What is Karndean flooring? We explain what it's made from, installation and costs

oak effect herringbone luxury vinyl flooring in living room with cream sofa
Karndean Designflooring is a type of luxury vinyl flooring (Image credit: Karndean Designflooring)

Although vinyl flooring was once considered a less luxurious item than other types of flooring, the introduction of a premium tier, including brands such as Karndean flooring has created more consumer choice.

As well as providing excellent practicality with its resistance to water and hard-wearing finish, the improvements in design and production make it sometimes hard to identify luxury vinyl tiles (LVT) from the real thing. From herringbone laid wooden flooring effect planks to ceramic style tiles, there are a range of styles and designs to suit most homes.

We asked experts and users what is Karndean flooring and is it a good option for your project?

What is Karndean flooring?

bathroom with freestanding white bath and a floor laid with white ceramic effect planks and wooden plans

Different finishes and designs allow for a personalised approach to your flooring finish (Image credit: Karndean Designflooring)

The luxury vinyl flooring category includes brands such as Karndean flooring and Amtico. According to Jeanette Hopkins, general manager at The Floor Room, "if you love the look of tiled or wooden flooring but would like something a little more durable and affordable, LVT flooring, is the perfect choice."

“It portrays the authentic look of wood, tile or stone while being much easier to fit and care for. It’s also almost impossible to scuff, scratch, stain or dent, making it strong enough to stand up to even the most hectic of households. 

"Luxury vinyl is also 100% waterproof, meaning you can use it in any room of the house, such as the bathroom or kitchen. It’s also non-slip, making it a practical choice for those with elderly relatives or young children. Ultimately, luxury vinyl provides the look you love with a little extra added practicality.”

Karndean flooring composition

“Manufactured in layers, from a sturdy base layer derived primarily from salt up to a K-Guard surface protection and a PU coating for durability, it is the photographic and textured wear layers that gives Karndean flooring its authenticity,” says Gavin Smith, marketing director at Karndean Designflooring.

“Designs are inspired by stone and wood samples sourced from across the world,” explains Gavin. “Combining the beauty of these natural materials with cutting edge technology, means each exquisitely crafted design replicates natural characteristics but without any of the drawbacks that come with installing and maintaining the real thing.”

Types of Karndean flooring

oak effect wooden vinyl floor laid in herringbone pattern with cream chair and large green plant in black pot

Often hard to distinguish from real wood, Karndean flooring comes in three different types (Image credit: Karndean Designflooring)

Although Karndean flooring started life as a product that needed to be glued in place, the range has grown to include two additional ranges that are accessible to experienced DIYers.

1. Rigid-core format

If you’ve laid a laminate or engineered wood floor, you may be familiar with the design concept of the Karndean rigid-core range which uses a click-locking mechanism for installation. 

A thicker stability layer means it works well on slightly uneven subfloors and the inbuilt acoustic layer makes it a potential option for multi-floor projects where you want to avoid the transferral of sound between levels. Tiles can also be cut to size without the need for any specialist equipment making it ideal for DIY projects.

2. Loose-lay format

Featuring a unique ‘K-Wave’ friction grip backing, the loose-lay format has been designed to have increased dimensional stability and stays in place through the combination of weight and friction. It can be laid without any adhesive and over most existing hard floors. If you need to be able to lift your flooring to access underfloor services this may be a suitable option. It also offers the same acoustic benefits as the rigid-core format

3. Glue-down tiles

Still a popular choice, glue down tiles offer maximum design flexibility when it comes to the overall look and design. They can be laid in a wide range of patterns to mimic more traditional effects such as herringbone laid wooden flooring, or they can be used to create a bespoke pattern. A range of decorative inlays are also available, along with design strips that can be laid between the tiles to recreate the look of grouting or floorboard gaps.

On the flipside, this range is one that Karndean recommends is best installed by a professional as it requires specialist knowledge and tools. 

Installing Karndean flooring

Laura, who used Karndean Design flooring across the renovation of her 1960’s home says although it can considered a DIY project, in some cases a specialist installer is a necessity.

“We laid LVT flooring ourselves in our last home, but decided to employ a professional here, firstly because of the size of the rooms and secondly we needed to get the patterns correct. 

“The difference in the existing floors also meant we needed screed in some rooms and ply sub-floor in others. Luckily we found a fantastic fitter who could do this all for us, leaving us with a much better end result.”

Karndean flooring designs

blue kitchen with grey wooden plank vinyl flooring intersected with diagonal planks in tile effect vinyl flooring

Karndean flooring is manufactured to the same size so you can mix and match finishes (Image credit: Karndean Designflooring)

When it comes to the final design, you can also mix and match designs meaning you aren’t limited to one overall look such as a wooden flooring effect.

“We’ve made this possible by ensuring that within each product range, every design has a consistent tile thickness,” says Gavin, “meaning you can combine wood and stone designs within a single space.”

