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What’s the difference between linoleum and vinyl flooring?

Are vinyl and linoleum the same thing? NO!

Linoleum flooring westchesterThere seems to be a lot of confusion between vinyl and linoleum, and many customers mix up these terms – they say linoleum, but they mean vinyl.  So what is the difference between linoleum and vinyl?

Please note that this article may contain affiliate links.  You can read my full disclosure at the bottom of the page.

Linoleum vs Vinyl – what are they made of?

While vinyl and linoleum often look similar, they are made from different materials.  Vinyl is petroleum based (a non-renewable resource), and it’s a synthetic product..  Many customers in Westchester who are sensitive to the environment would prefer to use more sustainable items for their home.   Linoleum, on the other hand, is an eco-friendly product that is made with linseed oil and natural ingredients including cork dust, pine resin and wood flour .  The word comes from the latin “linum” is the word for linseed and “oleum” means oil.  It is extremely durable, often more durable than vinyl.  Linoleum has the color throughout the whole product whereas vinyl is topical and hence shows more wear over time.


Differences between vinyl and linoleum

  • Black and white vinyl flooring westchesterLinoleum generally lasts longer than vinyl – some can last 30-40 years
  • Most vinyl patterns are topical while linoleum is the same color all the way through.  This helps linoleum wear longer; it also allows more intricate patterns on vinyl
  • Vinyl will melt if a lit match or cigarette lands on it; linoleum won’t
  • Linoleum can be used on counter tops; vinyl can’t
  • Linoleum has been around longer.  It was originally made in the 1800’s; vinyl flooring started in the 1940’s.
  • Linoleum is more expensive than vinyl (but it does last longer)




Linoleum and vinyl properties – what are the similarities?

What is the difference between linoleum and vinyl flooingVinyl and linoleum do have some similar properties and they are very versatile flooring products.  First, they are both known as resilient flooring (meaning they provide a relatively firm surface and yet they have “give” and are flexible and can bounce back.  In other words, they can be installed on top of surfaces that are not level or even (unlike tile which is inflexible and can crack when the subfloor is uneven or if it moves).  Second, they are both relatively easily to clean and provide good moisture resistances (they do relatively well with small to moderate amounts of water and moisture). They tend to do well in kitchens, bathrooms, basements and entryways.  Third, both vinyl and linoleum are available in a sheet form and tile form.  Usually sheet vinyl comes in 12 ft width and linoleum comes in 6.5 widths.  Because sheet linoleum is rather narrow, it’s often best used in areas that are narrow (e.g. a bathroom).  For wider areas, linoleum tiles often work better so that you avoid large seams in the middle of the floor.


Linoleum vs Vinyl – what types of designs do they offer?

sheet vinyl flooringFrom a design perspective, vinyl tends to have more designs – often, vinyl is made to look like tile or hardwood.  Linoleum usually has more of an abstract and retro look.  With the tile forms, it’s possible to make fun and colorful designs with both vinyl and linoleum.


Cost of Linoleum vs Vinyl:

Linoleum tends to cost more than vinyl, at least when you are comparing sheet goods or basic tiles.  Linoleum material is eco-friendly, and hence costs more to make.  And, linoleum uses a more expensive type of adhesive.  Usually, the labor is the same or very similar for both surfaces.

The rise and fall and resurgence of linoleum flooring – a bit of history:

Linoleum was invented in 1860 by rubber manufacturer Fredrick Walton.  At the time, it was made as a less expensive substitute for the expensive rubber composition called kamptulicon.  It was popular until the 1960’s with the advent of vinyl which was lower priced.  Older versions of linoleum tended to crack and curl at the edges.  That, along with a variety of substandard linoleum offerings led to the development of a low reputation for linoleum and it’s loss in popularity.  Recently, with manufacturer innovations, along with eco-friendly trends and realization of linoleum’s positive benefits, linoleum has made a comeback.

Top linoleum and vinyl brands:


  • luxury vinyl flooring westchester NYMarmoleum (made by Forbo)
  • Marmorette (made by Armstrong)

Vinyl brands:

  • Armstrong
  • Mannington
  • Coretec Plus – This is a new relatively new and innovative product.  These come in engineered planks that are thicker than your typical sheet vinyl or glue down vinyl.  Check out my Coretec Plus review here.  When you see this product, you won’t believe it’s vinyl.



Other types of flooring that customers tend to get confused:



What’s the difference between linoleum and vinyl flooring?





4 thoughts on “What’s the difference between linoleum and vinyl flooring?”

  1. Thomas Hernandez

    This information is not 100% accurate. Linoleum floors will burn. Maybe not as easily but it will burn.

      1. Yes, vinyl can melt if it gets too hot, but that is unusual under normal circumstances. I would guess that linoleum would, too but has a much higher melting point. Linoleum is certainly healthier and better for the environment.

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