Feb 17, 2010

design*speak: vinyl vs. linoleum

oh yes, 
there is a difference.
most of what we see is 
vinyl floor covering.
so, just to let you know,
you probably don't have 
"linoleum" in your house.
unless your house is 40+ years old.
or, you've just redone your floors,
and used "real" linoleum.
so what is the difference?
is actually a natural product...
made from solidified linseed oil, pine rosin, 
and a filler like ground cork or pine flour. 
it is usually on a natural-fiber backing
such as canvas or burlap. 

because it is a natural product, 
it is biodegradable.
it's name is derived from the latin words 
linum ("flax") 
oleum ("oil").
unlike most vinyl flooring, 
the color goes all 
the way through linoleum, 
so it does not show scuffs and scratches.
linoleum's durability (up to 40 years as flooring) 
makes it very suitable for high traffic areas. 
it also has 
antibacterial properties
which make it an 
ideal floor covering for healthcare facilities.
though it’s been around for over a hundred years, 
linoleum was largely supplanted by less 
expensive vinyl flooring in the 1960s. 
now it’s back in vogue as long-lasting green flooring!
yeah for us!
all that "other" stuff 
you see is vinyl.
vinyl is affordable,

readily accessible,durable and comes in a
huge array of colors, textures and styles.
 walk down the flooring aisle at home depot or lowes,
and you will see a vast array of vinyl floor coverings.

(just thought y'all might wanna know the difference.)
now you won't get sneered at when you walk into
a flooring store and ask to see the "linoleum", 
(which is what most people mistakenly call vinyl flooring.)
aren't you so glad you know this 

little nugget of design wisdom?


  1. You just made my day with your post! I'm an interior designer and I work on commercial projects. One of my biggest pet peeves is when people refer to vinyl flooring as linoleum! I have been using linoleum quite a bit in the last several years (lots of schools) now that many of my projects are seeking LEED certification. I love it - it's such a beautiful material! Thanks for clearing this up! I found your blog last week and I've really enjoyed your posts.

  2. Good to know! I will no longer call my crappy vinyl floors "linoleum"~Thanks :)

  3. This is really interesting, thanks!....the other day someone asked me the difference between a cornice and a pelmet...I was stumped, maybe you could inform us in a future post : )

  4. christie, thanks for the idea!

  5. YAY! It drives me nuts on H*use Hunters when someone calls vinyl peel-n-stick tiles LINOLEUM.
    We actually looked into linoleum recently since I have chemical sensitivities. We decided on wood because we knew we would sell our house soon and buyers would probably think it was cheap vinyl! (The linoleum would have actually been more expensive than the wood was.) Anyway - love posts on design edumacation. :)

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