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The flip side to linoleum

By Michele Beschen
DIY Network
“On the floor I am more at ease. I feel nearer, more part of the painting, since this way I can walk around it, work from the four sides and literally be in the painting.” óJackson Pollock
I just recently attended a women’s expo where I was asked to give a presentation on life’s leftovers. A sponsor of the event, a flooring store, asked that I share with its customers some of the projects that can be done with leftover flooring.
A challenge I love! Some people get excited about getting new “finished” things to try out. I get excited about scraps in all their unfinished glory.
The key to any good creative exploration is to really look the material over and determine all the ways it can be altered and manipulated.
I cut a piece off, folded it, carved in it and experimented with this flexible, durable material. The exploration reinvigorated my love of linoleum ó not for flooring, mind you, but for all the other wonderful, creative uses it offers.
Linoleum is a very inexpensive material to work with and it’s readily available at all home-improvement stores. They usually have standard stock rolls available, or you can also find larger-sized remnants at most flooring stores.
I never concern myself with the pattern or color scheme that’s on the linoleum, because it’s the backside that gets all the creative attention. The linoleum projects I have to share are literally as easy as cutting, painting and enjoying.
To create one of the most amazing outdoor patio-table coverings, flip your table (if the size is manageable enough) upside down onto the backside of your linoleum. Trace around your table and also mark for the umbrella opening, if any. Cut out your pattern with a pair of heavy-duty shears or a utility knife. Prime and paint.
I’ve used everything from acrylic or latex paints on some, to oil-based paints on others. They all worked beautifully, so use what you have. You’ll immediately discover that the backside of linoleum is a wonderful surface to paint on. Seal with two or three coats of an exterior-grade sealer like polyurethane and set atop your table. The weighted material doesn’t fly about on a windy day like a typical tablecloth; it cleans up nicely and is durable enough to be left out throughout the season.
Run with this table-covering idea.
One of my favorites is to create game mats for my picnic table. Just measure the dimensions of your table, and cut linoleum to size. Prime the backside and then paint a variety of game-board designs on it. Depending on the size of your table, you can have a few different games going on at once. You can also cut the material down to smaller sizes for a nice assortment of placemats, bar and work mats, pet mats and more.
To really make your mark with linoleum, create your own variation of the rubber stamp. Cut a piece of scrap wood and a piece of linoleum to the desired size of your stamp and secure the two with contact cement. Carefully carve your design into the backside of the linoleum (paying attention to your negative and positive spaces) and use as an ink stamp.
For a quick fix to dated vinyl flooring in a small space, you can go linoleum on linoleum. Make a pattern out of newspaper or Kraft paper cut to the exact size of the room, including any cutouts for a vanity, toilet, etc. Trace the pattern on the backside of a linoleum remnant, paint it up with a fresh new design and place it right over the top of your old linoleum. Secure where needed with double-sided carpet tape, or slip under a threshold to make sure your edges stay down. You don’t want anyone tripping over your handiwork. It’s a quick, inexpensive way to update the look of an old vinyl floor without having to tear anything out.
Once you cross over to the flipside of linoleum, there’s no end to the creative possibilities.
(Michele Beschen is creator of the “B. Original” series for the DIY Network. Contact her by e-mail at Michele(at)couragetocreate.com, or visit www.diynetwork.com.)

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