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#1
Old 09-19-2009, 10:12 PM
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Why did linoleum flooring fall so far out of favor in personal home use?

We remodeled our kitchen this summer (well, we still are--toekicks, backsplash, other finishing touches remain), and we opted for a linoleum floor. True linoleum, not vinyl--which is what even the guys at Home Depot, Lowe's, and other home improvement shops assumed we meant when we contacted them about it. We ended up having to go to a speciality shop in LA--cleverly called "Linoleum City"--to order it.

We just had it installed, and absolutely LOVE IT. It's smooth, seamless, solid, tough, natural, and gorgeous. We've already gotten several "Wow, that's amazing, what is it?" from friends. FTR, we opted for linoleum because after our last kitchen remodel, we had tile...and I am duh-uh-UN (just doesn't work with correct spelling "done") with grout. Ick. Ideally, I'd like stained concrete, but our raised foundation complicates that. Wood would have been nice, but it was pricey, and you still have seams. I wanted the smooth, uninterrupted look.

Anyway, after getting it installed we were told to seal it 2-3 days later. This meant we needed linoleum sealant. We called Home Depot, Lowe's, four different Ace Hardware stores, about 5 mom-and-pop type flooring stores, and a recommended janitorial supply, and they all reacted like I was asking for unicorn blood. Hubby wound up driving all the way to LA--Linoleum City, of course--just to buy $30 worth of sealant.

I don't get why this stuff fell so out of favor. It's relatively inexpensive; it was considerably less expensive than both hard wood and tile (though, hubby can do tilework, so for *us* it was more expensive), and it is far tougher and (IMHO) better-looking than vinyl. If this stuff scratches, you can actually buff it out. Vinyl? Time for a new sheet. BTW--our linoleum is Forbo's Marmoleum line. It's "Lava" color, which is a deep dark grey with subtle light grey marblized effect. Looks awesome with the stainless steel and the countertops. Well, with the everything.

So--what's the deal? Did it simply fall out of fashion?

Last edited by Ruffian; 09-19-2009 at 10:13 PM.
#2
Old 09-19-2009, 11:12 PM
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This is wiki's take on the subject

Quote:
Linoleum as a floor covering has been largely replaced with polyvinyl chloride (yet still colloquially known as "linoleum"), which has similar properties of flexibility and durability, but which has greater brightness and translucency and which is relatively less flammable.
#3
Old 09-20-2009, 12:00 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ruffian View Post
BTW--our linoleum is Forbo's Marmoleum line. It's "Lava" color, which is a deep dark grey with subtle light grey marblized effect. Looks awesome with the stainless steel and the countertops. Well, with the everything.
That was my second choice. I also just redid my kitchen floor, but went with the "Charcoal" color - discontinued, but there was enough left in the world for my floor. And it's supposed to last and be gorgeous for 25 years.

It wasn't that hard to find here, most flooring stores had or could get it. But everyone made sure to tell me that it was much easier to care for now than lineoleum used to be, so I don't need to worry about that. I'm guessing that's one reason it's out of favor.

Last edited by amarinth; 09-20-2009 at 12:00 AM.
#4
Old 09-20-2009, 01:27 PM
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I think the major reason is the housing market. There was a period where housing values were going through the roof and there was a strong incentive to make improvements like replacing old linoleum. Linoleum was perceived by buyers as dated and less desirable, and if you could get 1% more on your 300,000 home by spending $3,000 on hardwood, tile or stone, you were stupid not to.

The new versions of linoleum are definitely better than the old stuff, and I think it makes a very acceptable flooring. But... if you are thinking of selling your house, the smart investment is still something other than linoleum.

(Just don't get me started on things like granite counter tops and stainless appliances. I swear, these are going to be our decade's equivalent of avocado green appliances, lucite and orange shag carpeting. In 2030, buyers will say "But the granite and stainless are so dated, I'll have to rip it out before I can live here.")

Last edited by dracoi; 09-20-2009 at 01:28 PM.
#5
Old 09-20-2009, 01:51 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ruffian View Post
Anyway, after getting it installed we were told to seal it 2-3 days later. This meant we needed linoleum sealant.
That sounds like a disadvantage of linoleum over sheet vinyl flooring, which doesn't require sealing. But linoleum might sell to "green" consumers who favor a natural product.
#6
Old 09-20-2009, 01:57 PM
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IIRC linoleum (from my observation as a child) is denser, more rigid and more susceptible to damage via impacts form heavy, hard objects and will flake or chip with impacts that a PVC floor would flex and absorb.
#7
Old 09-20-2009, 02:29 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dewey Finn View Post
But linoleum might sell to "green" consumers who favor a natural product.
That's where it's marketed over here: the enviromental aware people. Tiles are too hard for kitchen when you consider dropping things, wood might have a problem with moisture, so the choice is between some kind of PVC or lineoleum. Lineoleum has the advantage of being more eco-friendly during production than PVC, and you don't run the risk of some softeners or other ingredients leaking/ gassing out later once you're using the kitchen. (True, PVC shouldn't gas out - but it's difficult to find out that they actually don't.)
And as said, lineoleum is better at scratches.
#8
Old 09-20-2009, 06:13 PM
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A tenant asked me to consider linoleum when I re-did her 6'x8' kitchen floor, so I checked.
My Sherwin-Williams representative said it was in his catalog but:
1) it would cost 3-4 times as much.
2) Besides being an expensive product, it took two days to lay, instead of one, because the material changes size when unrolled.
3) Even after acclimatizing, they have to allow more room for it to shift and slide under the baseboards.
4) The glue takes longer to dry, giving off fumes, so you can't return to your apartment for an extra day
5) It wears badly, and won't take a shine.
6) It's damaged by many common products like bleach spills that can enter cracks and leave stains.

