Is Karndean Flooring Any Good?
Although a fairly new name in US flooring, Karndean has 50 years of experience manufacturing high-quality, durable, and easy-to-install vinyl flooring. Karndean make environmentally accredited flooring in loose lay, glue-down and rigid core vinyl plank formats and you can choose between wood or stone looks.
Last Updated: September 19, 2023, by: Greca Fotopoulos
This Karndean flooring review is focused on Karndean’s rigid core vinyl plank collections, Korlok Reserve and Korloc Select.
Karndean is a relative newcomer in the US flooring industry. It was established in the 1970s in the United Kingdom, but didn’t expanded into the Untied States until the 1990’s. It now has a well respected global presence.
Specializing in resilient vinyl flooring, we first learned about them via their loose-lay vinyl flooring collections, Karndean’s Korlok flooring is one of their rigid core options. In this Karndean flooring review, we will look at the two collections in this range – Korlok Select and Korlok Reserve.
The retail price of this Karndean flooring is in the $2.95 – $5.50 per sq/ft price range, placing both of these collections in the mid to high price bracket of comparable rigid core vinyl products.
Here’s our full Karndean Korlok report
COLLECTIONS AND COLORS
Both Korlok collections are constructed the same way – several waterproof layers adhered together.
The top layer is clear PVC embossed wear layer (around 20 mil thick) with an added surface protection coating. Next is a high definition image layer that replicates the look and feel of wood.
These sit on top of the rigid core center layer, which Karndean coyly says is made with their propriety K-core technology. Our research points to it being a type of polymeric (plastic) core, probably combined with limestone powder for added stability.
The final layer is a foam backing, which acts like an underlayment, and adds more soundproofing and a softer feel underfoot than ceramic tile.
KORLOK SELECT VS KORLOK RESERVE
All of the Karndean Korlok floors are wood plank designs, with a timeless aesthetic. Here are the key differences between Korlok Select and Korlok Reserve:
Sizes: all Korlok Select planks are 9” x 56”, except for the Barnwood design which is also available in 6” x 24” planks for a herringbone layout; Korlok Reserve planks are all 7” x 48”.
Styles: there are 24 designs in the Korlok Select collection, mostly domestic woods such as oak and ash, but one interesting exotic – the Hawaiian koa; the overall aesthetic is classic, with some rustic and weathered looks.
The Korlok Reserve collection has 12 designs featuring oak, walnut and pine, with a decidedly weathered, aged, more characterful aesthetic.
Locking system: Korlok Select planks have Karndean’s 5G HoldFast 5G locking profile which ensure that the planks stay in place securing after installation; Korlok Reserve has – theoretically – a slightly less secure, more standardized 2G locking profile. In our research, both locking systems have performed fine.
PROS & CONS
The advantages of Karndean Korlok rigid core flooring are:
- a classic range of wood designs with some rustic and characterful designs
- three different sizes options, including one specifically for herringbone layout
- can be installed on, above and below grade
- can be installed over radiant heating
- can be installed over most types of hard surfaced subfloors
- waterproof, suitable for bathrooms and laundry rooms
- sturdy, commercial grade wear layer that is scratch and stain resistant
- has an integrated underlayment pad
- a trusted brand, that specializes in resilient vinyl flooring, with good customer services
The disadvantages of Karndean Korlok rigid core flooring are:
- one of the more expensive rigid core floors on the market
- not recommended as a DIY project
- can be damaged in prolonged direct sunshine
- no stone look designs
Karndean flooring cost is in the mid to higher end price range for rigid core flooring, retailing at $2.95 – $5.50 per square foot. Note that you can order free Korlok samples direct from the Karndean website, and there is a useful online tool there to help you find your nearest retailer.
The price of Kardean Korlok Select is typically between $3.99 and $5.50 per sq/ft for most products and the price for Korlok Reserve is a little lower, typically priced between $2.95 and $4.80 per sq/ft
Here is how it compares to other brands:
|Brand||Price per square foot|
|MSI||$1.60 – $3.50|
|Islander||$1.70 – $3.85|
|Smartcore||$2.00 – $3.70|
|NuCore||$2.35 – $3.80|
|Congoleum Triversa||$2.50 – $3.50|
|LifeProof||$2.79 – $4.39|
|Armstrong Luxe Rigid Core||$2.79 – $4.39|
|Adura Flex||$3.00 – $3.50|
|Karndean Korlok||$2.95 – $5.50|
|Adura Max & MaxAPEX||$3.00 – $6.00|
|Mohawk SolidTech||$3.50 – $6.25|
|Mannington Adura Rigid||$3.60 – $4.60|
|Pergo Extreme||$3.99 – $5.99|
|COREtec Pro||$3.80 – $7.99|
|Armstrong Pryzm||$4.90 – $8.00|
Karndean’s Korlok flooring should be installed as a floating floor. Karndean highly recommends that you use a qualified and experienced installer – they have a specific training program for professional installers – and we would agree, since the 5G locking system is a little tricky to master and not so easy to install.
