Linoleum vs. Vinyl Flooring: Which is Better?
Linoleum vs vinyl flooring – what are the differences, which is better, and which is best for your home or business? Keep reading to learn the details and discover which floor type is best for you.
Linoleum and vinyl – they’re like butter and margarine, caramel and butterscotch…the two are often used interchangeably, but in reality, they’re totally different! (Well okay, the only difference between caramel and butterscotch is white sugar vs. brown sugar. Plus, butterscotch is way better, but you get the picture.)
Wait, vinyl and linoleum aren’t the same thing? It’s okay, I thought these floors were in one category too, but they’re two different products. The only real similarity between the two is that they both can come in a sheet form or tile format.
From there, linoleum and vinyl flooring go their separate ways. For example, vinyl also comes in luxury vinyl planks and is an easy-to-install floor that doesn’t require as much upkeep as linoleum. Linoleum, however, is made of natural products and can last up to 40 years.
Flooring is kind of a big deal in your home, so you want to know exactly what you’re getting. The challenge once you start browsing is that everything can begin to look the same, so it’s important to know what you want in your flooring and which product is best for your needs.
We’re here to help you discover just that. In this linoleum vs vinyl flooring guide, you’ll learn how to tell the difference between linoleum and vinyl flooring, which is more cost-effective and which will meet your design needs.
Linoleum vs. Vinyl: What Other Experts Are Saying
“Both linoleum and vinyl are long-lasting floors. Actually, linoleum can probably last even longer than vinyl. They’re both extremely durable, but they’re made from different ingredients. Vinyl has the waterproof aspect – a vinyl plank is made with a truly waterproof core. Another big difference is the installation. Linoleum always requires a full-spread adhesive, and if it’s not installed correctly, there can be challenges. Installation on a luxury vinyl plank has a click-together system. It can float over tile or any floor, whereas linoleum has to be glued to a surface. Vinyl comes with more ease of installation and ease of maintenance – it really is kid, pet and life proof. There are also tons of visuals to choose from.” – Bryan Schwieger, US Floors
What is Linoleum Flooring?
Linoleum flooring is made from all natural materials, including linseed oil, rosin, broken down wood and others. This is one of linoleum’s highest selling points – all natural without emitting any harmful chemicals.
What is linoleum flooring best for? Resiliency – the floor is flexible and has some “give” to it. That makes it possible to install linoleum in areas where harder flooring options like tile and natural hardwood would not do well.
Having been around since the 1800s, linoleum is one of the oldest and most classic flooring options on the market. But in the 1950s, the classic linoleum kitchen (you know, the black-and-white checkered look) started to become less sought after. Basically, people were like “Yeah, what’s new?”
Well, vinyl was new. And cheaper. Thus began the decline in linoleum’s popularity and the confusion of whether vinyl and linoleum are the same thing.
Linoleum Flooring Pros
What are the perks of choosing a linoleum floor? Here’s what you can enjoy:
- Made of natural materials: Linoleum floors consist of a naturally occurring substance called linseed oil, which is extracted from flaxseeds. Linseed oil is then mixed with wood flour, cork dust and other natural and renewable materials.
- Anti-static properties: Being made of biodegradable material, linoleum floors have a low static resistance. This is especially important for commercial properties where static can be harmful to employees or equipment.
- Resilient and comfortable underfoot: Linoleum is known for being a resilient floor with a cushioning effect.
- Heat insulating: No need to mess with an underlayment, linoleum flooring rolls will trap in the heat all on their own.
- Anti-microbial: This material is anti-bacterial and hypoallergenic, a great choice for everyone in the home.
- Long lasting: With proper care and maintenance, linoleum floors can last up to 40 years!
- Consistent color: Patterns and colors are present throughout the tile or sheet. While this may limit some design options, you won’t have to worry about the color fading.
Linoleum Flooring Cons
What are the disadvantages of linoleum flooring? Here are a few things to consider:
- Susceptible to water damage: If you’re using linoleum in a moisture-prone area, such as a bathroom or kitchen, the floor needs to be sealed periodically. Flooding and even excessive humidity can severely damage linoleum flooring.
