Q: Thank you for the column on kitchen floor options in the recent weekend paper. It was a helpful summary. Could you please tell me how linoleum scores in the same categories: virtues, detractions and resale?
A: You ask a great question, and one that is very relevant to the current trends of environmental responsibility.
Linoleum has been around since about the time of the Civil War. It was very popular for flooring in this country up until the 1950s, when it began to be replaced by other hard-surface flooring such as sheet vinyl (made from PVC). It has seen a resurgence of popularity in recent years, due in large part to the renewable materials used in its manufacture.
Linoleum is primarily a combination of linseed oil, wood flour, cork powder, resins and ground limestone mixed with mineral pigments to provide color. In fact, the name comes from the Latin words “linum” (linseed) and “oleum” (oil). Linoleum is an extremely durable material, with a long proven track record of reliability. It is very well suited for high-traffic areas, does not show nearly as many scratches or impact marks as most vinyl flooring, and is highly water-resistant.
It’s a particularly good choice for kitchens, bathrooms, entries, laundry areas, and any other room subject to moisture and wear. Because of the nature of its blend of materials, linoleum can also be a very good choice for homes occupied by people with allergies. And as it gains again in popularity, you will find an increasing number of choices in colors and patterns.
On the downside, linoleum is a relatively hard and inflexible material in comparison to some types of sheet vinyl, and it is best suited to professional installation. For the do-it-yourselfer, there are linoleum tiles available that are easier to work with. There can also be some color variations, known as “blooming” in areas where the linoleum is covered and blocked from light, which is something worth checking with your dealer or installer about.
As far as resale value is concerned, it would have some of the same disadvantages as vinyl when comparing it to materials such as ceramic tile or hardwood. However, in my opinion it has a greater value than standard sheet vinyl, due to its “green” composition and hypoallergenic properties.