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Linoleum Vs. Laminate Flooring. What’s the difference?

Linoleum and laminate are two popular flooring materials used in the home, and both are relatively inexpensive compared to other floor coverings. For many homeowners, it can be difficult to choose between these two materials. When comparing linoleum and laminate flooring, consider both the desired appearance and the necessary features to meet the needs of your family.


Laminate flooring is made from a resinous composite base. It is topped with a printed paper layer, then sealed with a clear protective coating. This material is sold in the form of planks or boards that closely resemble wood flooring. Linoleum is made from linseed oil, sawdust and other natural products. It is formed into tiles or sheets that resemble vinyl flooring. Linoleum is much thinner than laminate and offers a very different finish.


Both linoleum and laminate can be installed directly over wood or concrete subfloors. Some laminate products require a foam underlayment, while linoleum generally does not require padding or underlayment products. Laminate is usually installed as a floating system, which means the planks connect to one another but are not fastened to the subfloor. Linoleum is typically attached to the subfloor using flooring adhesive or a "peel-and-stick" application.


When comparing linoleum and laminate, it is important to consider where you plan to install each material. Linoleum is virtually waterproof, and is often used in kitchens, bathrooms, hallways and basements. Laminate is highly susceptible to moisture damage, and is not recommended for wet areas like kitchens and bathrooms. It should also not be installed in the basement or in other areas located below ground level.


Linoleum flooring is available in solid colors or in a number of different patterns or textures. Tiles can be mixed and matched to create the desired look, or can be formed into different shapes or designs. Laminate is typically printed with the look of wood grain, though it can also mimic the look of ceramic tile or other materials.


Though laminate and linoleum are both reasonably affordable, linoleum will usually be the cheaper of the two. It is also considered to be a green product because it is made from all-natural, rapidly renewable materials. Laminate is often chosen because of its rich coloring and resemblance to wood. It is also more comfortable to walk on than linoleum, but is more susceptible to dents and scratches.

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