Linoleum Tile Flooring: What to Know

By Amanda Lutz Updated May 8, 2024

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Choosing the right flooring for your home is about more than just picking your favorite patterns, colors, and textures. Each type of flooring requires different maintenance, varies in replacement frequency, and can range in installation difficulty.

Linoleum tile flooring is a popular material that’s easy to install, doesn’t require much maintenance, and can last for years. It also comes in various tile shapes and styles to fit most aesthetics. Use our helpful guide to consider the benefits and drawbacks of linoleum flooring and pick the perfect flooring material for each room in your home.

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What Is Linoleum?

Linoleum is a durable flooring material made from a combination of natural materials such as sawdust, resins, and mineral fillers on a canvas backing. Today’s linoleum flooring manufacturers can create an array of material combinations to give tiles different characteristics, ranging from added strength to a smooth or textured finish. Linoleum’s natural water resistance makes it a popular choice for residential spaces that experience a lot of moisture, including kitchens, bathrooms, and laundry rooms.

Early versions of linoleum were first created in 1855 by chemically converting linseed oil into resins and varnishes. Manufacturers could apply the resins to cotton sheets, which would dry into hard squares of flooring. Since then, linoleum has become a popular flooring material, especially as manufacturers have developed ways to create linoleum with brightly colored patterns and designs.

One of the most popular alternatives to linoleum is vinyl flooring—specifically luxury vinyl floor tiles (LVT). Both flooring options are more durable than hardwood flooring and can be made with wood-look designs. However, there are a few key differences between the two.

Linoleum is made from natural materials and is viewed as a more eco-friendly option than vinyl, which is made from synthetic materials. Linoleum is also more rigid and longer-lasting, but vinyl has stronger water-repelling properties.


Pros and Cons of Linoleum Tile Flooring

Linoleum is strong, cost-effective, and resistant to water, but it’s prone to dents and damage over time.

Consider these advantages and disadvantages of linoleum tile flooring:

Pros

  • Cost-effective: Linoleum is available in a range of standard and premium material options. It’s priced relatively low compared to other long-lasting materials such as tile and hardwood.
  • Durability: Linoleum is one of the longest-lasting flooring options available. When used in dry environments or appropriately sealed against water damage, linoleum tiles can last up to 40 years.
  • Long-lasting color: Unlike vinyl and printed tile alternatives, linoleum tiles have color that extends through their entire depth. The color and pattern won't wear away even if the material is scratched or dented.
  • Water resistance: Linoleum is naturally water-resistant, making it an excellent choice for dry areas. Its water resistance also makes it well-suited for moist environments, provided you reseal it every five years.

Cons

  • Color and pattern variety: While linoleum tiles are available in a wide range of colors and geometric patterns, the selection is limited.
  • Installation difficulties: Linoleum flooring requires professional installation in most circumstances, and today’s linoleum tiles are difficult for DIY installation as the material is hard, must be placed and cut with accuracy, and needs to cure for 72 hours.
  • Occasional maintenance demands: Linoleum flooring is relatively easy to clean but can react to some household chemicals and pick up permanent stains. Homeowners installing linoleum in moist environments must also reseal the flooring to prevent water damage and curling.
  • Surface softness: Compared to other flooring such as vinyl or tile, linoleum is slightly soft and can be dented by heavy furniture.
  • UV fading: Linoleum that sits near windows will fade and yellow throughout the years due to UV exposure.


How Much Does Linoleum Tile Flooring Cost?

On average, linoleum can cost between $3 and $11 per square foot. Installation materials account for approximately two-thirds of the total cost, with installation labor accounting for the remaining cost. For comparison, regular tile flooring ranges between $8 and $44 per square foot.

Some factors that impact the cost of linoleum tile flooring are the quality of the materials and the size and complexity of the tiles. For example, thin linoleum sheets have relatively inexpensive material costs, but the labor is more expensive. Alternative, thick linoleum planks are a high-end material that’s relatively simple and cost-effective to install.

The installation pattern of your linoleum tile flooring can also impact the cost. If you install planks, you might choose a staggered design with panels offset by 12 or 18 inches; a herringbone pattern is more complex and, therefore, more expensive. The size of the flooring being applied will also change the project’s total cost.