So we didn't go with it.
#9
Old 09-21-2009, 04:57 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dracoi View Post
I think the major reason is the housing market. There was a period where housing values were going through the roof and there was a strong incentive to make improvements like replacing old linoleum. Linoleum was perceived by buyers as dated and less desirable, and if you could get 1% more on your 300,000 home by spending $3,000 on hardwood, tile or stone, you were stupid not to.
Minor nitpick. How does not spending $3,000 to make $3,000 make you stupid?
#10
Old 09-21-2009, 05:09 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by naita View Post
Minor nitpick. How does not spending $3,000 to make $3,000 make you stupid?
*whoosh*
#11
Old 09-21-2009, 10:04 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by naita View Post
Minor nitpick. How does not spending $3,000 to make $3,000 make you stupid?
I was thinking the same thing, but my rationale for accepting it was even if the cost comes out in the wash, you're more likely to sell the house if it looks better. You can charge for the extra cost, and you sell the place. People, when looking at a house, may not realize that the re-flooring, re-painting, re-whatevering are built in to the price; they just realize that they like the way it looks and won't have to worry about re-doing it themselves.

That's just my guess. I'm not sure if that's the exact reason or of the poster just made a math error... but it's possible...
#12
Old 09-21-2009, 11:52 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by naita View Post
Minor nitpick. How does not spending $3,000 to make $3,000 make you stupid?
Heh... I meant 2%.

But it can be worth it just to make sure that more people will be interested, even if the cash comes out as a wash. Home buyers are often willing to pay a premium to have everything done already... and having one area of a house look unfinished or low quality makes buyers wonder whether the rest is worth as much as they think.
#13
Old 09-21-2009, 12:36 PM
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dracoi is correct. Even if you don't make a profit on it, it can help sell the house much quicker.

It seems to me that these things go through phases of popularity. What is in during one decade, won't be the next decade. To me, linoleum is associated with institutional decor such as high school and college. I think my wife's government building has linoleum in the hallways.
#14
Old 09-21-2009, 12:40 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dracoi View Post
Heh... I meant 2%.
I figured that was the case.
#15
Old 09-21-2009, 12:52 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dracoi View Post
(Just don't get me started on things like granite counter tops and stainless appliances. I swear, these are going to be our decade's equivalent of avocado green appliances, lucite and orange shag carpeting. In 2030, buyers will say "But the granite and stainless are so dated, I'll have to rip it out before I can live here.")
I would agree with you, except for the small-but-important reason that it's not ugly.

Silver and stone (unless it's garish) are about as neutral as you can get. Silver appliances are just this side of white and black. Avocado green and orange shag are as far from neutral as you can get, and thus potentially very dated.

What I don't understand is how blonde woods/laminate still remain popular. They looked cheap in the 1980s, they still look cheap now. White wash or darker woods (as long as they're not TOO dark, ala 1970s kitchens) aren't liable to get all that dated-- white is timeless, and dark woods have a long heritage in American design (think Arts & Crafts).

Speaking of dated, my GF tells me of how, growing up in West Texas, her grandmother had shag carpeting throughout the whole house. THROUGHOUT the whole house-- kitchen, bathroom, laundry room. Apparently, it was considered the height of luxury at one point. I can't imagine carpeting in any room routinely exposed to food (or what becomes of food). Yeesh.
#16
Old 09-21-2009, 01:23 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by davekhps View Post
What I don't understand is how blonde woods/laminate still remain popular. They looked cheap in the 1980s, they still look cheap now. White wash or darker woods (as long as they're not TOO dark, ala 1970s kitchens) aren't liable to get all that dated-- white is timeless, and dark woods have a long heritage in American design (think Arts & Crafts).
For laminate? price point.
Even with suppliers slashing granite prices left and right, it's still much more expensive than laminate.

As far as light woods, I also had them put in. One of the first things that people who had been in the kitchen before and after is that it looks much bigger now - which it does. Before, I had white cabinets (with dark trim). And the room closed in on you.
#17
Old 09-21-2009, 09:26 PM
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NYTimes article, from 1998(!):
Quote:
After the war, a waterproof synthetic called vinyl eclipsed linoleum, which took much longer to produce and could not provide the easy maintenance of vinyl's ''permanent no-wax shine.'' William K. Clark, the chairman of Azrock Industries, said vinyl flooring offered another advantage over linoleum: it resisted indentation from stiletto heels.

''Vinyl was cleaner, brighter and whiter,'' said Leonard A. Ludovico, a vice president of tiling for Congoleum. ''In the early 60's vinyl changed the world.''
http://nytimes.com/1988/03/10/ga...pagewanted=all
#18
Old 09-21-2009, 11:22 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Caffeine.addict View Post
dracoi is correct. Even if you don't make a profit on it, it can help sell the house much quicker.

It seems to me that these things go through phases of popularity. What is in during one decade, won't be the next decade. To me, linoleum is associated with institutional decor such as high school and college. I think my wife's government building has linoleum in the hallways.
Dudes... I already said that...
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