Everything You Need To Know About Linoleum Flooring: Complete Guide

There are limited flooring options available today. It would be difficult for the average person to name a dozen different flooring options. This is quite strange due to the time that has passed since we started laying floors.

Linoleum flooring

But it’s true! There aren’t all that many good flooring options available today. However, the ones that are available are good enough that it can be difficult to decide which flooring to get. Chances are, linoleum is on your list of prospects. 

What Is Linoleum?

What Is Linoleum?View in gallery

Linoleum is a type of flooring with a canvas backing that is coated with linseed oil and powdered cork. While it may sound fancy and complicated, it is actually one of the simplest flooring options available. 

It is made from natural, renewable resources, making it quite a green option. The word linoleum originated from two Latin words. These words are linum (Latin for flax) and oleum (Latin for oil). Now, that’s interesting!

Linoleum is usually made to look like another type of floor. This can be tile, wood, or something similar. However, many linoleums have unique patterns that looks stenciled on with grooves to distinguish them.  

History Of Linoleum Sheet Flooring 

History Of Linoleum Sheet Flooring View in gallery

Linoleum has been around for quite a while, perhaps even longer than you think. Linoleum was invented by Frederick Walton when in 1855, he noticed the rubbery skin of solidified linseed oil and how it could prove useful.

The Beginning

He noticed it had solidified after dripping from a can of oil-based paint. He thought it might be the perfect substitute for rubber, which was primarily found in India at the time. So finding an English substitute would have been life-changing.

The Patent

He started the process by heating the oil to speed up the hardening process and dipping cotton cloths into the oil so that when it did harden, they could control the shape. He patented this process in 1860. 

The Obstacles

But there were many hurdles along the way that prevented this from kicking off, for example, the cloth did not withstand the test of time. Eventually, cork and sawdust would make the linoleum stronger. 

The End

Linoleum was originally called Kampticon but was soon changed to Linoleum. In 1864 Walton finally established the Linoleum Manufacturing Company Ltd. in London. From there, all Linoleum (though not always from Walton) was eventually born. 

How To Install Linoleum Flooring

How To Install Linoleum FlooringView in gallery

Linoleum flooring is one of the easiest floorings to install. It can be installed in sheets or tiles. Sheets are more popular and are found in rolls like carpet that can be rolled out and adhered to the floor in some way. 

Tiles are also more expensive than sheet flooring which is another reason that linoleum sheet flooring is so popular. We’ll get more into prices later but right now, it’s time to talk about how to install linoleum flooring. 

Step 1: Prepare Room

Whenever you are going to start laying linoleum, it’s very important that you prepare your room. Unlike other floorings that use harsh chemicals, you can usually leave windows closed and you don’t need a mask.

What you do need to do is remove all of the furniture from the room and store it somewhere else. Then, get your subfloor ready. This can mean removing the old floor, sanding it, or whatever else you need to do. 

Step 2: Acclimate Floor

Acclimating the floor involves involved making the floor the right temperature and humidity level. You need to do this so that the floor doesn’t warp and the adhesive sticks properly to the floor you are laying.

The temperature of the floor needs to be between 60 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit. The humidity levels need to be between 35 and 75%. A barometer can help you find the right humidity with accuracy. 

Step 3: Find The Center (if using tiles)

Finding the center of the room doesn’t matter if you are laying roll-out or sheet flooring. But it’s fairly important if you are laying floor tiles of any kind, even linoleum floor tiles which aren’t as popular as sheet flooring. 

To do so, start off by measuring the room. Then mark the center. Measure the room the other way and mark that center. From there it’s fairly easy to find the exact center as it will be where the two overlap. 

Step 4: Dryfit The Flooring And Cut

Dry fitting is important no matter what type of linoleum you are laying. It is more important with tile as there is more room for mistakes. But dry-fitting linoleum sheet flooring can really help as well.

Primarily, it helps because you can cut it easier. If the linoleum has a pattern, you do want to control where the pattern will lay and how it will look when it is done. So start the pattern from the center and cut.

