For over 50 years, Karndean’s been producing popular ranges of flooring that are used throughout the world. Starting in the UK in the 1970s, the company rapidly expanded its operation into the US and is now a truly international flooring presence.
They put their success down to a canny combination of patterns inspired by global sources, together with state-of-the-art production techniques. This blend is intended to produce a singularly hard-wearing, good-looking floor.
Does it manage this? It has a price point that’s a little higher than some of its competition, so we’d be expecting a pretty solid performance from Karndean. We’ll take a good look at each range and consider key factors such as durability and ease of installation. We’ll then check out Karndean flooring reviews online. Following a brief rundown of its pros and cons, we’ll deliver our overall verdict.
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Karndean is a vinyl flooring supplier. But even if you’re actually looking for laminate or solid hardwood, don’t look away. Vinyl is a rapidly evolving and improving flooring surface that is making great strides in terms of appearance and durability.
Whether you choose traditional vinyl sheet or the more recent luxury vinyl, you can find some great-looking and exceptionally hardwearing examples if you know where to look. Karndean might well be one of those places.
Karndean produces three ranges of luxury vinyl: Rigid Core, LooseLay, and Glue Down. All have their particular strengths, as we’ll see.
This is what most people think of when they think of luxury vinyl. It’s a multi-part construction consisting of, at the top, a wear layer that’s designed to stand up to everyday stresses, strains, and tears. Under this is a design layer that carries the look of the material. Beneath this is the solid core made from limestone. Underneath this is a backing layer that adds to the stability of the construction.
What’s available in Karndean rigid core? You have four ranges to choose from; Korlok Select, Korlok Reserve, Van Gogh, and Knight Tile.
Korlok Select has 44 different looks, most of which are wood (including a very fetching Salvaged Barnwood, so you can play at being Witness with Harrison Ford – standees available here) but in among them are some very striking herringbone marbles. Wood comes in 56” x 9” planks, whereas stone is 24” x 18”. Herringbone’s got its own sizing.
Korlock Select is solely about the woods: a dozen different varieties, including Vintage Oregon Oak and Smoked American Marple, come in 48” x 7” planks.
Van Gogh’s not all about sunflowers and starry nights. It’s all about reclaimed and vintage wood looks, such as Reclaimed Redwood. Just as with the Korlock Reserve, size is limited to 48” x 7” planks. You can, of course, cut to fit by sawing off a length. Mind those ears!
Knight Tile has a wide variety of looks to complement any decor. Woods, available in 36” x 6” and 48” x 9”, include Dutch Limed Oak and a nice natural Scandi Pine. Stones, in 12” x 18”, include some good slate looks and a soapstone too.
Korlock and Van Gogh have micro-beveled edges and are textured in feel, while Knight Tile has a painted bevel edge and a smooth feel.
For those who prefer the assuredness of adhesive, Karndean supplies a number of ranges that require adhesive. These include Van Gogh and Knight Tile, as above, plus Art Select, Da Vinci, and Opus. All are beveled and smooth in texture. Gluedown also includes several design components that a buyer can include to enhance the individuality of the layout, such as medallions, borders, etc.
Art Select is a range of woods and tiles that are ‘effortlessly stylish’. Here you’ll find Guernsey Limestone and Classic Hickory, with sizes ranging from 18” x 3” to 56” x 9”.
Da Vinci is a classic collection, with 30 kinds of wood and other surfaces, including the arresting Iron Ore. Sizes are 36” x 3” for the woods and 16” x 16” and 12” x 18” for the others.
Opus is more modern, with a fresh contemporary feel. 34 options are available here, including a nice line in mosaics. Wide variety of sizes, from 18” x 3” to 48” x 9”.
LooseLay’s a bit of a mix between the two, relying on weight, friction, and a touch of glue here and there to keep the floor in place.
The range consists of 26 varieties in the standard length (41” x 10”/20” x 24”), plus 18 in the longboard (59” x 10”) collection. Great selection of woods, including a rich Burnt Ginger and a more austere Hudson.
All the boards in the LooseLay series have a textured feel with no beveled edge.
All Karndean flooring is FloorScore certified, so VOC emission is at a minimum, and the construction is free from phthalates and formaldehyde. No information regarding sustainability could be found on the Karndean website.
- Available in a Huge Range of Options
- Multi-Layer Structure
- 100% Waterproof
- Suitable for Commercial Use (via Karndean Commercial)
- Highly Durable
- FloorScore low VOC certified
- Flooring Name: Karndean Luxury Vinyl
- Thickness: Rigid Core 4.5mm-6.5mm, Gluedown 3mm, LooseLay 4.5mm.
- Warranty: Lifetime Residential, 10-15 Years Commercial
- Commercial or Residential Use: Both
- Installation Type: Floating, Glue-down, or Combination
- Underlayment Required: Some of the Ranges (eg, Rigid Core) Have Attached Foam Underlayment
- Material: Luxury Vinyl
- Brand: Karndean
Most of Karndean’s output hovers around the $5.50 SFT mark, which positions it in the medium-upper price bracket for luxury vinyl flooring, so above lines such as LifeProof. If you shop around, you can get Rigid Core for cheaper. Where the boat is really pushed out is with the mosaic tiling, which comes in at a hefty $14.98 SFT.
