Bob Vila Radio: Vinyl vs. Linoleum

Though often mistaken for one another, vinyl and linoleum are in fact different materials, each with a different set of pros and cons.

Homeowners often refer to vinyl and linoleum interchangeably, but they are not the same thing. These resilient floor coverings are made from different materials and have distinct selling points.


Listen to BOB VILA ON LINOLEUM VS VINYL or read the text below:

Linoleum vs. Vinyl


Vinyl, the more common of the two, is made from the petrochemical vinyl, along with felt, fiberglass, and dyes. It’s extremely resilient, waterproof, easy to install, and easy to care for. Most vinyl flooring comprises several layers, with the pattern printed on a backing material and then covered with a tough, clear wear layer. Vinyl is available in a huge range of colors, patterns, and textures. Because vinyl is subject to off-gassing, look for low-VOC products.

Linoleum is manufactured from natural components like linseed oil, tree resins, cork and pigments, making linoleum a more “green” choice. It’s relatively easy to install and because the color usually goes all the way through, it’s long-wearing and resistant to scratches. Water-resistant but not waterproof, linoleum should be cleaned with care and only with appropriate cleansers. Although today’s linoleum typically has a factory-applied coating, some products require occasional application of a wax or other finish. Linoleum is pricier than vinyl, but it should also last longer. And while linoleum comes in striking colors and textures, it’s not as ubiquitous as vinyl and doesn’t offer the same wealth of hues and patterns.

Bob Vila Radio is a newly launched daily radio spot carried on more than 75 stations around the country (and growing). You can get your daily dose here, by listening to—or reading—Bob’s 60-second home improvement radio tip of the day.