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Linoleum vs. Vinyl Flooring: Which One Should You Choose?

Durable flooring is important for many home and business owners looking to make an upgrade that will last. Whether you’re starting a new building project or renovating an existing space, there’s a good chance you’ve considered linoleum and vinyl flooring.

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Both are resilient materials that can take a beating and still look spectacular. That’s why these materials have been used in high-traffic commercial spaces and busy residential rooms like kitchens and powder rooms for many years.

Once you get down to the nitty-gritty though, it can be a little difficult to figure out whether linoleum or vinyl is a better pick for you. The truth is that most people don’t even really know how these two popular materials differ.

Luckily for you, we’re here to help you get a grasp on linoleum and vinyl flooring once and for all. Use this guide to learn the differences between linoleum and vinyl flooring, and why you should consider one over the other for your home or place of business.

Linoleum vs. Vinyl Flooring: Major Differences

Ask the average person what the difference between linoleum and vinyl flooring is and you’ll probably be greeted with a blank stare. The fact is that the average buyer probably can’t even tell linoleum from vinyl in pictures. There are some major differences between these two flooring products, however.

Linoleum is actually the older of the two materials, with the first patent appearing more than 140 years ago. Made from linseed products, the core materials used in linoleum are naturally occurring, though some manufacturing processes today add an assortment of other ingredients to the mix.

Vinyl flooring grew in popularity around the 1920s and 1930s. Unlike linoleum, vinyl is completely synthetic, made up of polyvinyl chloride, or PVC. Most products utilize a fiberglass or felt backing, though other styles do exist today.

Appearance

Vinyl and linoleum may appear to be somewhat similar materials to the untrained eye, but they start to diverge when it comes to appearance. Here’s how these two materials compare in the aesthetics department:

Vinyl Flooring

Vinyl flooring is made up of a color layer that’s kept protected by a clear wear layer on the very top of each plank or tile. That wear layer is actually what you walk on. That means that vinyl flooring is extremely versatile since almost any pattern, color or style is possible with vinyl.

Vinyl flooring can even be made to look like other materials including natural stone and wood. Mixing and matching different styles of vinyl is easy, allowing you to create your own unique pattern or craft a decorative border around your room, for example.

Wire-brushed texturing and micro beveled edges create a premium finish. Vesdura Vinyl Planks – 5.5mm SPC Click Lock – Vigorous Collection SKU: 15235047

 Linoleum Flooring

Linoleum flooring is a solid-colored flooring material that generally has much less pattern than vinyl flooring. That means that there are few options when it comes to your room design if you choose linoleum.

One benefit of linoleum when it comes to appearance however is that you aren’t likely to experience color change or fading as the linoleum wears down over time. That’s because every layer of the linoleum is the same color.

For most installations however, this amount of wear is many years down the road. Other damage may occur that facilitates replacement before this point as well.

Best Overall Appearance: Vinyl Flooring

When it comes to overall appearance, vinyl flooring is the clear winner because it can be made to look like just about anything under the sun. If you want the look of natural hardwood without the cost, you can get it using vinyl flooring.

You can also get unique patterns and a range of bright and dark colors that may not appear in natural flooring. That makes vinyl a versatile powerhouse when design is a top priority for your space.

Water and Heat Resistance

Water and heat resistance are important factors when it comes to installing resilient flooring. In commercial spaces and high-traffic areas within homes like the kitchen, mud rooms and powder rooms, a little extra water and heat resistance can make a big difference.

Here’s how the two flooring materials compare when it comes to water and heat resistance:

The perfect alternative to hardwood floor for wet rooms like your kitchen, bathroom or laundry room. Vesdura Vinyl Planks – 8.5mm WPC Click Lock – XL Ridge Collection SKU: 15262452

Vinyl Flooring

Practically waterproof, vinyl flooring is truly the king of waterproof materials. That’s why you see it in many damp spaces like residential basements where moisture might leave some materials buckled or warped. Modern vinyl flooring that includes a backing made from fiberglass is also impervious to mold, mildew and water damage.

Vinyl flooring provides reasonable heat resistance as well, and interior temperatures are unlikely to cause any damage to your flooring installation.

Linoleum Flooring

Linoleum flooring is a durable, water-resistant material. However, it isn’t waterproof like modern vinyl flooring. It definitely doesn’t compare favorably to modern vinyl flooring with a  fiberglass backing either.

This means that linoleum may not be the best choice for damp spaces like basements. It can be used in powder rooms, but it is more prone to buckling, curling and cracking in wet spaces. Long-term exposure to humidity can also be a concern for linoleum.

Best for Water and Heat Resistance: Vinyl Flooring

Vinyl flooring is waterproof and far superior to linoleum when it comes to potential water damage. That makes it a brilliant pick for wet spaces, damp areas like basements and areas of high humidity.

Linoleum edges out vinyl when it comes to heat resistance, but most tests that demonstrate this are quite extreme. Unless your home gets to over 200-degrees, the heat resistance factor is just about the same with both materials. That makes vinyl flooring the more versatile pick and winner in this category as well.

