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Enduring Love Affair With Linoleum For 150 Years

Julie Dempster, marketing manager at Forbo Flooring Systems, explains why linoleum remains so
popular after 150 years: 
LINOLEUM was invented in around 1863, but far from being outdated, it is increasingly chosen by specifiers and contractors for its sustainable, durable and aesthetic nature.
Linoleum’s durability, reliability and long lasting looks have ensured the product is frequently chosen for a variety of applications. Nowadays, linoleum manufacturers can offer life expectancy’s of at least 20 years, so contractors can be confident that the flooring will perform as it should do.
Developments in the surface finish help to defend against wear and tear. A double layer water-based finish compared to polyurethane alternatives for example, will not compromise the environmental profile. This finish protects against scuffing and dirt, whilst resisting stains and chemicals, resulting in reduced cleaning and maintenance.
The breadth of design and depth of colour available across linoleum ranges is staggering. There will certainly be an option for end users depending on the overall room design and brief. Manufacturers constantly develop new and exciting designs, aware that clients are pushing contractors to do more and more with it in terms of aesthetics.
Nowadays linoleum ranges deliver new designs with a wide choice of colour combinations. Latest concepts seek to draw together input from a variety of architectural and designer’s evaluations based on the colouring, balance and structure of new designs. For example, linearity is a trend that provides the feature statement when combined with current shades and design formats.
Furthermore, linoleum need not just be assigned to the floor. Its flexibility means it works well on any surface, adding a new design direction for contractors. Tiles in particular enable contractors to mix and match colours and designs with minimal waste and reduced installation time.
The natural qualities of linoleum also make it a popular choice for the more environmentally conscious projects and clients. Linoleum derives from the Latin linum (flax) and oleum (oil), meaning oil from the flax plant, ie linseed oil, the key raw material in the product.
As such, linoleum remains one of the most natural floorcoverings, manufactured predominantly from harvestable and renewable natural raw materials. Linoleum offers a viable green solution for a wide range of specifications and is naturally biodegradable. With the focus now on environmental impact and sustainability, clients demand more in the way of environmental credentials from products than ever before.
Linoleum also scores highly against third-party environmental assessments, as well as performing exceptionally well in independent Life Cycle Analysis. Meanwhile, due to its natural composition, linoleum fits into sustainable building concepts, as it is BRE A+ rated.
The product is specified across a range of sectors, but it is its naturally bacteriostatic properties that make it a favourite for healthcare environments where its high anti-bacterial performance make it an obvious choice. It is also extremely durable and easy to clean, both of which are key considerations for any hospital.
Forbo’s linoleum is approved by Allergy UK for reducing exposure to indoor allergens and has been independently proven to fight MRSA and other Hospital Acquired Infections.

This article has been reproduced from the Contract Flooring Journal website. You can find them at