Linoleum flooring was once considered old-fashioned, but today it is rapidly regaining popularity. Linoleum is an environmentally friendly flooring made from natural materials that can be recycled or even composted. It's hard-wearing and has a very long service life. It's resilient, making it a particularly good choice for kitchens and children's play areas, and it has natural antibacterial properties. The best choices in linoleum flooring match its characteristics to the homeowner's needs.
Linoleum is made from a blend of oxidized linseed oil, resins, binders, and color pigments attached to a backing and dried in a kiln. It can be produced in several thicknesses. The most durable flooring is cut from the thickest linoleum, but it is also the most expensive. Even the thickest linoleum is somewhat flexible, so it can be installed in places where ceramic flooring would be likely to crack.
Linoleum is available in many colors and patterns. When purchasing patterned linoleum flooring, be sure to get extra so the pattern can be matched at the seams. The color is the same through the thickness of the linoleum, so scratches and chips are not very noticeable. The color may fade slightly in prolonged direct sunlight or yellow slightly.
A flooring underlayment can protect linoleum flooring from moisture damage and reduce noise as well. A cork underlayment offers the best sound reduction, while plastic provides the best moisture barrier. Many foam underlayments combine noise reduction and moisture barriers.
Sheet linoleum flooring is widely available and is a very popular choice. It offers the greatest variety of colors and patterns in production. A smooth, even subflooring is necessary for a satisfactory linoleum sheet floor. Because the sheets are between 6 and 7 feet (1.8 to 2.1 meters) wide, many rooms will require seaming, a job best done by professionals.
Linoleum tiles can be installed by most homeowners. This kind of linoleum flooring can be laid over a preexisting floor, provided it is still solid and offers a smooth surface. Allow linoleum tiles to acclimate to the environment of the room for 24 hours before beginning installation.
Floating linoleum flooring is the easiest for do-it-yourselfers to install. The pieces, which are usually 12x12 inch (30.5x30.5 cm) squares or 12x36 inch (30.5x91.4 cm) rectangles, fit together with the click-and-lock system that was developed for laminate flooring. They require no adhesive. They often have a cork backing to reduce noise.