Environmental In-Box: Marmoleum, the Eco-Friendly Flooring

When it comes to choosing flooring for your home, you might not even know eco-friendly options exist.  But for over 100 years, Forbo has been manufacturing Marmoleum, an all natural linoleum. Katie Kelleher reports:

What is it? Marmoleum is made into flooring sheets or tiles from a compound of linseed oil, rosins, cork flour, limestone and wood flour that’s adhered to a nontoxic jute backing.  These ingredients create a tough environmentally-friendly product that becomes harder and more durable over time.  Naturally occurring anti-bacteria and anti-static properties are added to the mix to help the flooring resist dust and inhibit the growth of germs that cause disease.  You can buy it online or find a local distributor by entering your location information into the website.

Marmoleum_click_178x124 What I like:  Forbo sought to minimize its environmental impact long before it was trendy, and has the third-party certifications to prove it.  Marmoelum has received a Platinum certification from the SMART Sustainable Products Standard.  It has also been certified under the ISO 14001, a global environmental management standard for sustainable practices.  Additionally, Marmoleum’s health and wellness claims have been certified by the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America. No greenwashing here.

Plus, Marmoleum is a cinch to clean. Stains do not penetrate Marmoleum due to its Topshield protective layer; it is best cleaned by vacuuming, sweeping, or using a mop and the company cleaning solution.

Marmoleum Click offers consumers design flexibility, additional health benefits, and money-saving benefits, too: the flooring “clicks” together in a fit that requires no adhesives that can emit nasty fumes   With its 24 color choices and many design possibilities, Marmoleum is equally appropriate for residential or corporate settings.(It was installed in our company kitchen when the offices were renovated.) The website’s Marmoleum Click Floorplanner lets you create a virtual room, including furniture, to test out your favorite floor design.

Also, the flooring is comfortable to walk on, thanks to the softening effect of the natural jute fiber backing.  Marmoleum Click can last upwards of 30 years without being replaced.

What could be improved? Because Marmoleum is made from natural ingredients, the color of the floor may vary from the sample or could change over time.  Also, the flooring cannot currently be recycled once it’s been used. On the plus side, it will decompose in a landfill without releasing harmful chemicals into the ground, water or air. Also, the company strives to maximize materials recycling during manufacturing to minimize waste.

Corporate responsibility: Forbo has partnered with WWF, the global conservation organization, to donate proceeds from Marmoleum sales to the environmental group’s crusade to protect the environment.  For every square meter sold from eight designated green linoleum floor covering colors bought anywhere in the world,  Forbo donates the equivalent of $0.68 to the WWF.  This translates to about a $50.00 donation when a room the size of an average elementary school classroom is floored using Marmoleum.

Product comparison: Flor Carpet Tiles offer a possible eco-alternative to Marmoleum Click, with the added advantage that they can be recycled. However, it is not apparent on Flor’s website whether the company meets the same level of sustainable standards that Marmoleum does.

Marmoleum looks especially appealing when compared to two of the most popular flooring options in the market: carpeting, and vinyl.

Carpet can harbor millions of allergens, like mold, mildew, dust mites, animal dander, and pollen.  Dust mites live in carpets and grow rapidly in the presence of dander.  Even with careful cleaning and vacuuming, these particles are simply shifted around or blown into the air where they can be inhaled by humans.  Actually using the carpet (i.e., walking on it) can make matters worse, as the fibers tend to collect pesticides, pollen, and mold spores when people and animals regularly travel across it.  The American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology states that you may need to remove carpets from your home if you have dust mite or similar allergies. Carpeting is also a challenge to keep clean, since cleaning wall-to-wall carpeting may require strong chemicals that can lead to headaches, achiness, and flu-like symptoms. In addition, carpet may wear out quickly; if a stain on carpet becomes permanent, you may incur the cost of replacing the entire carpet.If you want the feel of a carpet but prefer to avoid carpeting, install Marmoleum and use washable area rugs for main living spaces.

Vinyl flooring can “off gas” air pollutants into your home, including phthalate plasticizers, lead, cadmium, dioxins and PVC.  PVC, or polyvinyl chloride, is known as one of the worst plastics for the environment and human health , says  The Healthy Building Network.  Companies like Honda, IKEA, Johnson and Johnson, Microsoft, Nike, and Toyota have promised o stop using PVC in their products, due to the serious health concerns it raises.

