For ages, hospital rooms, school hallways, and kitchens have been the reserve of linoleum floors. Linoleum has, time and again, failed to capture our attention as an optimal flooring choice due to the disappointingly narrow and drab range of colors that it was available in. That just might be a thing of the past now as linoleum—one of the most environmentally friendly flooring we have today—has seemingly gone through a makeover that has produced some vibrant variations of the traditionally boring flooring material.
There are other reasons why one would go with linoleum as a flooring option. For one, it is extremely durable, and has a lifespan of 25 to 40 years when properly maintained. Furthermore, the depressing grays and sleep-inducing beige that were traditionally the only color options available have now been revitalized into tasteful, vibrant colors suitable for areas of the house other than the kitchen and the bathroom. But perhaps the main reason why the eco-friendly linoleum has remained a popular flooring option for all those years—despite the limited range of colors—is because it has always been cheaper, and quite easy to install.
Today, true linoleum is only manufactured by three companies in the world. Made entirely of organic materials and linseed oil, it is the only flooring that comes from renewable materials unlike modern vinyl flooring, which looks somewhat similar to linoleum.
The most popular brand of linoleum flooring is made by the British Company Forbo Flooring Systems, and is known as Marmoleum. Marmoleum is simply derived from the words “marbleized linoleum,” a process that has enabled Forbo to create some stunning new types of linoleum floors.
The History of Linoleum
Legend says that Frederick Walton, an English inventor, discovered the use of linoleum in 1860 when he noticed the way linseed oil formed a rubber-like layer on a can of paint. He discovered that by mixing the oil with other natural materials then pressing it onto a fiber backing, he could create quite a sturdy yet flexible flooring material.
Thus, linoleum was born. Its name was derived from two Latin words: “linum,” which means flax, and “oleum,” the Latin word for oil. Color wasn’t a big issue at the time, and linoleum took off as a tough yet inexpensive flooring material.
The introduction of plastics a century later could have well meant the demise of linoleum flooring. Manufacturers discovered that vinyl, which was made from plastic, could be produced more cheaply, was as durable as linoleum, and was easy to press into several different designs. Linoleum was quickly relegated from being the best flooring option as plastics became more popular in the 1960s.
Today, linoleum is definitely coming back with a bang, and it can be said that Marmoleum is responsible for it. Marmoleum is available in several customizable designs and over 100 colors. It can be designed into specialty patterns using pressurized water cutters (such as Aquajet), and this means installers have the freedom to change every last detail during installation.
Marmoleum is made much like linoleum. Pressed flax seeds provide linseed oil, the main ingredient for linoleum flooring, and pine-tree rosin is used to add strength as well as flexibility to the material. Forbo uses sawdust to bind the pigments used to create Marmoleum, and they say this promotes longer-lasting and brighter colors, and is eco-friendly. The pigments used are mostly mineral-based; powdered limestone is used as a filler. To replicate the fiber backing first used by Walton, Forbo uses woven jute.
How it’s Made
The layer of linseed oil that Walton found on the can of paint occurred due to the oxidation of the oil. Therefore, oxidation is a huge part of the process that is used to make linoleum.
Forbo utilizes pretty much the same method to create marmoleum. First, the oxidization of linseed oil, which can take quite a while to naturally occur, is sped up by heating it to high temperatures. Once it’s hardened enough, Pine-tree rosin is added to it, and the resulting mixture is known as linoleum cement.
Wood flour, limestone, and pigments are added next to create colorful linoleum granules, which are later blended to create a linoleum base. The linoleum base is run through a calendar—a type of machine that rolls it into sheets measuring 2.5 millimeters in thickness—and it comes out the other end as marbled linoleum sheets, single-hued linoleum sheets, or flecked linoleum sheets.
Next, these sheets are pressed onto woven jute, which serves as the backing. Linoleum’s patterns and colors never wear down because they run through the entire thickness of the material. Compared to vinyl, which only has a thin layer of colors and patterns that gradually becomes worn down, linoleum flooring never loses its original color even after heavy use.
Heated rooms known as stoves are used to cure the finished sheets until they’re dry. The process usually takes several weeks. Forbo has recently adopted greenhouses to use for drying the linoleum sheets, because curing them in dark rooms causes a yellow hue to appear on their surface. Fortunately, this is usually temporary, and the coloring disappears when the sheets come into contact with either natural or indoor lighting.
The final step of the process involves the application of Topshield, a water-based finish that makes Marmoleum easier to clean as well as maintains its colorful appearance.
