What Is Linoleum?
Genuine linoleum, not to be confused with vinyl, is a classic, invented nearly 150 years ago and still completely relevant today. Environmentally preferred linoleum is made from natural, raw materials. Linseed oil, which comes from the flax plant, is the primary ingredient. (In Latin, linum is the word for linseed and oleum means oil.) Other ingredients include wood or cork powder, resins and ground limestone. Mineral pigments provide the rich colors. The ingredients are mixed together, then rolled out between two cylinders (a process called “calendaring”) onto a jute backing. The linoleum is then cured in ovens for 14 to 21 days. Some manufacturers bond a high performance coating to the surface to improve the floor’s ability to resist stains and scratches, and to make cleaning easier. The resulting floor is then rolled on cores, ready for installation. Sheet linoleum is available in many thicknesses. 2.5 mm is suitable for residential use. It is sold in a two-meter (or 6′ 7″) width size.
Keep In Mind:
- Linoleum manufactured without a high performance layer that protects the design must be polished to prevent staining.
- Linoleum releases a harmless odor (from the linseed oil) when it is first installed, much like that of a freshly painted room. This odor will dissipate.
- New linoleum sometimes has a yellow cast on the surface, called a “drying room film” that is a natural effect created by the floor’s composition. This film will dissipate when the floor is exposed to natural or artificial light. Make sure you expose linoleum samples to light for a several hours before making your final design and color choice.
- Most linoleum is sold as a sheet product. Linoleum tile is available, but it is more prone to warping and curled edges.