Linoleum Flooring For Kitchens – Pros, Cons & Questions Answered
Tough, durable and eco-friendly, the classic linoleum flooring is making a bit of a comeback in recent years. But what exactly is it and does it make for a good kitchen flooring choice?
In this post, I’ll explain what Linoleum flooring is, its pros and cons as well as answer some popular questions about the topic.
Let’s get into it!
What is linoleum flooring?
Linoleum (sometimes called Lino) is a type of flooring made from a mix of natural renewable materials, such as linseed oil and cork dust. It is tough, durable and more affordable than many other kitchen flooring options.
Linoleum is often lumped together with vinyl flooring products, but it is actually its own type of flooring. Linoleum was first produced in the mid-19th century as an affordable means to create attractive level floors in middle to lower-income homes.
The name comes from the Latin combination of linum (meaning flax) and oleum (meaning oil). It is made out of linseed oil, (where the lino term originates) pine resin, pigments, wood fillers like sawdust and shavings, and a mineral binder such as calcium carbonate or ground limestone. However, the exact composition and combination of materials will vary depending on the type, colour, finish and manufacturer.
In older homes, it would be glued to the subfloor using adhesive and burlap. Older forms of linoleum generally had a speckled appearance, as it derived its colour from additives mixed into the base structure. Lino from the 50s and 60s often featured a top decorative layer that included repeating floral patterns.
Linoleum is seeing a resurgence in popularity today as it is a greener product than vinyl, which uses a blend of toxic chemicals. While lino does cost about twice as much as vinyl, it offers better durability and has a much lower impact on our environment.
Lino earned its reputation for reliability, affordability, and durability in nearly every kitchen and bath across the UK. Eventually, we started referring to any kitchen flooring as lino. But in many cases, the actual material used after 1980 is likely vinyl in sheets or planks.
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Types of Linoleum Flooring
There are three main types of linoleum flooring. Sheet, Tile and Plank.
Sheet: Your grandmother’s kitchen lino was probably laid down as a sheet. A single roll of the material could be rolled out.
First, it was cut to size. Next, it would be glued and nailed down with trim pieces securing the edges. You can still order sheet lino. It usually requires professional installation as a quick DIY job will leave bumps and bubbles in the middle of your floor.
Sheet linoleum is a smart option for workrooms, gyms, and other large spaces with few obstacles requiring special cuts.
Tile: Tile linoleum is now available for easy installation by homeowners. Usually sold in 30 cm squares, you can mix and match colours to create your own design. The easy click system uses tongue and groove installation. Simply snap two tiles together and carry on.
Plank: Plank linoleum is becoming more popular in today’s kitchens. Offered up in strips similar to standard vinyl floors, it also uses a floating floor installation. Just as in the tile version, you and a mate can put down a plank lino floor over a weekend as a good DIY home project.
Colours and Styles of Linoleum Flooring
Forbo Marmoleum is a popular linoleum product sold across the UK. Their tiles and planks are produced to mimic the visual texture of a stone tile. The difference is that most of their products come in brighter colours of the rainbow. You can find tiles in red, yellow, and green as well as a range of neutral tones.
Other products use metallic specks, fibres, and other materials to create a unique look for their tiles. Sheet linoleum with a repeating pattern may include a top printed layer with flowers or geometric patterns. Expect to pay a premium for this type of design.
Installation of Linoleum Flooring
Linoleum flooring can be installed permanently or as a floating floor. It is recommended that sheet lino be installed by a professional, whereas installing tile or plank lino is more achievable for your home DIY’er.
Professional installation of sheet lino will take about one or two days depending on the condition of the existing subfloor.
The crew will empty the room, clean off the old subfloor, and eliminate any divets or cracks. The new lino is first measured, rough cut, laid out, and trimmed in place. Next, an adhesive is applied to the entire floor and the lino is rolled down before being secured on the edges with trim strips or baseboard.
You may need to avoid walking on the floor or putting your furniture back for a day or two to let the adhesive fully cure.
Sheet lino should be delivered in a roll several days before installation. This allows it to adjust to the temperature and humidity of your home. Sudden changes in conditions can result in the new linoleum cracking as it is installed. Vinyl does not have this problem as it remains soft and pliable at room temperature.
Tile & Plank Lino
First, for a floating floor installation with tile or planks, you’ll need to level the underlying surface. Next, you may put down a felt or foam liner. This helps to eliminate the shifting of the tiles as the weather changes with the seasons.
For planks, install your first line of pieces along the longest wall and snap the planks together. When you need to make cuts to fit around doors and islands, use a jigsaw or circular saw for a fast, accurate cut.
Tiles start at the middle of the room and work your way to the edges. You will need to make multiple cuts to perfectly fit the squares along the wall.
After your tiles and planks are down, add the edging trim pieces and transition strips for a polished look. There is no dry time needed. Move right in!
Linoleum is often cited as being low maintenance and one of the easiest kitchen flooring materials to keep clean and maintain. Especially as there are no grout lines to worry about!
A quick sweep or vacuum periodically will remove everyday dirt and grit particles that could scratch or dent the top layer. And a gentle mop using a pH-balanced cleaner should remove anything more stubborn and give the floor a fresh look.