Installing Marmoleum Flooring
There are different ways to install Marmoleum. It mostly depends on the type of Marmoleum flooring being installed. It costs between $2.75 and $3.55 per square foot to install Marmoleum flooring.
Marmoleum can be installed as a complete sheet that’s cut to fit the dimensions of an entire room. It is also available as tiles that click into place, or as planks that are installed much like wood flooring. In most cases, Marmoleum needs to be installed using an adhesive. This, however, will still depend on factors like the moisture levels of a room, the location of the floor in the house, and the amount of foot traffic in that particular area.
Forbo has also produced the Marmoleum Click, a type of flooring that utilized the tongue-and-groove technology to facilitate the easy installation of Marmoleum without adhesives. Though this can be done by any experienced DIYer, the installation of Marmoleum floors should typically be done by professionals like the experts at Best Flooring.
The reason for this is that the flooring process has quite a few steps. First, the leveling of the sub-floor must be done as well as other preparations that are necessary before it can accept the flooring. Marmoleum sheets are also quite heavy, and though they can easily be cut, it requires a professional to do the job correctly. This is especially true if your floor is to be embedded with designs, patterns, and borders.
Marmoleum is largely resistant to water, but it isn’t waterproof. Therefore, spills should be cleaned immediately. Aside from that, the floors should be dry-mopped and damp-mopped regularly using Marmoleum floor cleaner, and should never be sanitized using harsh cleaners such as ammonia-based substitutes, which can damage it.
It is advisable to place soft material under your furniture to avoid damage to your linoleum floors. If it does sustain permanent damage, however, applying several coats of Topshield might be a good way to restore it to its original state.
When using rugs, avoid latex or rubber-backed mats as the chemicals in them can stain Marmoleum floors.
Marmoleum VS. Other Flooring Choices
How does Marmoleum compare to other types of flooring?
Marmoleum vs. Wood/Bamboo – bamboo/wood is also an environmental-friendly option and is available in a wide range of colors. Though the maintenance practices are a bit more intricate, sanding and refinishing wood restores it to its original state every time. Nevertheless, wood sustains damage easily and is very prone to moisture damage. Furthermore, it costs $7 to $12 per square foot to install.
Marmoleum vs. Vinyl – vinyl is quite a decent option for baths and kitchens. It is just as easy to install and similarly durable, but is more resistant to moisture and stains. However, vinyl is ultimately a petroleum product, and is not as resilient as linoleum. It also costs $4 to $9 per square foot to install.
Marmoleum vs. Ceramic – ceramic can be installed by the experienced DIYer and is highly resistant to bacteria and allergens. That’s were all the good things stop though, because ceramic tiles crack too often, can be quite slippery, and require sealant to be applied at least once every year. Ceramic tiles can be installed at a cost of $8 to $15 per square foot.
Marmoleum vs. Laminate – plastic laminate is perhaps the easiest to install, and can be fashioned to mimic the look of hardwood floors. It is also quite moisture-resistant. Unfortunately, plastic laminate cannot be refinished, and usually requires replacement when worn down. It costs $4 to $8 per square foot to install. \
Marmoleum vs. Linoleum – although linoleum and Marmoleum share the same characteristics, the former is a bit more expensive to install, costing $4 to $9 per square foot.
Marmoleum vs. Carpet – carpets are soft, low-maintenance, and absorb sound. They come in a wide range of textures, patterns, fibers, and colors. On the downside, spills are hard to deal with when it comes to carpeting. Nevertheless, the cost of installation, which is about $2 per square foot, is still a lot cheaper than the cost of installation for other types of flooring.
Marmoleum as an Eco-Friendly Flooring Option
Linoleum flooring is made from raw, renewable materials, and is thus considered environmentally friendly. According to Forbo, Marmoleum is 96 percent organic, and no VOCs (volatile organic compounds) or toxic chemicals are used in the manufacturing process.
Their impact on the global environment is among the lowest when it comes to flooring products, with carpeting ranked as one of the highest contributors to global warming. Marmoleum remains durable because the oxidation of the linseed oil used to make it is a continuous process that makes it even stronger with time. This relentless oxidation is also what gives it its strong antibacterial properties since the oxidized environment does not suit the survival of bacteria.
Linoleum is also antistatic—unlike some forms of carpeting—and since some types of Marmoleum don’t require adhesives during installation, they are ideal for people with allergies.
Best Flooring combines the BEST products with quality workmanship, superior knowledge, and low prices to provide Indianapolis and Peru with services unmatched by our competitors in Indianapolis and the surrounding areas. Call us today for a free quote!