Roger Bisby has a go at laying some Karndean flooring under the watchful eye of Karndean laying master Richard Daniels.
It seems to me that once you have seen Karndean flooring and recognised its unique look, you just never stop seeing it.
For those that don’t know Karndean is a vinyl flooring product made primarily from calcium carbonate (limestone), polyvinyl chloride and pigments. It is structured with five layers – two PVC backing layers, one high definition photographic layer, one clear PVC embossed wear layer and a top polyurethane (PU) protective coating.
Undoubtedly it is the floor to be seen with. Karndean is clearly a company on a mission and part of that mission is to involve general builders in the laying of its products and to that end it will be coming to a builder’s merchant near you. Karndean has introduced two easy-to-lay products. One is Palio Click and the other is Loose Lay.
Karndean is clearly a company on a mission and part of that mission is to involve general builders in the laying of its products and to that end it will be coming to a builder’s merchant near you
To prove just how easy these products are to use Karndean invited me to their training school, presumably thinking that if I could do it then anyone can. The trouble is that I am a bit over-run with training school days at the moment so I prefer to find live jobs which are more likely to throw up challenges that aren’t on the script.
So Richard Daniels, the Karndean head honcho technical man, came to see me and gave me a quick Master Class in how to lay Loose Lay or maybe just to lay loose. I had already had a telephone conversation with him about the sub-floor and the best way to get it pan flat. In my case it involved putting a Fibre Flex reinforced self levelling compound on top of the timber flooring having first gone round and screwed down any loose boards. I could have done it with plywood but the trouble with ply is it tends to ride the contours of the floor and you end up having to put self leveller over the ply so my way seemed better. No matter how you do it you need it flat and that is that.
The next bit is easy because the precision cut planks are simply placed down on the floor butted together. My brain kept telling me it shouldn’t work but actually it works brilliantly. Provided the floor is flat with no ridges or embarrassing dips or dimples the grp reinforced vinyl planks go down like a dream.
As with most flooring, you need to establish a crown row and work out where the cuts will come. Make sure you get two or three straight rows down with the joints very tight, then you can start to cut to a wall. I had considered removing the skirtings (base boards in America) to save having to cut the flooring but I am very glad I didn’t because I soon found out that having a nice straight solid edge to work to is essential. If you have laid vinyl tiles in the past you will know the trick. Simply lay the tile to be cut on top of the last complete tile and use another tile to place against the wall so you can scribe to it. Don’t cut to that tile though because you need the blade to be on the outside of the line so use another bit up against it so you can take the scribe piece away. If you can’t understand what I am saying I have made a video for YouTube which shows it clearly.
The final trick is to shave off a chamfer on the back edge where it meets the wall. Not only does it help overcome any thickening of the screed edge it provides a slight amount of compression at the edge so you can squeeze it in. Once you get the hang of it you will find you can achieve very tight joints.
Once you have the floor all cut in and tight you can then go around and lift the edge planks with a window sucker and apply some Karndean tackifier. This helps to keep the whole thing down but quite honestly it looked like it wasn’t going anywhere. If you have an area subjected to hot sun such as the light fall from a roof window then a little tackifier around that area will help keep the floor from riding up.
It might sound a little strange but I really enjoyed myself laying this floor. I completed two rooms in about half a day each. I am sure that a floor layer would put it down in an hour or so but it isn’t about rushing it is about getting it right and it is amazing just how many videos there are on YouTube where people don’t get it right. They need a Master Class from Richard.
As well as being resilient it is a forgiving product and if there is an area of damage or heavy wear in the future it can be lifted and renewed. Compare that to click together systems and you can see the advantages. The other great advantage in a loft conversion is that any squeaky floors that emerge as the timbers dry out over the months can simply be screwed down by lifting a section of Loose Lay. Try that with interlocking planks.
It’s easy to see why when people are looking at new flooring products and flooring options Karndean is becoming a popular choice for the whole home, from kitchen flooring to hallway flooring.