Everything You Need to Know About Linoleum Flooring

Lauren Wellbank
Written by Lauren Wellbank
Updated December 20, 2021
Linoleum flooring in room with sofa
Photo: New Africa / Adobe Stock

Linoleum was once the flooring of choice for an entire generation of homeowners

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Linoleum was once the go-to flooring material. The sturdy covering, which is made from canvas covered in a thick coat of a combination of materials like linseed oil and powdered cork, was popular in homes across the country up until the 1960s when more modern flooring designs took over. 

For home renovators, linoleum can often be the cause of frustration—an entire generation of homeowners covered their hardwood floors with the sticky substance in an effort to update their older homes with a modern touch, burying the now more-desirable wood flooring under a hard-to-remove layer of tile. But now a lot of people are falling back in love with linoleum. Today’s flooring not only comes in a variety of textures and colors, but it also offers a durable covering with a price that’s just right. 

Let’s take a look at some of the pros and cons of linoleum flooring.

Why Should You Choose Linoleum Flooring?

There are plenty of good reasons to opt for linoleum if you’re looking to make a major change to your home. The versatile material is perfect for a range of areas—it works everywhere from bathrooms to basements—and the color and design choices are pretty much endless.

Linoleum Is Affordable 

Linoleum is often a more affordable choice than other flooring types. In fact, linoleum flooring costs between $3 and $7 per square foot. Compare that to carpeting, which can run between $3.50 and $11 per square foot, or ceramic tile, which can run between $6 and $20 per square foot.

Linoleum Can Be Hypoallergenic

Unlike carpet, which can hold dust, animal dander, and pollen, linoleum can be hypoallergenic. It’s also easy to clean, so if dust and pollen make you sneeze, all you need is a damp mop for a light clean. It’s a great choice for you and your sinuses!

Linoleum Is Durable

Linoleum can often last decades longer (about 40 years) than other interior design trends, which explains why home renovators might find linoleum underneath their carpet or tile. Homeowners typically cover their existing linoleum with more trendy pieces to give their home a facelift, not because it was in need of an upgrade.  

There Are So Many Color and Design Choices

When choosing linoleum flooring, you’re pretty much only limited by your imagination. This flooring is available in a wide range of colors, patterns, and shapes, and can even be purchased in designs that mimic other popular flooring styles—linoleum designed to look like more expensive hardwood flooring is extremely popular right now. You can recreate the look of hardwood with long skinny plants, or use larger squares to get the effect of ceramic tile. 

Environmental Impact

You don’t have to opt for your grandma’s avocado-colored tiles to go green with linoleum because it’s actually quite eco-friendly. Linoleum is made with non-toxic, natural ingredients that don’t “gas out” chemicals into your home. It also has a smaller carbon footprint because it doesn’t use petroleum-based products like some similar alternative flooring types like vinyl. 

What to Consider Before Buying Linoleum Flooring

Linoleum flooring installation
Photo: StockphotoVideo / Adobe Stock

While linoleum may sound too good to be true, there are some downsides that might keep it from being a fit for your home.

Linoleum Isn’t Indestructible

While long-lasting, linoleum flooring isn’t impervious to damage. Over time, heavy furniture can dent the floor. Too much sun exposure can also darken or yellow it, causing unsightly patches. 

Some Linoleum Isn’t Moisture-Resistant

There are certain brands of linoleum on the market that are more water-resistant than others, but if you happen to opt for one of the less resilient ones, you might begin to see warping or swelling over time. This is especially true in bathrooms, kitchens, or basements where your floor may come into contact with more standing water than it can handle. To make sure your linoleum can stand up to wet conditions, talk to a pro about what type of environments it’s rated for. 

Linoleum Has a High Installation Cost

While linoleum is overall a more cost-effective choice, you might lose some of those savings when you hire a local flooring pro to install it. Many types of linoleum flooring require the trained eye of a pro in order to make sure it’s laid well enough to last a lifetime, and a pro typically charges $36 per hour for installation. While you can certainly learn how to install linoleum flooring yourself, it’s not easy.

Unlike laminate options, which are easier to DIY since they come in smaller sections, linoleum can come in single sheets meant to cover the entire surface of a room. Not only do you need a good deal of experience to make sure it goes down the right way, but you’ll also need the tools which professional floor installers already have on hand. 

Linoleum Has a Low ROI

You’re not going to see the same return on investment with fresh linoleum flooring as you would see if you installed new hardwood or ceramic tiles in your home. If you’re not planning on selling anytime soon, that might not worry you too much, but for homeowners who are hoping to make an investment that will pay out down the line, linoleum isn’t going to increase your property value much—if anything at all.

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