Linoleum vs. Vinyl

Vinyl and Linoleum are similar flooring products. Both are easy to clean, fairly inexpensive, and easy to install or have installed. There are some differences in the material, maintenance, appearance, and installation that consumers should be aware of before committing to a purchase.


Linoleum flooring is made from linoxyn, a solidified linseed oil, combined with tree resins, wood flour and cork dust. These natural, renewable, and biodegradable materials are perfect for consumers looking for environmentally friendly flooring. Eco-conscious consumers may be more comfortable using this natural flooring for kitchens, bathrooms, or children’s play rooms.  Linoleum is generally less expensive than wood or ceramic tile flooring, but will cost a bit more than vinyl at $2-5 per square foot.

Vinyl flooring is made from synthetic materials such as colored polyvinyl chloride (PVC) that is formed into sheets. Vinyl tiles can start at as little as 50 cents per tile. This waterproof and fire-resistant product is durable, very low maintenance and inexpensive.


While easy to clean, linoleum floors do require some maintenance. Water damage can occur on linoleum, so it is important to apply an annual acrylic coating to protect the floor from the inevitable splashes in a kitchen or bathroom. Because it is only water resistant and not water-proof, this flooring is not the best choice for areas with high moisture and humidity.  Durable linoleum typically lasts for 20-40 years, but the natural elements of this type of flooring can also be more sensitive to harsh chemicals in cleaners. Rips and tears can be replaced with a patch from remnants of the original sheet.

Vinyl floors are completely waterproof. No seal or coating is necessary and any floor cleaner can be used. This impervious material will endure splashes and spills in the bathroom and kitchen. Vinyl tiles would also work well in entryways, laundry rooms, basements, craft rooms, or any other high traffic areas. Keep a few extra tiles on hand in case there is damage to a tile for a very simple replacement.



The design of a linoleum floor is created by adding layers of color. Because the colors run deeper than the surface, the design will withstand years of wear and tear. As the surface begins to wear down, new color granules are revealed, which is why this flooring material lasts for such a long time. There are countless color options available in this material, making it a versatile fit for any room and decor.


If you have fallen in love with a certain look, but do not have the budget for hardwood floors or ceramic tiles, vinyl floors can be designed to mimic these natural flooring materials. Vinyl also offers versatility for the particularly crafty homeowners who can design with different colored tiles, or by cut shapes into the individual tiles to create fun and interesting works of art.



Vinyl flooring is available in sheets or in square tiles. Homeowners often choose vinyl tile flooring as a DIY project because it is very simple to install. Installing your own vinyl tiles is a very cost-effective way to replace flooring since the tiles are inexpensive and there is no need to pay for an installer. If you choose linoleum or vinyl sheets; however, it may be wise to let a professional be responsible for the very precise measurements and skillful cuts required to ensure that the sheet will fit the room exactly right. Linoleum also requires a careful application of sealant to protect against water damage. As an amateur fixer upper, I would choose a flooring expert to measure, cut, lay, and seal my linoleum floor.


VOCs are Volatile Organic Compounds which are chemicals released into the air that can cause respiratory issues. When flooring products contain VOCs, there is a concern that the VOCs are trapped in interior rooms, stagnating and creating a long-term health risk. Vinyl flooring emits a small amount of VOCs, but the flooring manufacturers such as Armstrong have developed eco-friendly vinyl sheets that emit lower levels of VOCs. Armstrong and other fabricators have vinyl sheets tested for a FloorScore Certification to guarantee that the product meets indoor air quality standards.  Both vinyl and linoleum flooring will require an adhesive which can contain high levels of VOCs, but concerned consumers can opt for a low-VOC adhesive for the installation process.

The differences between vinyl and linoleum flooring should be enough to help sway the indecisive homeowner one way or the other. If your primary concern is the environmental impact of the flooring that you choose, then linoleum is clearly the way to go. If however, you are in need of remodeling on a tight budget, inexpensive vinyl will meet your needs without sacrificing beauty. Both flooring options offer a huge variety of colors and patterns at a fraction of the cost of hardwood or stone.

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