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Linoleum The Natural Choice

Quality safe floor covering since 1870, made from 97% percent natural raw materials.

Linoleum Products For The Home

Linoleum has long been enjoying a resurgence in popularity as a commercial and institutional floor covering.   However now, the new click flooring product by Forbo Flooring Systems, Marmoleum®Click Cinch Loc puts linoleum in the hands of the homeowner and makes installing linoleum a cinch.

Linoleum The Early Years

By 1870 until about the mid 1900s linoleum was a very popular floor covering.  Originally linoleum was made from a solidified mixture of linseed oil, flax, cork, wood floor and pigments, pressed together with heavy rollers on a canvas backing.

The story begins in 1855 when Frederick Walton quite by accident noticed that a skin of dried linseed oil formed on the top of a can of linseed oil that he was using as paint thinner when he forgot to seal it properly one night.   Curiously peeling it from the can he tried to think of ways that the rubbery substance could be used.   Walton began experimenting with ways of drying the linseed oil quicker and continued working at things that the rubber substance could be used for.

Walton applied for the first patent of his newly named material ‘Linoleum’ in 1860 and established the Linoleum Manufacturing Company Ltd., in 1864 in Staines, England.   He was exporting Linoleum to cities in Europe and the United States by 1869.

At that time the main competition to linoleum was oil-cloth which had been prevalent since the 1700s, however linoleum was more durable, and linoleum eventually extinguished the competition of oil cloth all together.

Sir Michael Nairn, who had previously been manufacturing oil-cloth in Scotland opened the American Nairn Linoleum Company in Kearny, New Jersey in 1878, and began manufacturing and distributing linoleum in the United States.

Walton Sues Nairn for Trademark Infringement

Walton sued Nairn for trademark infringement in the British Courts.  However in 1887 the British Courts ruled against Walton, because he had failed to register linoleum as a trade name and also because the use of the word linoleum had already become so commonplace the term linoleum was then deemed a generic term.

By the fifteenth year after linoleum was first invented its use in homes and buildings had become so prevalent that by some reports, it was the first choice in floor covering.

The Armstrong Cork and Tile Company started in Pittsburgh Pennsylvania in 1860 and consisted of a two man cork-cutting operation.   Started by Thomas Armstrong, the son of Scottish-Irish immigrants the company grew to the largest cork supplier in the world by 1890s and by 1908 opened its plant in Lancaster, Pennsylvania where it began the manufacture of linoleum.

Linoleum Gives Way To Vinyl

The popularity of linoleum began to wain after the second world war with the growing number of vinyl products and patterns being made available.  The vast array of bright colours and fashionable prints of sheet vinyl gave the new 12’  water-proof material an obvious advantage in appearance over linoleum.  The newer PVC was very often less in cost and more modern looking.

Environmental Issues Begin To Surface

Even after asbestos is removed from vinyl floor coverings in the late 1970s and early 1980s sufficient environmental questions remain regarding  the safety of vinyl, to concern the environmentally minded.

Questions regarding VOCs volatile organic compounds in vinyl are raised.

Subsequently, linoleum begins to look very good again, with its  long lasting and hard wearing, durability and  its being made from natural, safe raw materials. 

At this point in history, linoleum's excellent safety record of being hypoallergenic, antimicrobial and bacteriostatic are very important environment considerations going forward. 

Custom Linoleum Insert Examples

This Forbo Marmoleum display above was made in 1995 and still to this day is showing no shrinkage in the seams.

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