Karndean is one of the most popular types of luxury vinyl flooring. It is cheaper than hardwood and comes in multiple designs. However, it also has multiple downsides.
One of the main drawbacks is its impact on your home’s resale value. Houses with Karndean flooring are typically valued below houses with hardwood or tile floors.
Maintaining this floor type can be difficult, and there may be some risk of off-gassing. These are just some of the disadvantages of Karndean flooring. The list below highlights them all.
1. Installation Difficulties
When thinking about vinyl flooring, most people have the “click-lock” systems in mind. However, Karndean is a glue-down flooring type.
This difference makes installation more difficult.
Installing Karndean flooring requires careful planning, layout design and attention to detail in each stage, to avoid mistakes. The complexity and precision involved in the installation process can extend the time required to complete the project compared to simpler flooring options.
Achieving precise cuts and seamless transitions between different sections of flooring can also be challenging, especially for DIYers without prior experience or specialised tools.
Moreover, improper adhesive application can result in problems such as loose or lifting planks, which can affect the overall durability and appearance of the flooring.
2. Maintenance Requirements
Like most vinyl floor types, Karndean flooring is generally low maintenance. However, you must pay attention to water and moisture management, as well as the seams and edges of the planks.
As far as moisture is concerned, remember that this flooring type is not fully waterproof. Pooling water can seep through the seams or edges, and it can cause adhesion problems or warping. For this reason, spills should be wiped away promptly, even if the vinyl itself is water resistant.
Due to the same reasons, Karndean flooring is not suitable to use in bathrooms, kitchens and other high-moisture areas.
The seams and edges are not only vulnerable to water damage, but they allow dirt and debris to accumulate. This can affect the overall appearance of the surface, and it sometimes causes the edges of the planks to warp.
3. Subfloor Preparation
Click-lock flooring is a type of floating floor that can be installed seamlessly on any subfloor. However, Karndean flooring is glued to the substrate. To achieve a straight surface, Karndean flooring requires proper surface preparation.
This involves levelling and smoothing the surface to provide a proper substrate for the glue to adhere onto. Depending on your subfloor, this means sanding the surface or applying a levelling compound.
It is also important to test the subfloor for moisture, or the adhesive might not stick. In the case the subfloor is too moist, you either have to wait for it to dry (if possible) or apply a moisture barrier.
All these steps translate into a longer installation time for your floor, and potentially additional costs.
In addition to everything above, you must also address any other issues, such as loose or squeaky planks, damaged areas or weak sections before proceeding with the installation.
4. Limited Design Options
While Karndean flooring comes in multiple designs, choices are rather limited compared to other luxury vinyl floors.
The brand has established its brand identity and focuses on providing high-quality flooring options that mimic the appearance of natural materials like wood and stone, so you have to settle for one of these patterns.
Not only do you have to choose from these limiting options, but the manufacturing process further limits the designs.
While all Karndean tiles or planks are accurate imitations of the natural materials, the actual patterns tend to repeat themselves. So, if you aim for more variety, Karndean flooring might not be it.
Size and format constraints are also limiting. These are generally due to market demands, but they can restrict design options for certain spaces.
5. Vulnerability To Chemicals
Folks often choose vinyl flooring because it resists most chemicals and is easy to clean. That’s not the case of Karndean, however.
This floor type consists of several layers, including a decorative layer and a protective coating. While these layers resist numerous substances, they can still be affected by certain chemicals. For instance, you should never use harsh or abrasive cleaners, as these could damage the surface.
Strong alkaline or acidic cleaners and solvents could also affect the surface. Certain substances and spills, including vinegar and juice spills left unattended for a long time, could also result in fading, discolouration or changes to the appearance.
To protect Karndean flooring from chemical damage, it’s important to follow the manufacturer’s guidelines for cleaning and maintenance. Here are some general tips:
- Use mild, pH-neutral cleaners specifically recommended for vinyl or LVT flooring.
- Avoid using abrasive or acidic cleaners, including bleach, ammonia or vinegar.
- Dilute cleaning solutions as directed and remove excess moisture promptly after cleaning.
- Wipe up spills immediately to prevent staining or chemical reactions.
- Test any new cleaning product in an inconspicuous area before applying it to the entire floor.
- Regularly sweep or vacuum to remove loose dirt and debris that can scratch the surface.
6. Slipping Hazard
Karndean flooring is essentially printed vinyl. The surface is smooth with no real texture, and it provides little traction when wet.
Spills, condensation or high humidity levels are all culprits. It’s important to promptly clean up any liquids on the flooring to maintain a safe walking surface.
