Retrofit: Using Old Materials for Stylish and Eco-Friendly Floors

In an era of appreciating the retro, designers and homeowners have rediscovered what our grandparents and parents knew all along: linoleum and cork floors are durable, low maintenance, environmentally friendly and stylish. These natural materials “re-create a simpler, nostalgic era from the past that is refreshing in today’s environment of Corian countertops,” says Mike Scatena, co-owner of Dallia Floor and Wall Company, an installation firm in Skokie, Illinois.

Cork and linoleum, which is made from linseed oil, cork, pine resins, and natural pigments on a jute backing, were both popular floor coverings in the 1930s and 1940s. Frederick Walton patented linoleum in 1860, and it was de rigeur in kitchens and baths as late as the 1960s. American manufacturers dropped linoleum from their lines in favor of less costly vinyl sheet tile and sheet goods in the mid-1970s. Now, most natural linoleum is imported from Holland, Scotland, Sweden, and Mexico.

Check out the Sep/Oct 2000 issue of Natural Home for more on cork and linoleum flooring, including:  

  • Available products
  • Installation tips
  • The ins and outs of cork harvesting
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