Karndean Vinyl Plank Flooring Reviews: Is It Worth It?
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September 17, 2021
Karndean vinyl plank flooring: does this LVP product live up to its high-end reputation (and high-end price tag)? Is it some of the best vinyl plank flooring you can buy? Or should you go in another direction for your LVP needs?
That, dear reader, is what we intend to explain in this article! We’ve looked through hundreds of Karndean vinyl plank flooring reviews to bring you an uncompromising and unbiased take.
Below, we’ll cover the basics of vinyl plank flooring, who Karndean is and what they offer, as well as the advantages and disadvantages of their products. Finally, we provide a quick head-to-head brand comparison to see how Karndean stacks up against its competition.
So: is Karndean vinyl plank worth buying? Let’s find out!
Its multi-layer construction offers improved stability, better durability, and a longer lifespan—what’s not to like?
Better yet, LVP can mimic just about any look you can think of, at a highly attractive price point (although, it’s mostly sold as fake wood flooring rather than faux tile or some such).
Why is this so important? Let’s say you’re mulling over the pros and cons of hickory flooring, for example. It’s beautiful, right? But it’s also expensive, hard to install, and requires special care. An LVP version of hickory flooring keeps the beauty but skips the high cost, tough installation, and special maintenance!
How Is (Most) LVP Made?
Not all brands follow this formula, but most LVP is built with:
A core or base layer that provides strength and structure.
A design layer that can mimic nearly anything (but mostly hardwood).
An invisible wear layer that protects the floor.
Many LVP floors need an underlayment as well, which is used for sealing out moisture and/or adding comfort.
What Are the Key Advantages of Vinyl Plank Flooring (in General)?
So how does Karndean vinyl plank flooring factor in? Well, the company is often thought of as one of the best vinyl plank flooring brands out there. Here’s why.
Karndean Is Based in the UK
Karndean calls the United Kingdom home, but exports to Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the United States. The company has been around for a few decades and has built a great reputation with contractors all over the world.
Karndean Only Makes LVP
Unlike most flooring companies, Karndean only manufactures LVP. They don’t make any types of tile; they don’t sell any laminate, cork, or bamboo; they’re not one of the best hardwood floor brands, nor will you find a single fiber of hemp flooring in Karndean catalogs.
Nope! Karndean found success with their LVP and has stuck with it ever since. And while most of Karndean’s vinyl plank flooring mimics various wood flooring types, you’ll also find a great selection of stone looks too.
How Much Does Karndean Vinyl Plank Flooring Cost?
We’ll talk about this in detail below, but Karndean vinyl plank flooring ranges between $3.75 and $9/sq. ft. (which is a bit pricier than your average LVP).
The 3 Types of Karndean Vinyl Plank Flooring
Unlike most other LVP brands, Karndean vinyl plank flooring can be installed in 3 different ways, depending on the product:
Karndean also changes the formula for its floors depending on how they’re meant to be installed. Here’s a breakdown of the three installation options Karndean vinyl plank comes in.
Don’t worry—we’re going to talk about the specifics of each line of Karndean vinyl plank flooring below. This info is just to help you understand which is which!
Installation Type #1: Glue-Down Floors
Glue-down vinyl plank flooring tends to be the most stable installation option because it doesn’t lift without some sort of external force. This makes it especially ideal for homes in humid locations or places with tons of foot traffic.
Knowing this, Karndean glue-down LVP is thinner than its floating and loose-lay counterparts—simply because it can be. Glue-down LVP relies more heavily on its subflooring (and what is subflooring?) for support, so making the planks thicker wouldn’t necessarily make the floor stronger.
Another perk of glue-down vinyl: it makes it super easy to mimic wood floor designs like parquet flooring. While floating floors can do this too, their locking system tends to make it harder to get anything but basic designs without modifications to the planks.
Installation Type #2: Click-Lock Floating Floors (aka Snap-Together)
What is a floating floor? Whereas glue-down floors are secured by glue (shocking, right?), floating floors use friction and gravity to remain in place.