- Maintenance: Linoleum must be sealed one or two times per year. If your floor doesn’t have a coating, linoleum will also need waxing every two or three years.
- Not DIY-friendly: Installing linoleum flooring requires a professional installer. Since it’s such a stiff material, installing linoleum is not typically a DIY project.
What about asbestos?!
Don’t worry, use of asbestos went out in the 1970s! Present day linoleum installations no longer include asbestos, so rest assured, you are safe!
What is Vinyl Flooring?
Vinyl flooring is like the Generation Z flooring. No, it’s not just for teenagers and people in their 20s; it’s representative of our current culture and desires.
Everything these days is about ease, efficiency and technology. I’m pretty sure Siri can order a pizza for me, so all of my home investments better be able to keep up with the times!
Vinyl is current, modern – almost like the floor of the future. What laminate floors started in the 1980s, vinyl flooring is continuing and even, dare I say, surpassing!
The new generation of vinyl flooring offers convincing natural wood and stone looks that anyone can install and maintain, no problem. Vinyl flooring was created for the busy world we live in, where convenience is key and everyone is searching for the lowest price.
“Technology has revolutionized the laminate and wood industry. Now with vinyl, you can get the wood look and install it or tear it up easier. It’s better under foot and warmer, and it’s still extremely durable for pets and kids.” – Bryan Schwieger, US Floors
Related content >> Vinyl Flooring Trends
Vinyl Flooring Pros
What are the advantages of vinyl flooring? With this resilient floor, you can expect to enjoy the following benefits:
- Easy, DIY installation: Most vinyl flooring planks and tiles are an interlocking or “floating” installation, which makes for an easy DIY project for homeowners.
- Easy to maintain: Vinyl flooring is easy to clean and care for. Especially if you choose a waterproof option, the floor basically does the hard work for you! All you need is the occasional vacuum and damp mop to keep your vinyl sparkling.
- Resilient and comfortable underfoot: If you’re the type to be on your feet most of the day, resilient vinyl floors are a must. This material is comfortable and easier on your joints and feet than other hard floor types, such as tile.
- Large variety in styles and looks: Today’s vinyl mimics wood and stone looks better than ever before. You can find a wide variety of luxury vinyl flooring colors, patterns and textures.
- Waterproof options: We’re talking 100% waterproof! Your luxury vinyl floors can be totally submerged without being damaged.
Vinyl Flooring Cons
What are the disadvantages of vinyl floors? Here are a few things to consider:
- Production causes more of an effect on the environment: Vinyl flooring takes more energy and non-renewable resources to construct than linoleum.
- Shorter lifespan: These floors typically last up to 20 years.
- The image is only on the surface: While you have several design options with vinyl, the aesthetic is only as strong as the wear layer over the print. The color may fade over time as the top layer wears down.
Related Content >> Vinyl Flooring Buying Guide: Find the Best Vinyl Flooring
How Can You Tell the Difference Between Linoleum and Vinyl?
When looking at linoleum vs vinyl side by side, look for signs of wear. Vinyl has an embossed pattern which may wear as the top layer wears over time. The pattern on linoleum, however, goes all the way through the material and will not disappear.
You can also tell the difference between linoleum and vinyl by the vibrancy of the floor’s color. Linoleum flooring, being made of natural materials, contains more natural, earthy pigments. The colors can even have a yellow tinge because of the linseed-oil base. Vinyl floor colors will appear more vibrant.
Which is Better: Vinyl or Linoleum Flooring?
The million dollar question! If only it were that easy, right? There are two ways to answer this question:
- Vinyl. Duh. That’s what we sell.
- The honest answer: It really depends on what’s important to you.
Don’t you hate answers like that? I just want someone to tell me exactly what to do and guarantee that it is the right choice. Unfortunately, that’s not quite how life works, so we need to break things down a bit.
Related content >> Laminate vs Vinyl Flooring
Typically vinyl is less expensive than linoleum up front. But it’s important to remember that linoleum can last sometimes twice as long as vinyl, depending on the type, manufacturer and the type of traffic it receives. That being said, linoleum does tend to wear over time, especially when it’s not properly cared for.
