What is Sheet Linoleum?

Malcolm Tatum

Sheet linoleum is a floor covering that is sometimes used in areas of the home where carpeting is not considered desirable or practical. Once considered the ideal option for a kitchen or bathroom, linoleum sheets began to lose ground in the middle of the 20th century to other flooring types, such as vinyl floor coverings. However, linoleum has made a comeback in recent years, and is widely available at many home supply stores.

Sheet linoleum is a popular choice for kitchens.
Sheet linoleum is a popular choice for kitchens.

One of the benefits to using sheet linoleum is the fact that true linoleum is a more natural option than vinyl and several other types of floor coverings. Traditionally, linoleum is composed of linseed oil that is solidified and mixed with cork dust or wood flour to create a smooth and durable surface. Because color can be added with ease, the linoleum floor of today is not simply a stamped pattern, but a product with color permeating the entire body of the sheet.

Cleaning sheet linoleum requires little more than a wet mop.
Cleaning sheet linoleum requires little more than a wet mop.

Sheet linoleum also has the advantage of being highly resistant to stains. This is especially important when the flooring installation takes place in a kitchen. Cleanup is very easy, requiring nothing more than a mild soap and some water or a quick swipe with a wet mop. Because of the luster common to good quality linoleum, there is no need to use special cleaning products to produce a shine to the floor, making it very easy to maintain the new appearance.

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Cost is another benefit to sheet linoleum. Unlike some other flooring options, linoleum is very cost effective, while still offering a wide range of colors and patterns. The real expense with the use of this type of linoleum is with the flooring installation. However, using professionals to install the sheeting properly is well worth the cost, as it will minimize the chances of the edges peeling or cracking in later years.

It is also possible to purchase linoleum tile for use in a kitchen or bathroom. While much easier to install, the tiles have a greater tendency to warp over time. This can make your floor and the whole room appear worn and in need of repair in a relatively short time. By comparison, sheet linoleum does not tend to warp and will provide an even and shiny surface with nothing more than routine maintenance.

When evaluating sheet linoleum for use in your home, make sure to confirm that the sheeting is truly linoleum and not vinyl. Many people do not realize that there is a difference and use the terms interchangeably. Ask if the makeup of the sheeting includes linseed oil. If so, then you are looking at linoleum and not some other type of floor covering.

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