Step 5: Install Underlayment

Underlayment isn’t always necessary when it comes to linoleum but it never hurts to add it. You can add standard vinyl floor underlayment or get special linoleum underlayment that can help with insulation. 

It can also help to add underlayment for that extra bit of cushion. Floors can be loud depending on the type of subfloor you are using but it’s quite helpful to use an underlayment to help muffle and soundproof the room

Step 6: Apply Adhesive And Cure

This step isn’t optional. It depends on the type of linoleum you use as to whether you need to use it or not. For tiles, there are peel and stick tiles or those that use a separate adhesive to stick down to the subfloor.

For the separate adhesive, you will need to apply the adhesive a little at a time and let it cure. Now for peel and stick, which is popular with linoleum tiles, you should simply start sticking the tiles down at this point.

Step 7: Lay Out Flooring

If you already applied the adhesive, then start rolling out the flooring. For tiles, do so one at a time as you should only apply adhesives where you will be laying the tile you are getting ready to stick down.

For the sheet flooring, you can apply the adhesive to one side of the room, then roll out the linoleum on top of that adhesive. Finally, apply adhesive to the other side of the room and then roll the rest of the sheet out. 

Step 8: Roll And Re-Install Trim

The final step involves rolling the linoleum with a roller made for this purpose. It is similar to tamping down pavers or dirt. This is to secure the linoleum down to the adhesive and keep it in the correct place.

After you roll it, then you can reinstall any trim that you removed earlier. Finally, place the furniture and anything else you removed from the room back. Your linoleum is now ready to be used and enjoyed. 

How To Clean Linoleum Floors

Clean Linoleum FloorsView in gallery

There are a few different ways to clean linoleum. Linoleum floors need to be cleaned on a regular basis. Sweep them every day and mop them at least a couple of times a week. What you mop them with is up to you. 

There are many options out there but 90% of people will end up using one of these four options. All are available near you and all of them work well in their own ways. Check out these four easy methods for cleaning linoleum. 

How To Clean Linoleum Floors With Cleaner 

Linoleum floor cleaner is probably your best bet as far as keeping the floors in the same shape as they were when you laid them. However, many people want to stay away from chemicals in their homes.

There may be natural linoleum floor cleaners in a store near you, but if not, know that most linoleum floor cleaners do not use very harsh chemicals. Simply follow the instructions on the bottle to clean your floors. 

How To Clean Linoleum Floors With Bleach

Bleach is a very harsh chemical so if you use bleach for your linoleum floors then make sure you do a couple of things first. You should always test bleach on a scrap piece of linoleum before using it on your floor.

Because bleach is strong, it may discolor or even eat away at your linoleum so test it first. When you find out that it is harmless, you still may want to dilute it with water just to be safe and then apply it as usual. 

How To Clean Linoleum Floors With Vinegar

Vinegar is a safe alternative to bleach. That said, it can still stain or discolor your linoleum. It is very unlikely to eat away at the linoleum however and rarely needs to be diluted for safety reasons. But you can mix it. 

Vinegar mixes well with baking soda to remove stains and protect your linoleum. The exact mixture is up to you. Baking soda can work as a scrubbing agent to remove grime while vinegar can cleanse the floor. 

How To Clean Linoleum Floors With Hydrogen Peroxide

Hydrogen peroxide works very similarly to bleach but is not quite as strong. It’s nearly as liable to discolor your linoleum as bleach is but it is safe to inhale. Bleach on the other hand shouldn’t be used unless you are wearing a mask. 

The problem is that not everyone keeps hydrogen peroxide around whereas bleach and vinegar are much more common to have around the house. So you don’t have to spend any extra money on cleaning products. 

How Can You Tell The Difference Between Vinyl And Linoleum?

How Can You Tell The Difference Between Vinyl And LinoleumView in gallery

These are very, very similar floorings that are often confused for one another. Laminate is another type of flooring that is confused with these two but it isn’t quite as similar as vinyl and linoleum, two popular floorings. 