Both linoleum and vinyl offer realistic wood and stone looks, but there are a few differences. Vinyl uses photo imagery to create a realistic image on top of the plank (or tile, or sheet) similar to laminate flooring, while in linoleum, the color goes all the way through the tile. This means that linoleum will maintain its color (although fading may occur), whereas vinyl begins and ends with that image layer, as far as looks go.
Vinyl comes with more style and color options (if you can dream it, they can print it!), while linoleum offers less variety. Vinyl’s color does not go all the way through the floor, but it also doesn’t fade as much over time (unless it’s frequently exposed to direct sunlight).
With proper care, vinyl can maintain its look until it’s time to replace your floor, whereas we’ve all seen fading linoleum. It ain’t pretty.
Okay, this one is easy. Vinyl is the winner. Good? Good.
But for real…vinyl is specifically designed to be DIY-friendly, whereas a lot can go wrong with a linoleum installation. It is really better to leave linoleum up to a professional so they can assure the thinnest seams (to protect from water damage), precise cuts and water sealant coating. You can do this yourself if you feel comfortable, but it is definitely more involved.
Related content >> How to Install Vinyl Flooring: 3 Methods
Both vinyl and linoleum are versatile floors that can be used in almost any room and any business.
Vinyl does have a slight edge in that many vinyl flooring options are completely waterproof. Linoleum, on the other hand, is only water resistant and does not do well with large amounts of liquids.
Vinyl shoots, she scores! If you ask me (and obviously you did), vinyl is the lowest maintenance floor on the market. She’s a tough cookie and can handle cleaners (although you only need something gentle). Other than basic cleaning, no other work is required.
Linoleum, on the other hand, can be a bit of a delicate flower. It can’t take harsh cleaning chemicals or large amounts of water from a wet mop. Linoleum also needs to be sealed 1-2 times per year. Some say it’s even as finicky as traditional hardwood.
While the basic maintenance is not a huge deal, vinyl is definitely the easier option.
Related Content >> How to Clean Vinyl Floors: 10 Tips You Need to Know
Both vinyl and linoleum are extremely durable flooring options, especially with recent technological advancements in vinyl flooring. Linoleum will typically hold up longer, but visually, it will become worn and faded. Linoleum is scratch and dent resistant, but many new additions (especially luxury vinyl planks) to the vinyl family offer that same resistance.
We’re giving vinyl flooring the win for pet approval.
While both are resilient floors that are comfortable for pets, the owners benefit more from vinyl. Waterproof vinyl floors especially are best for pet owners.
Pets come with accidents, muddy paws and messy water bowls, so you need a floor that’s easy to clean. Vinyl flooring handles water and liquids better than linoleum and makes cleaning up after your furry friends a cinch.
Related Content >> Pet-Friendly Flooring Buying Guide
Materials/Effect on Environment
It’s linoleum’s turn in the spotlight! Linoleum is made of 100% natural materials and is known for being an eco-friendly flooring option. However, to be fair, vinyl has come a long way in terms of its eco-friendliness. It’s certainly not the chemically laden floor you might imagine from the 70s.
Vinyl is still a man-made product and vinyl plants do contribute to some pollution. Additionally, some vinyl floors can emit chemicals, which is less than ideal. On the flip side, many vinyl flooring options are super eco-friendly. In fact, some are even Floor Score certified for indoor air quality, and many are Made in the USA!!
Linoleum vs Vinyl Flooring: Which Floor is Best for You?
While vinyl takes the top score in our flooring face-off, the winner of linoleum vs vinyl flooring is really up to you. Both are long-lasting, resilient floors that are fairly cost-effective.
Vinyl flooring is DIY-friendly and comes with more design options, while linoleum floors are made from natural products and can last up to 40 years.
Now that you have all the information, the rest is up to you! Which categories are more important? Only you can answer that. But if vinyl is your choice, we recommend you hit us up for some free samples and get started today.