Karndean flooring costs

Although it’s considered a luxury product, Karndean flooring can still be a more economical way of achieving an expensive look - without incurring the costs involved in purchasing real wood or stone.

A range of over 300 designs exist, with prices in the Knight Tile entry budget range starting with an MRP of £29.99m2, up to the mid range dual format Van Gogh - MRP £39.42m2 and the premium Art Select range which starts with an MRP of £59.49m2.

“If you don't have the budget for real wood – or you know it wouldn't be practical for your family – then I'd 100% recommend Karndean,” says Laura. “The fact that you can create so many looks using the different laying patterns is a huge draw.”

Karndean flooring vs. laminate

Karndean flooring walnut effect wooden flooring vinyl planks in bathroom with white freestanding bath in front of window

Karndean Designflooring is water resistant making it ideal for bathrooms (Image credit: Karndean Designflooring)

“With a hard wearing and slip resistant surface that’s comfortable underfoot, Karndean flooring is fully waterproof and easy to keep hygienically clean,” says Gavin. “ It can be used in any room in the home, from living rooms and bedrooms to kitchens and bathrooms.”

Laura agrees. “We’ve used Karndean everywhere from our new kitchen-living-diner to bathrooms and a dressing room. For us, Karndean offers the perfect flooring – it's warm underfoot, water resistant and hard wearing. It gives all the look of wood flooring but without the work!”

It’s worth noting that the recommendation from Karndean is not to use it in wet rooms.

Nonetheless, for open plan living where spaces where kitchens merge into dining and living areas, it can be a practical choice that doesn’t mean sacrificing style. Its waterproof finish also makes it more practical.

Laying one design throughout, without worrying about damage from spills or liquids, can create a great sense of space. Alternatively, combining designs gives you the option to switch finishes in different areas to create natural divisions without using walls.

Does Karndean flooring come with a warranty?

One of the benefits of opting for a vinyl flooring like Karndean is that it can come with a long or even a lifetime warranty.  However, as with other similar products such as Amtico, it doesn’t apply to all ranges and  can be limited. The guarantee can also be transferable with the sale of your house should you move and have all the original documentation.

Can you repair Karndean flooring?

plywood subfloor next to Karndean flooring

Kardnean flooring can be replaced in sections should problems arise (Image credit: Laura Crombie)

Having a warranty doesn’t mean accidents won’t potentially cause damage to your floor. While regular cleaning with a soft brush or damp mop should keep it looking in tip-top condition, minor scratches and stains can be removed using specialist Karndean Clean and Remove products. As Karndean flooring comes in tile or plank format, it’s also possible to lift and replace the damaged section rather than having to replace the whole floor.

A benefit Laura experienced when some of her ply sub-floor joints came loose, distorting the Karndean tiles above. “Replacement of these tiles was far easier than it would have been to replace ceramic or stone tiles,” she says.

Can you have UFH with Karndean flooring?

wet underfloor pipes being laid in room

Karndean flooring can be laid over underfloor heating subject to the correct insulation (Image credit: Westend61/Getty Images)

Karndean Designflooring is suitable for installing over underfloor heating systems, but it’s worth noting that they must have been insulated so that the surface temperature does not exceed 27°C (80°F). If you are installing it over an existing system, always check with the retailer that it’s compatible. Or, if you’re fitting new underfloor heating, check with your supplier first if it will be insulated to the correct levels. 

If you’re picking flooring for your project and are looking at the options available, you can find more advice in our range of flooring articles. Whether you’re weighing up laminate versus vinyl, carpet versus laminate or wondering if there are other types of vinyl flooring you can use, we’ve got you covered.

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Gavin Smith

Gavin Smith is marketing director for Karndean Designflooring. He has more than 17 years’ experience in brand marketing.

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Jeanette Hopkins

Jeanette Hopkins, General Manager at The Floor Room, joined the flooring business in 2023 to oversee the brand’s launch into John Lewis stores. Jeanette drives forward the brand’s mission of ‘unboring your flooring’ with a customer first experience that inspires and encourages creativity at every stage of the flooring journey. Prior to joining the company, Jeanette spent over a decade working with a leading British high street retailer and has a wealth of experience in driving growth in an ever-changing retail climate along with a passion for creativity.

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Laura Crombie

Laura Crombie is a journalist and TV presenter. She has written about homes and interiors for the last 17 years and was Editor of Real Homes before taking on her current position as Content Director. She's an experienced home renovator, with three to her name. She's been quoted on home design and renovating in The Times, The Guardian, The Metro and more.

Sarah Harley
Assistant Editor

Sarah is Homebuilding & Renovating’s Assistant Editor and joined the team in 2024. An established homes and interiors writer, Sarah has renovated and extended a number of properties, including a listing building and renovation project that featured on Grand Designs. Although she said she would never buy a listed property again, she has recently purchased a Grade II listed apartment. As it had already been professionally renovated, she has instead set her sights on tackling some changes to improve the building’s energy efficiency, as well as adding some personal touches to the interior.