50s style flooring – Linoleum and Vinyl

Looking at photos of interiors from the ’50s, it is clear that both vinyl composite and linoleum were used. Here are sources I recommend today:

– Armstrong Commercial floor tile – Standard Excelon Imperial Texture. One homeowner I heard from said the black was identical to what is still in his basement. There are 75 colors, three shown above (the last three, larger images). Note, in my downstairs basement bedroom, the original homeowner used a mix of browns to beautiful effect – so have fun. Note, this flooring will last forever and ever. See more at: http://www.armstrong.com/commflooringna/product_details.jsp?item_id=381

– Armstrong also makes true linoleum — see their website, and so does Forbo Marmoleum. Note: While these are quite beautiful, and environmentally friendly to boot, they do require more care and are not considered completely waterproof.

– Toli Linotesta – is another product that I have found that resembles the marble-like look of lineoleum, but has the greater durability of vinyl composite. 3 colors pictured above (first three, smaller images). See more at http://www.toli.com/linotst_home.html

– Finally, try cork. It’s quite beautiful. It has the same care-ability issues as linoleum. There are many suppliers around.

  1. Amanda chaik says:

    As another flooring option, Forbo offers Marmoleum Modular which comes in 3 sizes, one of which is 10 in. square; almost a match in size for vintage tile.

  2. Hal Cobb says:

    Here’s a link to help you out – my search engine didn’t easily lead me to the Nova series. http://www.vinylasa.com/English/pisos.php?categoria=vinilica&subcategoria=31&idfoto=133

    Colors on the website don’t do justice to how bright these tiles are. I wanted a more orangey red, but the purplish undertones of the ‘Matador’ red tile are still very nice. Pairs well with Dupont Zodiac ‘Indus Red’, Corian ‘Hot’ and Caesarstone 7454 countertops. I’m using a fluted aluminum extrusion as counteredge with the above counter surfaces in my 1961 ranch.

    Vinylasa sample boxes are available with all the colors.

  3. Hal Cobb says:

    Search on Vinylasa if you want the low cost, durability of vinyl composition tiles but bright retro colors. The frontside of Vinylasa Nova Series has complimentary color flecks, the backside has color streaks (more retro). A few color combos are available with reverse colors (turqoise with white chips, white with turqoise chips). These are 12X12 tiles, but I’ve succesfully cut them with standard saw blades (typically carbide tipped these days). Cutting on a radial arm saw, or table saw will give more accurate results of course. I found a distributor in the Dallas Fort Worth area (Arlington TX). I’m sure any major flooring distributor can get these tiles. They’re made in Mexico. Prices are comparable to big box (boring) products from the major US makers. I bought turqoise, yellow, orange, red, black, pink….

    1. Ann-Marie Meyers says:

      Thanks, Hal. I am going to have to redo my Dallas area kitchen floor this spring. Foundation damage caused more cracks to appear than were there to begin with in the tile, and it just can’t wait any longer, so this is very timely for me.
      I want to do something a little different than the standard Tuscany look ceramic tile that everyone around here thinks they HAVE to have. I have a handyman ready and waiting for the go ahead, after the foundation repair is completed, so I will take a look.

  4. Ron Algiere says:

    I currently have 477 9x9x1/8 inch solid rubber tiles, olive green with white streaks from RCA rubber co. #653 that’s enough to cover 268 sqr ft. These are perfect for a retro renovation. I can ship 53 tiles per flat rate shipping box @ $16 per box anywhere in the country. I just figured I would try to sell them here before going to Ebay. Selling price is $400 plus the shipping. Anyone interested?

  5. Natalia says:

    For the record, we looked into having 9×9 tiles laser cut by Forbo. You’re right–it can indeed be done, but it is a tremendous price increase: $395 cutting fee, plus you pay a lot extra for the tile itself because you have to pay the full price for each of the 13×13 tiles that they cut down to 9×9. We were quoted over $4,000 installed in our little kitchen and half bath. So we went with sheet instead.

  6. Glenn says:

    I have a 1955 custom ranch. The tiles in the family room, game room, and laundry room are 9″ x 9″. A few are damaged and need to be replaced. Does Armstrong carry only 12″ x 12″ vinyl flooring? Is anyone aware of other manufacturers that may carry 9″ x 9″ ?

      1. Natalia says:

        Our previous apartment had a 50’s kitchen with gorgeous 9×9 tile.

        It drives me crazy that Marmoleum has the most amazing bold colors but the tile size is far too big (I believe their square tiles are 13×13), especially for those of us who have small kitchens. The proportions are all wrong. I know not all 50’s kitchens had square checkerboard-patterned flooring, but we had our hearts set on having a floor like that in our new (old) house. It’s so disappointing, especially when these companies pay lip service to allowing every possibility you can imagine.

        1. pam kueber says:

          I read once about a woman who had sheet cut into 9″x9″ tiles — it can be done. Some sort of water laser thingie. Don’t ask me.

    1. Tim says:

      The Forbo Marmoleum Modular line is available in a 10″x10″ tile. The selection of color is not huge, but it’s decent. I contacted the manufacturer to see if it could be wrapped up the side of the wall (like flash coving), and a technical rep wrote back to say they do not recommend it because of the polyester backing. I suppose this means it would not wear well over time. By the way, there is a floor plan designer tool at marmoleumclique.com.

  7. steve says:

    We have recently bought a 50’s ranch. In the dinning room and in the entry way there is ( tile?) flooring under carpet. It looks good in terms of the surface but isn’t uniformly stuck to the floor. it would be nice if we could preserve it and conserve it. It is applied in a gray and white diamond pattern. Would that be possible and how would you do it?

    1. pam kueber says:

      Hi, Steve, this is not a DIY site, so I can’t help you with this question… Note, though, there can be nasty stuff like asbestos in old floor tiles, their backing and even adhesives… Consult with a professional before you go messing with this stuff, and even before, to know what you have and what precautions to take….Get informed.

  8. Joe Felice says:

    To complete the genuine look, use the sheet version and wrap it up the walls 4 or 6 inches, then top the edge with chrome. That’s the way we did it back then. And yes, this vinyl-composition will last forever. If it’s damaged, you can use a Scotch-Brite pad to sand it out, then spray on some WD-40 and rub it in.

  9. Lisa says:

    Just a note about the Armstrong Standard Excelon … if you sign up as a company, you can order as many 6″ samples as you want free and shipping is free too. At least it was as of 1/2010. I ordered around 13 colors to see which would be best to replace the hideous vinyl in my kitchen (built in 1954). I have brown wood cabinets and aqua blue tile counter tops… should be a fun test to see which colors go best!

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