Linoleum and vinyl are similar in so many ways so the easiest way to talk about the differences is to separate them into categories. Here are the categories we can use to distinguish the difference between vinyl and linoleum. 

Materials

Linoleum is a natural material and 99% of linoleum only uses renewable resources. But vinyl on the other hand is not natural. It is made of PVC and other plastics. But how do these materials affect the product?

On vinyl floors, the pattern is embossed on the surface but the linoleum floor is solid through the surface. That said, linoleum usually isn’t quite as strong as vinyl, so it is more likely to get scratched. 

History

As we’ve discussed, linoleum was first manufactured in the 1860s and was quite popular in the early 1900s. But it wasn’t until the 1920s that vinyl was invented and started being produced for the public.

It happened in 1926 when PVC was invented by Waldo Semon, who was trying to create a new adhesive. In the mid-century modern times, both vinyl and linoleum were very popular and found in most homes. 

Installation 

It can be difficult to install both vinyl and linoleum if you have no experience doing so. But it is generally said that linoleum is more difficult to install than vinyl flooring. But it really is about the learning curve.

Vinyl is fairly self-explanatory to install, similar to laminate. But linoleum can be tricky. It’s thinner than vinyl, making it fold easily. This can be a bonus in some cases but also more difficult to get straight. 

Lifespan

Vinyl has a very large range when it comes to lifespan. Some vinyl only lasts 5 years while others last over 30 years. But linoleum usually lasts at least thirty years which is the top range for vinyl flooring.

Most linoleum actually comes with a warranty saying how long it is guaranteed to last or your money back. So this makes linoleum last much longer than vinyl in nine out of ten cases. But there will always be exceptions. 

Are Linoleum Floors Cheap?

Are Linoleum Floors Cheap?View in gallery

Linoleum floors can be very inexpensive. But the actual price isn’t as important as how it compares to other floorings. Keep in mind that all of these prices are regarding the price of the floors, not just the material. 

For example, the concrete material is very inexpensive. But a lot goes into installing concrete floors to ensure that they are safe and look good indoors considering this is normally an outdoor material. 

Linoleum Price 

To the surprise of most people, linoleum is actually on the higher end of similar flooring options. You can expect to pay somewhere between $3 and $8 per square foot for most sheet linoleum flooring.

Vinyl Price 

Vinyl is probably the cheapest flooring that is easy to install. However, the price range is very vast. Some vinyl only costs $1 per square foot while others can cost $15 depending on complexity and company. 

Hardwood Price

Hardwood is not an inexpensive choice for flooring. Most hardwood costs somewhere between $8 and $10 per square foot. However, cheap hardwood can cost $5 while expensive hardwood can cost over $15 per square foot. 

Laminate Price

If you want hardwood but don’t want to pay the price, laminate is a great alternative. It costs around the same as vinyl, coming in at an average of $3 per square foot, with many options being under $1 and some over $5. 

Tile Price

Tile may have the largest price range of all. Some tile only costs $1 per square foot but special tiles can cost $20 or more! Yes, this is by far the largest price range and the most difficult to estimate the floor cost. 

Carpet Price

Carpet is probably on the steadiest decline in flooring popularity. This is primarily for health and cleanliness reasons. Carpet is difficult to keep truly clean. You can get it for an average of $4 per square foot. 

Concrete Price 

Concrete flooring is more difficult to determine the price for because it takes many steps to complete. Indoor concrete is more expensive because it needs to be safe to walk on barefoot. Expect to pay around $5 per square foot. 

Does Linoleum Scratch Easily?

Does Linoleum Scratch Easily?View in gallery

This is a common question and the simple answer is that, yes, compared to some other floors, linoleum scratches easily. But if you lay it in low-traffic areas then there is a low chance that it will scratch. 

But that’s not the only thing you can do to protect linoleum or prevent scratches. Here are some tips that can help you keep your linoleum looking its best no matter what your situation in your home may be.

