Well, you lucked out, Brazilmom.
On the most recent site I used to answer questions on there was a guy wanting to know how to repair his shiney bathroom Marmoleum floor after his wife spilled nail polish remover on it.
I'm quite familiar with the subject of paint, and so I'm quite familiar with linseed oil which is essentially the prime ingredient in making both the old "oil based" paints and linoleum.
I know that nail polish remover is most commonly acetone and/or amyl acetate in various proportions; both will dissolve acrylics of all kinds, including acrylic nail polish. However, linseed oil based paints are quite slow to dissolve in acetone, and this guy was saying that it damaged the floor by leaving a white streak after his wife immediately tried to wipe it up. That sounded fishy to me, and so I did some digging to find out what was on that Marmoleum flooring that would have been damaged that quickly by nail polish remover.
And the result was that I've determined that Marmoleum is basically just REAL linoleum, and Marmoleum with Topshield is nothing more than real linoleum with EITHER:
a) one coat of Johnson Wax's "Technique" sealer applied first and then one coat of Johnson Wax's "Carefree" floor finish applied over the sealer, or
b) two coats of Johnson Wax's "Carefree" floor finish over the linoleum.
That is, you can make your own "Marmoleum with Topshield" by applying Carefree (which I buy by the 5 gallon Enviropac) to anyone's real linoleum.
And, since I use a different company's sealer and Johnson Wax's "Carefree" on all the VCT floors in my apartment block, I'm very familiar with the "Topshield" protective coating that Forbo puts on their Marmoleum.
To read the question and answer for yourself, go to:
1. go to DIY Chatroom - DIY Home Improvement Forum
2. use the Search tool to find any thread with the word Marmoleum in it
3. read the thread called "Marmoleum and Nail Polish Remover"
Anyhow, to cut to the quick, if you like Marmoleum, I would buy anyone's real linoleum, but stay away from the acrylic finish they may offer to put on it for you. Or, stay away from any real linoleum that comes with an acrylic finish already applied. There are better options for a residential setting if the home owner wants real linoleum.
Marmoleum is simply Forbo's trade name for the real linoleum it makes.
It's the acrylic finish they put over that real linoleum that makes it unsuitable (in my opinion) for a residential setting. It's fine for a commercial setting or for use in an apartment, but not in a house.
The reason why is that the acrylic finish they put over the linoleum (and Forbo calls theirs "Topshield") is exactly the same acrylic coating floor sealer and finish I put over the vinyl composition tile floors in my apartment block. And, I can assure you that dirt does get embedded in the surface of that acrylic finish (which in this case is Johnson Wax's "Carefree" finish). I see it every time I clean a floor with my floor scrubber; the cleaning solution I put on gradually turns greyish from the dirt embedded in the acrylic finish that's been scrubbed off.
In fact, about the only way you can remove this dirt is by something called the "Scrub and Recoat Method" or by stripping the finish off the floor entirely and applying multiple coats of Carefree acrylic floor finish to replace what you stripped off.
In a commercial setting like a retail store, there will be aisles between the rows where the food is stacked, but the floors between those aisles won't have anything on them that needs to be moved. So, grocery stores will hire janitorial companies to come in at night when the store is closed to scrub off the surface layer of floor finish with a floor scrubber, and put down a new coat of acrylic floor finish. So, you're essentially scubbing off the top surface of the coat of finish in which all the dirt is embedded, and putting on new finish to replace what you scrubbed off.
You can do the same thing in apartments because tenants will typically only stay 2 to 4 years before they move. And when the suite is empty you can go in and "Scrub and Recoat" the floor in that apartment.
Or, if you don't have a floor scrubber (mine cost me $1700 $Cdn), the only other option is the let the floor get progressively more and more embedded with dirt, or to strip all the acrylic finish off and replace it with new floor finish.
The problem is that the floor has to be empty to do either the Scrub and Recoat or stripping the finish off entirely. You need to move all of the furniture off the floor, and that simply isn't practical in a house where people live for many many years. You might be able to do one hallway like this, but to do a bedroom you'd have to remove the bed and dresser and night stands and any area rugs. To do the kitchen you'd have to remove the table and chairs and you couldn't walk on the floor to get anything out of the cupboards while the new finish is drying. And, so having acrylic floor finish on any floor in your house means that you need to maintain it or it'll look like he11 in 10 years or so as the dirt accumulates in it's surface. You need to either periodically scrub off that dirt embedded surface layer and mop on a new coat of acrylic floor finish to replace what you scrubbed off, or if you don't have a floor scrubber, strip off ALL of the floor finish layer and replace it entirely with several coats of floor finish (I typically apply about 8 to 10 coats on a floor after stripping.)
And, most people would consider the maintenance of the acrylic floor finish to be a major nuisance even if you only have to do it every 5 years or so to keep the floors looking clean and shiny. That's cuz moving all the furniture in each room in the house onto the living room carpet so that the flooring in each of the other rooms can be maintained is a lot of work, especially since people nowadays are busier than ever.
Now, you mentioned some vinyl tiles that you thought were hard and not flexible. Those were probably vinyl composition tiles. Vinyl composition tiles are generally considered to be commercial flooring, and part of the reason is that acrylic floor finish like "Carefree" are applied to them as well. And, of course, the gameplan whenever you put down an acrylic floor finish is to periodically scrub off the dirt embedded surface layer and apply a new coat of floor finish, and that's the part that makes it kinda impractical for a house.
If you like real linoleum, you can just have real linoleum installed that doesn't have an acrylic top coating like "Topshield".
Alternatively, if you like the look of "Marmoleum with Topshield", you can have real linoleum installed, and then apply 8 to 10 coats of an acrylic SEALER like Johnson's Wax "Technique" acrylic sealer.
Acrylic sealers dry to a much harder film than acrylic finishes so they don't get embedded with dirt like floor finishes do. When I installed vinyl composition floor tiles in my sister's kitchen I applied multiple coats of acrylic sealer ONLY with no acrylic finish on top. The job of a sealer is to protect the vinyl composition tiles from stains, so a thick coat of sealer will ensure that the actual flooring material is never stained almost no matter what you spill on it. Often the sealer itself is stained, but generally not all the way through so that you can remove the stain by removing the top surface of the sealer. You can do that by applying a chemical stripper meant for acrylic floor finish to the affected area with a small paint brush, giving it time to work, and then scraping off the softened sealer with a sharp paint scraper. Then just rinse with clean water, dry and apply another several coats of sealer to the area to replace what you removed.
Sealer will eventually wear off just from erosion. When that happens the flooring in that area will begin to look dull and dirty. Just clean the area with a "Magic Eraser" (made by the same company that makes Mr. Clean detergent), rinse with clean water, dry and apply another 8 to 10 coats of sealer to that area.
Or, just leave the linoleum floor uncoated, and let it age naturally.
Real linoleum makes for a fairly durable floor because linseed oil cures by crosslinking when exposed to oxygen in the air, and this crosslinking will theoretically continue forever, gradually making the floor harder and stronger. What I would be a little concerned about is that linseed oil will yellow in colour unless you have direct or indirect natural sunlight in the room. So, if you're intending to install this flooring in a basement bathroom with no windows, I'd ask about the yellowing in colour that would presumably result in that situation.