Some additional pricing considerations include the addition of a foam underlayment, sealing the linoleum against water, removing your old floor, and deciding if the material needs to be installed in a room with a complex layout, such as on a flight of stairs or around a kitchen island.


How Do You Clean and Maintain Linoleum Tile Flooring?

Linoleum flooring is easy to keep clean, making it a popular choice for kitchens and other high-traffic areas in the home. You can vacuum, sweep, or mop it without worrying about damaging its surface.

Here’s a simple way to clean your linoleum tile flooring:

  1. Create a solution of one part hot water, one part vinegar, and a squirt of dish soap.
  2. Pour the solution on the floor and use a mop to remove any dirt and debris.
  3. Use a scrub brush to remove any built-up grime. You can also use a paper towel with a mild cleaner to wipe away dried-on stains.

Linoleum will react to ammonia-based cleaners, acidic cleaners, and high-pH cleaners. These cleaners can remove the seal and polish from the linoleum’s surface and potentially stain the surface. Consider using diluted vinegar and Dawn dish soap for tough stains—these components are gentle enough to be safe for your flooring.

To maintain your linoleum floor long-term, follow these tips:


What Are the Design Options for Linoleum Tile Flooring?

When you’re considering installing linoleum tile flooring systems, there are many different design options available. We recommend visiting a flooring store in person to see the available colors, patterns, and shapes, and consider bringing samples home to see them in your house’s lighting.

Here are a few design considerations to keep in mind before making your final selection:

We recommend experimenting with different combinations to find your desired choice. You might have linoleum flooring throughout your home or just in select rooms; you can also have different linoleum styles in different rooms.


How Long Does Linoleum Tile Flooring Last?

Linoleum flooring generally has a life span of between 20 and 40 years. How long it lasts will depend on the maintenance provided. Unsealed linoleum, even in dry rooms or climates, is more likely to curl or warp over time, shortening its life span. However, if you reseal the linoleum every few years, it should last much longer.

The quality of the materials and the floor installation process also significantly impact the flooring’s longevity. Thicker, high-end linoleum tiles will last longer than thin, easily damaged tiles. Additionally, high-quality installation will reduce the risk of poorly laid edges.

Finally, your environment will affect your flooring’s life span. Very humid rooms or rooms where water frequently spills will reduce the floor’s life span, whereas living room floors may last longer. Hot, humid climates will also stress the floor because of the moisture and UV radiation damage.


Top Linoleum Tile Flooring Brands

Various linoleum tile flooring brands specialize in different patterns and styles, and some produce higher-quality flooring products than others. Two of the top linoleum flooring brands are Forbo Marmoleum and Tarkett.


Our Recommendation

Whether you’re installing a new floor or upgrading your existing flooring, linoleum flooring is a versatile choice for its water resistance, cost-effectiveness, and long-lasting design. Not only is it easy to maintain, but it’s also an eco-friendly alternative to synthetic flooring. We recommend visiting showrooms in person to see and touch the different linoleum material options available by major or designer manufacturers before installation.


Linoleum Tile Flooring FAQ

Is linoleum tile flooring waterproof?

Linoleum tile flooring isn’t waterproof, but it’s water-resistant. It can be sealed with a protective finish that makes it an even more durable and resilient flooring against moisture, water, and spills.

What is the difference between linoleum and vinyl flooring?

The difference between linoleum and vinyl flooring is the materials that comprise each. Linoleum is made from natural ingredients, such as processed linseed oil, sawdust, and resins. Vinyl flooring is made from synthetic materials.

Is linoleum tile flooring a good choice for kitchens and bathrooms?

Linoleum tile flooring is a good option for kitchen floors and bathrooms. It’s long-lasting, easy to clean, and highly water-resistant. Resealing your linoleum flooring every three to five years can help the floor resist water damage and extend its life span to up to 40 years.

Can I install linoleum tile flooring myself?

You can install some linoleum tile flooring, such as click-together tiles, yourself. However, we recommend professional installation for most linoleum planks and squares. Professional installation is also required for conventional one-piece linoleum flooring, which must be cut to size and cured.