Many people wishing to make the environmentally-friendly choice often choose linoleum over vinyl as it is generally believed to be more eco-friendly. However, this may not be completely true and it is worth making a comprehensive comparison of the two flooring types before making a decision.
Vinyl and Linoleum – the Same Thing?
Vinyl and linoleum are often believed to be different names for the same thing. One reason for this could be because they look very similar; another is that to a large extent, vinyl took over the market from linoleum in the 1950’s, leading many people to believe that it is an upgraded version of the latter.
Vinyl and linoleum are actually distinctly different, although they do share many similar properties – namely, that they are both very durable and easy to care for, as well as being sound-insulating and soft underfoot. They also both come in a wide range of styles and colours.
Differences Between Vinyl and Linoleum
The key difference between them is that linoleum is a completely natural product whereas vinyl is a synthetic material derived from petroleum. This leads to differences in several points:
Although vinyl effectively replaced linoleum in the 1950’s, the latter is now making a comeback as society becomes more aware of environmental issues. Linoleum is a great choice for sustainable flooring because it is made of completely natural materials which come from renewable sources and are 100% biodegradable. Any left-over or waster products from the manufacturing process can be re-used in future productions and when the linoleum flooring is eventually disposed of, it will not sit in landfills for thousands of years.
Note, however, that studies have shown vinyl actually has the same or even less impact on the environment as linoleum due to the fact its durability and long use means that the total amount of replacement and waste materials generated is reduced. Some studies also claim that vinyl is actually less energy-consumptive in its manufacture, transport and installation than linoleum, whilst others claim that scrap vinyl is often recycled into new vinyl.
Energy-uses aside, however, vinyl still falls behind linoleum in using petroleum products as opposed to natural ones. This means that not only is it using a non-renewable resource which consumes vast amounts of energy in its processing and releases copious amounts of pollutants into the atmosphere, it is ultimately non-biodegradable, adding to the already-serious waste problem.