Technical know-how

Vinyl vs. linoleum: a comprehensive comparison of flooring options

Pros, cons, and differences between vinyl and linoleum. Find out how these two differ, including considerations like water resistance, VOCs, wall cladding, & more.

Vinyl and linoleum have been popular flooring choices for various spaces for many years. These types of flooring are known for their durability, affordability, and versatility, making them a practical selection for a range of environments.

Flooring installations come with specific requirements and it it is important to ensure that you select the right product to meet those. Different types of flooring are required for different environments to ensure safety, comfort, and functionality. 

In this blog, we'll explore the differences between vinyl and linoleum flooring and discuss the factors to take into consideration when choosing the best flooring for your environment.

After reading this article, you'll have a better understanding of which type of flooring is best suited for your needs, and why it's important to choose wisely.


Chemical resistance

Vinyl and linoleum floors offer varying levels of chemical resistance, making them suitable for a variety of environments. Vinyl floors are generally more chemically resistant than linoleum due to their synthetic composition. However, certain types of vinyl and linoleum floors can also affect chemical resistance. 

Chemical resistance in vinyl flooring

As an example, polyvinyl chloride (PVC) vinyl flooring has high chemical resistance to dilute acids, alkalis and alcohol based sanitisers, making it ideal for use in laboratories, hospitals, industrial environments, and other areas where exposure to chemicals is likely.

PVC vinyl floors can withstand chemicals such as acids, alkalis and oils, as well as various solvents and cleaning agents. 

Chemical resistance in linoleum flooring

Linoleum floors, on the other hand, are made from natural materials such as linseed oil, cork flour, and wood flour. It has excellent water and heat resistance, but its chemical resistance is inferior to that of vinyl flooring.

Understanding chemical resistance in vinyl and linoleum flooring

Choosing the right flooring for different environments is important to ensure durability and safety. For example, laboratories where chemicals are frequently used may prefer chemically resistant vinyl floors to prevent damage and contamination.


Cleaning and maintenance

Ease of cleaning and maintenance are important considerations when choosing vinyl and linoleum floors. Both types of flooring have different cleaning and maintenance requirements to ensure longevity and cleanliness. 

Cleaning and maintenance of vinyl floors

Vinyl floors are known for their low maintenance and easy cleaning, making them popular in high traffic areas. Vinyl floors can be cleaned with a damp mop. Occasional sweeping or vacuuming can remove surface dirt and grime. Certain vinyl flooring offerings are also scratch resistant, making them ideal for high-traffic spaces. 

Polyflor products feature a PUR finish to ensure a simple cleaning and maintenance regime.

Cleaning and maintenance of linoleum floors

Linoleum floors require more maintenance and care in order to maintain their water resistance. They are prone to scratches and scuffs that can damage the surface over time. It is important to keep your linoleum floors clean and well-maintained. Linoleum floors should be regularly swept or vacuumed to remove dirt and debris. Linoleum should be cleaned with specialised cleaning products and there are a limited number available to purchase and use of the incorrect product can damage the floor.

Which is better for cleaning, vinyl flooring or linoleum flooring?

In summary, vinyl floors are easier to clean and require less maintenance than linoleum floors. Even so, with proper care and maintenance, both types of floors will last for years.



Coving is the process of extending flooring material from the floor up the wall to create a curved or rounded corner between the wall and floor. This technique creates a seamless transition between floors and walls, helping to prevent dirt and bacteria from accumulating in corners. 

Coving in vinyl flooring

Vinyl flooring is a flexible material that can be heat welded to create a seamless coving transition. This allows you to create a cove base that provides a continuous curved surface from floor to wall. This cove base is especially useful in environments that require frequent cleaning, such as hospitals and laboratories as it prevents dirt and bacteria from accumulating in corners. In addition, vinyl floors can be welded at the seams to create a completely seamless surface, further reducing the risk of dirt and bacteria build-up. 

Coving in linoleum flooring

Linoleum flooring is a harder material than vinyl and therefore less flexible for coving applications. It can also be installed with a cove base, but the transition between floors and walls is not as seamless as vinyl floors. A challenge often faced with linoleum floors is that due to its rigidity, it is prone to cracking.

Understanding coving in vinyl floors vs linoleum

When it comes to coving, vinyl flooring is often considered the preferred option due to its flexibility and ability to create a seamless floor-to-wall transition. Linoleum floors are a more rigid material and prone to cracking when coved which results in ongoing maintenance efforts and the increased risk of dirt and bacteria build-up.



