Kitchen Flooring Buying Guide: Linoleum

The flooring in our kitchen was in mediocre condition when we bought the house, but we haven’t had the room in our budget to replace it. Now, years after moving in, it really has to go. I’ve been dreaming of beautiful, glossy marble tile but with my little ones running around it’s just not practical. After some research on DIY Life, I found that linoleum (which is what we have now) is the best option for an active family home. It sure lasts a long time, so I guess it makes the most sense to just replace our old linoleum with new. Here’s the basic info you need to know about linoleum:

How It’s Made: Linoleum is a mixture of cork dust, ground limestone, linseed oil, mineral pigments, recycled wood flour and tree resins — all pressed together and mounted onto jute backing. Interestingly, its name is a combination of the Latin words for flax (linum) and oil (oleum).

How It’s Sold: Linoleum kitchen flooring is available as tile, sheeting and even cutout pieces that look similar to area rugs. It sticks to the floor with adhesive. Tile is sold in all sizes and sheeting is typically sold in 6-foot x 7-inch widths and multiple thicknesses.

Pros: Linoleum is considered a green material because no hazardous chemicals are associated with its creation or disposal. It’s also naturally antibacterial and biodegradable, easy to clean, comfortable to stand on and scratch- and gouge-resistant — excellent for high-traffic areas just like the kitchen. Linoleum can last 40 years or more.

Cons: Although it’s rugged and easy to work with, linoleum just doesn’t have the same appeal to some consumers as higher end materials.

DIY Degree of Difficulty: Very Easy (Tiles) to Tough (Sheeting)
While any eager 8-year-old assistant could help you lay a linoleum tile kitchen floor (just spread out latex adhesive, place tiles on it, then set with a roller), laying sheet linoleum is another story. The adhesive makes linoleum sheeting shrink in length and expand in width, which adds up to a potential nightmare situation. So it’s wise to leave the sheeting installation to the pros, and take on tile installation yourself.

Care & Maintenance: Dust mop and/or sweep regularly with a soft-bristled broom. Vacuum with the soft floor attachment (careful: the ends of certain attachments can scratch delicate finishes). Remove stubborn scuff marks with a clean rag dipped in undiluted linoleum cleaner. Wash by hand with a natural vinegar-based solution or use a damp mop as needed. Re-coat floors once per year with acrylic sealer to maintain performance and luster.

Cost (per square foot)
Linoleum tile is typically priced from $2 to $7. Sheet linoleum costs $3 to $4 installed.