Linoleum recipe for a flight of fancy?
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Hannah



Joined: 20 May 2011
Posts: 74
Location: Kansas City

PostPosted: Thu Nov 08, 2012 1:34 pm    Post subject: Linoleum recipe for a flight of fancy? Reply with quote

Hi everybody! This is just an idle speculation, a fun idea I had. I've been reading up on linoleum--how it is made and how it differs from the PVC floor tiles that often gets called linoleum these days. I know it is still being made by several companies, but what if I wanted to create my own linoleum tiles? I have seen some beautiful old linoleum floors in which the individual tiles are inlaid with multiple colors in geometric patterns. Does anyone know of someone who has tried making their own linoleum?
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johnleeke
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Location: Portland, Maine, USA

PostPosted: Fri Nov 09, 2012 11:27 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

My dad told me a story about something roughly similar to making your own linoleum.

He was born and grew up in a log cabin in the Rocky Mountains. The cabin had a dirt floor. Every five years or so they would make a new floor.

The new floor began with planning a trip of several days to go down the mountain to get supplies in town. Here's how my dad described it. Clear everything off the floor of the cabin and put in up in the loft. Smooth out the dirt on the floor, sprinkle a bit of water on it and tamp it down, leaving it compacted, nice and smooth. Don't disturb it for several days to let the water dry out (during the trip to town). When you get back from the trip, sprinkle boiled linseed oil on the floor, let it soak into the dirt and dry for several days. You have to stay off the floor while it dries, so that's a good time to haul some of the supplies from town on up the trail to your neighbor's and stay for a visit.

This formed a sort of "leathery" layer at the top of the dirt about 1/4" thick, that could be swept clean. After a month or so, brush on some more linseed oil, and spread out some old worn out canvas or pieces of cloth and brush on more linseed oil. In a couple of months, brush on some more linseed oil. This made a "flooring" that could be kept clean by sweeping and even washing with a scrub brush and soap. It was flexible and he could feel it move underfoot. As it wore out after several years cracks or holes would develop and when he walked near them he could see little plumes of dust shoot up from underneath the "flooring." Then it was time to take up the old flooring and make a new floor. They cut up the old flooring and used it for "fire starters" to get the kindling going in the wood cook stove, or when traveling and camping out up in the mountains.

I have heard stories of similar flooring in adobe houses in Arizona, but instead of using linseed oil they used ox blood.

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Last edited by johnleeke on Sat Nov 10, 2012 4:16 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Hannah



Joined: 20 May 2011
Posts: 74
Location: Kansas City

PostPosted: Sat Nov 10, 2012 12:55 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

What a wonderful story to share! Folks were so resourceful back then...and can still be today! The log cabin floor sounds a lot like the original processes for linoleum--repeatedly dipping a piece of canvas into a mixture of BLO and cork dust. If dirt floors have been treated this way for a long time, perhaps the man who invented linoleum was not so far ahead of his time after all .
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Don Wagstaff



Joined: 09 Sep 2010
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PostPosted: Mon Nov 12, 2012 3:55 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hello,

I'll say this, which is, to my mind nothing beats a wooden floor, be it painted, oiled, waxed, ok, though personally I'd never again do it, even clear coated with something, or best of all left completely natural to attain its own worn-in surface appearance over time. But, the thought of linoleum did strike me in this context: There in the kitchen, from a roll cut to fit and then simply laid down atop the floor as it is now, unattached, to lift along the sides, bubble up in places, curl from the ends maybe with a nail in there where it will just not stay down - beautiful!. Though that old stuff with the geometric patterns cannot be beaten I can't say if it is still to be found on the market. I think the problem one would encounter in trying to make it is that the process is somewhat inherently industrial involving high pressure and extruding. Maybe an old wringer could do the trick.
I would sure like to know of any self-made attempts though. This is quite a nice material along with being environmentally friendly.

Greetings,

Don Wagstaff
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johnleeke
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Joined: 20 Aug 2004
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Location: Portland, Maine, USA

PostPosted: Mon Nov 12, 2012 7:31 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I can imagine Hanna doing a practical demonstration of making linoleum tiles. All the materials are readily available. Well, we may all have to send her the wine bottle corks we've been saving.

The pressure could be supplied with a simple book press:


I wonder if that would be enough pressure.

Book presses are often available on eBay:
http://www.ebay.com/sch/i.html?_trksid=p5197.m570.l1311&_nkw=book+press&_sacat=0&_from=R40

If you have to make your own press, the "knee lever press" principle could be useful:

(image courtesy Technolab: http://www.technolab.org/img/products/hako/hako264-0.jpg)

The first unknown to me would be what to use as a release agent to keep the linoleum from sticking to the press plates.

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Don Wagstaff



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PostPosted: Tue Nov 13, 2012 3:10 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hello,

I had somethig like this method in mind, adapted to the purposes at hand.

Greetings,

Don Wagstaff



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johnleeke
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PostPosted: Tue Nov 13, 2012 7:32 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Don, that's amazing. What are you actually making in this photo?
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Don Wagstaff



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PostPosted: Tue Nov 13, 2012 4:46 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi John,

That was the time I was insulating with sheep's wool and wanted to give it a borax rinse before putting it in there. The automatic wringer was a lot easier than wringing out by hand. Then I put it out for some ultra violet exposure.

Greetings,

Don Wagstaff



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