Linoleum is generally an unexpected choice in living rooms and dens. It is much more commonly found in kitchens and casual dining areas, but there are a number of characteristics inherent to this versatile material that makes it particularly suited to social settings. This, combined with its many design options, makes linoleum worth a look when you're searching for your next living room floor.
Linoleum is known as a type of resilient flooring because it is manufactured to be extremely durable and resistant to damage, dents, and stains. The colors on the surface run true through the thickness of the material, so it doesn't show wear, fading, and scratches as readily as other types of resilient flooring, such as vinyl. This makes it particularly attractive for heavily used living rooms.
Even in very busy environments, and places where water and stains are a problem, such as a kitchen, most linoleum floors can last for 10 to 15 years with proper care and normal use. In living rooms, which tend to see low to medium traffic levels (and much less grime and moisture), a properly installed linoleum floor might last 20 to 40 years or even longer, saving you the expense and hassle of having to replace it.
Linoleum is one of the easiest floors to care for, especially in a low-impact environment like the living room. Regular cleaning involves a simple sweeping or vacuuming to remove grit that could scratch the floor's surface. On occasion, you can also use a mild detergent for deep cleaning or to remove stains. Otherwise, the floor should be proof against most messes.
Carpet, one of the more common living room floor choices, has one very distinct problem. The fibers in the floor tend to catch dust, pollen, dander, and other common allergens, and then release them into the air as the carpet is walked on. This can be terrible for people with allergies. Linoleum, by contrast, is anti-static and does not hold onto particles. Its smooth surface also makes thorough cleaning much easier than with carpet.
This is one of the easiest floors to install, and many homeowners opt to install it themselves. Linoleum comes in tiles, sheets, and click-together planks for a floating floor. Tiles are generally self-adhesive backed and can be installed directly over any stable, flat surface. Floating floors are even easier and just click together over any solid subfloor. Sheet materials are a little trickier, requiring precision cutting to match the size and shape of the space.
Ecologically Friendly Linoleum
This is where these floors are really spectacular. On top of being low maintenance, durable, and easy to install, they are also extremely eco-friendly. The material is made mostly from naturally renewable linseed oil, and the process of manufacturing the tiles is relatively low-impact. The material does not release toxic gasses and can be easily recycled at the end of its life.
Why Are Linoleum Living Room Floors so Rare?
The biggest problem that linoleum has is one of image. In the 1950s, this material was extremely popular in kitchens, bathrooms, and other areas around the home. However, a string of shoddy manufacturers producing cheap, knock-off materials led to the perception of linoleum as something that fades, scratches, curls, and discolors. But true linoleum made today is better than ever.
Linoleum is also still associated more with kitchens than with living areas. This is due both to marketing initiatives as well as the fact that the material does not seek to mimic natural materials. The look of linoleum varies, but it is generally a linoleum look, not one of hardwood or natural stone, which are traditionally more popular in living rooms and dens. On the other hand, if you want something less conventional, the vibrant colors and creative possibilities of linoleum can be a decorator's dream!