Linoleum is a green flooring material that has been gaining in popularity more each year. Linoleum was used in home throughout most of the 20th century until PVC-based vinyl flooring options gained popularity after World War II. Unlike vinyl floors, linoleum gets stronger with age and can last 30 to 40 years.
Linoleum is a natural material made primarily from linseed oil, pine rosin, sawdust, cork dust, limestone, and jute. Invented and patented in Britain in 1845, linoleum was first manufactured in the 1860s in Scotland.
Linoleum can be installed above plywood or concrete subfloors. Most linoleum can be installed on grade or above grade, but there is some linoleum that is approved for below grade installations. While linoleum was originally installed in large sheets, there are now linoleum tiles and floating floors similar to hardwood flooring systems.
Linoleum is often installed in healthcare facilities where hygiene is important because of unique bactericidal properties of the product. Linoleum continues to oxidize over its life, and this oxidation process apparently kills bacteria or prevents them from multiplying, thus reducing the need for disinfecting treatments. Tests showed inhibition of the following bacteria: Bacillus cereus, Bacillus cereus (spores) , Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Salmonella ryphimurium, Staphylococcus aureus, and Appergillus nigerrevisiae.
Tools and Materials
Utility Knife with hooked blades or a linoleum knife (shown below)
Brown Paper for templates or patterns
Stagger underlayment sheet seams at least 12 inches from all subfloor seams.
Leave 1/8 inch gap around the perimeter for expansion.
Use ¼ inch crown divergent staples or 3d ring shank nails for fastening the underlayment spaced 4 inches apart in the field and 2 inches apart along the seams.
Allow about 1/16-inch gap between underlayment sheets. Fill the gaps with floor leveling compound and sand so the seams are flush.
Make sure that there are no nails or staples protruding from the underlayment. Pound down any nails with a hammer and fill any dents with floor leveling compound.
Sweep and vacuum the subfloor.
Place your linoleum in the area where it will be installed for about 2 days to acclimate to the temperature and humidity.
Remove any baseboard or shoe molding.
Undercut door casings so the linoleum can be slide underneath the trim.
Measuring and Cutting
1. Measure the floor you are installing the linoleum in and add 3 inches to all perimeter measurements. It may be helpful to make a pattern out of brown packing paper. You may want to snap a chalk line square to one wall as a reference while lining up the sheets. Use a carpenter’s along the wall to line up the string of use the 3-4-5 triangle method.
2. Cut out the sheet linoleum based on your floor measurements.
3. Roll up the linoleum sheet and place it in the room. Unroll it and carefully trim away the excess around the perimeter and cut around obstacles. If your room requires 2 pieces of linoleum, align the pieces so that they overlap by at least 1 inch. If the linoleum has a pattern such as grout lines, use these to conceal the seam.
4. At each seam overlap, make sure that the patterns match. Tape the two pieces of linoleum together with masking tape, not painter’s tape.
5. Using a metal straightedge, cut through both pieces of linoleum at the seam. After cutting, align the edges so they are flush. Tape the seam together.
6. If you are using a linoleum pattern kit, use the same process cutting around each pattern and taping the linoleum in place afterwards.
7. Trim the linoleum around the perimeter leaving a gap for expansion. This gap will be recommended by the manufacturer.
Gluing and Sealing
8. Starting with the largest piece, roll half of the sheet back opposite the seam and hold it in place with a weight or tape.
9. Apply the adhesive to the floor according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
10. Lay the first half of the sheet back down onto the adhesive and apply pressure from the center to the edges with a roller.
11. Trace the edge of the seam onto the subfloor with a pencil. Roll back the other half of the partially glued sheet and half of the other sheet away from the seam. This will allow you to apply adhesive on both sides of the seam. If the second sheet is small enough, you can remove it and apply adhesive to the rest of the floor. Follow the instructions from the linoleum and adhesive manufacturer for gluing the seams.
12. Roll out both sheets aligning the seams and roll out the floor with a roller, 100-lb rollers are typically used.
13. Repeat the process for any other seams around patterns.
14. Roll the entire floor again with a 100-lb roller if recommended by the manufacturer.
15. Seal all seams with a seam sealer kit that is compatible with your flooring. Not all kits are compatible with all linoleum flooring.
16. Allow the floor to cure for 24 to 72 hours. Do not place any heavy objects back onto the floor and keep foot traffic to a minimum.