Working with Linoleum Flooring

Linoleum flooring, also known as lino, provides a durable, easy-to-care-for flooring option that has been popular since the late 1800s. Made primarily from renewable natural materials such as linseed oil, pine resins, cork dust, wood flour, and mineral fillers, linoleum flooring is an eco-friendly choice. While it requires some specific care and maintenance, working with linoleum floors is generally straightforward. Here is a detailed guide to everything you need to know about living with and maintaining linoleum floors in your home.

Choosing Linoleum Floors

When selecting linoleum as a flooring material, there are a few considerations to keep in mind:

  • Style – Linoleum comes in a vast array of colors, patterns, and finishes. Traditional linoleum has a marbled look, but modern linoleum is available in solid colors and wood-look finishes too. Consider the overall decor of the space when selecting a style.
  • Room – Linoleum works well in kitchens, bathrooms, laundry rooms, and mudrooms where moisture and spills are common. The seamless water-resistant surface makes it a practical option in wet areas.
  • Durability – Top quality linoleum can last upwards of 40 years with proper care and maintenance. The durability makes it ideal for high-traffic spaces.
  • Underlayment – Proper underlayment helps minimize subfloor imperfections, provides cushy comfort underfoot, and helps absorb sound. Use linoleum underlayment, not carpet padding.
  • Professional Installation – Due to the need for waterproof seams and proper adhesive, professional installation is recommended for linoleum floors.

Caring for Linoleum Floors

Linoleum is low maintenance, but it does require some simple regular care to look its best and extend its lifespan. Here are some linoleum floor care tips:


  • Sweep, dust mop, or vacuum the floor frequently to remove dirt and grit that can wear down the surface.
  • For routine cleaning, use linoleum floor cleaner and a damp mop. Avoid excess water.
  • Use a neutral pH cleaner, not acidic or alkaline cleaners that can yellow the floor.
  • Occasionally use a linoleum polish/wax to enhance the shine and protect the finish.


  • Use walk-off mats at entrances to keep dirt and grit off the floors.
  • Area rugs can help protect linoleum in high-traffic areas. Use ones with a breathable back material.
  • Furniture legs and chair casters should have wide, smooth, non-staining glides or protectors.
  • Wipe up spills immediately to prevent stains and water damage.
  • Avoid abrasive scouring pads, steel wool, or wax strippers which can scratch the surface.
  • Don’t use rubber mats or cocoa-backed mats as they can stain linoleum floors.
  • Minimize direct sunlight exposure to prevent fading. Use curtains or blinds.


  • For small scratches or scuffs, use a linoleum wax polish and buff to blend the area.
  • Severe damage may require professional services to repair or replace affected areas.
  • If the floor gets etched or stained despite care, linoleum floors can be refinished instead of being fully replaced.
  • Edge lifting can be re-adhered with adhesive remover and new adhesive. But avoid excessive moisture under lifted areas.


Below are answers to some frequently asked questions about living with and maintaining linoleum floors.

Is linoleum flooring waterproof?

While water-resistant, linoleum itself is not 100% waterproof. It needs to be professionally installed over a moisture barrier for waterproofing. Spills should also be wiped up promptly. With proper installation and care, it performs well in wet areas like kitchens and baths.

How long does linoleum flooring last?

Top-quality linoleum can last 40+ years with proper care and maintenance. Lower-end linoleum may start showing wear after 15-25 years. The lifespan depends on quality, usage, and maintenance.

Does linoleum flooring scratch easily?

Quality linoleum is quite durable and scratch-resistant for a flooring material. However, it can be scratched by sharp objects. Using furniture glides and area rugs can help minimize scratching. Scratches are also easily buffed out.

Can you use vinegar to clean linoleum floors?

It’s best to avoid vinegar, lemon juice, and other acids for cleaning linoleum floors. The acidic pH can cause the linoleum to yellow and degrade over time. Mild, neutral pH cleaners specially formulated for linoleum are recommended.

How do you remove stains from linoleum floors?

For accidental spills or drips that cause stains, promptly wipe the area with a cloth dampened with mild linoleum cleaner diluted in water. Do not use abrasives. If needed, a linoleum wax polish can help further blend and conceal stains. Severe stains may require professional refinishing.

What is the best way to disinfect linoleum floors?

To safely disinfect linoleum floors, use a linoleum-safe disinfectant, or a mild bleach and water solution. Avoid harsh chemicals like ammonia. Always rinse with clean water after disinfecting, and ventilate the area well.