Variety Cost per Square Foot Thickness Rigid Core Van Gogh $4.61 SFT 4.5mm Rigid Core Korlock Reserve $4.76 SFT 6.5mm Gluedown Knight Tile $4.89 SFT 2mm LooseLay Burnt Ginger $5.57 SFT 3mm LooseLay Longboard Raven Oak $5.88 SFT 4.5mm Gluedown Art Select $6.68 SFT 3mm Gluedown Opus Mosaic $14.98 SFT 2.5mm
Karndean Compared With Other Brands
|Product Name||Price per Square Foot||Overall Thickness||Wear Layer Thickness|
|Home Decorators Collection LVP||$1.79||4 – 4.2 mm||8 – 12 mil|
|DuraLux Performance||$1.49 – $3.49||4 – 5 mm||6 – 12 mil|
|LifeProof Vinyl Plank||$3.41 – $4.59||6.5 – 8 mm||6 – 22 mil|
|NuCore RigidCore 8mm||$3.79||8 mm||22 mil|
|Mohawk SolidTech Plus||$4.35||6 mm||20 mil|
|Armstrong Luxe Plank||$4.39 – $4.79||7.8 mm||20 mil|
|Karndean Korlok||$4.76||6.5 mm||20 mil|
|Mannington Adura Max||$5.49 – $5.99||8 mm||20 mil|
|Coretec Plus Premium||$6.49 – $7.49||12 mm||20 mil|
|Cali Bamboo Legends||$6.49||12 mm||20 mil|
|Shaw Floorte Classic||$6.99||12 mm||30 mil|
|Coretec Grande||$9.99||15 mm||30 mil|
This is where luxury vinyl really shows what it can do. Luxury vinyl planks (LVP) and tiles (LVT) are capable of some rugged wear. A key component in the structure is the wear layer, and you’re looking for a thickness here of at least 20mil in order to give good durability.
So, how does Karndean stack up? Very well. Most of its ranges, such as the Van Gogh, Korlock, and Opus, meet the magic 20mil mark. Some – Art Select and Da Vinci – go even further, supplying a muscular 30mil wear layer. If you’re planning on laying a floor down for clog dancers, wildebeest, or teenagers, these ranges will cope nicely. The only fly in the ointment is the Knight Tile range, which comes in at a relatively slender 12mil.
However, the entire Karndean flooring range comes with a lifetime residential guarantee, which is remarkable, especially considering the overall thinness of some of the tiles. The flooring comes with a 10 or 15-year commercial warranty too. If this is of interest, you’ll need to visit the Karndean Commercial site, where you’ll find lots more relevant information.
Finally, as with pretty much all luxury vinyl, you’re assured of waterproofing, too, so Karndean flooring’s good for any room in the house, including the splashiest bathroom.
You can’t buy Karndean from Home Depot, Wayfair, or Amazon (all of which are review stalwarts). However, the Karndean New Zealand site carries some universally positive reviews, which are without exception, like this one:
I am delighted with my Karndean Design flooring and would recommend it to anyone wanting new flooring. – Barry, New Zealand
In other words, the kind of thing a lot of manufacturers stuff their websites full of. However, if you dig a little deeper, there are other reviews. Most of them are positive, with customers praising the look and the ease of installation, such as this one:
Easy to Install for My Rental Home – I was looking for some faux wood to put in my rental homes I’ve been redoing. These planks fit all my needs and were a fraction of the cost. Installation was quick and simple and my tenants love the look
Durability tends to be rated highly too, as this review attests:
I installed this product in a recreational indoor gym we were doing outside of Pittsburgh. The old maple strip planks floor buckled in the middle from water damage. It worked great with the system we followed. I’m very please with the look and durability.
However, more negative reviews are available too, such as this one:
We can’t seem to get it clean. There is always a haze or such on the floor… Karndean cleaners aren’t available in Ontario!
So it might be the case that, despite what it says on the Karndean website, you need more than just water (or water and vinegar) to get this flooring material clean. (For further info on how to keep vinyl floors clean, try our vinyl flooring care guide.
Depending on which type of Karndean you’re going for, installation difficulty varies. As is usual with these things, Karndean’s website recommends that you get a professional to lay it. However, if it’s Rigid Core you’ve got, most people with any practical bent should be able to lay it. It’s floating and just clicks into position with (ostensibly) the greatest of ease. Check this YouTube video out before you start.
Gluedown is not for everyone, as some people have an aversion to adhesive: the very idea of using such strong bonding gear and managing to get stuck to the floor until somebody comes to the rescue is enough to put those who are prone to cataclysmic thinking right off the whole game.
People who balk at such glue-based hazards will also probably reject the LooseLay approach, although it does represent a good compromise between the two, involving as it does the bare minimum of gluing. If you need instructions, Karndean supplies them on its site. One final thing to remember – Karndean flooring, whatever the variety, needs a 48-hour acclimation period before you lay it.