Like Forbo, most other manufacturers of linoleum floors use plant-based ingredients.  The most notable advantage of Marmoleum Click is that is does not involve the use of adhesive, which standard linoleum floors require.  When evaluating competing linoleum floor providers, check third party certifications to ensure their sustainable practices are legitimate.

Cost: Prices vary for Marmoleum Click, ranging from $5.50 to $ 7.50 per square foot (not installed). The big price advantage for Click is that individual tiles can be replaced, reducing the need to replace an entire floor if just a few tiles are soild or damaged.

How many purses?  Three.  Marmoleum Click is a superior flooring choice, thanks to its health benefits, eco-friendly manufacturing processes, easy “click” installation and replacement, and simple cleaning regimen. Plus, it offers a wide variey of design possibilities.

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28 Responses to Environmental In-Box: Marmoleum, the Eco-Friendly Flooring

  1. Murray Gardner September 23, 2009 at 6:03 am #

    Hi. nice article:) I must mention that you should check out http://www.dalsouple.com.au if sustainability in a great product- rubber flooring is what you are after as well as colour and longevity.
    Our company Dalsouple Australasia also spends AUD$88.88 for EVERY single flooring import into Australia, planting 26 trees!:) We become a carbon positive company and not just a carbon neutal company. BTW $88.88 was chosen for good luck:)
    Kind regards, Murray

  2. Donnay Homes August 2, 2010 at 11:41 pm #

    The laminate floor in my bathroom has dye/paint on it and I don’t know how to get it off. The color came from the dye/decoration on a plastic bag that got wedged under a hamper and got wet. The ink transferred to the floor and now I don’t know how to get it off. The flooring is not the best, and I know that if I use a scrubby on it I’ll just damage the floor. Any suggestions?

  3. Diane MacEachern August 5, 2010 at 10:22 am #

    Donnay, You could try a little bit of Bon Ami cleanser. Make a paste out of Bon Ami and water and let it set on the stain for a couple of minutes before gently wiping it away. Washing soda or baking soda might help, too. Good luck.

  4. Eco Friendly Flooring November 12, 2010 at 10:54 pm #

    Reclaimed hardwood can be a fabulous option for home owners looking to add a real character element to their floors. Planks are salvaged from the demolition of old buildings where they may have been flooring or boards from old buildings like barns. The boards are dried in kilns and left unfinished until after installation. Reclaimed boards can be given different types of surface treatments to give them an antique-type surface, some companies offer a type of flooring with saw marks on the surface or with a scraped top that is reminiscent of an antique refinished floor. Reclaimed wood floors have more character than a pre-finished wood floor and are more eco-friendly as no new trees have to be cut down to make it.

    • Diane June 10, 2014 at 11:35 am #

      I completely agree. Thanks for the insights.

  5. ian December 6, 2010 at 8:02 pm #

    Floorwise is a leading West Australian company with more than 20 years industry experience providing high quality flooring professionally installed throughout Western Australia. We integrate our extensive flooring knowledge and expertise to ensure you are informed of the most appropriate product type, quality and style to minimize waste and save costs for every project. Floorwise provide a unique total service with a specialist Floorwise team of estimators, layers and installers, guaranteeing the highest quality flooring at the most cost effective price. Floorwise ensure every project is completed to the strict Safety Management System (SMS).
    Floorwise project portfolio includes major projects across Western Australia, with specialist teams able to service even the most remote locations.
    Our commitment to every project is to fit the best product to the projects purpose and ensure maximum durability, ease of maintenance, hygiene and aesthetics in accordance to your projects requirements.
    With Floorwise you can be assured of the most competitive quote Australia wide and a qualified team of professional estimators, layers and installers to ensure the highest quality product and service every time.

  6. Kathy Carbone March 28, 2011 at 2:55 am #

    I’m also using Marmoleum as a carpet flooring on my kids bedroom, aside from the fact that it is easy to clean the material that were used are eco-friendly. What I liked about it is that it has different designs, and colors that can be easily accentuated with the designs I have for my kids’ bedroom.

