Linoleum / Cork / Rubber Flooring
Not all resilient products are vinyl. There are at least three that offer the “give” or bounce that resilient flooring is known for, but are a little out of the mainstream in look and/or feel. One of these specialty products may offer the perfect note for your home’s look. See if one of them sings to you.
Linoleum: Tough and Green
Linoleum, is made just as it was from the late 1800s through the 1960s, composed of linseed oil, wood flour or cork dust over canvas. It was resilient and pretty environmentally friendly then — and it’s even greener today. The color goes all the way through the sheets and it lasts forever. However, it has to be waxed to keep it looking good. (Vinyl floors are “no wax.”)
Linoleum has made a solid reappearance in the marketplace as a flooring choice for those who are environmentally conscientious. Because linoleum normally comes in sheets, it can be hand-cut to create unique color and shape patterns. It’s like painting your floors! Be aware that like sheet vinyl, linoleum in an unforgiving product and should be installed by a professional.
If linoleum has a drawback, however, it’s that the surface isn’t as resistant to dirt and grit as vinyl. You will want to use walk-off mats or rugs in entryways to protect it. Linoleum should be swept clean, washed with water and mild detergent, but not left wet. And did we mention that you’ll need to keep it waxed? If it’s look of linoleum you want without the waxing, vinyl flooring comes in linoleum colors and textures.
Cork: Natural and Renewable
Cork isn’t just for wine bottles, anymore. It’s actually the bark of a tree known as Cork Oak. Once a tree reaches the age of about 25, the bark can be stripped without hurting the tree. It can then be split every nine to 12 years, making cork a renewable resource. It’s a native of the Mediterranean region, where Portugal produces 50% of the world’s cork. And cork trees normally live 250 years or more.
The wonderful thing about cork is, because it’s a natural product, no two cork floors are alike. There will always be variations in patterns and coloring from tile to tile. Cork flooring is installed like hardwood flooring and once installed, a urethane or wax coating is applied to seal and protect it. Cork flooring is much warmer than wood and it is much quieter to walk on because of it’s natural sound absorbing qualities. It’s also naturally hypoallergenic and resistant to mold and mildew.
To keep your new cork floor clean, sweep it or vacuum it regularly, clean up spills immediately and use the cleaners recommended by the manufacturer. Never wet mop.
Cork floors that are sealed with wax instead of urethane will need to be re-waxed occasionally.
Rubber: Virtually Indestructible
Rubber flooring is not just for train stations and children’s playgrounds. Manufactured in a wide variety of colors — from bubblegum pink to aubergine (or eggplant!) and black — it brings a clean contemporary look to your home.
Bright or muted, smooth or textured. This versatile flooring offers a host of incentives to homeowners. Its vulcanized or cured surface is long lasting, especially in high traffic areas. And it’s easily cleaned because the surface is non-porous.
For the environmentally conscience, rubber is easily recycled and often contains previously recycled rubber. It’s unequalled in softness (or resiliency) and impact absorbency, which makes it the ideal surface if you are on your feet all day.
With its designer styles and colors and its renowned ability to resist stains and dents, rubber flooring might be just the answer for your home. It’s certainly worth bouncing the idea around!
Photo: Armstrong Linoleum - Nature Cote