Residue from certain cleaning products or floor polishes can also leave a slippery film on the surface. Using excessive amounts of cleaner or failing to rinse it properly after cleaning can lead to a slippery residue build-up.
7. Prone To Indentations
Another disadvantage of Karndean flooring is its propensity to get damaged. There are a variety of factors that could lead to indentations, including improper installation.
In fact, the condition of the subfloor can impact the performance of Karndean flooring. If the subfloor is not properly prepared, uneven or unstable areas can contribute to increased vulnerability to indentation. If you can’t smooth out the subfloor, you should consider using an underlayment.
This is one of the reasons why it is essential to ensure that the subfloor is smooth, level and structurally sound before installing Karndean flooring.
Placing heavy furniture or appliances directly on Karndean flooring without proper protection is another reason for indentations.
The weight of these objects, combined with their continuous pressure, can leave impressions on the flooring surface. Furniture pads or protective coasters under heavy items help distribute the weight more evenly and minimise the risk of damage.
Dropping or dragging pointed or sharp objects, such as heavy tools or high heels, on Karndean flooring can create concentrated pressure points that can lead to permanent damage.
8. Prone To Scratches
Karndean flooring consists of multiple layers, one of which is a wear layer. This protective top layer helps guard against scratches and scuffs. However, the thickness of the layer can vary depending on the specific product range.
Thicker wear layers generally provide better scratch resistance compared to thinner ones. However, even with a durable wear layer, excessive force or sharp objects can still potentially scratch the surface.
Small particles of dirt or grit that are brought in from the outside can act as abrasives and cause scratches when walked upon. Regular sweeping or vacuuming of Karndean flooring can help remove these particles and minimise the risk of scratching.
Sand, small stones or other abrasive materials that get trapped in footwear soles can also scratch Karndean flooring. You should encourage family members and guests to remove their shoes or use doormats to trap debris.
Dragging or sliding heavy furniture or objects across Karndean flooring without proper protection is another reason for scratches. Sharp edges or metal components of furniture can be particularly damaging.
Using felt or rubber pads under furniture legs and taking care when moving heavy items can help prevent scratches.
While Karndean flooring is generally resilient to pets, sharp or untrimmed claws can potentially scratch the surface.
9. Initial Off-Gassing
Like many vinyl-based products, Karndean flooring may emit a slight odour or off-gas initially after installation.
This is due to the release of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) from the materials used.
While the odour typically dissipates over time, it may be a concern for individuals with sensitivity to smells or those seeking low VOC options.
10. Temperature Sensitivity
Karndean flooring is made of synthetic materials, including vinyl and PVC, which can expand and contract with changes in temperature. These natural movements can lead to changes in the size and shape of the individual planks or tiles.
Vinyl and PVC also do not conduct heat or cold well. As a result, when Karndean flooring is exposed to extreme temperatures, it can take longer for the material to adjust to the new temperature. This delayed response can potentially affect the stability and performance of the flooring.
The temperature of the subfloor beneath Karndean flooring can impact the material’s response to temperature changes.
If the subfloor experiences significant temperature fluctuations, it can transfer those temperature changes to the flooring above, potentially causing the material to expand or contract more dramatically. For this reason, Karndean flooring is not suitable to install over underfloor heating systems.
Luckily, there are ways to reduce the flooring’s temperature sensitivity.
Always allow the Karndean flooring to acclimate to the room temperature and humidity conditions before installation.
You should also maintain a consistent indoor temperature and humidity level within the recommended range specified by the manufacturer. Avoid extreme temperature fluctuations, especially in areas with direct sunlight exposure or proximity to heat sources like radiators.
11. Poor Sound Insulation
Vinyl flooring, comprising Karndean, generally provides less sound insulation compared to softer flooring options like carpet.
The main culprit is the rigidity of this floor type. Vinyl doesn’t possess natural sound-absorbing properties like fibres or cushioning found in carpets or other soft flooring options. As a result, sound waves tend to bounce off the hard surface, leading to less sound absorption and insulation.
Since Karndean flooring is often installed directly on the subfloor, the lack of an underlayment further contributes to sound dispersion.
Moreover, impact noise, such as footsteps or dropped objects, can be transmitted through the rigid surface of the flooring and resonate more prominently in the space below.
While Karndean flooring may provide less sound insulation, there are some measures you can take to help minimise sound transmission:
- Use an underlayment: Consider using an acoustic underlayment specifically designed to reduce sound transmission. These materials can help absorb impact noise and improve sound insulation.
- Add rugs or carpet runners: Placing area rugs or carpet runners on Karndean flooring can help dampen sound and reduce noise transmission in specific areas.
