Ceramic Tile vs Linoleum Flooring

Ceramic Tile vs Linoleum Flooring

If you’re looking for flooring that will be not only stylish but also long-lasting, you may have narrowed down your choices. It all comes down to ceramic tile vs. linoleum.

These two flooring types may seem incredibly alike. Both hard surfaces come in many varieties. However, both have notable advantages and disadvantages.

When making the decision, it’s important to clarify the ways in which ceramic tile and linoleum are both similar and different. Every factor becomes important when making the final call.

You will need to think about how long they will last. You will also need to think about their sustainability and susceptibility to water.

Here is a breakdown of some of the pros, cons, similarities, and differences between ceramic tile and linoleum.

In this guide, we’ll explore:

Side-by-Side Comparison

 Ceramic TileLinoleum
DurabilityVery difficult to crack, resistant to stains with a top layerCan be dented by high heels and furniture
WaterproofYes, protective top layer impedes waterNo, susceptible to moisture
MaintenanceLow maintenance, easy to wipe, mop, sweep, and vacuumLow maintenance with coating, needs waxing every two or three years without
LongevityCan last hundreds of years, a single broken tile is easy to replace25 to 40 years with proper care
Pet-friendly?Yes, due to its moisture and stain resistanceNo, not moisture resistant
Cost$3 to $7 per square foot$4 to $8 per square foot
AestheticsCan be printed in almost any way you like, can even look like wood, won't deform or change color in difference weather conditions Bright to natural tones and patterns, Color is consistent throughout material camouflaging scuffs, Can start yellowing from sun (some coatings can reduce this)
InstallationHeavy and not very DIY, needs additional "tile backing" before install, needs a strong subfloor to prevent cracking which means it may not be best for second story floorsCan be a challenge since it's a very stiff material but can be DIY, Subfloor must be level
ComfortExtremely hard and uncomfortable to stand and walk on, gets incredibly cold tooCushioning effect, gives way but bounces back, Can be very slippery
EnvironmentalMade of natural clay and other raw ingredients, also a good insulator to save energy in your homeMade of natural ingredients, recyclable, no harmful emissions
HygienicYes, hard surface won't attract dust, pollen, or other allergensYes, anti-bacterial and hypoallergenic because of all-natural ingredients
Flooring GuideTile Flooring GuideLinoleum Flooring Guide

Durability and Longevity

Ceramic tile is extremely durable. Incredibly hard and strong, ceramic tile won’t crack or crumble beneath heavy furniture. It especially won’t budge in areas of high foot traffic.

Plus, with a top coating, ceramic tile can be resistant to stains as well. That only adds to its endurance.

Linoleum, on the other hand, is resilient flooring. That means it gives way under certain weight and usually bounces back. But even something simple, like the heel of a shoe, can dent the surface of linoleum.

Both ceramic tile and linoleum can last a long time. With linoleum, your floors will last 25 to 40 years on average. So you can get some serious use out of them.

Ceramic tile can last for hundreds of years. Plus, with ceramic tile, if you break only one tile, it’s easy enough to replace it.

Ceramic tile and linoleum are both hard surfaces. So they are generally low-maintenance when it comes to cleaning. Mild tile & linoleum cleaning products are OK, and a hard floor friendly vac is a must. But all you’ll really need is water and a tile mop.

For both ceramic tile and linoleum, a top layer that you’ll have access to upon purchase from most retailers, they’ll need even less maintenance. But, without this protective coating, you will need to wax linoleum every two to three years and ceramic tile will need a deep clean every so often (especially with the grout).

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Aesthetics

There is good news about both ceramic tile and linoleum. You will have a ton of options when it comes to style and color. They can print ceramic tile in almost any way you can think of. They even make tiles that look like hardwood floors. Manufacturers offer linoleum in everything from bright colors to natural hues.

As previously mentioned, ceramic tile that has a top layer that is very resistant to staining which keeps the floors looking better, longer. Conversely, linoleum is susceptible to nicks and marks but since the material is pigmented throughout, linoleum does a better job camouflaging any inconsistencies.

Ceramic won’t deform or change with differences in temperature or climate while linoleum does have some limitations in that regard. When exposed to sunlight, linoleum starts to turn yellow in a process called ambering. Some coatings can be used to help prevent this from happening but the best way to avoid ambering is to have linoleum in rooms that won’t see direct sun.

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Health and Environmental Factors

A huge selling point for linoleum is that it has all natural ingredients, is totally recyclable, and won’t release any harmful emissions. It’s become an incredibly popular option for those who value sustainability and want to be as environmentally friendly as possible.

Ceramic tile is also rather environmentally friendly. It’s made of natural clay and is a good insulator for your home. Since ceramic tile won’t trap heat, it’s very possible that you’ll be able to conserve energy by way of using less air conditioning. This also saves you money.

