Vinyl Floors

Linoleum vs Vinyl Flooring: Differences and Which One is Better

Are you in the market for durable, wear-resistant flooring options? Wondering what’s the better option between vinyl and linoleum?

It’s not uncommon to find homeowners confusing vinyl sheets and tiles for linoleum. In fact, the two terms are often used interchangeably, as vinyl flooring and linoleum flooring are both resilient types of flooring material that can withstand long-term wear and tear.

However, that’s as far as the similarities go, as these two materials are different from each other in numerous ways which we shall explore in this blog article. We’ve also included a section on how to determine whether your floor is made of vinyl or linoleum.

Is vinyl sheet flooring the same as linoleum?

No- despite both of them being commercially available in tile and sheet form, vinyl and linoleum flooring are totally different products. The most significant difference between the two is that while vinyl is a synthetic product that comprises a PVC (polyvinyl chloride) core, linoleum is a natural product that comprises ground wood, linseed oil, and rosin.  

During the 19th century, linoleum was a popular flooring option. However, starting from the middle of the 20th century, interior design trends shifted towards the use of synthetic vinyl. Traditional linoleum floors are- however- regaining their popularity in the 21st century as they’re an eco-friendly flooring alternative.

Linoleum vs vinyl flooring differences

Use a two-column table to highlight the differences and then explain the main differences below the table (using subtitles).

1. Aesthetics

To a flooring novice, it may be hard to differentiate between vinyl and linoleum flooring. However, there’s a clear difference in appearance between the two. For instance, for vinyl flooring planks, the printed layer is usually beneath the outer, wear layer. Meanwhile- for linoleum floor boards, there’s no design layer and the color and pattern is consistent throughout the thickness of the tiles/ flooring sheets. This quality limits the design options for linoleum flooring vis-à-vis vinyl flooring. On the flip side, the colors and patterns on vinyl flooring tend to wear out/fade over time, which is not the case with linoleum flooring.

2. Moisture Resistance and Heat Tolerance

Both vinyl and linoleum are water-resistant/waterproof. However, linoleum is more susceptible to water damage between the two. Vinyl boasts fiberglass construction, which ensures that it’s resistant to both moisture and mold. To prevent linoleum flooring from curling at the corners due to excessive moisture, you should occasionally seal it.

Meanwhile- linoleum boasts better heat resistance compared to vinyl flooring. As such, it’s less likely to bear the effects of heat damage as it won’t burn or emit toxic fumes as readily as vinyl sheets when a hot substance drops on it.

3. Longevity

Linoleum flooring has a significantly longer lifespan compared to vinyl flooring, as it can last up to 40 years. Vinyl flooring- on the other hand- has a 15 year life span. Despite its longer lifespan, linoleum tends to show signs of wear the more ages. Vinyl, on the other hand, will maintain its shiny appearance up until the outer layer wears out to expose the core.

4. Costs

Being as eco-friendly products are currently trending in almost every industry sector, you can expect to pay more for your natural linoleum tiles/sheets than you will for a similar number and size of vinyl tiles/sheets. While vinyl sheets cost an average of one-dollar per square foot, linoleum flooring sheets cost an average of 2.25 dollars per square foot. Meanwhile, vinyl tiles cost an average of 2.25 dollars per square foot, as compared to linoleum floor tiles that cost an average of 4.25 dollars per square foot.

5. Installation Requirements

Linoleum installation is a more complicated process compared to vinyl installation. In fact, while you can easily undertake vinyl installation as a DIY project, it’ll be hard to properly install linoleum floor sheets/tiles without the help of a professional. Cutting linoleum floor tiles so that they can fit to size is a labor-intensive process that requires time and manpower, since linoleum is a tough material. On the flipside, you’ll have little trouble cutting your vinyl floor planks to size as it’s a softer, more pliable material.

6. Durability

Linoleum is more durable compared to vinyl flooring, as the solid construction runs throughout the thickness of the planks. In vinyl planks, the solid core layer- made of PVC- is overlaid with a weaker, outer design layer that’s susceptible to wear and tear. You may have to seal or wax your vinyl floor sheets to reduce the rate of wear on this design layer.

7. Maintenance Requirements

Vinyl flooring has less maintenance requirements compared to linoleum flooring. This is because the former material boasts enhanced stain and moisture –resistance capabilities. Linoleum- on the other hand- calls for occasional sealing to minimize the visible effects of scratching and gouging.

However, as far as cleaning goes, you can tidy up both vinyl and linoleum using the same methods. Using a broom, damp mop, or vacuum cleaner over either of the two surfaces will leave you with a neat-looking floor.

8. Eco-Friendliness

Linoleum- being a natural product- is significantly more eco-friendly compared to vinyl flooring. The manufacturing process for vinyl floor boards entails the use of carcinogenic chemicals. What’s more, there’s no environmentally-safe way of disposing of old vinyl flooring tiles. In sharp contrast, linoleum is a fully natural product that comprises plant-based materials. What’s more, being as it’s a natural product, linoleum is easily disposable as it is biodegradable.

9. Resale Value

Since vinyl flooring is usually available in a variety of colors and design patterns, it allows for more opportunities to increase your home’s resale value by way of enhanced interior design elements. However, for buyers that can tell the difference between the two, and are aware of the environmental benefits that linoleum flooring offers, a home with linoleum floors is usually worth more.

10. Noise Cancellation

Vinyl flooring is a hardy material, especially when laid over a concrete subfloor. You can- therefore, expect it to produce louder sounds whenever substances are dropped onto it- in comparison to linoleum flooring. Despite being noisier than linoleum flooring- vinyl flooring is significantly less-noisier than laminate flooring or ceramic tile flooring.

How to tell your floor is vinyl or linoleum

You can determine whether your floor is made of vinyl or linoleum by simply looking at the color patterns. Flooring boards with an embossed color patter that disappears whenever the top surface wears out is most definitely vinyl flooring. Meanwhile, an embedded color pattern that runs through the thickness of the flooring planks is indicative of linoleum. This embedded pattern isn’t usually affected by gradual wear- as is the case in vinyl flooring.

Which one is better?

The better choice between vinyl and linoleum flooring depends on the homeowner’s personal preferences. For instance, if you’re in the market for a long-lasting flooring option that’s heat resistant and eco-friendly, you’re better off purchasing linoleum floor sheets/tiles. On the other hand- if you prefer flooring alternatives that are easy maintenance, allow for multiple design options, and are pocket-friendly- we’d recommend investing in vinyl floor planks. All in all- there’s no better option between these two flooring materials- long as you know what you want.

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