The lifecycle of linoleum flooring begins when the linseed oil and other materials are first sourced, all the way through
to the disposal of the post–consumer, final product. In this section we also explore the origin of the resources used
to make the flooring as well as the manufacturing and installation processes. Understanding the linoleum flooring lifecycle
is essential in determining the product's carbon footprint and total ecological impact. A carbon footprint is the impact an
entity (i.e. person; business; product) has on the environment measured in units of carbon dioxide (CO2). Use this section on
Green.FindAnyFloor.com™ to learn more about the lifecycle of linoleum flooring.
Origin of linoleum flooring:
Linoleum is made of materials like linseed oil, pine rosin, and wood and cork flours. All of these materials can be
sourced without harming the natural ecosystems. Linseed oil is pressed from flax seeds, the rosin
is harvested from pine trees, and the wood and cork flours are, in most cases, recovered industrial waste. Many of these
materials are sourced in Europe, where most linoleum floors are made.
How linoleum flooring is transported:
The vast majority of the linoleum flooring sold in North America is manufactured in Europe. It is transported by
freighters, trains and trucks. The use of freighters is a relatively efficient form of transportation as they carry so much
cargo at once. Of course, trains, freighters and trucks are still capable of emitting a large amount of greenhouse gasses
into the atmosphere, which can account for a larger carbon footprint.
How linoleum flooring is processed:
The process used to make linoleum flooring first involves pressing flax plant seeds to create linseed oil. The linseed oil
is the base and main ingredient of the mixture used to make linoleum floors. The linseed oil is then exposed to oxygen or
heated until it thickens into a rubbery mass. After it's properly hardened, it is ground up and mixed with other ingredients
that have been pulverized (i.e. wood flour; pine rosin; cork flour; in some cases ground limestone). The resulting mixture,
referred to as "linoleum cement," is then rolled onto backing, such as jute for sheet goods, and hung to dry. The drying, or
curing, process is very important as it helps give linoleum floors their resiliency. The linoleum is then cut up in tiles or
planks, or left in roll form.
How linoleum flooring is installed:
In sheet goods and tile form, linoleum is glued directly to the subfloor with a full–spread adhesive.
Click–lock flooring is connected into floating floors without glue or other fasteners. These floors "float" between the
walls of the room, inter–connected but not attached to the subfloor. Linoleum floors are recommended for on– and
above–grade installation, as well as below grade in some cases. It can also be installed in areas that are susceptible
to moisture (e.g. the bathroom and kitchen).
Disposing of linoleum flooring:
At the end of its useful life, linoleum can be recycled, incinerated, or sent to a landfill. When incinerated in an energy
recovery system, linoleum produces roughly the same amount of energy that was used to create it. Linoleum is fully
biodegradable and decomposes in landfills without releasing harmful gases (the way vinyl flooring does).