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Remember grandma’s old linoleum flooring? We think of it as a product that’s old-fashioned and now defunct, right? Wrong!
Linoleum is making a comeback, thanks to its improved great new looks and its naturally good environmental qualities. The design team just loves the new look of linoleum and its fantastic flexibility. You can customize your flooring with patterns of your choosing, from checkerboards, to bold stripes, to borders and corners, and many other variations.
Linoleum can be purchased in its characteristic vivid colours, which we love, or more subtle colours. Check out www.forboflooringna.comfor the great new contemporary looks of the Artoleum line, as well as their Marmoleum line. Patterns range from traditional marbled patterns to the great-looking flecked designs, solid colours or graphic designs.
Linoleum has a great many pros. It’s made from renewable resources, such as linseed oil, rosin produced from pine trees, wood cork and cork powder, and mineral pigments.
Although linseed oil in linoleum has a characteristic smell (that fades after installation), it contains no harmful plastics or petrochemical ingredients that “off-gas” and can cause headaches or difficulty breathing. When it’s used with an adhesive that is low in volatile organic compounds (low-VOC), linoleum is one of the most inexpensive natural ways to cover your floors — there are no chemical ingredients to pollute indoor air.
This makes it a popular with those sensitive to chemical contaminants in their environments. In addition, linoleum is naturally anti-bacterial, and does not generate static electricity which attracts dust, a boon to those who are allergy-prone.
Another advantage of linoleum is that it is surprisingly durable, and can last up to 40 years. While patterns in vinyl flooring will wear off because they’re in the top layer of the flooring, linoleum patterns extend throughout the thickness of the product. Because of this, it will not show scuffs and scratches. Any marks or stains can be lightly sanded out. And when it is finally discarded, it is naturally biodegradable.
Click and “plank” linoleum tiles are easier to install, and the price of these can range wildly depending on quality, from under a dollar to $8 per square foot. We love the look of the sheeting, priced at anywhere from $2 to $5 per square foot depending on quality, plus adhesive and “welding rods” to seal the seams. You may also want to consider using an installer for sheet linoleum because it can be unwieldy.
Torlys, based in Mississauga, Ont., produces linoleum — see www.torlys.comor phone the head office at 905-612-8772. Switzerland-based Forbo lists Canadian retailers — see their website above. Also see www.armstrong.comfor product colour choices, as well as Canadian stores that sell the product, including Home Depot.
The downside to linoleum, as granny will tell you, is that it requires periodic polishing. Since linoleum is porous, it should receive two to three coats of polish after installation, and periodically after that when the shine fades.
In addition, old polish needs to be removed before new wax is applied. But the good news is that you don’t need to get down on your hands and knees anymore, the way granny did. Specific products for linoleum flooring make the job easy — no scrubbing is required.