Green flooring: How green is linoleum flooring?
In our search to find the greenest flooring material possible, we look at linoleum, a flooring choice making a comeback.
Although you might not think it, linoleum is a natural product made from linseed oil, cork dust, wood flour, tree resins, ground limestone and pigments. It's easy to clean, and is resistant to scratching (the marks can be buffed out), stains and chemicals. It works well in wet areas like kitchens and bathrooms, and comes in a range of vibrant colours and patterns.
The term is also used to describe vinyl flooring products, which although great advances have been made in terms of their recyclability and lifespan, are a PVC-based product, deriving from petroleum.
Natural linoleum can be bought at hardware and flooring stores, but because many people think of vinyl and linoleum as one and the same, check the label to ensure the product is natural. The price may also be a giveaway: linoleum is usually more expensive than vinyl.
On the downside, some people people are sensitive to the smell of linseed oil, so you may need to test drive its suitability before making a decision to install it in your home. In addition, installing large sheets of linoleum can be tricky, so if you have a DIY project in mind, it may be better to opt for tiles.
Why linoleum is a good, green choice
Linoleum is made from renewable raw materials, uses a closed loop manufacturing cycle where waste can be recycled at every stage in the process. According to Tarkett, which manufactures linoleum in Europe for sale around the world, it is carbon-neutral, with the CO2 produced in the incineration process used to create it the same or less than the CO2 absorbed during the growth of the various plants used to make the linoleum.
Contemporary linoleums also have low emission surface treatment that eliminates the need for waxing that characterised earlier gerenation linoleums, and help improve indoor air quality.
Marmoleum is another locally available product. Produced by Forbo Flooring, it is made of 100 percent bio-based content, and its permanent, natural properties kill MRSA and Norovirus. It is also naturally anti-static, R10 slip rated, offers easy low cost cleaning and is Good Environmental Choice Award (GECA) certified. According to the company’s website, on a contract basis, it will also take back all Forbo linoleum products for reprocessing into new product or recycling into alternative products by local recycling operators or charities.