Linoleum Flooring USA
Thinking of buying Linoleum Flooring? Read our expert guidance notes
We have five pages of expert guidance notes on Linoleum Flooring:
1. Introducing linoleum flooring (on this page)
Installing and maintaining linoleum flooring
INTRODUCING LINOLEUM FLOORING
History of linoleum
Linoleum was invented by Frederick Walton in Staines, England, in 1860. It remains in production as one of the few washable flooring surfaces which are made of natural ingredients. Walton's invention was triggered when he noticed the rubbery, flexible skin of solid linsee oil that had formed on top of an open can of oil-based paint. He thought it might be a useful substitute for natural India rubber. Walton accelerated the drying process by using lead acetate and zinc sulphate to heat it. This turned the linseed oil into a resinous mass into which cheap cloth sheets could be dipped until a thick coating formed on their surface. Walton improved the technique by handing the cotton sheets vertically and sprinkling the oil from above. In this way he was able to produce washable floor cloths, which were widely used in 19th century houses.
The heavier gauges of linoleum are sometimes
known as 'battleship linoleum'. These were originally made to specifications
laid down by the US Navy for covering enclosed warship decks. Most US Navy
warships removed their linoleum deck covering after the 1941 attack on Pearl
Harbour, as it was regarded as too flammable.
How linoleum is made
Linoleum flooring is made from solidified linseed oil, mixed with resins, ground limestone, wood flour, and cork dust. After mixing, these materials are applied to a burlap or canvas backing, and pressed between rollers in a process known as calendering. Users should not be alarmed if the newly laid linoleum flooring gives off an oily smell, similar to fresh paint, or if it has a yellow tinge known as 'ambering'. Both these effects are temporary.
The largest current manufacturer of linoleum is
Forbo Nairn, based in Kirkcaldy, Scotland. It sells its linoleum under the Marmoleum trademark. Part of the Swiss Forbo group, it is the oldest
manufacturer of linoleum in the world.
Characteristics of linoleum flooring
The key characteristics of linoleum are that it is made from natural materials, and that it is relatively soft. This makes it comfortable to walk on, and reduces breakage of dropped china. It is available in a wide range of colours, normally with a mottled appearance. It may also be cut into inlaid shapes.
Because it is made of natural materials, linoleum is promoted as non-allergenic; it is widely used in non-allergenic homes, hospitals, and healthcare facilities.
A weakness of linoleum flooring is that its
softness does make it vulnerable to damage, for example from dragging of
furniture or appliances, or from high heeled shoes.
Types of linoleum flooring
Linoleum is available as sheet or tiles, or as click-together panels with linoleum surface on a fiberboard and cork base. Linoleum sheet is typically supplied as a roll 2 metres wide. Tiles are normally available 12" square. The click-together panels are available 12" square, and 12" by 36".
In addition to general purpose flooring linoleum,
several specialist types of linoleum are available. The following examples are
supplied by Forbo: Corklinoleum (a softer version of linoleum, suitable for
libraries, reacreation rooms, kindergartens, living rooms, and bedrooms);
linoleum sports floors; conductive linoleum, acoustic linoleum, and furniture
linoleum (for work surfaces).
MORE INFORMATION ON LINOLEUM FLOORING
Please click below for our other guidance notes on linoleum flooring:
Flooring Product Guides: Carpets, Carpet Tiles, Concrete Flooring, Cork Flooring, Linoleum Flooring, Marble Flooring, Outdoor Carpet, Parquet Flooring, Slate Flooring, Vinyl Tile Flooring.
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