Buying Guide for Vinyl and Linoleum Flooring

These attractive, affordable kitchen flooring materials have a lot to offer including colors and patterns to fit your kitchen style and cleanup that is very easy. This page is your source for:

  • An overview of three flooring types: vinyl sheet, linoleum sheet and vinyl plank flooring
  • Wear and durability information for each
  • Pros & cons of vinyl and linoleum
  • Leading brands and trends
  • Flooring prices for all three types

vinyl and linoleum kitchen flooring

Introduction to Vinyl Sheet, Vinyl Plank and Linoleum Flooring

Since these really are three different materials, let’s look at them individually.

Vinyl sheet flooring includes a core of plastic vinyl fused to a felt or fiberglass backing. A decorative layer of vinyl is added to the core, and that layer can be created to look like wood, stone, tile or other material using photoengraved plates and a printing process known as rotogravure. The range of colors in the decorative layer is very wide. The decorative layer may be textured to simulate stone or wood.

The top layer is a clear wear layer that resists scuffing, cuts and tears. The thickness of the wear layer – and sometimes vinyl chips added for enhanced good looks – is a major part of determining the cost of the vinyl. Rolls 12’ wide are the most common, but vinyl sheet flooring can be found in 13’6”, 14’6”, 15’6”, 16’4” and other widths. In recent years, vinyl sheet flooring is being marketed by the industry as resilient flooring.

Luxury vinyl flooring is often referred to as LVT (luxury vinyl tile) and is available in square and rectangular pieces. Made similarly to standard vinyl sheet flooring, LVT is more durable, very attractive and has a thick, tough wear layer. Luxury vinyl tile is made to mimic wood, granite, tile and other popular materials including the appropriate type of surface texturing. Common size pieces are 12” square, 18” square, 12”x24” rectangles and 4”x36” planks.

Linoleum flooring is an ecofriendly flooring option that ruled the market from the late l9th century into the 1960s. A canvas base is covered in a thick layer of wood flour or cork dust blended with linseed oil. The blend is pigmented in a wide variety of colors with mottling and slight changes in hue for beauty and interest. The flooring needs to be sealed to maintain its good looks and resistance to moisture and stains. The vast majority of linoleum rolls are 6’ or 7’ wide.

Vinyl and Linoleum Wear and Durability

How heavily the floors are traversed and how often they’re cleaned of dirt and debris are huge factors in the life expectancy of these flooring types.

There are many grades of vinyl sheet flooring across the various manufacturers. Those with a thin wear layer are the most affordable but might look good for only 4-6 years where shoes are worn indoors and traffic is heavy. The best vinyl flooring looks good for 10-20 years, especially where sand and dirt that can scuff floors and dull them is swept up on a regular basis.

Luxury vinyl tile, LVT, has better wear and durability, so you can expect 12-20 years from it, more when the floors are cleaned regularly.

Linoleum offers outstanding durability for the dollar. Many floors made from this quality material last 20 years, and 30+ years is possible. Keeping the floor cleaned and waxed is the key to linoleum durability.

Vinyl and Linoleum Flooring Advantages and Disadvantages

These materials share some pros and cons, and then each of them has their own that are worth a look.

Vinyl and Linoleum Flooring Pros:

  • Wide range of colors, patterns and “looks”
  • The least expensive flooring, especially sheet vinyl
  • Sheets offer excellent resistance to moisture; good resistance to stains
  • Non-porous materials that clean up very easily
  • Warmer than tile and natural stone

Vinyl and Linoleum Flooring Cons:

  • Don’t last as long as other flooring types
  • Mimic the look of other materials, but only to a point
  • Can be cut by a dropped knife or object with a sharp corner

More on roll vinyl: Vinyl sheet flooring is good low-cost flooring for smaller budgets or when fixing up the kitchen while preparing to sell the house is important. Some cheaper vinyl flooring can be slick when wet, presenting a slip and fall hazard. Finally, the manufacturing of vinyl flooring is considered by many to be hazardous, and volatile organic compounds/chemicals leach from the material for a period of time after production. The material is not recyclable.

More on LVT: Luxury vinyl tile is a trending material, and new styles are being created each year. While standard vinyl has a wear layer that averages 10ml, the wear layer on LVT can exceed 20ml. With thicker materials, some LVT can be installed on top of existing flooring such as wood, stone or vinyl. On the downside, tiles and planks have seams similar to hardwood and laminate that can allow moisture through, so spills should be cleaned up quickly. Concerns about the manufacture of LVT are similar to those about vinyl sheet flooring, though most manufacturers are working to create products with lower VOC emissions.

More on linoleum: This is one of the most ecofriendly flooring options available today because of its natural materials, green production process and that it is recyclable. Linoleum is anti-bacterial, won’t burn and can be repaired. It will absorb moisture, so must be sealed after installation and periodically in the future. Because rolls of linoleum aren’t as wide as vinyl rolls, most rooms will have a seam, and seams must be tight to limit moisture penetration.

Leading Brands of Vinyl and Linoleum Flooring

Here’s where to look to find more information about specific lines of products.

Vinyl sheet flooring:

LVT flooring:

Linoleum flooring:

  • Armstrong
  • Marmoleum
  • Tarkett

The Cost of Vinyl and Linoleum Flooring

All the details for the price of vinyl flooring and the price of linoleum are covered in the Vinyl and Linoleum Flooring Price Guide. But, here is an overview of the costs including the material and installation. The ranges take into account whether the flooring is good, better or best from a manufacturer, who installs the flooring and a range of other factors discussed in the Price Guide.

  • Vinyl sheet flooring price: $2.25 to $4.15 per square foot
  • Luxury vinyl tile price: $5.00 to $7.10 per square foot
  • Linoleum flooring price: $2.05 to $3.15 per square foot

Vinyl, LVT and Linoleum Flooring FAQ

This Q&A includes additional information you’ll want to know about these flooring types.

Can you provide more information on VOCs related to vinyl?

VOCs are volatile organic compounds that leach from flooring material and reduce air quality. Most often, the period just after installation is the worst time for VOC leaching. If you’re going to purchase vinyl or carpet, ask your flooring retailer about low-VOC lines. Keep your home well-vented in the weeks after installation – until that “new flooring” smell goes away. Your other option is to choose another one of the flooring types with little or no VOC issues such as ceramic tile, natural stone and linoleum.

What is the most cost-effective flooring for the short-term?

Cheap vinyl flooring gives any floor a quick makeover for little expense. In the long-run, linoleum is a better value. It costs about 50% more than vinyl but can last twice as long with a little TLC.

Why did linoleum go out of style in the 1960s? What accounts for the resurgence?

The marketing of vinyl flooring pushed it past linoleum in popularity. Then, most linoleum manufacturers here either switched to vinyl or went out of business. Linoleum is coming back primarily because it is a green flooring alternative to carpet, vinyl and even natural wood flooring that is stained and sealed on site. The fact that it is inexpensive, warm, soft and available in a growing number of styles helps too.

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