Linoleum Floor Repair: How To’s and Cost
Learn how to Repair Linoleum and Associated Costs: Including the Use of Linoleum Glue/Adhesive and Seam Sealers.
If you’ve got linoleum in your home, then you know its appeal: It is unique and attractive, comfortable underfoot and easy on the environment. But you might have discovered the downside too. Linoleum isn’t always the most durable or maintenance-free of materials (although typically more robust than most vinyl flooring). You may have to deal with the odd linoleum repair and if you’ve just run up against this reality…we can help!
It’s worth noting at the outset that small jobs, like re-gluing a seam, can be DIY linoleum floor repair. However patching linoleum is best left to a professional with experience matching patterns and creating a patch that blends nicely in to the flooring field.
For our Linoleum Buying Guide click here.
Common Linoleum Repairs
This overview of linoleum repairs offers tips and solutions for making the repair yourself or determining when the right move is to call a flooring expert.
Removing Linoleum Stains
The word “stains” covers a spectrum of marks ranging from those easily removed to those unlikely to come out. The key for starters is to use the mildest cleaner available that will remove the stain without damaging the material. Otherwise, you might run afoul of Virgil’s proverb, “Aegrescit medendo,” or “the disease worsens with the cure.” This proverb applies to all linoleum repairs; take things nice and slowly or you could end up with a worse problem than the one you started with.
In our experience, white vinegar and, if necessary, a small amount of baking soda as an abrasive, does a good job on most tough linoleum stains when used with a damp sponge.
- Pour white vinegar directly on the stain
- Let it stand for 5-10 minutes
- Dry it with a paper towel or sponge, rubbing gently if needed
- Apply more vinegar and a dusting of baking soda to gently scrub away stubborn stains
This chart gives guidance:
- Vinegar and baking soda should always be tried before mineral spirits or alcohol.
- A soft nylon scrubbing pad and linoleum floor polish can be used in place of mineral spirits
Costs: A linoleum cleaning kit containing a quart of white vinegar ($1-$3), a box of baking soda ($1-$2), a small bottle of mineral spirits ($3-$5), a small bottle of 91% isopropyl alcohol ($2-$3), a pack of sponges ($3-$5) and paper towel can be put together for less than $20. Nylon scrubbing pads cost about $1 each. Linoleum polish costs $5-$8 per quart.
Getting Gum Off of Linoleum
Chewing gum that is fresh should peel off of linoleum quite easily. If it is dried, try freezing it to make it brittle and gently scraping it up with a plastic putty knife. If you use a metal knife, do so with extreme caution against damaging the flooring. Ice might do the job of freezing the gum. If not, Amazon and other retailers sell the type of cold spray used by custodians to freeze gum for easy removal from flooring.
Costs: Cold spray, $7-$15 per can; putty knife, $3-$6
Linoleum Cigarette Burn Removal
Cigarettes leave a charred surface on the linoleum which must be removed. Our recommendation is to use fine steel wool, going very slowly and easily, keeping Virgil’s words in mind. It takes that kind of care to remove the charred material without doing additional damage. Rub floor finish into the spot once the cigarette burn is removed to protect the spot against premature yellowing.
Cost: Steel wool, $3-$7 per box; Linoleum polish costs $5-$8 per quart.
Resealing Linoleum Seams
Linoleum seams occasionally come apart. If the floor is under warranty or even out of warranty by a year or two, call the installer and request it be repaired at no charge. If you tackle it yourself, you’ll need a tube of linoleum seam sealer and a seam roller. Gently pull back the seam. The first step is to remove any debris you find because it will prevent the linoleum from lying flat and adhering properly. Next, apply a moderate amount of linoleum seam sealer into the gap. Push the seam together, and roll it firmly with the roller. Remove excess sealer that squeezes through the gap.
Costs: Linoleum seam sealer, $8-$15 per tube; roller, $6-$10
Repairing Linoleum Tears and Gouges: Small
Small, straight tears and triangular gouges can be repaired the same way seams are resealed as long as no material has been removed. Apply a liberal amount of sealer, roll it firmly and wipe away excess glue.
Tip: Cover the repaired Linoleum tear or gouge with wax paper to prevent sticking, and place a pile of books on the wax paper to hold the repair in place while the linoleum seam sealer dries.
Tip: If a small amount of material is missing along a tear or gouge, create a paste made from white glue (10-20 percent) and material removed from the surface of a scrap piece of linoleum (80-90 percent). Scrape the linoleum with a knife and grind the scrapings or use medium-grit sandpaper for the purpose. Fill gaps along the tear or gouge with the paste. If you’re not happy with the results, then a patch is in order. See Patching Linoleum below.
Costs: Seam sealer, $8-$15 per tube; roller, $6-$10; white glue, $1-$3 per small bottle
Repairing Linoleum Tears and Gouges: Medium and Large
It is very difficult to get larger gouges and tears to fit back together nicely, especially if they are jagged. The better solution is to create a patch for the linoleum, a project we cover next, but one ideally left to a professional flooring installer.
Patches are required for jagged tears, large stains that can’t be removed, large burn holes and other damage that must be entirely removed. Experienced linoleum installers are able to create patches that blend beautifully, virtually disappearing unless you know just where to look. You can try this at home, but if you want pro results, you’ll save yourself a lot of time and hassle by calling a pro to do the work. In short, what needs to be done is to replace the damaged area with a piece of linoleum that is an exact pattern match to what you’ll remove. This job is easy to do poorly, but very difficult to do correctly. Virgil’s proverb has bitten many who have tried it themselves. Still not put off? This guide might help.
Should you wish to attempt a patch repair yourself these are the basics your should know. The replacement piece should be oversized for the patch. It is laid on top of the damaged piece and taped to the floor. A utility knife with a fresh blade is used to cut down through the patch piece and the existing floor. Typically, a square or triangle is made that fully surrounds the damaged area. The patch is lifted away, and the square or triangle of flooring containing the damage is removed along with any glue holding it to the subfloor. Then, the patch is glued into place. If the patch piece is moved even very slightly during the process, the patch created will not fit as it should, and you’ll be left to start over, making an even larger patch the next time.
Professional Linoleum Repairs
Linoleum repair prices are higher than for linoleum installation because the work is more labor-intensive. When hiring a flooring contractor to repair your linoleum, you should expect prices in these ranges.
Minimum service fee: $40-$100: Most contractors charge a minimum fee for the time and expense of coming to your home. If the linoleum repairs cost more than the minimum fee, the fee is waived. In upscale areas, the fee might exceed $100.
Seam sealing and clean tear repair: $8-$20 per linear foot
Minor stain or burn removal: $15-$30 per blemish
Patching: $25-$50 per patch depending on its size