However, Linoleum flooring does require periodic sealing. It should come pre-sealed with a protective coating from the factory or get sealed as part of its installation. After that, it’s recommended that you give it a good clean and seal it every 3-10 years depending on much use it gets.
Linoleum Kitchen Flooring Costs
Linoleum tiles run between £40 and £75 per square metre. Vinyl tiles and planks sell for about half that price. You will spend an average of £500 to £750 on materials. Most DIY installations get done in two to three days.
Sheet lino starts at around £25 per square metre, but it is much harder to find. Your best source will be a flooring contractor that specialises in eco-friendly products and techniques. Expect to spend £300 per day on installation. It usually takes two workers to get the job done.
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What are the advantages of linoleum flooring?
- Eco-Friendly: Lino is made out of natural materials such as sawdust, linseed oil, pine resin, wood flour, cork dust, ground limestone and burlap.
- Long-Lasting: Most linoleum floors will last up to 20 years or longer before requiring replacement. It typically has greater longevity than vinyl, which has a general lifespan of about 10 years.
- Durable: Linoleum is less likely to show wear and scratches. Its colour runs the entire depth of the materials. It is more heat-resistant than vinyl, so not as likely to melt if you drop a hot iron or pot on it.
- Easy Maintenance: Linoleum is pretty easy to clean and maintain. Sweeping occasionally can get rid of most dirt and a damp mop using a pH-balanced cleaner will help with any tougher marks. – Just don’t flood the floor with water! Excessive moisture can damage lino flooring.
- Soft: The construction of linoleum is similar to cork. Bare feet enjoy the softer feel.
- Supports Under-Floor Heat: The natural construction of linoleum makes it a great conductor of heat. Your toes will feel the heat faster compared to ceramic or vinyl.
- Affordable: While not as inexpensive as it used to be, lino still offers a lower price point compared to tile, stone, porcelain or hardwood floors.
What are the disadvantages of linoleum flooring?
- Limited Selection of Colour and Style: Whilst the choice of colours, patterns and effects have certainly increased over the years. It is still a little limited on finish options. Especially for more contemporary kitchens.
- Susceptible to Water Damage: With its sawdust construction, linoleum will absorb water or swell with humidity. Sealants help to protect the flooring, but a broken water line can destroy a lino floor.
- Needs Resealing: The prolong the lifespan of your lino floor you should re-seal it every three to ten years depending on the amount of wear and foot traffic it gets.
- Can be Dented: As linoleum is a softer and more forgiving surface, it can be dented by furniture legs or even by sharp shoe heels. Sharp objects dragged across its surface may also cut the material.
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Is linoleum good for kitchen floors?
Yes, lino was primarily used in kitchens for the last 100 years. It works well with underfloor heating and is soft underfoot. Drop a plate or glass on lino, and it is less likely to break compared to tile.
It maintains its original appearance for years and only needs a quick mop to keep it clean. It is heat-resistant, so won’t scorch if you drop a hot pan on it.
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Is linoleum flooring outdated?
Linoleum was considered outdated with the advent of vinyl and laminate floors in the late half of the last century.
However, with renewed interest in natural materials and reducing our impact on the planet, it is seeing a resurgence as a desirable flooring. Manufacturers are creating new patterns and colours that complement our contemporary decor.
From earthy, stone neutrals and concrete effects to wood look-a-likes, there’s more than the old grey-speckled look these days.
Is Linoleum Eco-Friendly?
Yes, some manufacturers advertise that their lino products are 95% all-natural. Most of the materials are naturally occurring such as pine resin, linseed oil, and sawdust. Burlap is a natural fabric in use for centuries.
Any chemicals are found in the colouring and floating floor base of linoleum tiles and planks. Vinyl is 100% man-made chemical construction.
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What is the difference between linoleum and vinyl flooring?
When vinyl became popular, it replaced linoleum as the go-to kitchen flooring but kept the familiar name. Your kitchen floors could likely be vinyl. Vinyl is made entirely out of polyvinyl chloride, fibreglass, and plastics. It can be printed to look like stone, wood, or patterns.
Linoleum is crafted from natural materials including linseed oil, which is how it got its name. It generally has a solid or speckled appearance and comes in a range of colours.
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How long do linoleum floors last?
There is a reason that you can find old linoleum on floors of old barns, workshops, and kitchens. It lasts. Today’s linoleum flooring can last up to 20 years in an average home.
However, with proper care, it can survive up to 50 years. As lino ages, it might fade and crack.
Popular Brands for Linoleum Flooring
There you have it! everything you need to know about linoleum (lino) flooring and whether it’s a good fit for you and your kitchen.
It may seem a little old fashioned these days but thanks to its eco-credentials and modern designs, colours and patterns the lino floor is making a little bit of a comeback for some homeowners.
Kinder on the environment and your wallet, linoleum flooring is definitely something to consider!
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Michael is a kitchen designer from the UK. He's been designing and project managing new kitchen installations for over 10 years. Before that, he was an electrician and part of a team that fitted kitchens. He created Kitchinsider in early 2019 to help give people advice when it comes to getting a new kitchen.