LINOLEUM is a mixture of oxydized linseed oil, resins, cork-dust and other substances, rolled out on a backing of canvas. It is either monochrome (self-coloured) or patterned. A pattern may be either printed on the surface of a monochrome sheet or go right through to the backing.

Through patterned or inlaid linoleum is more expensive than surface-printed, since it has to be built up of innumerable separate pieces cut from sheets of different colours and assembled in place on the canvas backing by an extraordinarily ingenious machine. Heating and the pressure of rollers weld the pieces together into a continuous whole.

Whether the pattern goes through or not can easily be determined by examining a freshly cut edge. If it changes its colour with the surface design the pattern is inlaid and not superficial only.

Though many printed patterns resist wear very well, they will sooner or later disappear at places where the wear is heaviest. For example, a printed linoleum in a bathroom may be in excellent condition except just in front of the fixed basin. A through linoleum cannot los9 its pattern except in the very unlikely event of being worn right through to the canvas.

The very thick form of linoleum known as cork carpet is delightfully springy to the feet, and a fine reducer of noise, but is much more expensive than ordinary linoleum. It is particularly suitable for passages, nurseries, and playrooms.

Whatever quality of covering be selected, patterns should be unobtrusive, and the ground colouring blend with the surroundings.


Even a thick linoleum will, owing to its plastic nature, soon reproduce any irregularities in the flooring on which it is laid. Too much care therefore cannot be taken in making the boarding as nearly as is possible a perfectly plane surface.

The heads of any tacks found should be broken off or driven in flush; projecting knots be planed down; and cracks more than ½ inch wide between boards be filled with wooden slips, driven in tight and planed flush. The area to be covered should then be spread with thick felt paper sold for the purposo by linoleum dealers, cut to fit neatly at joints, which must not overlap, and should not coincide with joints in the linoleum itself.

A word of caution. Linoleum is air-proof as well as waterproof: and shuts air I- 8f: A rfc4 -it fjb) 4 r iWVr-4 end moisture in as well as keeping it out. To lay it on a floor which is not well ventilated below – as is the case sometimes on ground floors – is to invite dry-rot, by cutting off what ventilation there was through the cracks between the boards.

If, however, a floor has never shown signs of permanent dampness, and an examination of the outside walls reveals the existence of ventilators, there need be no fear of trouble. But in any case linoleum should not be laid on a floor that has been recently washed, until the boards have dried thoroughly.

Unpatterned linoleums are easier to lay than patterned, since no matching is required; and as a rule they cause less waste of material. The usual width is 6 feet, as being more convenient to deal with than greater widths, unless these happen to fit one dimension of the surface and so save joining.

The scheming out of a laying plan which will entail a minimum of waste and trouble requires careful thought, even if there be no pattern.

To take a simple example. An area measuring 14 by 8 feet is to be covered. In the first case there will be 16 feet of joints; in the second 14 feet. By using linoleum 9 feet wide this waste is kept at 14 square feet, and all joints are avoided. The diagrams assume the linoleum to be unpatterned. If there is a pattern, it might be impossible to make it fit without considerably more waste and joining, and a single piece of wide linoleum is clearly indicated here.

The inexperienced layer should note that new linoleum spreads appreciably after being laid, and that this fact must be allowed for. If a passage is say, 4 feet wide, the linoleum should have a width ½ inch less, to allow inch at each edge for expansion. Where two or more pieces are laid side by side, as in Figs. 1 a and 1 b, the position becomes more complicated as tacking along the joints prevents expansion in one or both directions.

It is therefore highly advisable to leave edges free wherever possible, and, where tacks are needed, to use as few as possible in the first instance, so that readjusting the linoleum, if it shows signs of bulging in use, may be an easy matter. Bulges should be dealt with at once, lest they become permanent and even cause cracking of the linoleum.

Tinned tacks should never be used to fix linoleum. They hold it down only too efficiently. The headless, wedged-shaped brads that professionals employ do their work well – since linoleum tends to he flat naturally and only requires to be prevented from shifting – yet allow the linoleum to be lifted easily.

Where patterns have to be matched at joins, one piece should be marked with a straight-edge, cut off cleanly, and put in position. The piece to match with it is pushed under the edge and adjusted until the pattern is continuous, marked off, and cut along the mark.

Linoleum cracks very easily if bent towards the canvas side, so care should be taken when laying not to allow corners to turn under and be stepped on.

Where linoleum has to be fitted neatly round mouldings or awkward corners, it should be marked off from templates cut out of thin card or stout paper. Begin at the more troublesome edge and lay away from it.

Cleaning linoleum

Linoleum will last much longer if kept free from grit by sweeping. It should seldom be washed; and when washing does become necessary this should be done with a flannel and warm water, each part being rubbed dry before another is wetted. Then comes polishing with furniture or wax polish, used sparingly.

Where loose rugs are spread on linoleum, and a high polish might make them slide easily when stepped on, it is safer to polish with paraffin oil or a special non-slippery polish.

Leaks in Roofs, Stopping. Even a small leak may cause considerable damago in the course of years. Leaks are commonly due either to slates or tiles having dropped out of place; or to the zinc or lead flashings round chimneys and other projections not being in good order; or, in the case of a flat roof covered with lead or zinc, to the metal having cracked or perished.

The replacement of a tile or slate i8 hardly a job for an amateur, and the same remark applies to the repair of flashings. But if a slate has come off near the eaves, where the flow of water is greater than it would be higher up, a temporary repair may be made by pushing a piece of zino up under the two slates of the course above, its projecting part covering the area left unprotected by the missing slate. If painted to match the surrounding slates it will not be unsightly.

The zinc sheathing of a large flat on a roof which had developed weak spots, and leaked in many places, was cured in the following manner. It was examined carefully all over, and every puncture discovered was enlarged and marked. A mixture of putty and white lead was then forced down through every hole in turn against the felt underneath, and a flat pyramid of it formed over the hole, overlapping the zinc all round £ to inch. Each patch was painted with white lead paint and allowed to harden. Then the whole roof was given a couple of coats of the same paint.

At intervals of a few years the roof has been repainted, and as it has never let a drop of rain through since first taken in hand, the heavy cost of re-zincing has been postponed indefinitely.

Cracked lead can be dealt with in the same manner. Where possible, the edges of a crack should be turned up a little to allow the putty mixture to be pushed through and then beaten down again. Painting along the cracks follows.

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