by Green Building Supply's
Linoleum and vinyl share many similarities, so people tend to group them. The truth is these materials have significant differences for buyers or builders to consider.
Vinyl entered production in the 1800s and comes from polyvinyl chloride (PVC). The material is used for siding, gutter and flooring and has become widely used as a cheaper linoleum alternative. It’s durable, damage resistant and low maintenance, making it a popular flooring material. There are even luxury vinyl plank and tile options for a higher-end look.
The main issue with vinyl is it’s far from environmentally friendly. PVC is unsustainable and vinyl manufacturing involves various toxic chemicals that harm the planet by contributing to climate change. Many environmentally conscious consumers are opting for linoleum to avoid these toxins.
Linoleum is made with all natural ingredients and is carbon neutral. Linseed oil extracted from flax seeds is still the main ingredient in linoleum. It’s combined with other sustainable resources such as wood flour, limestone, mineral pigments, tree rosin and jute.
Linoleum can last up to 40 years with very little maintenance, is mainly used for flooring and entered the market over 100 years ago. Scientists discovered the material when the linseed oil used as paint thinner solidified into a firm but flexible substance. After further experimentation, the linoleum you know today came onto the market. Today, the leading manufacturer of linoleum is Forbo, based in Europe, who has successfully reinvented this product under the brand name of Marmoleum.
Marmoleum was, and still is, relatively inexpensive and can be installed as a glue down sheet, tile or floated as a DIY panel. It comes in various styles and hundreds of colors, making it a popular choice for homeowners and designers. It’s a resilient floor that is comfortable to walk on and requires little maintenance. Unlike vinyl, linoleum colors go all the way through making it easily repairable if scratched or dented. Normal preventative measures such as felt pads under furniture and routine cleaning will ensure a long life for this floor. Both vinyl and Marmoleum require protection from the sun.
Choosing Home Materials
Being conscious of materials when building a home is essential both for our own personal health as well as the health of our planet. Vinyl and linoleum are both highly water resistant, but linoleum is much more sustainable and a safer choice. Both come in various colors and types that can suit almost any theme. Ordering samples and consulting with an eco-advisor at
ahead of time will help you choose the right product for your specific need.
Rose Morrison is the managing editor of Renovated and has been writing in the home living industry for over five years. She’s most passionate about sustainable living and incorporating those habits into daily life. Her work has been featured on The National Association of Realtors, the American Society of Home Inspectors, and other reputable publications.