Linoleum and Vinyl – Is there any Difference?

Linoleum and vinyl are two terms which are used interchangeably by many. But are they really the same thing? Although one is often used as a substitute for another, and they are both types of resilient flooring, they are not one and the same.

Lino and vinyl flooring both have some things in common. For one, they are both able to return to their original shape with changes in temperature. As well, they are both resistant to stains and wear. Both types of flooring are available in rolls or tile form. Finally, vinyl flooring is a deliberate and man-made product introduced in the early 1930s, where lino was actually an accidental discovery made when linseed oil formed a ‘skin’ on a paint can in the mid-1800s.

Materials and Construction

Any kind of vinyl flooring, even products like Karndean flooring are constructed by combining several materials including felt, dye, fibreglass and, of course, vinyl. Linoleum, on the other hand, is made from several natural materials which include cork floors, tree resin, linseed oil and wood. Natural pigments and limestone are also ingredients in most lino flooring.


Linoleum flooring has natural anti-static and anti-microbial properties. This makes it an ideal choice for areas like the kitchen or an office which may house electronic components like computers or tablets. Linoleum is also fire retardant and very resistant to wear.

Vinyl offers added stability due to the fact that Ethylene and chlorine are used in its construction. These two ingredients also allow vinyl to resist heat very well as well as making it waterproof. Therefore, vinyl is also a great choice for a kitchen application. But its added durability also makes it a great option for high-traffic areas.


Although both vinyl and linoleum are very easily cleaned, the natural components of linoleum make more careful cleaning necessary. Where more durable vinyl flooring can be cleaned with standard products, lino is sensitive to high-pH. Therefore, if you choose the latter, any detergents you use to clean it should be of a neutral pH.


Because vinyl is known for its durability, it may be that this option is ideal for just about any room in your home that experiences a lot of wear. An example may be a child’s play room or dining area where the table, chairs or stools may be moved about on a regular basis. Linoleum flooring may be most ideal in areas experiencing use and wear that’s moderate or below. However, there are many brands of lino to choose from, some with more durability than others.

Choosing the right Flooring for your Home

The decision about whether to go with lino or vinyl flooring for your home depends on more than one factor. First, you will need to figure out what your rooms are being used for, and how long they will be used for that purpose. For example, a child’s playroom floor will need to last for a number of years, and through many different types of traffic and wear.

The next thing to consider is how much of an investment you wish to make. Vinyl tends to be the lower-cost option, but if you find it won’t suit your tastes in a year or two, your original investment will be higher. If you’re looking for more choice in patterns and colours, vinyl does offer a larger selection. However, colour only inhabits the top of vinyl flooring which can wear out quickly in high-traffic areas. With linoleum, the colour is present throughout its construction.

Choosing any flooring for your home should be a careful and deliberate process. Regardless of the way in which you wish to cover your floors, knowing the differences between vinyl and linoleum flooring can help you make an educated decision about which is best to purchase.