Linoleum Flooring: A Complete Guide for 2022 and Beyond

Last Update:

We use affiliate links and may receive a small commission on purchases. Learn more

linoleum flooring

While linoleum may be the oldest non-natural floor in existence, it gained popularity in the 1940s and 50s. However, today linoleum is as popular as ever and competes with vinyl and laminate for best alternative flooring.

Linoleum comes in various forms now, with more styles, colors and size options than almost any other flooring type. This article will give you all the information you need to understand linoleum. We will cover the types and variances as well as the features and options you can find.

In this complete guide, we also look at installation, costs and linoleum pros and cons. By the end, you will know if linoleum is the right choice for you and your home.

Why Buy Linoleum?

With so many flooring options available, why would you consider linoleum?

  • Easy to install. With three different types, you can pick the option best for you.
  • Handles scratches well. Since the color is through the entire tile or sheet, scratches are less likely to be noticeable.
  • Affordable. You can find linoleum at any flooring or home improvement store, making it easy to get what you need.
  • Highly water resistant. You can install sheet linoleum in almost every room of your home without worry of water damage.
  • Many styles and colors. Unlike other flooring options, linoleum can be printed in virtually any color or design imaginable.

What is Linoleum?

Linoleum is a flooring solution that consists of several ingredients. It was first discovered in England in 1855 by Frederick Walton. By watching oil paints solidify and harden through oxidation, Walton got an idea for a flooring that does similar.

By 1864 Walton had 2 patents for the linoleum flooring and the second is the basis for the material you know today. The primary ingredient is solidified linseed oil, where the “lin” in the name comes from.

This oil is also combined with other natural ingredients such as wood flour, resin and cork dust or wood shavings. The oxidation process allows time to add coloring through dyes, or adding other ingredients.

Once the flooring is set, it can be molded into sheets or tiles, and shipped all over the world. It may not be the most durable flooring solution, but it is more resilient than you may think.

Buyer’s Guide: Choosing the Right Linoleum for the Job

buyers guide linoleum flooring

Before you run out and purchase a roll of sheet linoleum or a box of tiles, there are several factors you should consider. 

Type of Linoleum

The linoleum of the 1940s and 1950s isn’t around anymore. What we know of as linoleum now is less linseed oils and cork dust and more polyvinyl chloride and wood pulp.

However, it still has the same characteristics and limitations of the older style vinyl. Because of the new technologies, you can now select from three different types of linoleum.

Sheet

Sheet linoleum is thin, comes on a large roll and is difficult to install. When choosing sheet linoleum you will want to cover a large surface area for little cost. However, professional installation will eat into the budget some, so be aware of the added cost there.

Still, Sheet linoleum is water resistant, through-color design to help hide scratches and damage, and can be installed in some wet areas like kitchens, bathrooms and even laundry areas.

Plank

Plank linoleum is fairly new to the industry, all things considered. With the interlocking planks, this type of linoleum is the easiest to install, and can be done as a floating floor, just like laminate or vinyl planks.

While it isn’t as durable as the other options, it will hold up well in areas laminate cannot be installed and will hide any damage or scratches better than vinyl.

Tile

Tile linoleum has a few different installation options. The tiles do interlock like plank linoleum, so it can be installed as a floating floor. However, most installations call for gluing the tiles down to maintain sealant and water resistance.

Tile and sheet linoleum offer more color and style options than plank linoleum, but if you are looking for a wood grain pattern, plank is your only option.

Thickness

The thickness of the linoleum will tell you how high the quality is. While this isn’t the end-all, be-all of quality assurance, it is a tell-tale sign. Plank linoleum is the thickest of the three options and will generally be composed of three layers.

In total you want to look for planks at least 8mm thick though 9 to 10mm is much better. Sheet and tile thickness is much less, and a good quality linoleum roll or tile will have a thickness of about 2 to 2.5mm. Anything less and you may want to find a different brand or style.

Area of Coverage

You will also want to know how much floor coverage is needed. Measured in square feet, knowing how much floor space you have will tell you how much material to buy.

If you don’t know how, getting the square footage is fairly easy. You only need to measure the length and width of the room and multiply the two numbers together. You don’t need to be exact, either.

Discounting walls, counters and fixtures will give you a larger number than you need, ensuring you purchase plenty of material.

Green Linoleum

Being green is not a new thing in the flooring industry, though it isn’t always followed. Low VOCs and being non-toxic is important for your home, health and the environment.

There are plenty of eco-friendly and green linoleum options out there. If you are concerned, make sure your brand and chosen style meet eco-friendly standards, have low or no VOCs and you can even check if the floor’s adhesives are Green Label Plus certified.

Cost & Warranty

The cost and warranty will also play a large factor in your decision making process. Linoleum, as a whole, isn’t very expensive. While some tiles and planks can get costly, overall it is a highly affordable flooring option.

Linoleum products will range from less than $2 to about $4.50 per square foot. However, you also need to factor in installation, moisture barriers, adhesives and repair costs. More on these costs can be found below.

Most warranties will cover the linoleum until it is installed. Even with 10 or 20-year warranties, the coverage won’t include damage, scratches or tears once the floor is laid. Fading, bubbling and peeling, though, should still be covered.

Advantages of Linoleum

Even with linoleum falling out of fashion for so long, it is still around and a popular choice because of its advantages.