How does this work? Most often, by using a “click-lock” system. Each plank has special grooves in its side; these planks are snapped into the grooves of its neighbor (hence the term “snap-together flooring”) and gravity does the rest.
The downside of these floating floors: that because there’s nothing that physically secures them to the subfloor, floating floor planks are a little more susceptible to popped seams. Making the planks thicker, however (which is what Karndean does) can counteract this.
Instead of using a locking system, these floors rely on rubber backings (and heavier mass) to remain in place. This rubber creates a ton of friction that makes it really, really hard for planks to slide around—but also makes them super easy to install. In fact, loose-lay LVP is probably the easiest flooring to install.
Loose-lay has another perk as well. Since you can place it down any way you like, you can mimic just about wood floor patterns you want without having to actually cut the planks.
If you’re new to rigid core LVP, it’s exactly what it sounds like. It’s also known as EVP (engineered vinyl plank) flooring, and it’s usually a bit more durable than its flexible sibling.
What makes the core rigid? It depends on the product, but many of the best brands introduce elements like wood flour (as in WPC flooring) or limestone powder (as in SPC flooring) for increased comfort or durability.
Karndean vinyl plank flooring gets its rigidity from the company’s proprietary core formulas, so it’s a little harder to categorize.
Karndean Collection Breakdown by Technical Specs
What does that mean exactly? Well, Karndean doesn’t do a fantastic job of explaining the different collections on its website beyond what’s immediately obvious.
For example, the difference between the company’s Knight Tile and LooseLay Longboard collections is mostly intuitive—one mimics tile, the other mimics planks. On the other hand, the Art Select and Da Vinci collections have the same technical specs and many of the looks are similar too, so it’s not clear why they belong to different collections.
All of that to say: we’ve broken Karndean’s 7 collections down into 4 different categories to make them easier to compare.
Also: confusing collections aside, all Karndean vinyl plank flooring lines offer a lifetime residential warranty and are all certified as low-VOC vinyl flooring (we’ll come back to this).
Premium: Art Select and Da Vinci
Price: $8/sq. ft.
Art Select and Da Vinci are Karndean’s premier lines of vinyl flooring. Like we said before, we’re not entirely sure why they’re in separate collections to begin with given their identical attributes, so we’re grouping them together!
With Da Vinci and Art Select, you can find a wide assortment of plank and tile cuts as well as both wood and stone looks.
There are 70 styles to choose from, including a huge range of color and design options.
What distinguishes these two collections from the rest? Both of these lines have an incredible 30-mil wear layer (12 mil is about average for LVP) and a 20-year commercial warranty. For context, most LVP brands don’t offer commercial warranties extending beyond a decade.
(Side note: mil is a thousandth of an inch—much smaller than a millimeter, which is a thousandth of a meter).
Curiously, Art Select and Da Vinci have flexible cores. With most brands, the premium collections use rigid cores (because they’re usually more durable). However, Karndean vinyl plank flooring reviews of these collections are remarkably solid (no pun intended) so we’re leaving it alone.
Standard: Van Gogh, Opus, and Korlok
Price: $5/sq. Ft.
The next tier of Karndean vinyl plank flooring is home to the Van Gogh, Opus, and Korlok lines. All three have 20-mil wear layers and 15-year commercial warranties. Between the collections, there are a whopping 155 styles with a massive range of wood and stone looks.
Each collection offers both flexible glue-down and rigid core floating options.
Specs-wise, Karndean LooseLay is very similar to the glue-down version of Karndean vinyl plank flooring collections like Van Gogh and Opus: it’s flexible, it has a 20-mil wear layer, a 15-year commercial warranty, and comes in both wood and stone looks (across 44 total products).
However, LooseLay is worth separating because of its innovative design and DIY-friendliness. While Karndean strongly recommends that buyers hire pro installers for their other floors, LooseLay can be installed with minimal experience.
