Bathroom Vinyl vs. Linoleum


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Bathroom Vinyl vs. Linoleum Cover

Bathroom flooring needs to be more resilient than other floorings in your home. If you do not have the budget for high-quality tiles, more cost-effective alternatives are vinyl and linoleum. Both materials are pretty resilient, and they even share many characteristics to the point that some view them as interchangeable. However, you should be aware of several significant differences between vinyl and linoleum. 

In this article, we will be discussing critical points between these two materials and figure out their main differences. By the end of this writing, we will have a good grasp of which material is best suited for your preferences.

Main Difference Between Vinyl and Linoleum

First, let us go through the history of both vinyl and linoleum. Linoleum has been around since the 1860s and was invented by rubber manufacturer Fredrick Walton. Modern linoleum is composed of flaxseed extract called linseed oil. Once processed, it is highly flexible and durable, making it an ideal material for creating flooring. Also, authentic linoleum is an all-natural material made from a combination of renewable ingredients such as wood dust. 

On the other hand, we have vinyl (PVC) discovered by chemist Eugene Baumann. However, it wasn’t until the 1920s that Waldo Lonsbury Semon accidentally made PVC a helpful material (i.e., flooring material). One of the critical advantages of PVC from linoleum is its cheaper construction and market price. 

However, vinyl is made from toxic chemicals, which has been a cause of concern since it was commercialized as the alternative to linoleum flooring. Also, most of the substances often attributed to PVC are considered carcinogenic. Vinyl is also impossible to properly dispose of without endangering the environment. 

So, as you probably already determined from our quick overview above, linoleum tends to be the flooring option if you want something eco-friendly. It is also much safer for one’s health since it only uses natural ingredients. 

Other Differences Between Vinyl and Linoleum

Vinyl:

PVC vinyl sample. Vinyl floors.

  • It is the cheaper alternative and typically costs between $1 to $10 per square foot for tiles and between $7 to $45 per square foot for sheets. 
  • It is installed via a built-in adhesive.
  • Typically waterproof.
  • Incredibly easy to clean. 
  • It can last for up to 10 years. 

Linoleum: 

Linoleum coating. Flooring Installation. 3d illustration

  • Costlier with a price range of $4 to $10 per square foot for tiles and $23 to $50 per square yard for sheets. 
  • It is installed using trowel-on adhesive. 
  • Typically water-resistant, but applying a sealer is recommended. Sealer must be applied periodically. 
  • Easy to clean.
  • It can last for up to 40 years and more. 

The Advantages and Disadvantages of Using Linoleum Flooring in Bathrooms

Now, to further clarify things. Here are the pros and cons you can expect if you install linoleum on your bathroom floor. 

Pros: 

  • Durable and comfortable

Linoleum is known as a highly flexible and durable material. It also has a slight give that makes it comfortable to step on, similar to a cushion effect.

  • Excellent Heat Insulation

You won’t need to install any additional insulating layer underneath the linoleum flooring as it can naturally trap heat on its own. 

Man putting down linoleum on a baseboard

  • Anti-Microbial Properties

Thanks to its all-natural composition, linoleum is considered both antibacterial and hypoallergenic. So if you are worried about allergens affecting you or your family, linoleum is a safe option for your flooring needs.

  • Resistant to Discoloration

Since the color on linoleum goes through the core and not just on the surface, you can bet you won’t have issues losing its luster after a couple of months or years. 

  • Long-Lasting Material

Linoleum can easily last for up to 40 years or more with proper maintenance. So if you are looking for long-lasting bathroom flooring, you cannot go wrong with one made from linoleum. 

  • Low Static Resistance

Since linoleum is made from biodegradable materials, its surface has outstanding anti-static properties. This aspect of linoleum makes it a good choice for commercial establishments and bathrooms where static is an ever-present hazard. 

  • 100% Natural Material

Finally, as we have already stated earlier, linoleum is made from natural materials and is health and environment-friendly.

Cons: 

Contractor removing an old linoleum flooring

  • Not Waterproof

Linoleum has some water-resistant properties, but if you plan on using it in the bathroom, we recommend applying an additional layer of sealer. Also, you will need to re-apply the sealer at least yearly to help protect it from water damage. 

  • Maintenance Upkeep

As noted previously, linoleum will require specific maintenance regarding its water-resistant capabilities. You will need to re-apply a sealer once or twice a year. You will also need to wax the linoleum surface every three years or so. 

  • Tricky Installation

Linoleum flooring will most likely require professional help to install correctly. Linoleum is considerably more rigid than vinyl; as such, installing it is not usually a ‘one-man job.’ 

  • Susceptible to Scratches

Linoleum is a far softer material than vinyl. Therefore, anything pointy that stabs through its surface can quickly leave a mark. Since we are talking about installing it in the bathroom, it is primarily a non-issue. However, please refrain from wearing any footwear with heels as it can leave a slight puncture mark on the linoleum’s surface. 

The Advantages and Disadvantages of Using Vinyl Flooring in Bathrooms

Let us see if vinyl is a viable flooring option for your bathroom. Here are the pros and cons associated with this material.

Pros:

  • Easy to Install

Vinyl flooring is a fine choice for those who want DIY installation. Since most vinyl floorings feature interlocking tile design, installing it is quick and easy. 

  • Low Maintenance

Vinyl would be a relatively low maintenance option, especially if you picked the waterproof variation. All you need is to mop it up to help keep it looking spick and span. 

  • Lots of Design and Style Options

Modern vinyl flooring comes in a wide variety of designs. You can find ones that feature aesthetics that copy the look of natural stone and wood. In terms of style variety, vinyl flooring takes the proverbial cake. 

Cons: 

  • Not Exactly Environment-Friendly

While cheaper than linoleum, vinyl production is somewhat problematic for the environment due to the chemicals that it uses. Specifically, vinyl is a non-renewable material, and disposing of it properly will be a bit of a challenge. 

  • Short Lifespan

Compared to linoleum’s 40-year lifespan, vinyl-only lasts about ten years. However, it might reach double that period with proper care and maintenance. 

  • Susceptible to Discoloration

The design and color are only skin deep with vinyl flooring. As such, the color will fade over time, even with proper maintenance. Expect the color to fade even faster in a bathroom setting. This is due to moisture and chemicals like shampoo and soap that the vinyl flooring will be exposed to daily. 

Conclusion

Choosing between vinyl and linoleum for your bathroom is relatively simple as the main differences we listed above will help you decide which one best suits your preference. Vinyl provides an excellent variety of designs; it is affordable and easy to clean, as well. On the other hand, linoleum lasts significantly longer and is more environment-friendly.