I am thinking of replacing tiled floor in my kitchen with linoleum (in Canada). I see a few benefits to it, 1) easy to wash 2) fallen glassware doesn't always break. However, there seems to be unexplained negative attitude towards linoleums. (At least from my experience.) What are real downsides of linoleum?
Do they still make Linoleum? lol. Today there are many types of sheet flooring goods. the most common is vinyl sheet flooring. The newest style which is gaining popularity very quickly is fiberglass sheet flooring. This fiberglass flooring is very different than vinyl. If has a padded backing and is set with removable adhesive or with no adhesive at all. Some of the tile patterns look so much like real tile, you have to get on your hands and knees to check it out. It also give you a softer feel under your feet. They are no wax and clean with simple mild cleansers. It comes in 12 and 16 foot widths, is very easy to work with even in cold temps, and best of all, it is very competitively priced.
If your tile floor is becoming unservicable or you really want to change it, you may be able to level right over it with a flooring compound. This will level the grout lines and allow you to put sheet goods directly over it without having to remove the tile or overcoat with plywood. If your existing tile is sound, it would make a good stable base if prepared properly.
If the tile is nice tile, I'd strongly consider keeping that. People like tiled kitchens.
Linoleum is a bit like laminate counter tops. Has a bit of a 60s/70s stigma to it.
But also like laminate counter tops, they've gotten better and now come in a much wider range of looks.
Linoleum has the added benefit of being a 'natural/green' material, so fits into the green trend as well (which is a good trend, for the most part).
I suppose the biggest con would be that it won't wear as well (or last as long) as tile will...then again, very little will wear as well as tile.
You'll also need to decide if you want a surface that needs to be waxed regularly or has a more permanent top coat. I assume most products on the market today will have the latter, but you'll want to check into that.
The other con is that you'll likely have to either tear out your tile, or add a new layer of plywood to the top of it. Granted, you'll probably have to do that regardless, but also something to consider.
As Tester101 said, what's usually called "linoleum" nowadays is actually made of vinyl, and falls under the general heading of "sheet flooring".
On the upside, lino's cheap, easy to install and easy to care for. You don't have to seal it like you do porous tile, grout and/or hardwood (but a shot of acrylic floor polish never hurt anything). It does have a LITTLE padding to it because of its inherent flexibility, but it's considered a "hard" floor unlike carpet. BTW, I've seen glasses not break, or only break on the third or fourth bounce, on a LOT of hard surfaces from tile to lino to laminate; it's more a function of exactly how the glass hits.
Anyway, the downsides are:
Nobody mentioned this but the EPA has ingredients of vinyl on a red-list of products that are known or highly suspect of causing cancer. You will definitely NOT hear this from the vinyl manufacturers. Check for yourself by searching for epa phthalates vinyl.
Linoleum is made from linseed oil. It is a natural product. Cork as someone mentioned is another one. I have not heard of fiberglass flooring unless they mean a backing or something.
Vinyl is very different, a rigid material by its own nature, which requires phthalate plasticizers to keep it from getting brittle. They leach out, eventually leaving it brittle anyway. Every formulation is different, some have phthalate emission levels that are lower than others, but there does not seem to be a test everyone agrees on, so anyone can say theirs is safe it seems. But the EPA has a plan to somehow address it - if and when THAT ever happens.