Eco benefits of Linoleum

Frequently Asked Questions & Interesting Facts

Linoleum is the oldest form of resilient floor covering, invented in England in 1863 by Frederick Walton who coined the name linoleum from the Latin name, linum, which means flax, and oleum, which means oil.  Until the 1950s linoleum was a popular floor covering used widely in both residential and commercial settings. With the advent of vinyl floor coverings that took the market by storm, the tried and true but old fashioned linoleum became less common.

Today as what may be called the ultimate in natural floor-coverings, linoleum is enjoying a world wide resurgence in popularity.

 

How is linoleum manufactured?

Oxidized linseed oil (or a combination of oxidized linseed oil and tall oil) and rosin are mixed with the other raw materials to form linoleum granules, which are pressed onto a jute backing, making linoleum sheets. These are then hung in drying rooms to allow them to cure and to acquire the required flexibility and resilience. To achieve maximum waste reduction all linoleum remnants are recycled back into the production process. All linoleum manufacturing at Tarkett takes place in accordance with ISO 14001 standards.

For the technically minded -

Linseed oil

Linseed oil, the most important raw material used to make linoleum, is obtained by pressing the seeds of the flax plant. In the past linseed oil was used as cooking oil, as well as for lighting. Tall oil, a recycled post-industrial by-product of the Kraft paper industry, is a resin based fatty acid. In combination with linseed oil, it optimizes the oxidation process in the production of linoleum.

Rosin

Rosin, the binding agent in linoleum, is tapped from pine trees, without affecting growth. Together with linseed oil, rosin gives linoleum its strength and flexibility.

Wood flour

Wood flour is used to bind the pigments and to ensure colour fastness. Linoleum will keep its beautiful, vibrant colours throughout its lifespan. Another reason for using wood flour is that it helps to optimize a smooth surface. Wood flour is made from timber grown in controlled European forests, where every tree felled is replaced.

Limestone

Limestone is found all over the world in enormous quantities. Very finely ground, it is a valuable ingredient of linoleum.

Pigments

The most beautiful colours are created by using ecologically responsible pigments that do not contain heavy metals such as lead and cadmium.

Jute

From the wide variety of materials available for making the floor covering's backing we prefer natural jute. The yarn for the webbing is spun from jute grown in India and Bangladesh. This also makes vital economic contributions to these developing countries.

 

So it's natural, but can linoleum be recycled?

Sooner or later - usually after around 25 to 40 years - linoleum need to be replaced. Various options present themselves in terms of waste disposal -

Incineration

Burnt in an energy-recycling incineration plant, linoleum products produce a residual calorific value that is comparable to that of coal (18.6 Mj/kg). The amount of C0² released during incineration is roughly equivalent to that taken up by the natural raw materials used (flax plants, trees and jute plants). Therefore, linoleum is a closed loop system: the energy obtained from incinerating linoleum is roughly equivalent to or even more than that which is used in production.

Landfill

As a common alternative to incineration, linoleum can be safely added to landfill refuse sites, where natural decomposition takes place. Linoleum is fully biodegradable and does not release harmful substances or gases such as chlorine and dioxins.  As linoleum's raw materials are provided by nature, and decomposition returns linoleum to nature, this is essentially the ultimate form of recycling.

 

Does linoleum emit VOCs?

No.  Linoleum is made from natural materials so there is no off gassing. Linoleum contains virtually no trace of toxic material and is naturally beneficial to air quality.

 

Is it difficult to maintain? 

Linoleum floors can be kept in good condition for a very long time without need for major maintenance. Tarkett's XF finish mean no sealers or polishers are required.  The most effective method for removing dust and loose dirt is by dry maintenance. Linoleum is naturally anti-microbial so does not need liberal doses of disinfectants.

 

There must be some limitations to using linoleum? 

No floor covering is perfect for every installation.  Linoleum must be protected from moisture in the subfloor, and thus, it should not be installed over uncured concrete or on below-grade floors. In addition, linoleum should not be exposed to strong acids, alkalis, bleach or solvents as this will break down structure of linoleum.  Therefore linoleum should not be installed in wet areas, hospital wards, external areas and any other area that is subject to acid, alkalis, bleach or solvents spills.

 

View the Tarkett linoleum product pages, including colour swatches, product information and downloads.