Linoleum Flooring USA


Thinking of buying Linoleum Flooring? Read our expert guidance notes



We have five pages of expert guidance notes on Linoleum Flooring:

1. Introducing linoleum flooring (on this page)

2. Linoleum flooring compared to alternatives

3. Design tips for linoleum flooring

4. Leading suppliers of linoleum flooring

5. Installing and maintaining linoleum flooring


History of linoleum

Linoleum was invented by Frederick Walton in Staines, England, in 1860. It remains in production as one of the few washable flooring surfaces which are made of natural ingredients. Walton's invention was triggered when he noticed the rubbery, flexible skin of solid linsee oil that had formed on top of an open can of oil-based paint. He thought it might be a useful substitute for natural India rubber. Walton accelerated the drying process by using lead acetate and zinc sulphate to heat it. This turned the linseed oil into a resinous mass into which cheap cloth sheets could be dipped until a thick coating formed on their surface. Walton improved the technique by handing the cotton sheets vertically and sprinkling the oil from above. In this way he was able to produce washable floor cloths, which were widely used in 19th century houses.

The heavier gauges of linoleum are sometimes known as 'battleship linoleum'. These were originally made to specifications laid down by the US Navy for covering enclosed warship decks. Most US Navy warships removed their linoleum deck covering after the 1941 attack on Pearl Harbour, as it was regarded as too flammable.

How linoleum is made today

Linoleum flooring is made from solidified linseed oil, mixed with resins, ground limestone, wood flour, and cork dust. After mixing, these materials are applied to a burlap or canvas backing, and pressed between rollers in a process known as calendering. Users should not be alarmed if the newly laid linoleum flooring gives off an oily smell, similar to fresh paint, or if it has a yellow tinge known as 'ambering'. Both these effects are temporary.

The largest current manufacturer of linoleum is Forbo Nairn, based in Kirkcaldy, Scotland. It sells its linoleum under the Marmoleum trademark. Part of the Swiss Forbo group, it is the oldest manufacturer of linoleum in the world.

Characteristics of linoleum flooring

The key characteristics of linoleum are that it is made from natural materials, and that it is relatively soft. This makes it comfortable to walk on, and reduces breakage of dropped china. It is available in a wide range of colours, normally with a mottled appearance. It may also be cut into inlaid shapes.

Because it is made of natural materials, linoleum is promoted as non-allergenic; it is widely used in non-allergenic homes, hospitals, and healthcare facilities.

A weakness of linoleum flooring is that its softness does make it vulnerable to damage, for example from dragging of furniture or appliances, or from high heeled shoes.

Types of linoleum flooring

Linoleum is available as sheet or tiles, or as click-together panels with linoleum surface on a fiberboard and cork base. Linoleum sheet is typically supplied as a roll 2 metres wide. Tiles are normally available 12" square. The click-together panels are available 12" square, and 12" by 36".

In addition to general purpose flooring linoleum, several specialist types of linoleum are available. The following examples are supplied by Forbo: Corklinoleum (a softer version of linoleum, suitable for libraries, reacreation rooms, kindergartens, living rooms, and bedrooms); linoleum sports floors; conductive linoleum, acoustic linoleum, and furniture linoleum (for work surfaces). 


Please click below for our other guidance notes on linoleum flooring:

Linoleum flooring compared to alternatives

Design tips for linoleum flooring

Leading suppliers of linoleum flooring

Installing and maintaining linoleum flooring


Flooring Product Guides: Carpets, Carpet Tiles, Concrete Flooring, Cork Flooring, Linoleum Flooring, Marble Flooring, Outdoor Carpet, Parquet Flooring, Slate Flooring, Vinyl Tile Flooring.

Publisher: Abacus Construction Index is a professionally edited directory of recommended construction websites, published by Extonet Ltd. It is financed only by Google advertising; no payment is received from included websites.


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