Natural Linoleum

May 30, 2008

Linoleum aka Natural Linoleum

Compiled by Manina Dodd

General Info:

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. 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 gives off an oily smell, similar to fresh paint, or if it has a yellow tinge known as ‘ambering’. Both these effects are temporary. Linoleum flooring is available as sheet or tiles, for glueing down, or as rigid click-together panels having a linoleum surface on a fiberboard and cork base. Vinyl flooring is sometimes generically referred to as “linoleum,” so be sure to request “natural linoleum.”


Natural Linoleum

Made of Natural Ingredients

Offgassing from Natural Oils

Renewable and Biodegradable

Durable and Self Healing

30-40 Year Lifespan

Color is embedded deep in the surface adding to durability.

Many more color choices available now providing greater competition with vinyl.

Vinyl Flooring

Made of Synthetic Ingredients

Offgassing from Petroleum Distillates

Production and Incineration Creates Dioxin

Lower Durability

0-20 Year Lifespan

Color sits on top and wears off faster.

Vibrant and wide range of colors and textures.

Natural Linoleum can generally be classed as nature friendly or definitely a “green” alternative to vinyl because a Life Cycle Analysis shows that it:

•uses natural raw materials that are rapidly renewable

•primary energy carriers such as mineral oil and gas are not needed in the product although they are used in the manufacturing and shipping (from Europe where its manufactured)

•it does not damage the ozone layer with toxic offgasing

•it has a long lifespan and thus reduces waste products

•it does not result in toxic waste and might be composted; there are some moves to use the incineration of it to produce power

•can be installed with low or no voc waterbased adhesives

•not sure of Fair Trade status, some discussion

1) Life Cycle Analysis (LCA) quantifies the potential environmental impact of a product system over the lifecycle

Added benefits:

•linseed oil is an inherent anti-microbial so it is useful in kitchens, bathrooms and hospitals;

•lineoleum is inherently anti-static and therefore repels dust and dirt

•it is easy to maintain with sweeping and damp mopping with a neutral soap; can be further protected by using a recommended sealer

•if the floor gets scratched, it can be repaired with buffing and a coating of sealer

•it actually increases in strength overtime

•wont melt or ignite except at extremely high temperatures

•comparable in price to high end vinyl


•while it does not emit toxic gasses, it does emit ordor that may be irritating to acutely chemically sensitive people and children; this can be mitigated somewhat by allowing for ventilation between installation and occupancy

•installation can be tricky especially in sheet form and should be done by experienced installers; less of a problem with tiles

•care needs to be taken that sub-flooring is not prone to moisture so locations such as basements may not be appropriate if there is a potential for moisture to seep in

•its important for linoleum to “acclimate” for at least a week prior to installation


The following leading linoleum flooring suppliers have comprehensive websites, with information on all aspects of linoleum flooring, including online catalogs, colours and materials for linoleum flooring, and care and maintenance of linoleum flooring.

Forbo: Linoleum Flooring. Forbo is a leading manufacturer of linoleum flooring under the Marmoleum brand name. Marmoleum, which has been manufactured for more than 100 years, is made from natural raw materials. These include linseed oil, rosins, and wood flour, calendered onto a natural jute backing. It is highly resistant to rolling loads and foot traffic. Marmoleum linoleum flooring is available in two forms: Marmoleum Sheet, and Marmoleum Click. Marmoleum Click takes the form of 12” by 36” panels, or 12” by 12” squares. The panels and squares consist of natural linoleum on HDF with a cork layer; they can be locked together with a simple click system which does not require glue.

Armstrong: Linoleum Flooring. Armstrong World Industries, with more than 13,000 employees, and 48 plants in ten countries, is one of the world’s largest manufacturers of flooring, including linoleum flooring. Armstrong linoleum flooring is made from linseed, resins, ground limestone, and wood or cork powder. After pressing, the linoleum is cured in ovens for 14 to 21 days. Armstrong linoleum flooring is available in sheets 6’ 7” wide, in 12 colors including: Holly Green, Aleutian Green, Parchment Beige, Firebird Red, Bluebird, Silver Grey, Silver Mist, Silver Moon, Bamboo Tan, and Yellow Straw. Linoleum Flooring., which is a division of Eco-Products Inc., based in Boulder, Colorado, is an online retailer of Forbo Marmoleum linoleum flooring. It also sells borders, corners, adhesives, floor cleaners, and floor finish, suitable for use with linoleum flooring. The Marmoleum linoleum flooring is available in 79” wide sheets, and in 13” square tiles. The sheet and tiles need to be glued down. It also supplies Marmoleum Click Panels, which are available in 12” square or 12” by 36” rectangles. The wide range of colors are grouped into: Blue, Grey, Green, Sunset, and Neutral.




ARmstrong World Industries, Marmorette, (800) 233-3823

Tarkett Inc., Azrock Linosom, (800) 366-2689

Forbo Industries, Inc., Marmoleum Marmorette (800) 842-7839


Abbey Carpet of San Francisco, 3100 Geary Blvd., San Francisco, CA (415) 752-6620

Anderson Carpet and Linoleum Sales, 4101 Broadway, Oakland, CA 94611, (510) 652-1032

Berkeley Design Center, 3195 Adeline St., Berkeley, CA 94703, (510) 652-6064

Blodgett’s Floorcovering, 3291 Mt. Diablo Court, Lafayette, CA 94549, (925) 284-4807

Conklin Brothers, 2999 Teagarden, San Leandro, CA 94577, (510) 357-1090

Conklin Bros. of Fremont, 40760 Fremont Blvd., Fremont, CA 94538, (510) 651-2166

Linoleum Larry’s Inc., 2598 Lombard St., San Francisco, CA 94123, (415) 921-4937

McCurley’s – Shaw Floor Covering, 3191-M Crow Canyon Place, San Ramon, CA 94583, (925) 866-2200,

Shaw Carpet and Flooring Center/Concord Discount Floors, 2395-J Monument Blvd., Concord, CA 94520, (925) 680-7538

Prosource, 1340 Galaxy Way, Suite L, Concord, CA 94520, (925) 609-9448 www.pswholesalecom Note: Contractor membership required

Prosource, 3051 Teagarden, San Leandro, CA 94577, (510) 614-9435


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