Linoleum vs. Vinyl Flooring

With the large variety of flooring available, it can be easy to get lost in the specifics of how exactly one type of flooring differs from another. One common question that consumers have when looking for flooring is what the difference is between linoleum and vinyl flooring. Since linoleum and vinyl can look similar, it’s easy to see why consumers get them confused – but there are definitely some distinctive differences between the two.

If you’re considering installing linoleum or vinyl flooring in your home, read on to learn more about the characteristics of these two types of flooring:

Linoleum Flooring

Linoleum flooring

Materials: Linoleum flooring is made solely from raw, all-natural and biodegradable materials – including linseed oil, wood and cork flours and tree resin. For this reason, linoleum may be preferable to consumers who are environmentally conscious.

Maintenance: Linoleum flooring requires slightly more maintenance than vinyl floor, but cleaning is still relatively easy. Cleaning requires sweeping or vacuuming periodically. If you’re using detergent and water to clean something that vacuuming won’t pick up, look for neutral detergents, since linoleum can be sensitive to cleaners. Acrylic coating should be applied annually, and some varieties of linoleum flooring require occasional waxing.

Installation: Linoleum installation is typically not considered a complicated process, but certain precautions are necessary with linoleum installation that are not associated with vinyl installation because of potential damage from water. A water sealant coating is necessary upon installation, and it’s imperative that the seams between tiles are as thin possible, to protect from water penetration under the flooring.

Price: While linoleum flooring isn’t expensive, it typically costs more than vinyl. On average, linoleum flooring costs anywhere from $2.00 – $5.00 per square foot.

Life span and durability: Anywhere from 20-40 years; considered more durable than vinyl, with properties similar to ceramic and hardwood.

Design: The colors used in the design of linoleum go all the way through the material – meaning there is a longer “wear life” than vinyl, where colors and patterns are only stamped on the top layer of tile. However, many consider linoleum to not have as many design options as vinyl.

Other properties: Linoleum floor is stain resistant, fire retardant, antimicrobial, hypoallergenic and antistatic. While linoleum flooring is water resistant, it is not waterproof – meaning that it can still be negatively affected by excessive moisture if it’s not sealed periodically.

Vinyl Flooring

Vinyl flooring

Materials: Vinyl flooring is a synthetic product, made of a combination of several chemicals, including ethylene and chlorine. Vinyl flooring contains – of course – vinyl, as well as several additives – for example, felt, fiberglass and dyes.

Maintenance: Vinyl flooring is extremely low maintenance, and is considered one of the easiest types of flooring to clean. Sweeping and vacuuming, as well as mopping and wiping the floor will keep it clean – without worrying about it being affected by moisture, mold and mildew.  

Installation: If you’re looking for a DIY flooring project, vinyl just might be the answer. Whether in tile form or sheet form, vinyl flooring is considered easy to install and you don’t have to worry about sealing or waxing, since it’s impervious to water.

Price: Vinyl flooring is considered very inexpensive, with prices spanning $0.50 – $2.00 on average. When considering the price of vinyl versus the price of linoleum flooring, it’s important to consider both of their predicted life spans. Though vinyl is cheaper, it doesn’t last as long as linoleum, so that may be a consideration when searching for the flooring in your home.

Life span and durability: Vinyl flooring typically lasts anywhere from 10 to 20 years, and thus isn’t considered quite as durable as linoleum.

Design: Patterns and colors are printed on the surface of vinyl flooring. This allows for greater design freedom, but comes with a caveat – since the design is only stamped, there’s a thinner “wear layer” than with linoleum flooring. When the wear layer wears through, the design will be gone as well.

Other properties: One of the most distinguishing features of vinyl when compared to linoleum is that vinyl flooring is completely waterproof. If you’re trying to decide between vinyl and linoleum flooring for a room in your home, you should consider how much moisture that area receives. For example, vinyl would probably be a better choice than linoleum for a bathroom, so you don’t have to worry about sealing and waxing.

Whether you decide to go with linoleum or vinyl tile, there are plenty of beautiful, high-quality options for both types of flooring. Because they’re both considered types of resilient flooring, both linoleum and vinyl flooring are great choices for homeowners looking for affordable, comfortable and practical flooring.

SOURCE: Armstrong’s The Floor Board blog, World Floor Covering Association, The Craftsman Blog, flooring.about.com