  7. Brian April 13, 2011 at 3:19 am #

    I like Marmoleum as it’s made from primarily natural raw materials. Saving the environment is so important and we can start by using eco-friendly flooring.
    Commercial Flooring

  8. Ailith Blesington June 24, 2011 at 6:05 am #

    It’s nice to know that there are ecological innovations emerging in a sector like house flooring. I believe using natural linoleum floor tiles can be a great avenue to cut down the ecological footprint of homes around the planet. I also like how these tiles eliminate the risk of catching harmful allergens from carpets. This is a great step towards saving the planet and making our homes risk free.

  9. Diane MacEachern June 27, 2011 at 6:37 am #

    Yes, I agree with you. Natural linoleum is made safer and is healthier to live with and maintain. Thanks for writing.

  10. Diane MacEachern June 27, 2011 at 8:16 am #

    Yes, the office I use has exactly this flooring.

  11. Clinton Harvin June 27, 2011 at 8:02 am #

    If it’s a cinch to clean, then do you think this type of flooring is going to be cool for an office? I like the colors of the flooring you’ve shown in the picture you’ve included here, by the way.

  12. carpet companies August 31, 2011 at 3:04 am #

    Thanks for the good information. We’re finishing our basement now, so this will come in handy. We’ve lived in our Ohio home for 4 years, and are considering flooring options.

  13. Concrete Slab October 9, 2012 at 11:25 pm #

    Good day! Would you mind if I share your blog with my facebook group? There’s a lot of people that I think would really appreciate your content. Please let me know. Many thanks

  14. Diane MacEachern October 15, 2012 at 3:46 am #

    You are welcome to link to this blog from your Facebook page. Thanks!

  15. Connie Finch November 1, 2012 at 9:56 am #

    I did not know that kind of flooring is environmental. I just knew that is better than my flooring before so I decided to buy and use this one instead of my old one.

  16. Cleaning Services Calgary November 9, 2012 at 4:46 am #

    I like that floor…. 🙂

  17. Carpet Cleaner Anchorage January 3, 2013 at 12:31 am #

    Marmoleum flooring is the new floor of choice for people interested in green building materials. You may remember it as linoleum. Marmoleum comes in a wide spectrum of beautiful colors to compliment all home styles and decors.

  18. Net curtains January 4, 2013 at 10:59 pm #

    Green flooring does not emit toxic and harmful substances that might harm the health of people and the environment. The material itself and the installation process are very eco-friendly to ensure that no volatile organic compounds or VOCs are released into your environment.

  19. Diane MacEachern January 17, 2013 at 2:57 pm #

    Yes, “green” flooring reduces indoor air pollution, among other benefits.

  20. Luis Jacquez February 1, 2013 at 4:46 am #

    We should really think about our environment. It’s our childrens future that are at stake.

  21. Melanie February 22, 2013 at 2:57 pm #

    Just wanted to let your ow I’ve linked to your article from my blog, http://pebbledashedpad.wordpress.com/author/pebbledashedpad/.
    Kindest regards

  22. Penelope May 22, 2014 at 8:28 pm #

    Hello! I am confused about Marmoleum. According to Forbo’s documentation, “The factory applied lacquer – Topshield 2 – is a waterborne UV cured urethane – acrylate hybrid dispersion.” Isn’t that a fancy way of saying it’s plastic? Also, some Marmoleum is backed with polyester, rather than jute. Isn’t that plastic as well? Does anyone know for sure whether that means Marmoleum does or does not contain BPA and/or pthalates? I don’t understand how Forbo can claim that Marmoleum is biodegradable if it’s made with plastic?

    • Diane June 18, 2014 at 10:59 am #

      Good questions. Can you check with the company and let us know what you find out?

    • Jess Barker March 13, 2016 at 12:50 pm #

      this is really worrying. Is there any flooring I can use that isn’t laced with chemicals? I thought I’d found the answer with marmoleum. Why do they have to use Topshield?

      • Diane March 16, 2016 at 2:48 pm #

        I don’t know anything about Topshield. I suggest you contact customer relations and ask the company directly. Let us know what you find out.

  23. Aida November 7, 2016 at 12:04 am #

    Great post. I’m dealing with many of these issues as well..

    • Diane November 22, 2016 at 1:35 pm #

      Good. I’m glad it was helpful.

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