Creating an environment that is fit for purpose does not mean that you need to compromise on the aesthetics of that space. 

Vinyl flooring design

Vinyl floors come in a variety of designs, colors and patterns, including stone, effect and wood looks. Manufacturers can create vinyl flooring using a 3D printing process that  mimics the textures, patterns and colors of natural materials. Vinyl flooring is available in a range of sizes enabling a seamless installation which enhances the aesthetics of the environment.

Linoleum flooring design

Linoleum floors, are made of natural materials and have a unique aesthetic. It comes in a variety of colors and patterns, but your choices may be limited compared to vinyl. Linoleum can be cut into many different shapes and sizes, however vinyl offers more versatility in particular when it comes to creating intricate designs.

Which is the better choice for design, vinyl flooring or linoleum flooring?

Design options can play an important role in the decision-making process when choosing a floor covering. It's important to choose a design that complements the overall style, color scheme, and intended use of the space. In addition, the design should also consider elements such as lighting, furniture and wallpaper.



Both vinyl and linoleum floors are known for their durability, however there are key differences between the two that must be taken into consideration. 

Durability of vinyl flooring

Vinyl floors are extremely hardwearing and can withstand heavy use without significant wear and tear. Vinyl is also resistant to scratches, scuffs and dents. Additionally, vinyl floors are moisture resistant, making them ideal for areas with high humidity such as bathrooms and basements. There are many different types of vinyl flooring available, including luxury vinyl tiles (LVT) and vinyl sheets, each with varying degrees of durability.  

The majority of Polyflor 2mm vinyl floor coverings obtain the highest Use Area Certification of 23/34/43 making them suitable for heavy domestic, heavy commercial and heavy-light industrial use.

Durability of linoleum flooring

Linoleum floors are also durable and can last for many years with proper installation and care. This option is more susceptible to dents and other damage than vinyl floors. In addition, linoleum floors are susceptible to moisture damage if not properly sealed and are not suitable for high humidity areas.

In comparison, a greater thickness is required for linoleum to achieve similar recommendations to those of vinyl. 2.5mm or 3.2mm product gauge is typically required to perform to the same level of durability as 2.0mm vinyl.

Understanding flooring durability in vinyl vs linoleum

Overall, vinyl floors are considered more durable than linoleum floors due to their resistance to moisture and damage. However, both types of flooring are durable with proper care, making them a good choice for a variety of environments. When choosing between vinyl and linoleum floors, the specific needs of the room such as foot traffic and humidity are taken into account to ensure optimum durability. 


Ease of disinfecting

Keeping floors clean and free of bacteria and viruses is essential in many environments such as hospitals, laboratories and schools. Vinyl and linoleum floors are both easy to disinfect, but there are some differences you should be aware of. 


Vinyl flooring disinfection

Vinyl flooring's non-porous surface makes it simple to sanitize and disinfect. This kind of flooring is perfect for high-traffic areas with a high risk of contamination because it can withstand most chemicals and cleaning agents without damage.
Vinyl flooring is frequently used in patient rooms, operating rooms, and locations where infection control is important in healthcare facilities. Hospitals clean vinyl floors with a variety of disinfectants, such as bleach, hydrogen peroxide, and quaternary ammonium compounds.

Linoleum flooring disinfection

While linoleum flooring can also be easily cleaned and disinfected, it does so with more care than vinyl. Since linoleum is a natural product that can be harmed by harsh chemicals, it's critical to use the proper cleaning agents and disinfectants.

Application of a protective coating during installation and routine ongoing resealing of the product are necessary for durability.


Fire performance

Choosing flooring for any building requires careful consideration of the flooring's fire performance. The flooring material must adhere to fire safety rules and be able to stop the spread of smoke and flames in the case of a fire. In this section, we'll talk about how vinyl and linoleum flooring perform differently in a fire.

Fire performance of vinyl flooring

One of the most widely used types of resilient flooring today is vinyl flooring. It has excellent fire performance characteristics because it is made of engineered synthetic materials. This makes it a well-liked option for a variety of settings, including both industrial and commercial. Vinyl flooring is frequently used in settings where fire safety is of utmost importance because it is designed to adhere to strict fire safety regulations. 

