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Sheet Vinyl and Linoleum

Sheet Vinyl and Linoleum are often referred to interchangeably. They are both categorized as ‘resilient flooring material,’ which means they can restore their shape more easily and thoroughly than other flooring materials. As an example, they are far more likely to ‘bounce back’ from falling objects (like heavy pots and pans) than ending up with a permanent dent or gouge – as would most hardwoods and porcelain tile. They also reclaim their shape far more easily when weight bearing objects (like tables or chairs) have been removed after extended periods.

That said, there are far more differences between the two than initially meets the eye…starting with how they’re manufactured.

Linoleum is constructed entirely from natural resources (such as Linseed oil, wood and cork flour, and tree resin), making it very appealing to the environment-conscious consumer. It also comes with a protective outer layer known as “bloom” which eventually disappears upon extended exposure to sunlight. When this happens, the actual color changes somewhat, making it exceedingly difficult for the consumer to assess the ‘true color’ prior to the flooring’s installation. Linoleum is not quite as flexible as sheet vinyl, and it is also trickier to maintain as it requires a ph balanced cleaner and should be polished, once or twice a year, due to its porous surface.

Sheet Vinyl, on the other hand, is mainly composed of synthetics such as PVC. There are two types of Sheet Vinyl:

  • Felt Backed Sheet Vinyl which comes with a top, polyurethane-type coat preventing the floor from potential scratching and scuffing, a protective clear vinyl layer (to fend off rips, tears and gouges) and a printed vinyl design layer. The felt backing adheres directly to the subfloor.
  • Fiberglass Sheet Vinyl is constructed in much the same way as felt-backed Sheet Vinyl, except that it also incorporates a resilient, foam layer giving it a more cushioned-like feel underfoot. Cushioned sheet vinyl also provides for greater dimensional stability with its fiberglass backing because it won’t curl, can be installed without glue, and typically lays flat. Overall, sheet vinyl is easier to maintain. It does not require regular polishing.


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