One of the most frequent questions we are asked is “Are linoleum and vinyl flooring the same thing?” And its easy to see why its confusing.
The answer is no.
The only similarity between the two is that both linoleum and vinyl come in sheet format – on a roll versus in tile format.
The differences start during the manufacturing process.
Linoleum is made from natural components like linseed oil, tree resin, wood and cork flours, limestone and pigments, and jute for the backing. Linoleum was created by sheer accident back in the 1800s when linseed oil oxidized into a skin on a paint can. Because linoleum is the traditional flooring used in many kitchens and commercial locations like schools in the past, it can easily evoke memories from childhood experiences.
Vinyl is made from vinyl, felt, fiberglass and dyes. Therefore overall vinyl will not be as eco-friendly as its linoleum counterpart. Also, vinyl is made using a chemical process – different brands offer different pros and cons – if VOC (volatile organic compounds) or of concern to you, make sure you ask for vinyl flooring choices with low VOCs.
When it comes to care and maintenance, linoleum will require a bit more care. Both linoleum and vinyl are easy to clean, yet require different cleaning products. Linoleum is more sensitive to cleaners and strippers, so always look for neutral detergents. Linoleum also needs occasional polishing when the flooring begins to dull and regular cleaning no longer works. Vinyl is more resilient, and does just fine with regular cleanings.
Vinyl offers a wide variety of colors, patterns and styles, but in the overall spectrum, linoleum wins out on color choices. Linoleum does take on a yellowish cast to the floor that is formed during manufacturing process. This tint is temporary and will disappear over time as it is exposed to light.
If you have any questions about how a color or style will look in your home, bring home a sample and see how it blends in with your décor. Which ever you choose, linoleum or vinyl are two choices that you and your family will love.
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