How To Protect Linoleum 

There are a few different ways to protect linoleum. The first way is to keep it for low-traffic areas only. The second thing you can do is add a sealer to the linoleum. Finally, you should consciously avoid moving stuff on it. 

This is another reason linoleum isn’t popular in living rooms aside from in trailer houses. Because if you have a footstool or ottoman, or even an accent chair, it is prone to scratching when these are moved around. 

How To Get Scratches Out Of Linoleum 

Repairing linoleum isn’t exactly easy. But it can be done. The simplest way is to warm the scratch with a hairdryer to soften it. Then, smooth it out and seal the scratch with superglue or an epoxy filler.

Epoxy fillers work well and come in larger bottles. After you do apply the filler or glue, you need to smooth it out and once it dries, it’s very important to sand the area lightly to ensure it stays as smooth as the rest of the floor.

Does Linoleum Stain? 

Linoleum can stain. But if you take care of the stain as soon as possible with bleach or vinegar, it can last for decades as it is usually only the surface that stains, making it easy to remove the stain without a hitch. 

Use the methods listed above to remove the stains. It’s a good idea to dilute strong chemicals and wear gloves when using them. A soft cloth can do wonders for stains which works better than mopping most of the time. 

Is Linoleum Fireproof

Is Linoleum Fireproof? View in gallery

This is a question that isn’t asked often enough. But the truth is that very few earthly materials are fireproof. Fire-resistant, yes, but not fireproof. Linoleum itself is indeed fire-resistant, unlikely to burn.

That is why it is popular in kitchens. Or at least one of the reasons that it is popular in kitchens. If you set a hot pan on the linoleum it is very unlikely to burn it. Though there may be black marks that need to be removed. 

Can Linoleum Get Wet?

Can Linoleum Get Wet?View in gallery

Can linoleum get wet? Well, any floor can get wet and most floors do get wet, but the room you put it in really affects just how much water gets on the floor. Linoleum itself can get wet but that doesn’t mean it is waterproof. 

The problem arises when water gets underneath the linoleum. Otherwise, it’s great because water won’t damage the linoleum itself but it can damage the subfloor if the linoleum is adhered to and sealed well around the edge. 

Is Linoleum Good For Bathrooms?

Linoleum is a good choice for bathrooms so long as you don’t let the water puddle around the edges for extended periods. The linoleum is water-resistant but you will have to watch out for slick spots.

As far as looks go, linoleum comes in many different styles that are often found in bathrooms. Such as tile flooring options which can make it look like you have expensive tile in your bathroom even though you don’t. 

Is Linoleum Good For Kitchens?

Linoleum is better for kitchens than bathrooms because it is unlikely that you will get the linoleum wet enough to slip on. But you should still be wary of this just as if you had shiny tile in your kitchen. 

It can be very slick and if you’re not careful, someone could injure themselves. Always put a slip-proof rug in front of the sink and from there, you shouldn’t have many problems as long as you’re careful washing dishes. 

What Do You Put Under Linoleum?

What Do You Put Under Linoleum?View in gallery

You have probably been confused about whether or not linoleum needs to have an underlayment or not. A plywood underlayment is great for linoleum, but in reality and standard sturdy underlayment will do.

Plywood works well because it is easy to lay over the subfloor and it is easy to apply adhesive to should you choose to apply it before laying the linoleum down. So if you are struggling with choices, choose plywood. 

How Do You Cover Up Old Linoleum?

If you have linoleum then you are at that point where you are trying to figure out whether you should rip it up, cover it up, or keep it. All of these are good options because linoleum is a safe floor but there’s nothing wrong with covering it. 

How To Cover Linoleum With Tile

You can cover linoleum with tile but since tiles are pieced together, it is better to remove the linoleum before you apply tile to it. Removing linoleum is fairly easy, just peel it up and roll it away, using chemicals to remove any stubborn adhesive. 

