Should I get a Marmoleum kitchen floor?
August 24, 2009 3:13 PM   Subscribe

Flooring-filter: Talk to me about linoleum in general, and Marmoleum brand linoleum in particular. Is it nice? Is it DIY-able? What should I know before choosing it for our kitchen?

So we're looking to replace our current, ugly, vinyl kitchen floor with something non-vinyl. Our original idea was ceramic tile ($2/sqft), but our contractor is claiming we'll have to replace our Luan subfloor with concrete backing board in order to stabilize the tile, bringing the final total to ~$13/sqft installed (!). At those prices, we've been considering alternatives, and Marmoleum in particular has looked interesting. We love the environmental friendliness, its warmth and softness underfoot. The material itself is pretty expensive, though ($6/sqft), so in order to make it competitive with tile we'd have to be able to keep our existing subfloor and DIY the installation.

I'm worried, though, because while I really really want to love Marmoleum, both the installation and the material itself get perplexingly mixed reviews on sites like this one. There seems to be some concern, for instance, that it bubbles up when installed by anyone but a super-gifted and experienced professional, and that regardless of installation the material is hard to clean and not very durable.

If you've got a lino floor yourself, or know of anyone who does, I'd love to hear some more reliable perspectives on this. In particular, is linoleum or Marmoleum attractive/comfortable/durable? Does it work with DIY installation? And is there anything else (alternative brands, caveats, tips and tricks) I should know before I make this choice?

If it helps, our decisionmaking criteria are (1) durability/livability, (2) cost, and (3) aesthetics, in that order. Thanks!
posted by Bardolph to Home & Garden (8 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
I have had real linoleum on 2 kitchen floors now and I love it. It is very durable. I did find that having it installed by an Armstrong-recommended dealer resulted in the better installation. They took the old floor down to the surface boards and installed it over that.

I recommend installing the best grade possible - the one hospitals use.

As for aesthetics, I like the overall small pattern or almost lack of pattern.
posted by andreap at 3:33 PM on August 24, 2009

I installed Marmoleum Click flooring in my kitchen. I'm moderately handy and the install wasn't difficult. For a few reasons, I didn't remove the subfloor and installed the Click on top of the previous flooring. There are transition pieces along the edges to accomodate the change in height. After the install, I put on an additional coat of Farbo's protective compound. I don't know what would be more durable. The color layer is thicker than what is printed on other types of flooring. I don't know how it could be easier to clean unless it somehow did it itself.
posted by llc at 3:35 PM on August 24, 2009

Having watched so many contractors install flooring (and tile, too) I can't imagine I would ever hire someone to do an install in my own home unless there were a time-issue involved. Whatever flooring you choose, you can handle the job yourself.

I suggest you watch LOTS of videos online about floor installations if you don't know any contractors who will allow you to tag-along on jobs.

Also, I suggest choosing flooring that is modular, um, easy to replace one bit without ripping out the whole floor if a spot gets worn or damaged.

I have nothing to add on the flooring debate. I would go with something easy on the back myself (cork?) and I would save money by purchasing supplies and doing install on my own.
posted by jbenben at 4:04 PM on August 24, 2009

I have Armstrong linoleum my kitchen -- essentially the same stuff as Marmoleum, except in more traditional colors. It looks great, wears like iron, and doesn't feel cold on bare feet.

Forbo click tiles might be doable by a skilled amateur, but if you're putting in sheet flooring, I'd leave it to a pro - one who's experience with installing real linoleum. To be done right, it needs to be laid down over voidless underlayment, and there are also issues like letting the rolls acclimatize to the house, getting the seam right, so on. We did get one bubble, which our installer shrank with this ancient-looking kerosene blowtorch.

