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Courtesy of Home Decorating
Linoleum is a once-popular sheet flooring material that is making a comeback as a sustainable building material. It was originally developed in England in the 1850’s by Frederick Walton, who noticed the way linseed oil – a common ingredient in paint --dried into a strong and resilient material. Linseed oil is a natural material, from the seeds of the flax plant. By the 1870’s, linoleum was developed as a mixture of linseed oil, ground limestone, color pigments and cork dust, applied to a backing of burlap, canvas or jute. All are natural materials and mostly renewable.

Because linoleum was relatively inexpensive and highly resilient it was frequently used for flooring in heavy traffic areas inside buildings. It was also used for working surfaces such as countertops.

Linoleum was widely used on the decks of warships, however after the attack on Pearl Harbor its use was discontinued as it was considered to be too flammable. Flooring made from vinyl was developed that is less combustible, but its manufacture involves toxic chemicals, its combustion releases poisonous dioxins, and it is not biodegradable. However, its low cost and availability in a broader range of bright colors and patterns made it very popular for use in buildings.

With the growing concern for the environment, linoleum has made a great comeback. It’s rapidly renewable natural content, resilience and durability, as well as its non allergenic properties make it a superior flooring choice. Because it is a sheet good it is an excellent choice in schools and healthcare facilities. After it is rolled into place the seams between sheets are heat-welded together creating a smooth and continuous appearance. This is advantageous not only for looks but for cleanliness.

The ability of linoleum to be cut and arranged in intricate designs is also one of its great advantages. It is an excellent choice for custom designs or branding elements (such as a company logo or school mascot) on a floor.