Fire performance of linoleum flooring

Natural components including linseed oil, cork flour, and wood flour are used to make linoleum. Its composition makes it an environmentally beneficial and long-lasting flooring alternative, but it also impacts how well it performs in a fire. Since many of the ingredients used to make linoleum are derived from wood, its fire properties are similar to those of burning wood. Linoleum may be more vulnerable to fire damage as a result compared to vinyl flooring. 


High temperature cleaning

In hospitals and commercial kitchens, high-temperature cleaning is a popular technique for sanitizing and disinfecting floors. The capacity of resilient flooring materials, such as vinyl and linoleum, to endure high-temperature cleaning, is a crucial consideration. We'll examine the variations in vinyl and linoleum flooring's resistance to high-temperature cleaning in this part, as well as how this may affect their applicability for certain uses.

High temperature cleaning of vinyl floors

In many places where cleanliness and hygiene are of the utmost importance, such as hospitals, schools, and public buildings, vinyl flooring is a common choice. One benefit of vinyl flooring is that it is simple to clean and disinfect at high temperatures in order to get rid of dangerous pathogens like viruses and bacteria. When carried out correctly and in accordance with the manufacturer's instructions, steam cleaning is a popular and efficient technique for cleaning vinyl flooring at high temperatures. This technique not only aids in floor sanitization but also eliminates dirt, grime, and other stains, giving the floor a tidy, well-maintained appearance.

High temperature cleaning of linoleum floors

Linoleum flooring can be more difficult to clean using high-temperature techniques since it is more prone to moisture damage than vinyl flooring. Linoleum's moisture content can lead it to warp or curl in hot environments, leaving unattractive gaps and seams. In addition, moisture can harm the flooring by penetrating damaged joints and encouraging the growth of mold and mildew. For spaces like theatres or commercial kitchens, where high-temperature cleaning may be necessary to meet hygiene requirements, this might be a major worry. Because of this, caution must be used while using high-temperature cleaning techniques on linoleum flooring to prevent damage and ensure the flooring's durability.


Installation costs

The installation costs are a significant factor to take into account when deciding between vinyl and linoleum flooring. The type of material, the size of the space, and the complexity of the installation process are some of the variables that can affect the cost of installing flooring materials. To assist you in making an informed choice, we will compare the installation costs of vinyl and linoleum flooring in this section.

Cost to install vinyl flooring

Because of its flexibility and capacity to be easily cut and shaped, vinyl flooring installation is typically simpler than that of linoleum. As a result, the installation procedure is frequently quicker and less labour-intensive, which may lead to lower installation costs. 

Cost to install linoleum flooring

Linoleum flooring installation can be more difficult and expensive than vinyl flooring installation due to the need for specialised fitters, tools, and installation skills. For a seamless and long-lasting installation, linoleum welding must be done by qualified professionals because it differs from welding vinyl. Linoleum flooring materials can also be more expensive than vinyl, which raises the overall installation cost. Additionally, linoleum needs more upkeep than vinyl does, which can raise the overall cost of ownership.


Flooring manufacture

Despite some similarities in composition and functionality, each material is produced using a very different process. This section will examine the differences between the processes used to make vinyl and linoleum flooring and how these variations may impact the final product.

Manufacture of vinyl flooring

Because of how it is made, vinyl flooring is typically thought of as a more environmentally friendly option than linoleum. The fact that vinyl flooring typically requires less energy to produce than linoleum is a significant advantage. This is so that the embedded energy needed to produce vinyl flooring can be reduced by using recycled vinyl materials. Vinyl flooring is therefore frequently viewed as a more environmentally friendly choice.

Manufacture of linoleum flooring

In contrast to vinyl, linoleum is produced using natural materials and has a more involved manufacturing process. The product must be baked in ovens for 14–21 days, which uses a lot of energy during production. Linoleum is thought to require 15% more energy to produce than vinyl. 



Despite having a similar appearance, they differ greatly in terms of material properties and composition. This section will contrast the components of vinyl and linoleum flooring, highlighting each product's benefits and drawbacks.

Vinyl flooring materials

In order to create their vinyl flooring products, Polyflor is dedicated to using ingredients from ethically sourced channels. Their products adhere to stringent industry regulations and are free of dangerous materials like lead, mercury, organic tin, cadmium compounds, and formaldehyde. Customers who value health and sustainability can rest easy knowing that their products are safe for human use and the environment.

Linoleum flooring materials

Linoleum is made from natural materials, as was previously stated. To increase durability, some manufacturers may add chemical treatments like formaldehyde. The safety of the finished product for human use must now be transparently communicated through CE marks. It's crucial to take into account how the materials used to make linoleum will affect the environment. Since it is a main component of linoleum, flax is intensively harvested, which can have an adverse effect on the environment due to the use of pesticides and fertilizers that have the potential to cause eutrophication.