- Use furniture pads: Use felt or rubber pads under furniture legs to minimise the impact noise when moving or rearranging furniture.
- Implement soundproofing methods: Additional soundproofing techniques such as adding soundproofing panels to walls, installing acoustic curtains or blinds or using sound-absorbing materials in the room.
12. Unpleasant In Extreme Temperatures
As mentioned, Karndean flooring is sensitive to temperatures. What you may not expect is for it to also be unpleasant to walk on.
Its reduced thermal conductivity can make the floor feel too cold or too warm when walking on it barefoot, especially during summer and winter. However, the lack of thermal insulation can have a greater impact than comfort.
Because Karndean panels don’t insulate the floor, they can affect the ambient temperature. This typically means that you’ll have to set a higher temperature on the radiator during winter, with a further impact on costs.
13. Susceptibility To Staining
While Karndean flooring is generally resistant to water and moisture, it is not completely impervious to liquid penetration. Some Karndean flooring products have a low level of porosity, which means they can absorb certain liquids or allow stains to penetrate the surface if spills are not promptly cleaned.
Exposing Karndean flooring to harsh or abrasive chemicals, such as bleach, strong solvents or ammonia-based cleaners, is one potential cause for staining. These chemicals can react with the flooring surface and lead to discoloration or damage.
Oil-based substances, such as cooking oil, grease or cosmetics, can also leave stains on Karndean flooring.
Certain materials or objects with strong dyes or pigments, such as some rubber products, ink or certain types of fabrics, also can transfer colour onto the Karndean flooring surface, resulting in stains.
Due to all these potentially staining agents, maintaining the Karndean floor is often a more complex and time-consuming process.
14. Fading And Discolouration
Karndean flooring consists of multiple layers, including a wear layer that protects the coloured substrate against discolouration and fading. Over time, however, the wear layer may experience wear and tear, especially in high-traffic areas.
In areas where this layer is damaged, prolonged exposure to direct sunlight can cause fading and discoloration. This happens because the UV rays from the sun can gradually break down the pigments and dyes used in the flooring, resulting in a loss of colour intensity and potential discoloration over time.
Harsh chemicals, such as bleach or ammonia-based cleaners, as well as some rubber materials or dyes in certain products, can react with the flooring surface and lead to colour changes or fading.
Using harsh chemicals, abrasive cleaners or excessive moisture during cleaning can potentially damage the flooring surface and affect its colour stability.
15. Difficult To Repair
Another downside of Karndean flooring is that it can be difficult to repair compared to other floor types.
This floor is typically installed as individual planks or tiles, which are glued to the subfloor or a compatible underlayment. If a specific plank or tile becomes damaged, the adhesive used during installation can make it difficult to remove a single piece without damaging adjacent pieces.
The intricate patterns or designs also require precise installation to achieve a visually cohesive look. If a repair is needed in an area with a complex pattern, matching the existing design can be challenging.
This happens because it’s often difficult to find an exact match for the damaged piece, and attempting to replace it with a similar plank or tile can result in a noticeable difference in appearance.
Properly repairing Karndean flooring requires skill, experience and knowledge of the installation process. It may involve specialised tools and techniques to remove and replace damaged pieces without causing further damage to the surrounding flooring.
This level of expertise is typically best handled by professional installers or flooring specialists, meaning that any repairs are likely to be costly.
16. Limited Resale Value
If you bought a fixer-upper that you plan to sell, installing Karndean flooring might not be the best idea.
Most homebuyers have a preference for other types of flooring, such as hardwood, tile or natural stone. This personal preference can influence the perceived value of Karndean flooring during the resale process.
The market perception of certain flooring materials can also impact their resale value. While Karndean flooring is known for its durability, aesthetic appeal and ease of maintenance, it may not have the same level of market recognition or prestige as other flooring options.
Buyers who are unfamiliar with Karndean flooring may not attribute the same value to it as they would to other well-known flooring materials.
The availability and popularity of alternative flooring options can also impact the resale value of Karndean flooring.
The perceived longevity can also impact the resale value.
Even though Karndean flooring is designed to be durable, its longevity and perceived lifespan may not be as high as certain natural materials like hardwood or stone.
Karndean flooring is a popular choice among homeowners who want a cheap alternative to hardwood. It is generally durable, and it resists water and spills.
However, this floor type comes with many disadvantages that you should consider before installing it. The installation, maintenance, and repair difficulties are some of the main downsides. This material is also prone to staining and discolouration.
Moreover, Karndean flooring has a low resale value compared to more prestigious floor types. Thus, it could lower the overall value of your house.