Can you refinish linoleum floors?

Yes, refinishing is an option for linoleum floors that are badly scratched, stained, or just showing signs of wear. A professional will lightly abrade the floor and apply new layers of linoleum wax/sealer to refresh the look and protect the surface.

Should you wax linoleum floors?

Waxing is not essential, but can help enhance shine and provide extra protection. Use a thin coat of a linoleum wax polish once or twice per year. Avoid paste wax which can yellow the floors. Always follow the manufacturer’s directions closely when applying any wax polish.

Working with Professionals

For installing, repairing, or refinishing linoleum floors, it’s advisable to hire an experienced professional flooring contractor. Here are some tips for working with linoleum flooring pros:


  • Have the subfloor inspected to ensure it is structurally sound, level, and dry. Any needed repairs should be completed prior to installation.
  • Hire a contractor experienced in linoleum floor installation. Proper moisture barriers, underlayment, and adhesives are vital.
  • Be present at time of installation to ensure proper procedures are followed and the flooring looks satisfactory upon completion.
  • Review manufacturer’s care instructions with installer and have them provide written instructions for maintenance.


  • For minor repairs like re-adhering lifted edges, hire a flooring pro with experience working with linoleum floors.
  • For staining, major gouges, or tears, refinishing or replacing damaged sections may be needed. Seek an experienced linoleum floor refinisher.
  • Prior to repairs, discuss options like patching vs full replacement, estimated costs and timeframes. Get a written contract for the work.


  • Linoleum can be refinished rather than fully replaced when worn or damaged. Refinishing restores appearance and protects the surface.
  • Full replacement may still be required if the damage is severe or subfloor/adhesive issues are also present.
  • A pro will assess condition, repair any subfloor problems, lightly abrade, apply new sealant/wax layers, and buff for a refreshed look.

Transitioning to Other Flooring

There may be situations where you need to transition from linoleum to other types of flooring in adjacent rooms. Here are some tips:

Linoleum to Carpet

  • Use a thin metal transition strip to bridge the slight height difference between the floors. Anchor firmly.
  • Opt for low-profile carpet in the adjacent room so the transition is less noticeable. Higher pile will have a more visible ledge.
  • Stagger the seam so it doesn’t fall right at the doorway where foot traffic will hit it. Keep seams at least several inches from doorways.

Linoleum to Wood

  • Wood also requires a thin transition strip due to height differences. Metal, vinyl/rubber, or wood strips are options.
  • Make sure wood flooring is well-sealed to prevent moisture migration underneath at the seam.
  • Consider using similar tones – light wood floors flow well with beige or tan linoleum for example.

Linoleum to Tile

  • Use a flexible caulk to smooth the transition between linoleum and tile.
  • In bathrooms, make sure tile extends slightly under the linoleum for better water protection.
  • Selecting linoleum and tile colors in the same tone family results in a more seamless transition.

Costs of Linoleum Flooring

On average, professionally installed linoleum flooring costs $3-5 per square foot including labor and materials. Here are some factors affecting overall costs:

  • Type/quality: Basic linoleum starts around $2 per square foot, while high-end linoleum can cost over $5 per square foot.
  • Pattern: Solid color linoleum is most affordable, while intricate custom prints or stone looks cost more.
  • Installation: Simple glue-down applications are the most budget-friendly. Subfloor prep, removals, underlayment, seam treatments, etc. can add costs.
  • Labor: National averages range $3-5 per square foot for professional installation, not including the cost of the flooring itself.
  • Additional expenses: You may need to factor in costs for moving appliances/furniture, transitions between flooring types, new baseboards, disposal fees, etc.
  • Location: Labor costs are generally higher in areas with a higher cost of living. Material costs are similar nationwide.

Always get quotes from several flooring contractors based on your specific project details. Many also offer financing options.


With proper installation, care, and maintenance, linoleum makes an attractive, eco-friendly, and durable flooring choice. Its resilience and water-resistant properties make linoleum a practical option for busy households. By sweeping frequently, mopping with mild cleaner, treating spills promptly, and using rugs in heavy traffic areas, linoleum floors can stay looking fresh for decades. Periodic professional cleaning or refinishing as needed will also help enhance the longevity, appearance, and performance of your linoleum flooring investment. If choosing to install linoleum floors, be sure to hire an experienced flooring pro and discuss your usage, expectations, and maintenance regimen to ensure it will meet your needs. With a little care, linoleum floors can provide lasting beauty and enjoyment for years to come.