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The Pros & Cons of Karndean Vinyl Flooring
- Great Range – There’s a wealth of woods and a surfeit of stones to choose from, as well as one or two mosaics too.
- Good Wear Layer – 20 mil’s got what it takes. 30mil’s got even more of it. Even the 12mil stuff carries a lifetime warranty.
- Simple Installation – If you’re practical, you’ve got this.
- Multi-Use – Suitable for any room, with splashes, no problem.
- Easy to Clean – The manufacturer claims it should be doable with a damp mop, although that review has us a little worried.
- Damaged Planks Can Be Replaced – Any individual planks that are impaired can be removed and replaced.
- Pretty Good Reviews – Yes, there’s the odd carp, but that happens with every product. In general, they’re positive.
- Waterproof – Karndean makes a good waterproof vinyl, fast against water even after sustained immersion.
- Warranty – Lifetime residential. Can’t ask for much more. Commercial 10-15 years too.
- Cannot Be Refinished – In common with all luxury vinyl, if you damage a section, you can’t tackle it by refinishing it.
- Very Little Eco-Info – Most vinyl manufacturers have really upped their game when it comes to telling us what they’re doing about sustainability. Karndean, not so much.
- Not the Cheapest – No, Karndean’s not what you’d call an economical option, but, in its defense, it doesn’t set out to be. Watch out for that Mosaic pricing!
- Doesn’t Have the Look or Feel of Natural – Again, in common with all luxury vinyl, it doesn’t give the same experience as natural materials. But it’s pretty close.
Style – 9 out of 10
Very impressive range of products, with a floor for every taste, from resolutely old-fashioned to something a little funkier. We were especially impressed by the stone options, which depart from the usual selections you find elsewhere.
Durability – 9.5 out of 10
You can’t fault Karndean’s ability to shrug off damage. The 30mil stuff, in particular, is almost good enough to plate a tank with. Very impressed too that a lifetime warranty can be offered with a thin flooring material with only a 12mil wear layer.
Affordability – 6 out of 10
Karndean starts at $4.50 plus, which immediately places it way above the economy end of the market. However, its durability alone makes it worth it, so if you can afford it, you should consider it a good investment.
Online Reviews – 7.5 out of 10
We were fairly impressed with the positivity that accompanies most online reviews. There seems to be a general feeling of satisfaction with durability, appearance, and installation matters, so the odd moan notwithstanding, all boxes ticked.
Overall Score – 8 out of 10
So, Karndean has come in with a healthy 8 out of 10. They’ve done this mainly due to their fabulously extensive range of great-looking wood and stone effects, which they’ve put together with some tough construction to produce a very pleasing product.
Even the very thin nature of some of its flooring hasn’t impacted the warranty, so the dips in overall thickness in some of the ranges haven’t impaired the overall score. If the floor works, how thin it is ain’t a dealbreaker. However, it might be worth investing in some extra underlayment for a more cushioned foot feel.
Good Alternatives to Karndean
Proximity Mills Vinyl – If you want something affordable yet good quality, perhaps Proximity Mills Vinyl Flooring may interest you. The brand is US-based, and its vinyl planks are durable, featuring a waterproof SPC core and a thick 22-mil protective wear layer. You can choose from 11 stylish collections that include traditional and modern concepts. Many of their collections are relatively affordable, starting at $3.50 per square foot. In addition, Proximity Mills vinyl floors are rated Zero-VOC, meaning they don’t emit any harmful gasses over time, which is great for your home’s air quality.
Coretec Vinyl – Coretec is one of the leading vinyl plank brands on the market. Their floors are known for their outstanding durability and style. Their LVP products are 100% waterproof and have very thick wear layers, such as their Coretec Grande line, which has a 30-mil wear layer and is 15mm thick overall. If you want a vinyl plank floor that’s built to last, Coretec is undoubtedly a worthy contender. In addition, Coretec is relatively affordable, with options starting at $4.39 per square foot.
Shaw Vinyl – Shaw Industries is a huge, US-based flooring company; the brand has been producing flooring for over 40 years. They offer many highly rated and fully waterproof vinyl plank flooring lines, including both hardwood and tile look styles. Most of their lvp ranges are between 8 and 12mm thick and have a durable 20mil wear layer. You can purchase some of their lines for as low as $3 per square foot, while their thickest, premium lines can set you back $9 per square foot. Whether you want a low-cost but decent-quality vinyl floor or an ultra-thick premium one, Shaw has that to offer.
We hope we’ve helped you to decide whether Karndean is right for you. You won’t need to be told that the internet’s stuffed full of other resources, so it’s always well worth reading around on luxury vinyl to see what other information you can pick up before you decide to buy.
What do you think of Karndean flooring? Have you had any experiences with the brand? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comment section at the bottom of the page.
Can Karndean be laid outside?
Although it’s waterproof, it’s for indoor use only
Can Karndean be laid on stairs?
Stair installation is perfectly possible, but you will need to use nosing.
Does Karndean get slippery?
Some of the ranges are smooth, so can be slippery when wet. For use in a wet area, textured models are recommended.
Can vacuum cleaners be used on Karndean floors?
Vacuum cleaners can be used, as long as the hard floor setting is engaged.