Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Linoleum: A Surprisingly Natural Flooring Option

Did you grow up in a house with a linoleum kitchen floor? Many of us did, but did you know that linoleum is considered a "green" flooring option? Many people use "linoleum" as a generic term for all flooring that is not wood, carpet, or tile. But true linoleum should not be confused with vinyl flooring, which is often called linoleum. Vinyl flooring is made from petroleum products and synthetic materials. True linoleum is made from the following natural ingredients.

- Linseed oil
Pressed from flax seeds, linseed oil does not outgas toxic vapors or involve environmentally questionable practices to manufacture. It is abundant and renewable.

- Resin
linoleum (Photo credit: farmalldanzil)
Also known as rosin, this sticky substance is tapped from pine trees. Like tapping maple trees for their sap, when pines are tapped for their resin it does not affect the life or health of the tree. Resin gives linoleum its flexibility.

- Wood flour
This is simply finely-ground wood, and is used to bind the pigments in the linoleum. It makes the color last longer and resist fading. Conscientious linoleum manufacturers do not use tropical or endangered woods to make wood flour; they use plentiful, renewable sources.

- Cork flour or powder
Cork flour, or powdered cork, improves durability, flexibility, and color-fastness. It is made from the bark of the cork oak, but is harvested so as not to harm the tree.

- Limestone
Ground to a fine dust, limestone is added to linoleum to increase hardness and durability. Limestone is abundant and economical, and is found in many parts of the world. 

- Jute
Jute is used as a flexible, durable backing to linoleum. A giant, tropical herb, jute has a rapid growth cycle, and can be grown (and re-grown) within weeks. The jute for flooring and linoleum comes from the inner bark of the plant.

Linoleum's various colors come from mineral pigments and penetrate the entire product, making damage less visible.

Linoleum is durable, but it will need replacing after thirty years or so. The good news is, it's recyclable! Linoleum can even be painted as long as it is first coated with a primer.

While it can be more expensive than vinyl flooring, linoleum is worth the extra cost. Because it lasts so long, it is a good economical investment, and its natural ingredients make it a good environmental investment as well. You are also investing in your health and the air quality of your home when you choose a natural flooring option like real linoleum.

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