Care and Cleaning

Care and cleaning are both important factors when it comes to a new flooring installation. The good news is that both of these materials are relatively easy to take care of in residential and commercial spaces.

Vinyl Flooring

Incredibly easy to maintain, vinyl floors can be swept and vacuumed for light-duty cleaning daily without showing signs of wear. Almost any detergent will do when it’s time to break out the wet mop for a deeper cleaning as well.

For the best results, a cleaning solution made for vinyl flooring is often recommended.

Linoleum Flooring

Like vinyl flooring, linoleum is seriously easy to take care of. Basic cleaning requires little more than a broom and vacuum. Neither of these tools will scratch or scuff your linoleum.

For wet cleaning, a solution made specifically for linoleum is often recommended. That’s because cleaners with ultra-high pH levels may wear down the surface of your linoleum flooring over time.

Best for Care and Cleaning: Tie

Both vinyl and linoleum flooring are incredibly easy to care for. That’s why these resilient materials are used in kitchens, powder rooms and high-traffic commercial spaces like hospitals and waiting rooms.

The availability of specialty cleaning products for vinyl and linoleum is also high, so getting what you need to care for your floors like a pro is a breeze no matter which option you pick.

Sizes

Vinyl flooring and linoleum materials come in different sizes – some of which may work better for your space than others. Here’s the breakdown on sizing for these two popular flooring materials:

Vinyl Flooring

Vinyl flooring is typically sold in sheet, tile or plank form. Standard sizing for sheet flooring is six-foot or 12-foot double rolls. Choosing the right one is simple based on your room’s square footage.

For planks and tiles, vinyl typically comes in squares or rectangular shapes that are roughly 9-inches to 18-inches in size. However, as vinyl popularity grows, more sizes are becoming readily available.

Linoleum Flooring

Linoleum sheet flooring, like vinyl, is sold in standard 6-foot and 12-foot double rolls. Linoleum planks tend to be 48-inches long, with a varying width from about 4-inches to 6-inches across.

Best for Size: Tie

Both vinyl and linoleum flooring materials come in sheet, tile and plank designs, making it easy to get the quantity of flooring material you need. Since both materials can be cut with relative ease, there’s no clear winner in the size category.

Installation

Cost of installation is a major factor when you’re installing a new flooring material. If you’re planning to go the DIY route, ease of installation is also extremely important.

Vinyl Flooring

Vinyl plank flooring, particularly the peel and stick variety, is incredibly easy to install. That’s why it’s a big hit among DIY installers who want to do the work in their own home or place of business. Even glue-down vinyl flooring is relatively easy to work with compared to many flooring materials on the market.

Sheet vinyl flooring on the other hand is relatively difficult to install. However, pros that work with sheet vinyl flooring are fast and efficient, which means paying for installation is relatively cost-effective in this case.

If you like sheet vinyl flooring, hiring pros for installation is a smart choice that won’t run up your bill too much.

Linoleum Flooring

Sheet linoleum, which is quite popular in commercial installations, is very hard to work with. If you go this route, you’ll almost certainly need to hire pros.

Click-lock linoleum flooring is considerably easier to work with, making it a top pick for DIY professionals. However, this type of flooring still requires more patience and time than common peel and stick vinyl flooring.

Best for Installation: Vinyl Flooring

While linoleum can be a reasonable material to work with even if you want to handle installation yourself, vinyl is the winner here because it’s soft and generally easier to deal with for novice installers.

Peel and stick vinyl is also quite easy to cut compared to linoleum, and placing it on the floor is easy to get the hang of in just a day or two.

Cost

Every project has a budget. Whether you’re dealing with a hospital flooring upgrade or redoing your powder room, money is a factor.

Here’s how vinyl and linoleum compare in the dollars department:

Rich, beautiful vinyl planks for less than $2.00/sq ft. Vesdura Vinyl Planks – 5.5mm SPC Click Lock – Vigorous Collection SKU: 15235050

Vinyl Flooring

Ranging from less than $1 per foot to more than $5 per foot for designer styles, vinyl has a wide range of pricing options. On average though, vinyl flooring material costs about $2 per square foot once you factor in the extremes on both sides.

Linoleum Flooring

Coming in at around $3 to $3.50 per square foot on average, linoleum is typically slightly more expensive than vinyl flooring. Linoleum may also cost slightly more to install, particularly if you choose to use sheet linoleum.

Best for Cost: Vinyl Flooring

About $1 less per square foot on average, vinyl edges out linoleum in the cost category.

The Verdict

Both vinyl and linoleum flooring are excellent choices for commercial and residential spaces. Cost-effective and durable, both have become mainstays in design for a reason.

Vinyl flooring, however, is the most versatile material when it comes to appearance. It’s also waterproof, which makes it particularly attractive for residential spaces. It doesn’t require any special cleaning or maintenance products either.

So which material is the king of resilient flooring? We think vinyl is the clear winner here due it’s style, strength and ease of installation and care.

Shop Vinyl Flooring at BuildDirect

Ready to re-do your space or start a brand new design project? Reach out to the trained professionals at BuildDirect today to learn more about vinyl flooring. You can also see our complete inventory of vinyl flooring products online today.

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