Due to its use of all natural ingredients, linoleum is common in schools and hospitals because of its anti-bacterial nature. Plus, both ceramic tile and linoleum are hypoallergenic since they won’t attract dust, pollen, or other allergens.

The health impediment with ceramic tile is actually physical. Ceramic tile has an extremely hard surface that can prove harmful to bones and joints when walking or standing on its surface for extended periods and can cause real problems after a while.

This is a huge reason why linoleum is preferred in most office spaces, schools, and hospitals where lots of people walk and stand around a lot of the time. Ceramic tile is found in many residences because, of course, you’re walking around but you can add rugs and sit on the couch, too.

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Affordability

Both ceramic tile and linoleum are rather affordable options ranging anywhere from $3 to $8 per square foot. As with anything, the higher the quality you buy the more expensive it will be so these prices can vary. But overall, you won’t notice a massive difference between the cost of these two flooring types.

The real money spent on ceramic tile and linoleum comes from the installation. While linoleum is a bit better for DIY than ceramic tile, both may require some professional help that will cost you extra in the long run.

Ceramic tiles are heavy and fragile when moving them from here to there as you are installing them. You use grout to affix them to your floors: a process that requires a bit of finesse that you may want to leave in the hands of a pro. Additionally, unless you’re putting tiles above a concrete subfloor, ceramic tile installation requires you to lay down a tile backing.

Your subfloor could cause problems for linoleum installation as well. Any bumps or imperfections will be easily seen through the linoleum, so making sure your subfloor is level before installing it is a must. This is where you’ll pay extra money even if you install the actual linoleum yourself.

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Other Factors to Consider

One of the biggest differences between ceramic tile and linoleum is the fact that ceramic tile is totally waterproof and linoleum is not. Even though you’ll find linoleum in a lot of kitchens and bathrooms, it’s actually not the best option for rooms that might get wet.

Ceramic tile on the other hand is suitable for any room in your home, even ones were puddles sometimes occur. They’re pet-friendly too, since accidents sometimes happen and you’ll want flooring that won’t be susceptible to moisture.

Also, as mentioned above, linoleum is more forgiving on feet and joints. But it’s also more forgiving in that if you have young kids running around, they’re less likely to really hurt themselves if they fall down on linoleum vs. ceramic tile.

At the same time, linoleum can become quite slippery which can be tough on some pets and certainly can be an issue for rambunctious children. But falling down probably won’t hurt as much.

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Which Should You Buy?

The debate between which is better, ceramic tile or linoleum, will ultimately depend on what your needs are and what’s important to you and your family or coworkers. Here are some examples to help you decide which to buy.

Need floors for upper levels?

If you need flooring for the second story of your home, you may want to choose linoleum. As mentioned earlier, ceramic tile requires a tile backing for proper installation. That’s because it needs an incredibly strong sub-floor to prevent cracking.

Therefore, choosing ceramic tile for floors that aren’t on the ground level could be more prone to such cracking since sub-floors on higher levels are typically weaker than concrete ground floors.

Floors for a kitchen or bathroom?

If you need easy-to-clean flooring for your kitchen or bathroom, ceramic tile is the better choice. Because ceramic tile is completely waterproof, you won’t have to worry about damage to the floors from spills or leaks that are bound to happen in a kitchen or bathroom. Linoleum, on the other hand, is not very waterproof and could prove to be an issue in these moisture-rich rooms.

Will there be a lot of foot traffic?

With young kids running around, you may prefer linoleum. Since linoleum is resilient versus the extremely hard surface of its ceramic tile counterpart, slips and falls will be less painful if you have linoleum. It’s definitely something to think about.

When in search of flooring for your business where people walk or stand for long periods of time, you’ll probably want linoleum. It won’t take long for the hard surface of ceramic tile to start wearing down your bones – especially your heels, knees, and lower back.

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The Verdict

Ceramic tile and linoleum are both environmentally friendly, easy to maintain and long-lasting, and they’re both hypoallergenic. Ceramic tile and linoleum come in lots of different styles and it is preferable for professionals to install them.

But they’re quite different, too. Ceramic tile is much more durable than linoleum and it’s fully waterproof, whereas linoleum is not.

However, linoleum is much better to walk and stand on for extended periods while ceramic tile wreaks havoc on joints. Additionally, ceramic tile can get really cold in the winter and linoleum turns yellow in the sun.

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Kaylee Randall

About Kaylee Randall

Kaylee Randall is a coffee-loving, world-traveling freelance writer, originally from Florida. Also a professional dancer, Kaylee's curiosity has led to a career spanning from cruise lines to theme parks to Las Vegas.

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