Product performance

Different product performance characteristics between vinyl and linoleum flooring may affect each material's suitability for a given application. We will compare and contrast the product performance of these two varieties of flooring in this section.

Product performance of vinyl flooring

The performance of vinyl flooring is superior to that of linoleum in a number of ways. One of the main advantages of homogeneous vinyl is that colors stay true, or don't alter over time. On the other hand, vinyl flooring with heterogeneous colors may occasionally yellow after being exposed to moisture. But with the right cleaning and maintenance, this problem can be reduced. Vinyl flooring is also very resistant to abrasion, making it a long-lasting option for high-traffic areas.

Product performance of linoleum flooring

Customers give product performance of linoleum and vinyl flooring significant thought in addition to its fire performance and high-temperature cleaning characteristics. One distinctive quality of linoleum flooring is its propensity to turn yellow in the absence of light. This may happen in frequently shaded or covered areas, producing a pronounced difference in color from areas that are exposed to light.



Resilient flooring is coated with polyurethane reinforcement (PUR) to increase its toughness and longevity. Due to its durability under heavy foot traffic and resistance to stains and scratches, it has grown in popularity recently. 

Vinyl flooring PUR

Due to the elimination of the need for waxing and sealing treatments, the addition of a Polyurethane reinforcement (PUR) layer can also assist in lowering ongoing maintenance costs. A tough protective PUR layer is included at manufacture in many of Polyflor's vinyl flooring lines, adding durability and lowering the need for ongoing maintenance.

Linoleum flooring surface treatment

To help shield it from stains and moisture, linoleum flooring typically needs a protective finish to be applied after installation. To keep this finish, older linoleum ranges needed to be periodically stripped and sealed. However, since new products on the market already have a protective finish applied at the factory, this procedure is no longer necessary. 



Any flooring material should take recycling into account because it can greatly reduce the product's environmental impact.

Recycling with vinyl flooring

Vinyl flooring has advanced significantly in recent years in terms of sustainability and environmental friendliness. In addition to being more reasonably priced than other flooring options, it is also one of the most recyclable materials that lends itself best to recycling. Vinyl is completely recyclable and can be recycled numerous times without sacrificing any of its functional qualities. Vinyl post-production waste is actually automatically recycled, and more post-consumer waste is being recovered and recycled into flooring and non-flooring products. 68 drop-off locations for vinyl flooring are run by Recofloor, a national recycling program, in the UK, Ireland, and Australia. Additionally, Polyflor South Africa operates take-back programs in Johannesburg and Cape Town and seeks to expand to other significant cities in the future.

Recycling with linoleum flooring

In comparison to the vinyl flooring industry, the linoleum flooring industry has been slower to adopt sustainable recycling practices. With only two drop-off locations, Forbo is the only linoleum manufacturer to provide a recycling service. The recycled content for linoleum is typically lower compared to vinyl flooring, and the recycling schemes for linoleum are not as widespread as those for vinyl. This indicates that there are currently fewer options for recycling linoleum flooring than there are for vinyl flooring. 


Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs)

When it comes to indoor air quality, volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are a concern, and flooring can be a significant source of VOC emissions. We will contrast the VOC emissions of vinyl and linoleum flooring in this section, as well as how they affect indoor air quality. We'll look at the various VOCs that each type of flooring emits, how they affect health, and what manufacturers are doing to cut back on VOC emissions in their products.

Vinyl flooring's Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs)

Low VOC emissions, or very low levels of volatile organic compounds, are a feature of Polyflor vinyl flooring products. Independent laboratories subject these products to thorough testing to make sure they adhere to rigid industry standards and have no detrimental effects on indoor air quality.

Linoleum flooring's Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs)

Linoleum flooring can emit volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and has a distinct odor, according to studies. These VOCs contain a variety of aldehydes that may have an impact on indoor air quality. 


Wall cladding

A crucial component of any interior design project is wall cladding. It protects walls while enhancing a room's aesthetic appeal, serving both practical and aesthetic purposes. There are many options to take into account when selecting the best wall cladding material. In this article, we'll contrast two widely used wall cladding materials: vinyl and linoleum. In order to assist you in selecting the right material for your upcoming project, we will examine each material's qualities.

