Posts Tagged ‘linoleum’

Linoleum Flooring Guide

March 19th, 2012

Photo courtesy of Richa Wilson and Kathleen Snodgrass, via Wikimedia Commons

Linoleum flooring was the flooring of choice for schools, hospitals, residential kitchens and entry ways until the invention of vinyl (PVC) tile and sheeting. It’s relatively easy to maintain, especially newer versions, it is hypo-allergenic and doesn’t off-gas so it’s good for indoor air quality. It is a bio-based product made from linseed oil, pine rosin, cork and wood flours, limestone powder and colour pigments and is biodegradable at end of life.  The backing can be jute or acrylic — acrylic offers more structure for the smaller tile product.

There are three main manufacturers of linoleum flooring, all of whom are based in Europe. The flax that produces linseed oil is grown here in Canada, shipped to Europe to be turned into linoleum sheets and tiles, then the final product is shipped back to North America for sale. But since linoleum is also sold in Europe and Asia, and there just isn’t enough demand for linoleum in North America to warrant manufacturing facilities, Europe actually seems like a good central location.

Linoleum care: One of the reasons vinyl tiles became so popular is because linoleum requires a little more care than vinyl flooring. Traditional linoleum needs to be waxed and polished from time to time, and occasionally, when the floor starts looking dull, the finish needs to be stripped and reapplied. Between polishings however, Linoleum is best cleaned by vacuuming and then going over with a damp mop. For some great tips on how to care for your linoleum tile, see this post I found on

Best uses: Because linoleum is derived mostly from plant material, it tends to behave like wood floors do. It doesn’t like a lot of moisture, so it’s best to keep it away from damp basements, mudrooms with wet boots or pet-washing areas or even potting sheds that might see a lot of water. Linoleum absorbs water if it’s not mopped up right away and it will swell and buckle. Although it’s resilient and easier on your back than ceramic tile in a kitchen, if using in the kitchen, be conscious of mopping up spills as soon as they occur as it absorbs water similar to wood flooring. It is best used in residential settings in playrooms, bedrooms, and kitchens with care.

Benefits: Linoleum is hypoallergenic, so it doesn’t off-gas any harsh chemicals. In addition, because pigment is mixed in with the rest of the ingredients, if linoleum gets scratched, it’s difficult to notice because the entire thickness of the tile is the same colour. With vinyl flooring, the final design is sprayed or stamped on at the end of the process. As it wears, particularly in high traffic areas, the under coat (usually white), will show through.

Installation: Linoleum is best installed by a professional installer and one is usually recommended by the flooring company where you’ve purchased your product. You might also want to specify that the installer use water-based, low or zero-VOC adhesive to install the flooring in order to keep off-gassing to a minimum.

Cost: The cost of linoleum varies, depending on many factors, including whether it’s in sheet or tile form, but it can range between $3-8/sq foot just for the linoleum. This price excludes tearing up an existing floor or installation or cost of any additional products, such as a new subfloor, adhesives, or specialized installation such as inlay patterns. Talk to your installer about getting an estimate.


There are three manufacturers of linoleum tiles, all of whom base their manufacturing in Europe:

johnsoniteTarkett/Johnsonite: manufacturers of Harmonium xf sheet and tile linoleum and is available in a wide variety of colours and styles. The company adds a special coating so that the initial polishing step after installation, common with linoleum floor installations, is not required. In addition to Harmonium xf being a 95% bio-based product, the Allegro, Toscano and Veneto collections contain 37% pre-consumer recycled content. Tarkett also is a responsible manufacturer across all its flooring collections, continually striving to measure and and reduce the amount of virgin material being used, and decrease energy, water and waste. It is a member of the United Nations Global Compact, and explains:

Based on ten universally accepted principles in the areas of human rights, labor, the environment and anti- corruption, the global Compact aims at contributing to a more balanced and sustainable development and responsible commercial practices.

For more information on Tarkett’s corporate responsibility efforts, visit its website.

To find a distributor near you, visit the Johnsonite website.


marmoleumMarmoleum: Made by Forbo Manufacturing, based in The Netherlands, Forbo is the largest manufacturer of linoleum in the world. All Marmoleum flooring contains natural pigments and 40% recycled content, in addition to 70% of the product being derived from rapidly renewable materials. Marmoleum is available in sheets and tiles and varying thicknesses, suitable for different uses and available in a wide variety of colours and patterns and is available at select retailers across North America.

It also is available in a “Marmoleum Click” floor — linoleum tiles glued to a composite backing that can be installed without glue.

All Marmoleum products are coated with Topshield a protective coating, no need for additional polishing. It is ready to use immediately after installation. Like all linoleums, Forbo recommends not mopping it for 5 days in order to let the adhesives (in the case of tile or sheets) cure first.

Forbo also continually strives to reduce its use of energy, water and materials and improve its recycling efforts. To read about its environmental sustainability efforts, visit its website.

To find a Marmoleum dealer near you, visit the website.


