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Commercial Flooring News

It’s Nearly 150 Years Old & Still Going Strong

Janet Lowe, marketing manager at Forbo Flooring Systems, looks at why a product with a heritage as long as linoleum is still best placed to meet today’s environmental, performance and aesthetic demands: 

RARELY do you find a material that has been around for as long as linoleum that hasn’t been superseded by a ‘modern equivalent’. Yet almost 150 years after it was first commercially produced, this flooring marvel still can’t be beaten for true sustainability.

As the pressure for sustainability continues to grow, many contractors and end users are looking for high performance products that also boast sound environmental credentials. With its durability, low maintenance and sustainable pedigree, linoleum is increasingly being recognised by a whole new generation of specifiers as the answer to these demands across a wide range of applications.

With an influx of manufacturers claiming to have strong environmental credentials, contractors need to be able to identify the most sustainable products available.

Linoleum was patented in 1863 by Frederick Walton and is a natural product made predominantly from harvestable, renewable natural raw materials. The name, ‘linoleum’ derives from the Latin words linum (flax), and oleum (oil) and means oil from the flax plant, a reference to linseed oil, the key raw material in the product.

Other natural raw materials include the rosin tapped from pine trees, woodflour, a waste product from the flooring industry, very finely ground limestone and jute, a vegetable fibre grown in India or Bangladesh. As such, linoleum is also biodegradable in a controlled environment.

Linoleum fits perfectly into sustainable building concepts, as it is BRE rated and has been specified within BREEAM ‘Excellent’ rated projects and is A/A+ rated, depending on the area of application.

Many manufacturers now employ responsible manufacturing processes and hold ISO 14001 relating to environmental management. In addition, eco labels and accreditations are independent assessments or third party endorsements where the products have been externally assessed based on strict environmental criteria.

Life Cycle Analysis (LCAs) allows the environmental impact of a product to be objectively measured and linoleum performs very well in these studies. During linoleum’s manufacturing process, the raw materials and energy are used efficiently and waste recycled. LCAs can then be used to set ongoing improvement targets and measure progress towards reducing the product’s environmental impact.

Manufacturers are continually developing the choice of colours and effects available within linoleum, and more importantly, considering how these can be integrated with other floorcoverings across different performance types.

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