friendly flooring option.  If you’re looking for a budget flooring option, linoleum should be one of your considerations, with a price comparable to higher end vinyl floors and lower than ceramic tiles, it just might be worth taking another look at linoleum.