Karndean flooring review

Play it where it lays: Karndean flooring review

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.

Watch Skill Builder’s video of tips for laying Karndean Vinyl Looselay Flooring Tiles here.


About Dylan Garton

Dylan Garton
Dylan Garton is a freelance video producer, camera operator, animator and editor. He also writes scripts, articles and develops websites. Cofounder of Skill Builder.


  1. Avatar

    Do i need to use tacifter when installing a Karndean floating floor on top of ceramic tiles?

    • Roger Bisby

      Hi Stuart
      Not all Karndean is suitable for use over ceramic tiles. The joints will telegraph through.
      Have a look at Palio floor which is a Karndean range for builders who are not specialist floor layers.
      We should have videos out any day soon.

  2. Avatar

    Good afternoon Roger, great Youtube video, very helpful. I am just about to order and lay 65 square metres of Karndean Loose Lay after completing my house refurb and creating an open-plan living area on the ground floor. All the walls in the areas to be Karndean floored are without skirting and architrave as it was removed during the building work; I would like to fit the skirting/architrave over the top of the Karndean, but have just read your comments regarding a “straight solid edge being essential”! Is it that essential, or will I be able to get a tight enough fit cutting up to the wall edges/ door frames?

    • Roger Bisby

      Hi Anthony
      If the walls are straight and plastered down to the floor you will have a good enough line but if they are just rough I would be tempted to run a thin strip of timber around the room and cut to that. The problem with the Loose Lay is that it is loose so you can’t afford to have any room for it to walk or you will see tiny gaps appearing. One way would be to lay a couple of rows and put the tackifier down to keep them in place and fill any gaps between the planks and the wall so it has nowhere to go.
      If you send us some pictures we can have a look. We have a new ‘Ask Skill Builder’ strand on our channel and need good questions to answer for our next episode. We won’t reveal your surname or email

      • Avatar

        Thanks for the information Roger, most helpful. The walls have been plastered to as close to the floor as was possible without picking up any “rubbish” from the screed floor during plastering, but there is still about 15mm gap. The screed base has now been latexed to get a smooth finish ready for the Karndean, but I fully get what you’re implying regarding planking creep. I’m wondering if strips of 6mm ply pinned to the walls would do the trick in order to get the tight edge finish; this could then be removed once the planks have been cut to length, the planks could be “tacky” glued at the wall edge and the new skirting fixed on top – what do you think?

  3. Avatar

    Have you had any complaints with this system? I have had a couple of fitters refusing to touch as I have been told it gaps like mad and moves. I have found a colour and finish I love but it only comes in the Korloc system. It makes me very nervous about purchasing as it will be a big chunk of my refurb budget. Your experience would be greatly appreciated.

    • Roger Bisby

      Hi Kelly
      I have had no problems with Loose Lay and it is really a question of keeping it tight as you lay it. I can’t speak for the Korloc as I have never laid it in a real life situation so no long-term experience. Talk to Karndean and see what they say

      • Avatar

        kitchen floor done with Kandean Korlock, Follow the simple guidelines regarding expansion and joint locking and you will have an amazing floor .

  4. Avatar

    Roger,having a new kitchen but need to leave existing ceramic floor tiles down due to underfloor heating(electric matt type). Can Karndean flooring be laid over the tiles with no adverse problems due to heat?

  5. Avatar

    Hi Roger

    I have Karndean fitted in bathroom & one tile has “popped up”
    Can I just stick it back down & weight it until it sticks?
    Thanks in advance

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *