How Marmoleum Flooring Functions

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Although linoleum flooring may remind you of outdated kitchens, its popularity is on the rise again. Check out more home design pictures here.

When you hear the term “linoleum,” you might immediately think of your grandmother’s kitchen floor – durable, yet dull. You might even believe that manufacturers have abandoned it long ago. However, you would be mistaken. In fact, more consumers, designers, and builders are choosing linoleum as an eco-friendly flooring option because it is made of natural, renewable materials. It has a long lifespan of 25 to 40 years and can be completely recycled using various methods once it wears out.

But that’s not the only reason why linoleum is regaining its popularity. Once considered the plain stepsister in hospital rooms and school hallways, linoleum has undergone a transformation. The depressing grays and boring beiges of the past have given way to vibrant colors and endless patterns. Thanks to new installation techniques, the flooring is also cheaper and easier to install than it used to be.

Over the years, “linoleum” has become a generic term for resilient flooring, similar to how Kleenex, Xerox, and other brand names have become synonymous with their respective fields. However, not all flexible flooring is created equal. Many people mistake linoleum for modern vinyl flooring, which is made from synthetic, petroleum-based materials. Most of today’s vinyl products are composed mainly of polyvinyl chloride (PVC), which is plastic. Today, only three companies in the world manufacture genuine linoleum using linseed oil and other natural materials. One of these companies is Forbo Flooring Systems, a British company that owns the trademark Marmoleum and holds 65% of the global market share [source: Forbo]. For more than a century, Forbo has been producing linoleum, and the process has changed little over time. The company has increased the appeal of linoleum by introducing more colors and making the durable flooring easier to maintain.

For those who are curious, Forbo’s Marmoleum was named after the words “marbleized linoleum.”

What Is Marmoleum Made of?

Linoleum, formerly known for being dull, now comes in numerous colors.

According to legend, Frederick Walton, an English inventor, came up with the idea for linoleum in 1860 while observing how linseed oil produced a rubber-like layer on top of a can of paint. Walton combined the oil with other natural materials and then pressed the mixture onto a fiber backing.

Initially, linoleum, which is derived from the Latin words “linum” (flax) and “oleum” (oil), was plain in appearance. The colors were dull and lacked design, but the flooring was durable and affordable.

In the 1960s, as plastics became more popular, flooring manufacturers began producing vinyl products. Vinyl could be manufactured more cheaply than linoleum and was just as durable. It could also be pressed into various designs, which is still one of its selling points today. Linoleum manufacturers could not keep up, and the flooring nearly became obsolete.

Now, linoleum is making a comeback, and Marmoleum is one of the most popular brands. It comes in more than 100 colors, and designs can be custom-made. For instance, installers can create borders and specialized patterns using an Aquajet (water-based) system.

The ingredients used in modern-day linoleum are similar to those in Walton’s original recipe. The main component is linseed oil, which is obtained from pressed flax seeds. Pine-tree rosin provides strength and flexibility, while wood flour or sawdust helps to bind pigments and create a smooth surface. The pigments used in Marmoleum are described as “ecologically responsible” and contain no heavy metals such as lead or cadmium. Limestone is used as a filler, and woven jute serves as the backing for the flooring. Marmoleum is produced in the Netherlands and Scotland by Forbo, which has numerous manufacturing plants.

Linoleum is made by heating linseed oil to high temperatures and mixing it with rosin to create linoleum “cement.” Wood dust, limestone, and pigments are then added to create colorful granules, which are blended together to make the linoleum base. The sheets are produced by passing the granules through a rolling machine called a calendar. The finished sheets are about 0.1 inches thick and are pressed onto a jute backing. The patterns and colors extend throughout the thickness of the material and don’t wear down. Topshield, a water-based finish, is applied to protect the product and make cleaning and maintenance easier.

Marmoleum can be installed in various forms, including long, wide sheets, planks, and tiles. While it is possible to install Marmoleum yourself, it may be better to hire a professional installer. The sub-floor must be level and prepared before installation, and cutting for a perfect fit requires expertise. Flooring specialists can ensure proper alignment for patterns or borders, and seams must be bonded using a heat process. The installation cost of Marmoleum is $2.75 to $3.55 per square foot.

Marmoleum floors require adhesive for installation, which depends on factors such as location, moisture content, and traffic. However, Forbo’s Marmoleum Click is a floating floor that uses a tongue-and-groove system and does not require adhesives. Cleaning is easy, and Marmoleum with Topshield does not need extra topcoats of finish unless it is damaged. Although Marmoleum is water-resistant, spills should be wiped immediately to avoid damage. Soft material should be used under furniture to avoid scratches. Colorfast, woven area rugs should be used, as rubber or latex-backed mats can stain the floor. When compared to other flooring materials, Marmoleum stacks up well. Solid wood is natural and beautiful, but susceptible to damage from spills and humidity. Plastic laminate is tough and easy to install, but cannot be refinished. Vinyl is good for kitchens and baths, but may not be as durable as linoleum. Linoleum is warm, resilient, and lasts up to 40 years, but surface wear varies.

Ceramic tiles are great for bathrooms and kitchens because they are durable and resistant to most damage and bacteria. They are also made from natural materials. However, they can be cold and slippery, and the grout used to install them can stain. Carpet is low maintenance and comes in many different styles, but it can be difficult to clean spills. It’s also a more affordable option, starting at about $2 per square foot.

Marmoleum, made from linseed oil, is considered environmentally friendly because it’s made from renewable materials and doesn’t use toxic chemicals or VOCs in the manufacturing process. One study found that flooring products contribute to global warming, with carpeting ranking high and linoleum at the low end of the spectrum. Marmoleum is naturally anti-bacterial and anti-static, making it ideal for health-care facilities and homes. It’s also long-lasting, with the linseed oil continuing to oxidize after installation, making it stronger over time. Marmoleum Click is popular because it doesn’t require adhesive and is appealing to those with asthma or allergies. The cleaning products for Marmoleum are water-based and don’t emit chemicals.

Additional Information

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More Useful Links

  • Forbo
  • Guide to Linoleum Flooring


  • Armstrong. “Armstrong Linoleum FAQs” (Feb. 17, 2012)
  • Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America. “Asthma and Allergy Certification Program.” (Feb. 17, 2012)
  • Consumer Reports. “Flooring.” Vol. 74, Issue 8. pp. 42-44. August 2009.
  • Day, Scott. Marketing Services Administrator, Forbo Flooring NA. Personal correspondence. Nov. 20, 2009.
  • The Economist. “The Joys of Green Lino.” Vol. 316, Issue 7662. Page 81. July 7, 1990.
  • “History of Linoleum.” (Feb. 17, 2012)
  • Forbo Flooring Systems. “Installation Guide.” (Feb. 21, 2012)
  • Forbo Flooring Systems. “Linoleum Collection Overview.” (Feb. 21, 2012)
  • Forbo Flooring Systems. “Residential Care Guide.” (Feb. 21, 2012)
  • Forbo Flooring Systems. “Sustain.” (Feb. 21, 2012)
  • Forbo Flooring Systems. “Sustainable development: Taking care of the environment.” (Feb. 23, 2012)
  • Forbo Flooring Systems. “Taking care of the environment.” (Feb. 21, 2012)
  • Green Building Supply. “Marmoleum.” (Feb. 17, 2012)
  • Klenck, Thomas. “How Vinyl Flooring is Made.” Popular Mechanics. Vol. 179, Issue 12. pp. 121-122. December 2002.
  • Petersen, Ann, and Solberg, Birger. “Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Costs over the Life Cycle of Wood and Alternative Flooring Materials. Climatic Change. Vol. 64, No. 1-2. pp. 143-167. May 2004.
  • Powell, Jane. “Lie Like a Rug.” Old House Journal. (Feb. 17, 2012)
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1. What is Marmoleum?

Marmoleum is a type of flooring made from natural materials such as linseed oil, wood flour, and jute. It is often used in commercial and residential settings and is known for its durability and sustainability.

2. How is Marmoleum made?

Marmoleum is made by mixing linseed oil, wood flour, and jute together and pressing the mixture onto a jute backing. The mixture is then heated and cooled to create a strong, durable material that can be cut into sheets or tiles for flooring.

3. What are the benefits of using Marmoleum?

Marmoleum is a sustainable flooring option that is environmentally friendly and easy to maintain. It is also durable and long-lasting, making it a great choice for high-traffic areas. Additionally, Marmoleum comes in a variety of colors and patterns, allowing for customization and design flexibility.

4. Is Marmoleum easy to clean?

Yes, Marmoleum is easy to clean and maintain. It can be swept or vacuumed regularly to remove dirt and debris, and can be mopped with a gentle cleaner when needed. Avoid using harsh chemicals or abrasive cleaners on Marmoleum, as this can damage the surface.

5. Can Marmoleum be used in bathrooms and kitchens?

Yes, Marmoleum can be used in bathrooms and kitchens. It is water-resistant and can withstand moisture, making it a great choice for these areas. Additionally, Marmoleum is naturally antimicrobial, which can help prevent the growth of bacteria and other harmful microorganisms.

6. How long does Marmoleum last?

Marmoleum is a durable flooring option that can last for many years with proper care and maintenance. On average, Marmoleum can last anywhere from 20-40 years, making it a great long-term investment.

7. Is Marmoleum eco-friendly?

Yes, Marmoleum is an eco-friendly flooring option. It is made from natural and renewable materials and does not contain any harmful chemicals or toxins. Additionally, Marmoleum is biodegradable and can be recycled at the end of its life.

8. How does Marmoleum compare to other flooring options?

Marmoleum is a unique flooring option that offers several benefits over other types of flooring. It is more sustainable and environmentally friendly than many other options, and is also more durable and long-lasting. Additionally, Marmoleum is naturally antimicrobial, which can help promote a healthier living environment.

9. Can Marmoleum be installed over existing flooring?

Yes, Marmoleum can be installed over existing flooring in most cases. However, it is important to ensure that the existing flooring is level and in good condition before installing Marmoleum on top of it.

10. How much does Marmoleum cost?

The cost of Marmoleum can vary depending on the size of the area being covered, the type of installation required, and other factors. On average, Marmoleum can cost anywhere from $5-$10 per square foot, making it a mid-range flooring option.

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