People often confuse linoleum flooring with vinyl, but there's a big difference between these materials, especially when they sustain a burn. Vinyl is thinner than linoleum, and it's plastic, so it's easy for a hot object to burn a hole. Linoleum, on the other hand, is composed of solidified linseed oil and pine resin, and it's more likely to melt than to burn.
More often than not, a vinyl burn repair involves cutting out and replacing the damaged section of the flooring, but you can often repair a linoleum burn by rubbing it out and applying a restorative finish. If the burn does go all the way through linoleum, however, you'll probably have to replace the burnt section. This isn't difficult provided you have these resources:
- A spare piece of flooring that's identical to the section being replaced.
- A good eye and a steady hand.
- A tube of seam sealer.
The Easy Way to Handle Burnt Flooring
If you drop a hot item, such as a burning cigarette, on linoleum flooring, the chances are that it will cool off before it has a chance to burn all the way through and the damage will amount to a blackened depression. Fortunately, the color pattern extends all the way through the wear layer, so if you can remove the discoloration, you'll probably be able to camouflage the depression.
The procedure recommended by Armstrong Flooring is simple:
- Rub the affected area with 000 steel wool, going with the pattern grain, until all the discoloration is gone.
- Apply restorative finish, if necessary.
Because linoleum is hardened linseed oil, the best finish restoration product would be a linseed oil-based clear varnish, such as spar varnish. Apply as many coats as needed to flatten out the depression, let the varnish cure for a day or two, then rub it down with steel wool. If you don't have any spar varnish, polyurethane varnish will work, but use a product with a satin sheen to avoid a glossy, plastic-like repair that stands out from the overall finish of the flooring.
How to Repair a Linoleum Tile Floor
You can handle a burn mark on linoleum tiles the same way you handle one on sheet linoleum, but you have another option. You can simply replace the damaged tile.
To remove the old tile, start by softening the adhesive by applying heat with a hair dryer. When the adhesive loosens, pry up the damaged tile with a stiff putty knife, then use the putty knife to scrape as much of the old adhesive off the subfloor as you can. Apply new adhesive, fit the tile in carefully and hold it down with weights until the adhesive sets.
Replacement Is the Best Way to Handle Vinyl Burn Repair
Because the pattern doesn't go all the way through vinyl flooring, you can't rub out a burn mark without leaving noticeable damage. You'll usually have to cut out and replace the damaged section. This is also an option for severely damaged linoleum.
It's usually best to cut out a square or rectangular section, and if the pattern has a grid, it's best if you cut along the grid lines. Find a piece of flooring with the same pattern as the one on the piece you cut out and use the cutout to make the replacement the same size as the original piece. Make your cuts with a straightedge and a sharp knife to get them straight and clean.
After removing the damaged piece and gluing in the new one, seal the seams with vinyl or linoleum seam sealer to completely camouflage the repair.
Chris Deziel is a contractor, builder and general fix-it pro who has been active in the construction trades for 40 years. He has degrees in science and humanities and years of teaching experience. An avid craftsman and musician, Deziel began writing on home improvement topics in 2010. He worked as an expert consultant with eHow Now and Pro Referral -- a Home Depot site. A DIYer by nature, Deziel regularly shares tips and tricks for a better home and garden at Hunker.com.