Does Anybody Still Use Linoleum?

Real linoleum

Real linoleum used in a kitchen

Linoleum.  You’ve heard of it.  It’s been around forever.  Well, since 1860 actually.  It’s just another form of vinyl flooring.  Well, not exactly.  Vinyl and linoleum are very different, in fact.  Nobody uses linoleum anymore.  Guess again.  Linoleum just might be making a comeback.

A History of Linoleum

Let us begin with a little history lesson.  Linoleum was invented by Englishman Frederic Walton, who, in 1855, formulated a process to use solidified linseed oil as a resin.  Walton patented the process in 1860 but it had problems.  He continued working with it, and in 1863 applied for a further patent, which basically involved using a mixture of linseed oil with cork dust, wood flour, tree resins, ground limestone, and pigments, coating over strong fabrics, then printing or embossing the surface.  In 1864, Walton established the Linoleum Manufacturing Company, Ltd.  Several other inventors soon followed.  Walton opened the American Linoleum Manufacturing Company in New York in 1872.  Other manufacturing companies followed him.

Interestingly, Walton never trademarked the term “linoleum”, and ended up losing a trademark infringement lawsuit against a competitor.  By this time, the term was used so widely it became generic.  Linoleum is believed to be the first product name to become a generic term.

Easy and Popular

Linoleum became very popular floor covering for stores, restaurants, and home kitchens. The popularity of linoleum was largely due to its smooth, water-resistant surface, and the ease of cleaning.  It was also long lasting. It remained popular until the late 40’s and early 50’s when cheaper vinyl flooring became available.

Linoleum vs. Vinyl Flooring

The term linoleum may be universally used, but there are some big differences between actual linoleum and sheet vinyl flooring.  Vinyl is a synthetic product made from chlorinated petrochemicals.  Linoleum is produced from all natural products. Patterns for vinyl are printed on the surface, but linoleum’s colors are all the way through and wear produces different layers of color. 

Call it a Comeback

While linoleum may elicit visions of old drab colors and kitchens from the 20’s and 30’s, it could be making a comeback.  New color offerings combined with linoleum’s recognized durability make it a great choice for flooring in businesses, especially retail and restaurant spaces.  Maybe even more importantly, in a day when everyone is going green, linoleum is an all natural, green, environmentally friendly product.  For architects and builders making efforts to design and build green buildings, linoleum is playing an important role. Linoleum is also gaining popularity because of its novelty. For home remodelers, the ability to add “period correct” flooring that is long lasting, in a vintage house, is a good motivator.  Linoleum is also more comfortable than hard floorings and it is water resistant.  Linoleum is cost effective and relatively easy to install, and easy to clean.

Several of the brands carried at Carolina Flooring Services offer actual linoleum as an option.  Whether you’re looking for flooring options for your business or your home Carolina Flooring Services is ready to assist you.  Contact us now to schedule a consultation.

Key Points

  1. Linoleum has been around for nearly 150 years
  2. Linoleum lost it’s popularity in the late 40’s but is a great flooring option in 2013
  3. Today’s linoleum offers many more color options than it used to
  4. Linoleum is an all natural “green” product
  5. Linoleum is a durable, cost effective flooring option for business or home.



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