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Formerly a trademark for a resilient, washable floor covering material. Linoleum was invented in 1860 by Frederick Walton and produced in England from 1864. It is made by pressing a mixture of oxidized linseed oil, pine rosin, kauri gum, powdered cork (or wood flour) and pigment onto a burlap or canvas backing. Four basic types of linoleum were made: 1) plain, 2) jaspe, 3) inlaid and 4) printed. Linoleum was a common floor covering from the 1860s to the 1940s. Currently, the name linoleum is commonly used for a variety of other sheet type floor coverings made from synthetic resins, such as vinyl.

See also Vinyl tile.

Synonyms and Related Terms

Linoleum (Deut., Fr., Ned., Pol., Sven.); linóleo (Port.); Congoleum; Linotile; Sealex; Walton; Armstrong;


  • Printed linoleum is not washable. It was designed to be lacquered then cleaned with a dust cloth.
  • Flammable.

Physical and Chemical Properties

Alkalis soften linseed oil and will deteriorate surface.

Density 1.18 g/ml

Resources and Citations

  • Bonnie Wehle Parks Snyder, "Linoleum", in Twentieth-Century Building Materials, T. Jester (ed.), McGraw-Hill: New York, 1995.
  • Dictionary of Building Preservation, Ward Bucher, ed., John Wiley & Sons, Inc., New York City, 1996
  • Pam Hatchfield, Pollutants in the Museum Environment, Archetype Press, London, 2002 Comment: patented in 1863
  • Thomas C. Jester (ed.), Twentieth-Century Building Materials, McGraw-Hill Companies, Washington DC, 1995
  • John S. Mills, Raymond White, The Organic Chemistry of Museum Objects, Butterworth Heineman, London, 2nd ed., 1994
  • Material Explorer at - first made in 1860 by Frederik Walton
  • G.S.Brady, Materials Handbook, McGraw-Hill Book Co., New York, 1971 Comment: p. 456
  • Random House, Webster's Encyclopedic Unabridged Dictionary of the English Language, Grammercy Book, New York, 1997
  • The American Heritage Dictionary or Encarta, via Microsoft Bookshelf 98, Microsoft Corp., 1998
  • Thomas Gregory, The Condensed Chemical Dictionary, Reinhold Publishing, New York, 3rd ed., 1942
  • CRC Handbook of Chemistry and Physics, Robert Weast (ed.), CRC Press, Boca Raton, Florida, v. 61, 1980 Comment: density=1.18