Special Collection: Karndean Knight Tile
Pricing: $3/sq. ft.
Karndean Knight Tile is (surprise!) luxury vinyl tile, or LVT. So, it’s not technically Karndean vinyl plank flooring. However, the perks and problems of luxury vinyl tile are virtually the same as LVP. The only major difference is that they’re cut differently (one mimics planks; one mimics tiles).
Anyway, the Knight Tile collection is where Karndean starts to look a little more like its competition. That is, the wear layer of this product is only 12 mils and the commercial warranty lasts for 10 years, both of which are average if you’re comparing them to the best luxury vinyl plank flooring products.
Across the 45 different Knight Tile styles, you’ll again find both wood and stone looks (making Knight Tile a great alternative to ceramic wood-look tile) split between glue-down and click-lock products.
How Much Does It Costto Install Karndean Vinyl Plank Flooring?
Unless you buy loose-lay Karndean vinyl plank flooring—the only kind that Karndean recommends for DIY projects—you’ll likely have to pay contractors to install your new flooring. That said, we would always recommend using a certified installer unless you’re an absolute pro.
Karndean vinyl plank flooring offers virtually all the features typically associated with the best LVP flooring. Here’s how it breaks down:
All Karndean Vinyl Plank Flooring Has a Lifetime Residential Warranty…
…And a Great Commercial Warranty as Well
And to top it off, all Karndean vinyl plank flooring comes with a similarly impressive commercial warranty.
The premium collections’ warranties last 20 years, while most of the standard collections last for 15. The only exception: the Knight Tile collections have a 10-year, light commercial warranty—which is about average for most vinyl plank brands.
So: Karndean’s worst commercial warranty is a standard feature of most other LVP brands—a really good sign for the quality of Karndean’s products.
Karndean Vinyl Plank Flooring Is More Eco-Friendly Than Most LVP
All Karndean vinyl plank flooring is at least partially recyclable and certified as low-VOC flooring.
Also, as a double benefit, all Karndean floors are built to last in an effort to reduce long-term waste. So: not only are the floors more eco-friendly, but they’re more durable as well. Of course, if you want the best in green flooring, sustainable wood floors like Douglas fir flooring are probably the way to go. But when it comes to vinyl, Karndean is excellent.
Karndean Vinyl Plank Flooring Reviews Agree That It’s Super Waterproof…
Karndean vinyl plank flooring reviews are almost universally positive, and they also note that the floors have great waterproofing. Unlike waterproof hardwood flooring, which can’t be submerged in liquid, Karndean vinyl plank can sit in anything but standing water indefinitely.
Think of it this way: many buyers look to expensive hardwoods like teak flooring for a wood-floor bathroom or kitchen. However, you still have to be careful because water can still penetrate the wood fibers and destroy the integrity of the floor. LVP, and especially Karndean LVP, won’t succumb to this.
…So: You Can Mop Karndean Flooring (Maintenance Is Easy!)
Since it’s fully waterproof, you can clean Karndean vinyl plank flooring with water and a mop without any worries. In fact, Karndean even recommends this so you don’t have to use expensive and (often) eco-unsafe chemicals.
This is a far cry from even the best hardwood floors, which require an abundance of water-free maintenance and special care to keep their luster.
Also, Karndean LVP’s antimicrobial properties eliminate the need for any kind of tough sanitizing efforts (i.e. you don’t need to bleach LVP the way you might bleach wood floors).
It Has Great Durability and Doesn’t Scratch Easily
If you need scratch-resistant flooring, Karndean LVP is a great way to go! The uber-thick wear layers are beloved in Karndean vinyl plank flooring reviews, and they make the floor suitable for even the muddiest mudroom flooring.
There’s no shortage of different wood floor colors in Karndean’s catalog. While Karndean probably doesn’t have the most styles available, they might have the most extensive range of styles.
