If you put the word “linoleum floor” on the mind of the grandmother’s kitchen floor, think again. Linoleum offers a beautiful alternative to ceramics or wood in almost every room, and certainly to vinyl: it is colorful, cushioned under the feet and it feels warm. It is also hypoallergenic. This is all thanks to its construction of linseed oil, wood flour and cork.
Linoleum flooring – a nice alternative to ceramics or wood
“It’s amazing,” says Frank O’Neill, publisher of the Floor Focus magazine. “Even traders should know better that vinyl and linoleum are interchangeable.” In truth, the two could not be more different. While vinyl flooring is a synthetic product of chlorinated petrochemicals, linoleum is made from all-natural materials. The vinyl does not melt linoleum when a burning match or cigarette ends up on it.
eIt seems to last for eternity
Most vinyl patterns are printed in the surface, linoleum colors, in contrast, go all the way through. “During use of the linoleum, different layers of paint are gradually revealed,” says Duo Dickinson, an architect in Madison, Connecticut, who also used the material for baking surfaces and countertops. “It can be very beautiful.” The durability is another peculiarity of linoleum; Some floors have survived from 30 to 40 years in harsh commercial environments. “It seems to last forever,” says Dickinson. Amazingly, linoleum’s look and manufacturing have barely changed since an Englishman named Frederick Walton patented the product in 1863.
The story goes on. He came up with the idea of forming a color from the leathery skin of oxidized linseed oil. Walton finally perfected a blend of linseed oil, cork powder, wood flour, tree resins, ground limestone and pigments – the same recipe used today by linoleum manufacturers. Finally, Walton found out how to press her down on a jut.
It can be very nice
He then gave his brew his name by combining the Latin words for flax (linum) – the source of linseed oil and oil (oleum). Linoleum was a popular floor covering for shops, restaurants and kitchens when placed on slabs or tiles, or even in the decorative area like a carpet on the floor, where its smooth, water-repellent surface required easier cleaning. But when the cheaper vinyl floors became available in 1947, people began to turn away from the drab, old-fashioned linoleum. Frank O’Neill says, “Honestly, it looked pretty bad.”
But now the linoleum returns. Dutch linoleum maker Forbo Industries, which holds 90 percent of the $ 40 million US linoleum market, has seen more than 30 percent jump in sales in the last two years. Domco, a Canadian manufacturer of vinyl flooring, switched to linoleum in 1997 in response to requests from architects. In the same year, the vinyl flooring giant Armstrong has bought the world’s second largest linoleum maker, DLW (Deutsche Linoleum Werke), returning to a market he had left as dead in the 1970s. Why the interest was reawakened? On one side, because of the color.
Today, linoleum comes in a Crayola range of vivid colors, much different than the muddy offerings since before World War II. In addition, newly applied sealers protect the colors against dirt and stains.
No matter what its color, a growing number of architects and designers consider linoleum a green, eco-friendly flooring. “From the resource standpoint, it’s great,” says Environmental Building News editor Alex Wilson, who last year installed a linoleum floor in the kitchen and bathroom area of the office in Brattleboro, Vermont. “It’s made of natural, mostly renewable materials, and there’s no environmental toxins or disposal involved in their manufacture.”
It’s also a natural choice for vintage homes. Dean and Lauren Gallant – owners of a 93 year old house in Belmont, Massachusetts renovated the house in 1993. They put linoleum flooring in their laundry room and in one of the bathrooms. The janitor says the rooms were still in fair condition. “So we said,” Well, if it took so long, why not use linoleum again?
Linoleum floor laying in the Technical Museum in Vienna