Question

Will sunlight damage my natural linoleum?

Asked by Susan, Scottsdale, Ariz

I am looking at placing natural linoleum in my kitchen/laundry room. These are the only two rooms in the house that get direct sunlight in part of them. How will the floor deal with direct sunlight on part of it and not most of it? Will the skylight in the laundry room create a specific shape on the floor from the sun? It's very hot and sunny where I live.

Answer

Mick Dalrymple

Answered by Mick Dalrymple

Scottsdale, AZ

Eco-Friendly Building Center

July 24, 2008

Scottsdale is very sunny and hot, indeed. However, after eating lunch outside this December afternoon, I share in your pleasure at this perfect time of year.

A couple of points:

  1. Most natural linoleum colors score an 8 out of 8 on the Blue Score color-fastness scale. If you get into the dark blues or black tones, they score 6. So, you can’t get much better out of the gate.
  2. As the light coming in from your skylight will move throughout the day and through the seasons, the exposure will have a gradient, rather than a defined, shape.
  3. Natural linoleum has a natural ambering effect, meaning that parts of the floor that are continuously protected from light will take on an amber tone from the linseed oil in the product. When that part of the floor is then exposed to light, the ambering disappears in a matter of hours. So, do not be shocked if you place a doormat or buffet in the kitchen and then later move it and see color discrepancies. They are temporary.

Natural linoleum is a great material for kitchen floors. Made from wood flour, limestone, dry pigments, rosin binders, linseed oil and a jute backing, it is extremely durable and low-maintenance, and it comes in a wide variety of colors and styles. It can also be installed with a very thin underlayment to add some cushion to the floor.

My favorite story with it concerns a turn-of-the-last-century school in Nogales (on the Arizona-Mexico border) that wanted to put in a new linoleum floor. They tore off the well-used, crumbling vinyl floor and found the original natural linoleum flooring underneath. In working with the manufacturer and a trained installer, they were able to repair the original floor to get another five or so years out of it and delay the expense of installing a new floor. As most schools are cash-strapped, this was a great outcome. Green schools for everyone!

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