There are detailed instructions available on the Karndean website. We recommend you read them before investing, to ensure that your project can confirm to the installation guidelines.
WHERE CAN I INSTALL KORLOK?
Korlok can be installed on, above and below grade, so it is suitable for basements. It is waterproof, so is also a suitable idea for bathroom flooring – but NOT for walk-in wet rooms or for shower cubicle flooring.
Also, rooms with temperatures that fluctuate dramatically can cause rigid core to warp and pop at the seams, so it is particularly important to respect the installation guidelines for sunrooms, atriums, or rooms getting direct sunlight.
WHAT ABOUT RADIANT HEATING?
Korlok can be installed over certain types of embedded underfloor heating, but the temperature must never be set over 81°F (27°C).
WHAT ARE SUITABLE SUBFLOORS FOR KORLOK?
Korlok can be installed over most hard surfaced subfloors, including concrete, ceramic tiles and wood. Korlok cannot be installed over other floating floors such as laminate, or over carpet.
WHAT PREPARATION DO I NEED TO DO BEFORE INSTALLATION?
The instruction guidelines go into specific details for each type of subfloor, but the main preparation – no matter what subfloor – is that it is dry, clean and level. Moisture levels need to be checked and must be less than 95% RH.
Other preparation to bear in mind is that around the perimeter of your Korlok floor you will need an expansion gap of 5 – 8 mm depending on the size of your room. Also, baseboards and doorframes should be undercut to allow for expansion.
CLEANING AND MAINTENANCE
Rigid core flooring like Korlok is relatively easy to keep clean – regular sweeping or vacuuming (with a suitable attachment for hard surfaces), and a damp mop after is usually sufficient.
Karndean have their own special cleaning formula – Karndean Clean – but any PH-neutral cleaner for vinyl floors will be just as effective. The key is to be sure not to overload your mop with too much water (see below).
Even though Korlok floors are made to be waterproof, they will not withstand major flooding, standing water or prolonged moisture exposure. So, it’s best to mop up spills quickly and keep bathroom and laundry rooms well ventilated.
Another important thing to consider with all vinyl type flooring is that they generally do not do well in rooms that get a lot of direct sunlight.
High temperatures can cause issues with the installation, and sunlight can affect the color of the image layer – fading or discoloring it. We recommend, therefore, that you use blinds or curtains in very sunny rooms; or consider other more suitable flooring if you don’t want to use blinds.
Finally, even though Korlok floors have a protective wear layer that is fairly scratch and stain resistant, it is still possible to scratch this type of flooring.
You should take preventative measures such as adding felt pads on the bottom of furniture, being careful when moving heavy furniture and using non-rubber backed mats and rugs in high traffic areas.
The vast majority of consumer Karndean Korlok reviews are very positive for Karndean Korlok. Customers are very loyal to the brand and say that Karndean offers good customer service. Customers have found Korlok to be durable, easy to clean and attractive.
Where there have been negative reviews, it almost always comes down to poor installation. Karndean are very clear that trained, experienced professionals should install Korlok.
The other negative, which we have highlighted, is that Korlok floors will fade in rooms that get a lot of direct sunlight! We do not recommend this flooring for sunrooms or atriums.
Here is a sample of reviews we’ve found:
“We put Korlok in our house by the beach – so lots of sand! But we’ve found it really easy to clean with vacuum and microfiber mop – and I honestly don’t see any scratches! A really great, low maintenance floor!” – KD
“I like the feel of it – softer than hardwood but not cold like tile. It’s also so super easy to clean, it’s like dirt doesn’t even stick to it at all – I’m very pleased with this choice.” – Donna
“This is the best floor I’ve ever had installed, and I will definitely use it again. I’ve installed it at my office and it’s performing great with lots of traffic.” – Bryce
“I love this floor but it does scratch if you’re not careful. We’ve added felt pads to everything just to be on the safe side!” – Max
“Do not install this floor anywhere with direct sun via windows or glass doors! Our dining room floor has faded a lot and doesn’t look as good…”– Cathy
About the Author: Greca Fotopoulos
Greca is the lead style writer at Home Flooring Pros (more), with a BA in Technical Art, she’s focused on flooring trends, flooring ideas, and flooring brand reviews.
“There’s nothing more satisfying than creating a home that you love. The hardest thing about this job is trying not to covet all the great floors I get to review; if I could remodel my home every month, I would!”