Vinyl wall cladding

Vinyl flooring has many applications beyond just being used as a floor covering. One such use that has grown in popularity recently is vinyl wall cladding. Systems for cladding vinyl walls are an efficient way to build clean rooms with the non-shedding qualities they need. These systems are made to adhere to the most exacting standards of sterility, cleanliness, and air quality in a variety of fields, such as healthcare, pharmaceuticals, electronics, and food processing.

The same premium materials used to create vinyl flooring are also used to create wall cladding systems, making them impact, scratch, and stain resistant. The vinyl wall cladding's non-porous surface inhibits the growth of bacteria and fungi, making it the perfect option for spaces where cleanliness is of the utmost importance. 

Linoleum wall cladding

In places like hospitals, laboratories, and food processing facilities that demand a high level of cleanliness and infection control, linoleum flooring is not advised for use as wall cladding. This is because linoleum is a porous material that is challenging to effectively clean and sanitize. In addition, linoleum is not moisture-resistant, which can cause bacteria and mold to grow on the surface. Overall, linoleum is not a recommended option for wall cladding in hygienic environments; instead, other materials should be taken into consideration.

On the other hand, there are specialised wall cladding systems that can be used in these kinds of settings. In order to maintain a high level of hygiene, these systems are typically constructed from non-porous materials like PVC or fiberglass, which are simple to clean and sanitize. Additionally, they are moisture-resistant, which aids in halting the development of bacteria and mold. 


Water resistance

Water resistance is a crucial factor to take into account when choosing flooring. What are the differences between two common types of flooring—vinyl and linoleum—in terms of water resistance? 

Water resistance of vinyl flooring

Because of its excellent water resistance, vinyl flooring is a great option for rooms with a lot of moisture, like bathrooms and kitchens. It is created from a synthetic material that is water-resistant, making it the perfect choice for locations that frequently see spills and splashes. Additionally, it is simple to maintain and clean, which is advantageous in areas with a lot of moisture.

Water resistance of linoleum flooring

Although not as water-resistant as vinyl flooring, linoleum flooring is still water-resistant. It can withstand the odd spill and splash however, it is not advised for places with a lot of moisture or standing water. In fact, linoleum can warp or even fall apart after being exposed to water for an extended period of time.



Welding is a crucial step in the flooring installation process for producing watertight joints between flooring sheets. To form a solid bond, the materials must be fused together. Although both vinyl and linoleum are common flooring choices, there are some obvious differences in how well they can be joined together.

Welding vinyl flooring

Vinyl can be thermally welded, which means that the joints are actually fused together, making it a very strong and impervious surface. This gives the appearance of being seamless and offers the best water resistance. In fact, commercial kitchens, hospitals, and other places requiring a high standard of hygiene frequently opt for vinyl flooring.

Additionally, vinyl has greater dimensional stability than linoleum, making it less likely to expand or contract in response to changes in humidity or temperature. This makes it a dependable option for locations with changing humidity or temperature levels.

Welding linoleum flooring

Linoleum cannot be thermally welded, unlike vinyl. The joints must be filled in instead using hot melt adhesive. In some circumstances, a visible seam between the flooring sheets may not be preferable as a result of this.

In addition, linoleum has a propensity to expand when exposed to moisture or while being cleaned with water, which may cause problems with the joints. Because jute backing is more prone to expansion, the majority of linoleum tiles are now supplied on an inert polyester scrim to address this issue. Linoleum might not be the best material for settings with high moisture content or regular water exposure, even with this precaution.


In summary, while both vinyl and linoleum flooring have positives and negatives, it is evident that vinyl flooring has a number of technical advantages over linoleum that make it the better choice in some situations. Vinyl flooring is a great option for high-traffic commercial and industrial settings that demand durability, hygiene, and simple maintenance due to its superior water resistance, ease of welding, and low VOC emissions. Although linoleum flooring has advantages, it might not be the best option in some situations, such as those requiring strict infection control and hygiene standards or where water resistance is a priority. In the end, the decision between vinyl and linoleum flooring will be influenced by a number of variables, such as the application's particular needs, the available budget, and personal preferences.


Are you looking to make an informed decision about flooring?

Contact us today and let our team of flooring experts help you select the perfect vinyl solution for your project, so you can deliver results your clients will love.

Contact Polyflor

Similar posts

Get insights and trade secrets from our team of experts, straight to your inbox.

We would love to share our knowledge that we’ve gained from many collective years of experience within our team.