linoleum (lĭnōˈlēəm) [key], resilient floor or wall covering made of burlap, canvas, or felt, surfaced with a composition of wood flour, oxidized linseed oil, gums or other ingredients, and coloring matter. An English rubber manufacturer, Frederick Walton, patented linoleum in 1863. It replaced Kamptulicon, a costly rubber composition. In the manufacture of linoleum, linseed oil is exposed to the air in a succession of thin films until it is of a rubbery consistency, or it is thickened by heating until it becomes a spongy mass, after which it is ground, mixed with pulverized wood and other ingredients, and then applied to the foundation and rolled smooth. The final process is a thorough seasoning in drying rooms. In inlaid linoleum the pattern is built up from the base in the colors of the design and is therefore permanent. Linoleum is made in several thicknesses and in the form of tiles. It is sometimes surfaced with a durable pyroxylin lacquer. Although large amounts of linoleum are still produced, other materials such as vinyl are now more widely used as floor coverings.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.