Armstrong linoleum flooring

Armstrong Linoleum Flooring: Available in sheets or tiles — although tiles are made for special order only — in a variety of thicknesses. Armstrong’s linoleum is protected with NATURcote, a finish that provides low maintenance once installed. You can specify Armstrong’s low-VOC, water-based adhesives to go with this linoleum product if you search through its EcoScorecard flooring database.

To find a dealer near you, visit Armstrong’s website.

Regarding Armstrong’s corporate environmental commitment, it is a member of the Climate Registry and submits its greenhouse gas inventory every year. In addition to reducing its carbon footprint, it also has made commitments to support sustainable forestry initiatives, reduce waste, increase recycled content in its products and continues to eliminate urea formaldehyde from its products.


Different Types of Eco-Friendly Flooring

February 14th, 2010

Lily and Aaron at eFloor took time out of their incredibly busy schedule to show me around the eco-friendly flooring options they carry. While eFloor isn’t a “green” store per se, they do carry several options in green flooring in addition to their other flooring products. Lily also educated me on the difference between high and low quality carpets. The bottom line is, like almost anything, spending more means you’re going to get a carpet that lasts for years and years, and therefore needs replacing less often which in and of itself is a “green” choice.

What to look for when purchasing a carpet: Buying a cheap, 100% polyester carpet usually has a lifespan of 2 to 5 years. Heavily trafficked areas will shows signs of  flattening, pilling and stain retention very early. You’ll have to spend more money on carpet replacement, and most likely that carpet will end up in landfill (although we’ll talk about alternatives to landfill for carpets in another post). Any fiber with resilience, such as wool, will have a much longer lifespan than a 100% polyester carpet. Plus, the tighter and closer together the weave, the longer lasting the carpet will be. Finally, a woven carpet will wear much longer than a tufted carpet, but woven carpets are considerably more expensive. Note: you can tell if a carpet is woven by looking at the backside. A tufted carpet needs a backing and will usually be backed in synthetic or natural latex.

Below are a few of the eco-friendly flooring options eFloor offers:




  • Ecotimber: This company, based in Denver, CO, is one of the first companies to offer exclusively all its products from Forest Stewardship Council certified managed forests. The company researches every forest that supplies its products from the Brazilian Cherry to Hickory and Bamboo. All wood is sourced from sustainably managed plantations. Approx. Cost: Hardwood: $9.39-14.32/square foot, Reclaimed Hardwood: $11.65/sq. ft., Bamboo: $5.19-9.39/sq. ft. (all prices are for product only. Exclude installation, prep work and sub-floor).

Bamboo, Cork, Linoleum and Sisal:

US Floors Ecofloors Collection:

Natural Floor Bamboo

  • Natural Bamboo: Bamboo flooring harvested from plantations after 6 years of growth. A thicker stalk means it will be more durable. Flooring is prefinished with several coats of solvent and formaldehyde free aluminum oxide for a low-VOC product. Flooring can be installed “floating” or glued into place. 25 year residential warranty for wear. Approx. cost: $4.90-6.85/sq. ft. plus installation.
  • Natural Floor cork Vinho Matte

  • Natural Cork: Cork is a renewable resource that is the bark of the cork tree. Harvested by hand from trees in Portugal, harvesting can occur every 9-11 years. Cork trees trees live for well over 100 years. Natural cork tiles and planks come in a wide variety of colours and styles and can be installed by clicking the tiles together without glues. Floors can also be dissassembled and resused. They can be installed directly over concrete. Finish is water-based, low VOC, and has a lifetime residential warranty. Approx. cost: $8.45-9.09/sq. ft. plus installation.Forbo:

Marmoleum Click

  • Marmoleum Click: The first flooring that has been certified by the American Allergy and AsthmaFoundation as being “asthma and allergy friendly” meaning it’s a good flooring option for people with asthma or allergies (not, as the term implies, that it  promotes asthma and allergies!). Marmoleum is known to be one of the best choices for flooring from an ecological point of view. It’s all natural, made from rapidly renewable resources, and manufactured in ecologically sensitive way. It’s also extremely durable and has been around for over 100 years. Marmoleum Click is a floating floor option that snaps together without use of glues. Approx. cost: $5.50-6.50/sq. ft. (excluding installation).


  • Fibreworks Sisal “Coastal Classic” Collection

    Sisal, Seagrass and Jute Carpets labelled “Grown Green” by the company — meaning they are grown sustainably, without fertilizers and pesticides and are also completely biodegradable (backings are either natural rubber or latex). There are many different styles and colours available. Approx. cost: $5-13/sq. ft.

Wool Carpet:

  • Earth Weave Dolomite Tussock

    Earthweave: is a premium carpet line developed for people with Multiple Chemical Sensitivity. All carpets are 100% wool with natural backings of jute, latex or rubber. Carpets are untreated and undyed and completely non-toxic. Carpet weight ranges from 30 oz. to 44 oz. At end of life it can be put shredded and put in your composter. approx. cost: $13-14/sq. ft.

eFloor is located at 687 Caledonia Road, Toronto, ON, Phone: 416-630-8855.

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