Then you can lay the tiles over the subfloor as usual. The tile can be laid over the linoleum but there’s a better chance of the tiles popp[ing up as the linoleum shifts under them so avoid doing this and take the linoleum up instead.

How To Cover Linoleum With Laminate

Covering linoleum with laminate works great. For this, you can definitely just lay the laminate over top of the linoleum. Again, it’s better to go ahead and remove the linoleum first but it won’t hurt anything to try to leave it.

Because with tile, the tiles can actually crack and the grout lines will fall apart. But with laminate, the worst that can happen is the laminate planks pop away from each other. So it is safe to go ahead and try it this way. 

How To Cover Linoleum With Hardwood

Covering linoleum with hardwood isn’t difficult either. Because hardwood is usually nailed down, it is easy to use over linoleum. Once more, it is easier to install if the linoleum is removed but there shouldn’t be a problem either way.

You can nail right through the linoleum much easier than you nailed through the hardwood, so it can be done fairly easily no matter how you do it. Hardwood isn’t easy to install but linoleum doesn’t slow it down. 

How To Cover Linoleum With Carpet 

You can lay carpet over linoleum without any problems as long as the linoleum is flat and secure. Otherwise, it can be a huge problem when the separate layers aren’t working all that well together and shift.

You do need to use tack strips around the edges of the room and glue the carpet down over the linoleum. This can help keep the two secure and act as one floor rather than two not cohesive floorings piled up.

What Kind Of Paint Can You Use On Linoleum?

How to paint the linoleum floorView in gallery
Project from thehoneycombhome

If you are asking yourself, “can linoleum be painted?” Then the answer is, “kind of.” While it can be painted you can’t just use any paint to paint linoleum. If you use standard paint, it won’t stick and come out botching instead. 

To paint linoleum, you need to follow specific steps in order for it to look good and not scratch off right way. Follow this short tutorial to find out how you can paint linoleum and learn what kind of paint to use on linoleum. 

Step 1: Clean The Floors

This is probably an obvious step but it is important enough to mention anyway. You need to clear out the room and take everything out. Then sweep the floors well, mop them, and let them fully dry.

Note: this is a general rule. Always clean whatever you are going to start working on. If you are working on walls, clean the walls. If you are working on furniture, clean the furniture. Use this as a sa rule of thumb.

Step 2: Sand Linoleum

Yes, this may sound unheard of but you need to sand the floors if you want the paint to stick. You can hand sand them but this is not ideal. Instead, try to rent an orbital sander from your local hardware store.

Around 120 grit is a good way to go. Start in one corner and move to the outsides and then zigzag your way across in order to not lose your spot. This will be ten times faster with a power sander than doing it by hand. 

Step 3: Degloss

After sanding, you need to sweep and mop again, this time, using only water to mop. Let it dry and then get your deglosser which will help make the linoleum easy to stick to, getting rid of the thing that makes it difficult to paint.

Before you begin deglossing, go ahead and tape around the perimeter of the room and anything you don’t want messed up or stained. Then apply the deglosser over the room as stated on the can or bottle. 

Step 4: Paint

Now there are a few different types of paints that you can use but enamel paint is a safe option for linoleum. It’s strong, durable, and works well on hard-to-paint surfaces. So use enamel paint if you’re unsure which to choose. 

Afterward, you can seal it with a good floor sealer unless you want to do stencils. Stencils are super fun and can make the floor look like real tile! But feel free to simply paint a solid color and seal the floors now. 

Can Linoleum Be Recycled? 

Unlike unnatural flooring like vinyl, linoleum is usually all-natural, meaning it can easily be recycled. It can actually be composted or sent to most dumps due to the fact that it will deteriorate back into the earth. 

But if you have a garden, you can compost it and actually save some money! Alternatively, there may a recycling facility near you that deals specifically with architectural goods, and linoleum would be included. 

In fact, these places would be absolutely delighted to receive something that is good for the planet rather than the plastics and such they are accustomed to receiving. So do them a favor and take your linoleum in!