  • Low maintenance. Because linoleum is water resistant and generally sealed, you can sweep, vacuum and mop the floor to keep it clean and like new.
  • DIY install for planks and tiles. The linoleum interlocking planks and tiles are a fairly simple DIY project since they don’t require adhesives or rollers.
  • Through-color design. Unlike laminate and vinyl, linoleum has a solid color throughout, which hides scratches and small damaged areas better than other floor types.
  • Vast color options. Linoleum can be dyed virtually any color. While wood and stone looks are more rare, colors and patterns are more varied and available with linoleum.
  • Naturally antimicrobial. With anti-allergen, anti-pest and antimicrobial properties, linoleum is great for homes with allergen concerns.

Disadvantages of Linoleum

Linoleum isn’t without its downsides, though. There are a few things to understand before you make your purchase.

  • Linoleum needs to be sealed. Fixed floors are more resistant to water but are not waterproof.
  • Professional install for sheet and some tile. If the tiles or sheet linoleum need to be glued and rolled, it is more economical to hire a professional to do the installation.
  • Thin material. Linoleum comes in rolls and thin tiles and doesn’t have much in order of protection. Thinner flooring won’t last as long as thicker options.
  • Perfect subfloors required. Before you can lay linoleum sheets or tiles, the subfloor needs to be perfect. This means no damage or cracks and it must be level.

Installation Costs

installation costs linoleum flooring

There are a lot of factors that determine the cost of linoleum floor installation. The biggest factor is if you will install the floor yourself or hire a professional. Let’s break down the differences between the two options.

As a DIY Project

With a DIY project, you will save money on installation costs. However, you will be responsible for the time and effort as well as obtaining all of the needed tools. The first thing, though, is to purchase the linoleum itself.

On average, linoleum will cost between $2 and $4 per square foot, with sheet linoleum costing less and plank linoleum costing the most.

You also need to factor in any tools that are needed. If you are removing flooring prior to install, removal tools, chisels etc. will need to be used. If you already own them, there is no added cost, however rentals may add up over time.

If the subfloor needs repair or leveling, these costs will also be added to your budget. Since we cannot foresee every subfloor issue or cost for repairs, we will not add these into the final figures. However, you should be aware of these additional costs.

Finally, if you are installing sheet linoleum you will need a floor roller. You can rent these by the day, but don’t forget to add in fuel and delivery fees.

When all is said and done, a linoleum DIY install project should cost an average of $1,845, according to Home Advisor for the total project.

With Professional Installation

Professional installation will cost a bit more. There are also other things to consider when making this choice.

For starters, you need to know if you are buying the linoleum, or if the contractor is including the cost in their quotes. Most reliable contractors will supply the linoleum. However, if you want a specific color, design or brands, you may need to buy it yourself.

You won’t have to worry about tool rentals, time or energy wastes or even clean up when hiring a professional. You should also get a labor warranty that covers any accidents or issues for at least 90 days.

According to Porch.com, professional installation can range between $4 and $7 per square foot. With a total job average (material supplied) costing about $1,224 for a 300 square foot area.

If you need to find a flooring professional in your area, we can help. Check out our free floor pro finder and start getting your quotes today.

Top Linoleum Brands

top linoleum brands

With linoleum losing footing in the popularity game, many brands are now focused on laminate and vinyl. However, there are a few companies that are worthy of being called the best, when it comes to linoleum.

Below, you will find a chart with the brands, their average costs, as well as style and type options.

BrandTypes OfferedColor or Styles AvailableAverage costs per sq. ft.
ForboSheet, tile, plankover 200 color and design variations$3 to $8.50 per sq. ft.
Armstrong (LinoArt)Sheet, tileOver 50 color options$3.50 to $5 per sq. ft.
NovaPlank12 color options$3.50 to $7 per sq. ft.
TarkettSheetOver 60 colors available$3 to $6 per sq. ft.

Frequently Asked Questions

faq linoleum flooring

In this section we will answer the most common questions about linoleum as a whole. If you have other questions or issues, please use the comment section below the article.

Q. What is Marmoleum?

  1. Marmoleum is a brand name of linoleum. It isn’t a special difference or made in a particular way. Marmoleum is the name given to the linoleum line made by Forbo.

Q. Is linoleum easy to install?

  1. Plank linoleum is the easiest install of the three choices. Sheet linoleum and some tiles that need to be adhered to the subfloor are much more difficult, requiring expert hands and tools.

Q. Can you repair linoleum?

  1. Linoleum is a durable flooring that doesn’t tear or damage easily. However, over time damage, gouges and scratches will require repair or replacement. For plank linoleum the replacement is easier, but there aren’t any repair options.

Likewise, sheet linoleum and tiles are too thin to effectively repair, and replacement is much more difficult. After substantial damage it is usually better to replace the entire floor in the room instead of trying to match colors and patterns for repairs or spot replacements.

Q. Does linoleum require an underlayment?

  1. For sheet and stick tile linoleum, no. These are designed to be glued directly to the subflooring. However, plank linoleum and floating tile options may need an underlayment if one isn’t attached already.

Conclusion

Linoleum is one of the oldest, non-traditional flooring solutions and has been around since the 1850s. It peaked in popularity in the 1940s and 50s, though and has become less popular as time goes by.

However, it is still an affordable and durable flooring option in commercial settings, and some residential rooms. While you may not want to cover your entire home in linoleum, kitchen and bathroom installs are still quite popular.

Hopefully this guide helped you understand linoleum and gave you a better idea of what to look for when shopping for your next linoleum floor purchase.

Photo of author

AUTHOR

Nora has more than 5 years experience in the floor covering industry, acquiring vast knowledge about installation and material selection. She now enjoys working as a writer and an interior decorator. Her work has been featured in The Spruce, Homes & Gardens, Southern Living and Real Homes. See full biography here.

Leave a Comment

five × three =