Is linoleum out of fashion? It shouldn’t be.

Every so often someone tells me linoleum is out of fashion. I don’t understand it. We have a linoleum kitchen floor and we love it.

A former coworker told me his ex-wife cleans a lot of high-end houses, and the cool kids are all replacing linoleum with stone or tile.

The cool kids are making a mistake. In 2009, I replaced a trendy tile floor with Marmoleum, a brand of linoleum. It’s one of the best things I ever did. If my son takes a tumble on the linoleum, it’s usually not a big deal. It’s not like it’s foam rubber or something, but he has to tumble really hard to hurt himself.

On tile, he was more prone to fall because that junk was slippery. And if he did fall, it hurt. It was like falling on concrete.

But the tile was exceptionally high maintenance. You pretty much had to mop it every other day for it to look decent. It attracted and held onto dirt like a magnet.

The linoleum looks great if you mop it once a week. If my wife gets busy and misses a week, I never notice, although she seems to. What I do know is that she mopped it on Saturday morning, and right now, four days later, it looks like she just mopped.

The other problem with tile was breakage. After about five years, every tile around the refrigerator was broken, due to something falling out of the freezer. Popping tile up and replacing it is possible, but it’s a project. I did it a couple of times and I can’t say I miss it.

Stone theoretically ought to hide dirt better than ceramic tile in the cleaning department, but my wife’s family likes to rent a condo on the Gulf Coast every summer, and invariably the kitchens have stone floors. We’re cleaning them every single day. No thank you.

I do think a lot of people confuse vinyl with linoleum. Given where my boss lives and the age of the houses there, I think vinyl is a lot more likely. He also said after 9 years, his “linoleum” is shot. Given that it’s common to find 100-year-old linoleum in old houses that’s still perfectly serviceable, I think he has vinyl rather than linoleum. I can see vinyl wearing out in 9 years.

Tile, and especially stone, are very trendy right now. But they’re high maintenance, and I suspect they’re just a trend, like wood paneling in the 1970s and 1980s. Back then it was the thing to do, but now when people run into it, they either tear it out or paint over it.

If I were faced with a kitchen in need of a new floor, I’d put linoleum down in a heartbeat. Pick a shade or shades that go with pretty much anything and don’t go out of style, lay it down, and forget about it. You may never have the trendiest floor on the block, but it will be functional, and it will outlive you.

It sure beats having to put down a new floor every decade.

3 thoughts on “Is linoleum out of fashion? It shouldn’t be.

  • March 6, 2010 at 11:20 am
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    Tell me about it! I’ve been ranting on this subject (tile vs. linoleum) for years.

    Another fad are these idiotic granite counter tops. Drop a glass from 2 inches, it breaks. Spill some oil on it, you’ve got a permanent stain. But if that weren’t enough, they have no lip, so ANY spill drips all over the cabinets below and onto the floor.

    Huh? I thought they called them drainboards for a reason…

    • March 10, 2010 at 8:13 pm
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      I agree with the granite. It looks expensive, but it’s impractical. I guess it’s fine for people who don’t use their kitchens.

      After reading all the pros and cons of the various types of countertops, I opted to stick with my old-school formica for a few more years. It can chip and ding on you, but if you can accept the inevitable flaw or two it’ll last decades (mine have lasted 45 years), and the price is good.

      When I do finally replace them I’ll probably opt for butcher block. You have to oil it occasionally but other than that, it’s low maintenance and will probably outlive the rest of the house.

      • September 1, 2010 at 2:48 pm
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        I’ve thought about butcher block too, but even it needs periodic maintenance like a good sanding. I think I’d use it for part of the counter space because I have good knives but I’d make sure the piece was a standard size and easily removable. Perhaps even drop-in?

        In fact, if/when I ever design my own kitchen, I’d make sure that the countertops themselves were designed around standard lengths of formica, so replacement would be inexpensive because it wouldn’t involve a lot of custom cutting.

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