Whether you want dark or light wood floors, a common domestic look like hickory or oak, or an exotic look that mimics something fancy like ebony (seriously!), Karndean offers it.
Sidenote: true ebony flooring is nearly impossible to find because the hardwood species is protected, so Karndean vinyl plank is one of the few products you can buy that captures ebony’s unique look.
Better yet, Karndeanalso makes it easy to find products that mimic specific looks. For example, if you want “Texas white ash flooring,” you can literally search their website for it.
Why is this good? It means you don’t have to scour through “cool” yet entirely unhelpful product names like caffeine boost and morning light (Pergo) or winding brook (NuCore) to find something that looks like red oak hardwood.
Finally: Karndean Vinyl Plank Flooring Is Not an Exclusive Brand
Last but not least, Karndean isn’t an exclusive brand.
What does this mean? Simple! You can buy Karndean vinyl plank flooring at most flooring stores. That is, it’s not sold exclusively at certain big box stores like Home Depot or Lowes.
Floors sold at these locations tend to focus on convenience and savings as opposed to product quality, and they tend to carry a bad reputation among contractors and buyers.
Only RigidCore Karndean Vinyl Plank Flooring Can Be Click-Locked (But it May Not Matter)
Only rigid-core LVP can be click-locked (since it needs that core to provide structure for the locking mechanism). But in Karndean’s case, we’re not entirely sure it matters.
The company’s flexible glue-down and loose-lay products still have exceptional wear layers and their plank thickness suggests the floors are still very durable. More importantly, Karndean vinyl plank flooring reviews are overwhelmingly positive when it comes to durability.
So: the fact that these two products have flexible cores is probably only a “flaw” on paper.
Karndean LooseLay LVP May Not Last as Long as Other Karndean LVP (But It’s Much Easier to Replace)
This is purely speculative because Karndean is adamant that all of its products are built to last “in excess of 35 years,” which is roughly 10 years longer than the industry average. However, it seems inevitable that something will accidentally lift a LooseLay plank out of place on occasion, possibly shortening its lifespan.
Admittedly, this is nitpicky on our part, but it’s worth thinking about. On the other hand, it’s extremely easy (and cheap) to replace LooseLay planks.
Some Karndean Vinyl Plank Flooring Reviews Say the Floor Fades in Sunlight (Over Time)
Before we say anything else, let’s be clear: Karndean vinyl plank flooring won’t spontaneously burst into flames in sunlight (shout-out to our vampire friends).
However, it’s probably safe to expect some amount of fading from your Karndean floors over a period of many years.
During our research, we noticed a handful of Karndean vinyl plank flooring reviews that reported their floors had lost their glimmer over time. That said, the fading was minimal and ascribed to general wear and tear, which is pretty much unavoidable regardless of your flooring choice. Though, the best laminate flooring is generally fade-proof.
How Does Karndean Perform Against Other Vinyl Plank Brands?
To this point, we’ve hinted that Karndean vinyl plank flooring outperforms many other floors. Here’s how it stacks up to some of the most popular LVP brands on the market.
PS: we’re going alphabetically here, not in order of importance or quality.
Karndean vs. CoreLuxe
LL Flooring’s CoreLuxe is a mid-range LVP brand that sells for about $3–$4/sq.ft. Its greatest flaw is one of Karndean’s greatest strengths: lifespan. Many CoreLuxe flooring reviews point out that the floors don’t last very long, while Karndean vinyl plank flooring is expected to last 3 decades or more.
Our take: Karndean is just as good as COREtec but costs a bit less. But again: it really depends on your needs. COREtec is remarkably comfortable (it’s the original WPC product), so it may suit you better.
Karndean vs. LifeProof Vinyl
LifeProof vinyl flooring is Home Depot’s flagship LVP line. It’s relatively inexpensive and enjoys meh-to-okay reviews, but if you’re looking for quality then Karndean is definitely the better of the two brands.
