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Eco-Friendly Flooring Review: Vinyl

Posted: Wednesday, September 8, 2010

You may not think of vinyl as your choice for eco-friendly. You may also think that vinyl and linoleum are the same thing. They are not. Linoleum is made from natural materials, whereas vinyl is man-made. Linoleum biodegrades. Whereas vinyl can be recycled, it does not decompose on its own.

There are, however, advantages to vinyl that linoleum cannot match:

  • Linoleum emits linseed oil fumes which can cause problems for certain people. Vinyl, when combined with low-VOC adhesives, eliminates this problem.
  • A vinyl floor is easier to install than linoleum and it costs less.
  • A vinyl floor is more water-resistant than linoleum, perfect over uncured concrete slabs, in bathrooms, laundry rooms and kitchens.
  • A vinyl floor is more hygienic. It is perfect for doctor and dentist offices and hospitals. Bacteria do not grow on it and dust mites cannot hide in it.
  • A vinyl floor is hypo-allergenic.
  • More and more of vinyl content is from recycled material. As this percentage increases, the positive environment impact of vinyl will also increase.

Choosing your vinyl project

Vinyl, like linoleum, comes in two forms. The first is a sheet which is cut to fit. This can be a tricky operation, particularly for a newbie. While care and cautious measurement can reduce the risk of error, one bad cut can cost you a lot of money. For this reason, sheet vinyl can actually be harder to install than a wood or tile floor.

Consider the possibilities available to you in the second form of vinyl, the tile. This is often an excellent choice for the do-it-yourselfer because it's the easiest to lay. By mixing and matching tile colors and patterns, you can really draw out your creativity. Children's playrooms can be a great place to try your hand at this, particularly when you consider that the vinyl is so easily cleaned and disinfected.