The resurgence of linoleum

Look out vinyl, this flooring's making a comeback
Wednesday, September 5, 2012
By Pamela Young

Few manufacturers of flooring systems have a history that stretches further back than Forbo’s. Headquartered in Switzerland, the company has now been continuously producing linoleum for 150 years. The company’s Canadian national sales manager, Jacco Vlaar, recently spoke with Canadian Facility Management & Design about what makes this product an exceptionally green choice for the 21st century.

Linoleum was a hugely popular flooring material from the late 19th century through to the 1940s; however, it fell into decline in the post-war era after the invention of vinyl flooring, which was cheaper and faster to produce and available in a wider range of colours. But as interest in sustainability and life cycle costing has grown, the market for linoleum has rebounded.

Linoleum is made from natural raw materials, including rosin, wood flour, cork flour, linseed oil and limestone. It is relatively easy to keep clean and does not require a lot of waxing. It is also fully biodegradable and does not release any chlorine or dioxins in the process.

Linoleum is particularly well-suited to the health care market because it is inherently bacterio-static: it won’t kill bacteria but it will stop them from multiplying on its surface, supporting infection control.

Although it has a higher initial cost than vinyl, linoleum fares quite well in life cycle assessment comparisons, which makes it an attractive option. In purely financial terms, a floor that stands up to wear and tear for several years is always a good investment.

Pamela Young is editor-in-chief of Canadian Facility Management & Design magazine.

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