I mop it every other week and put finish on it maybe twice a year, and it looks great.
posted by zombiedance at 4:11 PM on August 24, 2009

I DIY'd the Marmoleum in my small kitchen. I'm a very experienced DIY'er, having built my own cabinets, made my own concrete counters, set tile in the bathroom, done all my own plumbing and electrical, etc. The (2-color, glued down sheet) Marmoleum install was probably the trickiest, most unforgiving task I've attempted. Everybody but me thinks it looks great, but I see flaws and wish I could have a do-over. I would not recommend it if you're at all beginnery with this sort of thing. The process is not equivalent to installing vinyl sheet flooring, which is what I think jbenben is referring to.

The click-together tiles are probably quite doable.

As far as living with it goes, it's not bulletproof (dropped knives can cut into it, dropped canned goods or heavy pots might dent it) but it's comfortable to walk on and dropped glassware breaks much less frequently. The product itself is not naturally glossy. You can buy a "protectant" product that puts a sheen on it, much like mop-n-glow, but it wears off quickly in a high-traffic kitchen and is vulnerable to strong cleaners like 409 / Fantastic. They also sell a proprietary mild cleaning concentrate that doesn't strip the gloss off but also doesn't clean especially well. After the first few months I just started mopping with dilute Simple Green and letting it stay fairly matte - the gloss was too much trouble to maintain.

Ultimately, it's just a floor surface. It's reasonably durable, aesthetically unique and pleasing, but it's not the retro-revolutionary miracle product that Forbo makes it out to be.
posted by jon1270 at 5:04 PM on August 24, 2009 [1 favorite]

i have tile sorry, can't remember if it's ceramic or porcelain in my kitchen & i wouldn't do it again. it's too hard--it feels *very* unforgiving if i stand on it for too long. it's also hard to clean. i feel like i'm missing a lot of the dirt when i mop it, and it KILLS my knees if i try to scrub it by hand.

if i had it to do over, my preference would be cork flooring. i love the way it looks, it's comfy to stand on, and there's the eco/sustainability thing. barring that, i'd go with either linoleum or marmoleum. i have zero experience with marmoleum, but a friend of mine has it, and she loves it.
posted by msconduct at 5:07 PM on August 24, 2009 [1 favorite]

I have red Marmoleum click tiles in my kitchen. I love the Marmoleum in some ways, but dislike it in others. First of all, you have to follow the instructions *very* carefully. Bring the tiles into the house several days in advance of installation so they can warm to the temperature of the room. You can't let them sit in a cold garage or basement and then bring them up and install them. The tiles tend to expand and contract just a little bit with temperature, so when you go to caulk the edges of your room post install, you have to use a silicone caulk that is flexible when dry. We paid a contractor to do the install and he used a caulk that got hard, brittle and doesn't let the floor shift. So now we have a couple of raised seams and gaps in places. If there is any chance water or something wet is going to get left on the Marmoleum and not cleaned up immediately, you may have some discoloration. The floor under my dogs' water dishes has cloudy colored rings under it that I haven't figured out how to remove. Cleaning wise, you kind of have to baby the Marmoleum like you would a nice hardwood floor. You can't take a bucket of hot water and Lysol and scrub brush to it, so you have to warn people who are house-sitting or cleaning for you. The clear finishing liquid turned cloudy on our floors and looked horribleso and we ended up using the cleaner to remove it. The finish may just not work well on dark flooring.

What I like about my red Marmoleum floors is that it hides dirt really well! I use a swiffer and a barely damp floor mop & Marmoleum brand cleaner on it. I am standing in my kitchen for long periods and the Marm is easy on my feet. We also were able to have the Marm. installed right over our old linoleum. The contractor laid down some thin felty stuff before he put the Marm. in. I like how the the Marm. looks historically accurate in my 1920s house. It is very unusual looking and makes the kitchen look bright and warm. We get tons of compliments on it.
posted by pluckysparrow at 6:44 PM on August 24, 2009 [1 favorite]

Seconding jon1270 and plucksparrow. We have marmoleum in our kitchen and two bathrooms and have no complaints. It's attractive and easy to maintain (I too use simple green and water) and we too get compliments on it.

We had ours professionally installed and he recommended not putting on the protectant.
posted by turbodog at 10:40 AM on August 25, 2009

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