Linoleum vs. Vinyl Flooring

Linoleum vs. Vinyl: Ever wonder what the difference is between vinyl and linoleum? A breakdown with the pros and cons of each type by cost, look, eco-friendliness and more!

Linoleum vs. Vinyl Flooring

Linoleum and vinyl are often used interchangeably to describe flooring, but they are actually totally different flooring options made from totally different materials. In Linoleum vs. Vinyl Flooring, we will explore the differences, highlights and limitations of both options and, of course, answer the million dollar question: Which one is better?

Linoleum and vinyl – it’s like butter and margarine, caramel and butterscotch…the two are often confused and used interchangeably, but in reality, they are totally different! Well okay, the only difference between caramel and butterscotch is white sugar vs. brown sugar, but still! Not the same (butterscotch = way better).

Somehow throughout the years, people started confusing vinyl and linoleum, interchanging the words and groundlessly lumping them together into one category. It’s okay, I did it too, but the truth is these two floors could not be more different. If you read our post comparing vinyl flooring and laminate flooring, then you’ll know that those two flooring options are often confused as well. Pretty much, if it ain’t wood, tile or carpet, people get confused.

At one time, both linoleum and vinyl were most commonly sold in sheet form. Many people think this is where the misconception began. In fact, a lot of dated information will tell you that this is still the case, but they are trippin’!

These days both vinyl and linoleum are sold as tiles and sheets, and vinyl is additionally sold in luxury vinyl planks, each with incredibly convincing natural wood and stone looks. The times, they are a changin’, and with these new technological advancements flourishing across the flooring industry, it is even more important than ever to do your research and know exactly what you’re purchasing. The challenge with these new looks is that everything can begin to look the same, making it more important to dig a little deeper and discover exactly what you want out of your flooring.

The challenge with these new looks is that everything can begin to look the same, making it more important to dig a little deeper and discover exactly what you want out of your flooring.

What is linoleum flooring?

Linoleum vs. Vinyl: Ever wonder what the difference is between vinyl and linoleum? A breakdown with the pros and cons of each type by cost, look, eco-friendliness and more!

Linoleum 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. Linoleum is also known for its resiliency. Resiliency when it comes to flooring means that the floor is flexible and has some “give” to it. This makes it possible to install the flooring in areas where harder flooring options like tile and natural hardwood would not do well.

Linoleum has been on the market since the 1800s, making it one of the oldest and most classic flooring options on the market. 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. Been there. Seen it. What’s new?” Well, vinyl was new. And cheaper.Thus the decline in popularity of linoleum flooring began and the vinyl / linoleum confusion began.

Benefits of linoleum flooring

  • Natural materials
  • Anti-static properties
  • Resilient and comfortable under foot
  • Heat insulating
  • Anti-microbial
  • Long lasting (up to 40 years!)
  • Color goes completely through the tile or sheet

Limitations of linoleum flooring

  • Susceptible to water damage
  • Must be sealed 1-2 times per year
  • Often requires a professional installer
  •  Requires a little more TLC

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?

Linoleum vs. Vinyl: Ever wonder what the difference is between vinyl and linoleum? A breakdown with the pros and cons of each type by cost, look, eco-friendliness and more! Linoleum vs. Vinyl: Ever wonder what the difference is between vinyl and linoleum? A breakdown with the pros and cons of each type by cost, look, eco-friendliness and more!

Vinyl flooring is like the Generation Z flooring. No, it’s not just for teenagers and people in their 20s; it is 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.

Related content >> Vinyl Flooring Trends

Benefits of vinyl flooring

  • Easy, DIY install
  • Easy to maintain
  • (Relatively) inexpensive
  • Resilient and comfortable underfoot
  • Large variety in styles and looks

Limitations of vinyl flooring

  • Production causes more of an effect on the environment
  • Shorter lifespan (10-20 years)
  • Image is only on the surface

Which is better: vinyl or linoleum?

The million dollar question! If only it were that easy, right? There are two ways to answer this question:

  1. Vinyl. Duh. That’s what we sell.
  2. 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 be guaranteed that it will be the right choice. Unfortunately, I’ve never encountered any area in life where that’s possible, so we need to break things down a bit.

Related content >> What is WPC Vinyl Flooring?

Cost

{point 1 for vinyl}

Typically vinyl is less expensive than linoleum up front. We say up front because 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 so in the end it is still typically the less expensive option.

Look / feel

{1 point for each – it’s a tie!}

Both linoleum and vinyl are offering 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 look goes.

Vinyl is going to give you more style and color options (if you can dream it, they can print it!), while linoleum offers less variety. Another perk for vinyl is that, although the color does not go all the way through the floor, vinyl does not tend to fade as much over time (unless exposed to a lot of direct sunlight). Vinyl can (with proper care) maintain its look until it’s time to replace your floor, whereas we’ve all seen fading linoleum. And it ain’t pretty.

Installation

{point 3 for vinyl}

Okay, this one is easy. Vinyl is the winner. Good? Good.

Okay, 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), precise cuts and water sealant coating. You can do this yourself if you feel comfortable, but it is definitely more involved.

Related content >> Laminate vs. Vinyl Flooring

Uses

{vinyl FTW}

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. In fact, COREtec ran an experiment where they fully submerged one of their planks underwater for 6 months. The plank was fully intact and usable at the end! Linoleum, on the other hand, is only water resistant and does not do well with large amounts of liquids.

Linoleum, on the other hand, is only water resistant and does not do well with large amounts of liquids.

Maintenance

{vinyl 5, linoleum 1}

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) and, other than basic cleaning, no other work is required. Linoleum, on the other hand, can be a little bit of a delicate flower. It cannot 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.

Linoleum, on the other hand, can be a little bit of a delicate flower. It cannot take harsh cleaning chemicals or large amounts of water from a wet mop. It’s important to seal linoleum 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.

Durability

{it’s a tie!}

Both vinyl and linoleum are extremely durable flooring options, especially with recent technological advancements in vinyl flooring. In the long run, 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.

Materials / effect on environment

{way to not give up hope, linoleum – this one’s for you!}

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 is certainly not the chemically laden floor you imagine from the 70s.

Vinyl is still a man made product and vinyl plants do contribute to some pollution. Additionally, some vinyl floors can still 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 some are Made in the USA!!

Final score

Vinyl: 6
Linoleum: 3

What does that mean for you? Well, to be perfectly honest, it means that you now have all the information and 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.

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Linoleum vs. Vinyl: Ever wonder what the difference is between vinyl and linoleum? A breakdown with the pros and cons of each type by cost, look, eco-friendliness and more!

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6 Comments on "Linoleum vs. Vinyl Flooring"

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Ashley
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I never knew – great info!

Jake norris
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Can you install vinyl over ceramic tile? What is the process?

Gerty Gift
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What I found interesting about this article was that you mentioned the floor being easier to clean. I have been trying to convince my husband that we should replace our floors and use vinyl instead because it would be easier to keep clean with our children. I will be showing him this later and hope it helps him come to the same conclusion.