Linoleum- Ingenuity on the Flooring Frontier


Definition of linoleum: "1: a floor covering made by laying on a burlap or canvas backing a mixture of solidified linseed oil with gums, cork dust or wood flour or both, and usually pigments” (Merriam-Webster Dictionary, 2021)

What comes to mind when you hear the word “linoleum”?  Probably a marbled looking kitchen floor in a residential setting, right?  In fact, people commonly mistake linoleum for sheet vinyl. Linoleum, created by Frederick Walton, was the pioneer in the resilient flooring and deserves more credit than that.  In fact, linoleum is truly unique and stands apart from its vinyl counterparts.  Ironically, the product blossomed into ideation on a most serendipitous occasion.  

“The story goes that one night in 1855, he forgot to seal a container of linseed oil that he was using as paint thinner, and a skin of solidified oil formed on top of the oil. He peeled it off and began to think of ways that this rubbery substance might be used. Walton experimented with ways to speed up the lengthy process of creating a solid product.” ( 2021)

After many years of exportation throughout Europe & the U.S., linoleum was added to the product line at Armstrong Cork and Tile Company in Lancaster, Pennsylvania in 1903 and quickly became popular. 

Currently, linoleum still remains a strong competitor against sheet vinyl goods in the industry for a multitude of reasons.  Primarily, linoleum is an all-natural product & inherently antimicrobial which means that it is eco-friendly with an added bonus of the ability to fight viral-causing diseases without any additional harmful chemical additives. 

Since linoleum is both bio-based and biodegradable it is perhaps the original earth friendly product.  It is a homogeneous product which means it is the same color throughout which metaphorically is similar to that of a carrot.  Therefore, linoleum can be sanded and refinished when damage occurs thus expanding the life span of the product.  In addition, it has self-healing properties which helps it withstand bumps, cuts, and serves as a great solution for tackboards and wall protection. 

Overall, linoleum is not only advantageous for the earth, societal health, but also provides a sustainable flooring option.