Everything You Need to Know About Vinyl vs. Linoleum Countertops

Ben Kissam
Written by Ben Kissam
Updated July 9, 2021
kitchen with wood cabinets, vinyl countertop, and black appliances
dszc/E+ via Getty Images

Both are durable and easy to install, but one lasts much longer than the other

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Vinyl and linoleum are two of the most frequently used (and often-confused) materials for countertops and floors. Homeowners get them mixed up because they share some similarities—they’re both affordable, durable, and come in a variety of styles to meet your kitchen’s decor. But they are not the same, and one might be a better fit for your home than the other.

What Is Vinyl?

Vinyl, or polyvinyl chloride, is a type of synthetic plastic. As one of the most popular materials used across the world, it’s estimated that 20% of the plastic produced worldwide is rigid or flexible PVC.

You might hear vinyl countertops sometimes referred to as peel-and-stick countertops. They’re also sometimes grouped with Formica laminate countertops, which are made of different materials but are another easy-to-install and budget-friendly option. 

In the past, vinyl countertops have gotten a bad rap as unattractive and not as long-lasting as other materials. Today, though, newer brands with beautiful designs and good performance are making vinyl a solid option for cost-conscious kitchen design.

Benefits of Vinyl Countertops

  • Affordable

  • Easy to install

  • Better for areas with high moisture or humidity

  • Waterproof

  • Stain-resistant (vinyl is a good floor for pet owners)

  • Stands up well to heat

  • Easy to clean

  • Comes in a variety of colors, patterns, and styles

kitchen with wood cabinets, wood floor, linoleum countertop, and white appliances
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What Is Linoleum?

Unlike vinyl, linoleum is made from natural materials such as wood flour, rosins, and powdered cork. When used on countertops, it typically comes in glued-down sheets or snap-together tiles.

Linoleum and vinyl often get lumped together, but they are made from different substances. Linoleum is considered a green kitchen countertop material because it’s made using natural ingredients. But, like vinyl, it is durable, easy to work with, and affordable.

Benefits of Linoleum Countertops

  • Affordable

  • Durable 

  • Some consider it to be more attractive than vinyl

  • Easy to install

  • Made with natural ingredients

  • Long-lasting (20–40 years with good upkeep)

  • Made from natural and recycled materials

Vinyl vs. Linoleum Countertops

So, in the vinyl vs. linoleum debate, which is right for your countertop surfaces? Here are some factors to consider.

Cost

Vinyl is definitely cheaper than linoleum. You can expect to pay between $790 and $1,600 for a vinyl kitchen countertop installation, whereas linoleum will cost between $600 and $2,400. Both materials are commonly used for flooring as well, so the cost to install new floors will be similar.

While linoleum is more expensive, both materials are very affordable, especially when you compare them to the price of granite, marble, or quartz. (A marble countertop, for example, might cost up to $9,000 to install.)

Scope of Repair

The phrase ‘peel and stick’ implies simplicity, and it’s definitely true that installing vinyl countertops is pretty easy. Vinyl may also come in glue-down sheets, whereas linoleum must be pasted down with liquid and a trowel-on adhesive.

In both cases, the old countertop must be removed before applying a new one. Hiring a local countertop specialist can make it easier to get the material you want installed correctly.

Long-Term vs. Short Fix

Linoleum tends to last much longer than vinyl on countertops. Deciding whether this is a long-term or short-term solution can help you choose the right material.

In fact, there are some situations where the short-term benefits of vinyl could be beneficial. For example, if you own rental property and need a stopgap solution for a tenant’s peeling or damaged countertops, a simple vinyl installation could be the best approach.

In some cases, homeowners also install vinyl as a short-term solution to save up money for more expensive countertops (marble, granite, etc.). Installed properly, though, vinyl can still last 10 to 20 years. 

If you’re looking for a permanent or long-term solution at a more affordable price, linoleum is your best bet.

Maintenance

Both vinyl and linoleum are pretty easy to maintain, and you can easily patch holes or tears in either without replacing the entire counter. But because they’re made from different materials, upkeep looks a little different. 

Ammonia-based cleaners, for example, shouldn't be used on linoleum. As it's made from natural ingredients, you also may need to apply an annual protecting coating and wax the surface every year to your linoleum countertops to keep them looking new.

Which Is Best for You?

Consider costs (up-front and long-term), the scope of the project (and if hiring a pro fits into your budget) and how long you hope to have your countertops. These factors can help you decide if vinyl or linoleum is right for your countertops.

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