The pros and cons of vinyl and linoleum flooring

What’s the difference between vinyl and linoleum flooring—and what are the pros and cons? Here’s what you need to know.

The pros and cons of vinyl and linoleum flooring

People mix up vinyl and linoleum flooring all the time, but they’re not the same thing at all.

They may look alike at the store, as both can come in a roll format, but they are made of entirely different materials.

Vinyl

Vinyl, felt, fibreglass and dyes are what make up vinyl flooring.

  • It comes in a roll or tile format.
  • Some are printed, which means the colours are printed on the surface of the sheet, then covered in a protective layer.
  • Other vinyls are inlaid, meaning the colour is injected into the material and then fused to create a pattern that won’t fade. Because the printing process is simpler, you’ll find more pattern variations and options than in inlaid vinyls.

Vinyl sheet

For vinyl sheet, there are three types of backing: felt-backed, vinyl-backed, and modified loose-lay.

  • Each one is installed differently.
  • Vinyl-backed may require professional installation, but the other two are relatively easy to install yourself.
  • Vinyl tiles come either in a standard 12” x 12” square or in strips of three with an adhesive backing.

Pros

  • Super simple maintenance
  • Available in a wide variety of classic designs or fun retro patterns
  • Low cost

Cons

  • Rubber-backed rugs can stain vinyl
  • The chemicals in asphalt can turn it yellow, so leave shoes at the door
  • If stains are left to sit for a long time, they may become difficult to remove

Linoleum

Linoleum is usually made of linseed oil, tree resin, wood flour, cork flour, limestone and pigments.

  • Because of the materials it is made of, it is a more ecological option.
  • In a similar way to vinyl, there are high-grade inlaid options and printed low-grade options.
  • It comes in sheets and tiles.
  • Inlaid vinyls come in colours that appear textured. You can create interesting effects with linoleum by colour-blocking or creating fun geometric patterns or designs with different tile or sheet colours.

Pros

  • Durable. Can last between 30 and 40 years
  • Multi-purpose. Use it for counter-tops and backsplashes
  • Low cost
  • Made of natural materials
  • You can create fun, eye-catching designs

Cons

  • Requires an acrylic coating upon installation and then annually thereafter

Manufacturing process and durability

Overall, both of these flooring options are budget-friendly. Where they differ is in the manufacturing process and in durability.

  • Check out the options at your local hardware or flooring specialist to see what's available to you.
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