Karndean vs. Pergo Extreme
Pergo invented laminate flooring back in the 1970s (and they still sell it today in the form of Pergo TimberCraft, Pergo Outlast, and several other lines).
But Pergo also has a line of LVP that’s not bad at all. Pergo Extreme reviews are mostly positive, but note that the floor misses out on some features that are becoming industry standards, like low-VOC certifications.
For about the same price or a little bit more, Karndean vinyl plank flooring is probably the better product. However, we wouldn’t completely rule out Pergo either.
Karndean vs. NuCore
NuCore flooring is a Floor & Decor exclusive that targets budget floor buyers. It definitely falls into the you-get-what-you-pay-for category, so if you want quality, Karndean is the better floor.
Karndean vs. Proximity Mills
Proximity Mills is interesting because it’s the only other brand on this list that offers loose-lay vinyl plank flooring. All of its products are also low-VOC certified and many are at least partially recyclable. Sound familiar?
It’s also cheaper (on average) than Karndean’s premier collections at $4/sq. ft. and gives Karndean a run for its money as far as durability is concerned.
The only major knock? Proximity Mills has only been around for a couple of years, so the company doesn’t have the range of collections that Karndean has.
Karndean vs. SmartCore
SmartCore flooring is Lowes’ answer to Lifeproof. It’s a decent product, but we wouldn’t necessarily say it does enough to escape the big box store reputation. SmartCore flooring reviews also warn against the SmartCore Pro line, so we’d give the win here to Karndean vinyl plank.
Karndean vs. Stainmaster
Woof. Comparing the quality of Stainmaster luxury vinyl to Karndean luxury vinyl is like comparing a burnt cup of Folgers instant coffee to a nice, smooth espresso from your local Italian cafe. One is terrible and the other isn’t.
The only other thing worth mentioning here: Stainmaster claims to sell flexible loose-lay LVP, but if you look into their product catalog, you’ll find it’s actuallypeel and stick vinyl plank flooring (which is a more temporary, lower-quality floor). Nice try, guys.
Karndean vs. TrafficMaster Vinyl
TrafficMaster flooring isn’t even Home Depot’s best in-house LVP brand, so there’s no way it compares to Karndean flooring (even at the steep discount). To be fair though, TrafficMaster is better known for its laminate.
So: Is Karndean Vinyl Plank Flooring Worth the Money? Yes, but Cheaper LVP Exists Too
Now that you know virtually everything there is to know about Karndean LVP, you should have a pretty good idea of why it’s one of our favorite vinyl plank flooring brands. The quality would speak for itself, but there are also a ton of glowing Karndean vinyl plank flooring reviews that say more than enough.
To be blunt: Karndean vinyl plank is high-quality flooring and money well spent.
However, it is our duty to remind you, dear reader, that other brands exist. Proximity Mills LVP, for example, offers similar performance to Karndean vinyl plank flooring but costs at least a dollar less per square foot than Karndean’s standard or premium collections. And COREtec is offered at a similar (if slightly higher) price, but is also excellent.
Regardless of which brand you choose though, we can’t recommend your local top-rated flooring stores enough. They almost always carry a better selection of products than the big box stores and their experts will be able to help you through virtually any flooring ideas you have!
On the other hand, if you’re not convinced that this high-end LVP brand is the floor for you, maybe the articles below will point you in the right direction. Either way, good luck and thanks for reading!
Christian is a freelance everything-writer, editor, & SEO guy. When he’s not writing about flooring and remodeling, he’s either writing news for the California American Legion or writing fresh content for his camping & EDC blog (or, you know, actually camping).
Thinking about starting a do-it-yourself flooring project? We get it! You’re handy, you’re clever, and you’ve got the internet at your fingertips! So a DIY flooring job should be easy, right? Wrong. Look, we know this is a big sticking point when it comes to replacing flooring. The DIY flooring thing can be super appealing, and it looks glamorous and simple on TV (what, you think that just because we’re flooring people we don’t enjoy HGTV? For shame).
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