The Difference Between Linoleum and Vinyl Flooring

The Difference Between Linoleum and Vinyl Flooring
Photo: Fishman64, Shutterstock

Although linoleum and vinyl flooring may seem like they’re the same thing, they’re actually pretty different in terms of cost, durability, ease of installation, and a variety of other factors. That’s why it’s important to know the pros and cons of each type of flooring before deciding which to install in your home. Here’s what to know about the differences between linoleum and vinyl flooring.

The difference between linoleum and vinyl flooring

In order to determine whether linoleum or vinyl flooring is right for a particular room in your home, it’s helpful to know how the materials differ. Here’s some background on each:

Linoleum

  • Invented in 1860
  • Though modern synthetic versions are available, traditional linoleum is made from all-natural and biodegradable materials, including linseed oil, pine rosin, limestone, cork flour, wood flour, and jute
  • Sheet linoleum costs between $US5 ($7) and $US7 ($10) per square foot
  • Linoleum tiles cost between $US3 ($4) and $US5 ($7) per square foot
  • Lasts an average of 20 to 40 years
  • More rigid and difficult to cut than vinyl, but also more durable
  • Water resistant, but more susceptible to water damage than vinyl
  • Needs to be sealed every three to 10 years to stay water resistant
  • More heat resistant than vinyl
  • Natural linoleum doesn’t contain any volatile organic compounds (VOCs)

Vinyl flooring

  • Invented in the 1920s
  • Synthetic; made primarily of polyvinyl chloride (PVC) resin
  • Sheet vinyl costs between 50 cents ($0.69) and $US2 ($3) per square foot
  • Vinyl tiles cost around $US3 ($4).50 per square foot
  • Lasts between 10 and 20 years
  • Waterproof; resistant to mould and mildew buildup
  • Available in more colours and patterns than linoleum
  • More flexible and easier to cut than linoleum
  • Easier to install than linoleum

How to decide which flooring to use

So which flooring should you choose? Both are easy to clean and popular choices for kitchens and bathrooms. If you have a bathroom with poor ventilation that tends to get extra humid, vinyl might be a better option because it’s waterproof. Linoleum, on the other hand, is more heat-resistant, so might be a better choice for a kitchen.

When considering cost, think about whether you’re more interested in saving money upfront (in which case, vinyl wins) or in the long-term (linoleum comes out on top there). And although technically, you can install both linoleum and vinyl yourself, vinyl flooring is much easier for less-experienced DIYers.

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