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{DIY} Fitting a Karndean Loose Lay Floor

Providence Karndean Floor Review

'Karndean'; the word I've heard a lot around the internet lately - everyone's talking about it. I'd heard of Karndean before I even knew what the hell it was (flooring!), what it looked like, or what it felt like. So when I was offered the chance to give a test, well obviously I was like YES, I need to see what the hell all this fuss is about and what makes it so special.

What is Karndean?

Karndean is a type of floor covering. It's basically a vinyl floor - but no, not the tacky peel-and-stick kind you might find in PoundStretcher. It's a luxury vinyl floor - a kind of mid-way product, almost in-between Laminate and Lino. It's flexible, but comes in a 'plank' form, it's sound reducing, unlike the hardness of solid floors and it's also warmer underfoot. It's a great imitation product to both wood and stone and has its own additional benefits that can also make it a more favourable and smarter choice to the real stuff - Easy to clean, waterproof and maintenance-free, just to name a few!

How 'Loose Lay' Works

Karndean have a few different types of flooring, but the one I'm trying out is their loose lay floor. And loose lay - is exactly as the name suggests. You lay it loose. No need for glue, no nails, no special adhesive, no ugly trim around the perimeter of the room, nope - you just lay it on the floor and it stays there. By the power of friction and gravity! There's not even any interlocking connections between the boards. It means you spend less on materials, it takes less time to fit and you don't even need to removing skirting boards. AND, even better - you don't have to take up the whole floor just to get one plank out, if boards ever get damaged (although you do need a window sucker to actually get the board OUT). The idea is pretty genius and all made possible by its super friction anti-slip backing (shown below).  It really has zero movement and it's fuss-fee easy installation is one of the reasons it's a much loved product.

How Karndean Loose Lay Works

How to Fit

So I'm going to write a quick little tutorial on how we've fitted our new Karndean floor, DIY style. The idea, is that in order for Karndean to work, you need a nice tight fit throughout every edge of the perimeter of the room. You don't need to remove skirting boards and if you do, you'll actually create more work for yourself as you'll have to ensure a tight fit against uneven plaster/bricks. Being able to get a tight fit means you need to be able to scribe cuts pretty well. Scribing a floor is one of the easiest types of scribing, so even if you've never done it before - it's a pretty good place to start!

For an EXCELLENT video tutorial on laying Loose Lay Karndean, as well as scribing, I thoroughly recommend watching this one from SkillBuilder on YouTube.

How to fit Karndean Loose Lay


Things You Will Need:

  • Sharp Stanley Knife (Multiple blades help!)
  • Long Ruler/Something with a Straight Edge
  • Tape Measure, possibly

Yep, that's IT.

So here's a couple of photos of the area in which we'll be using Karndean - a strange little inner porch/hallway area. We've done nothing to this part of the house since moving in 3+ years ago and that lino is... well, disgusting. As are the orange walls!

Inner Porch with 70s Lino
Victorian Terrace with Inside Porch

Step 1 - Base Preparation

So Karndean Loose Lay flooring only works if the base beneath it is completely level and flat. That means no protruding nails, no dodgy patched concrete, no lumps, bumps, floorboard ridges, dust, dirt - you're getting the picture?

If you have a solid floor (concrete, tiles etc) and it's not very even, you'll want to lay some self-levelling compound over the top. If like us, you have floorboards you'll probably want to lay a sheet of hardboard over the top. We very luckily already had hardboard in the area where we're laying, but we made sure to properly check all the nails had been sunken into the board and we also added some cloth tape over the joins to make it seamless.

Removing old lino
karndean floor preparation
taping joins for karndean

We also added a new threshold bar between the inner-porch and rest of the hallway. This will give the Karndean floor something to butt up to where the floor coverings change and it will also allow for a nice floor transition between the rooms too. This is just a slither of wood (same thickness of the Karndean floor) which we've cut to size and nailed into place. Oh and don't worry - that carpet is set for the bin one day!!

wooden threshold bar


Step 2 - Laying Karndean

As shown by the 'tools required' - there really isn't that much involved when it comes to laying Karndean flooring. For the most part, you just lay the planks butted up against once another by hand, no tools, no major bashing or hammering involved to get the boards together (staring at you, laminate!) - just lay one, lay another, lay another - you can get 95% of the room done in literally minutes! The only thing you need just to make sure of, is that each plank is properly butted up against the next. This creates the watertight seal and also ensures the boards aren't going to move.

DIY how to fit karndean loose lay

The trickiest part of fitting Karndean, is where you meet the skirting board and need to scribe the cuts to get a nice tight fit. As I said, Karndean actually works best when it's butted up against the skirting board rather than underneath it - as this is what helps prevent movement. So unlike laminate or wood floors, where you can be a bit sloppy around the edges because they'll be hidden - you do need to take your time here. However, the time you save in wrestling skirting boards off the wall, as well as patching said wall - makes it pretty beneficial.

In order to scribe a cut, you need to translate the angles of the wall onto the board you need to cut. The best way to do this is to lay a board on-top of the closest board to the skirting and then push a second board up against the skirting. Using that as a guide you can then mark-up that cut onto the first board, which will be the board you'll cut. I feel like this is suuuuper awkward to explain, so again I recommend this video to see it in action.

Fitting Karndean DIY

Step 3 - Cutting Karndean

Karndean is cut with just a knife, however you don't slice all the way through the board in one cut, the process is very similar to how you would cut plasterboard. The idea is that you score a nice crisp line along the top of the board and then you snap the board along the scored line - just like you would with plasterboard - and then you finish the cut off by cutting the rest along the back of the board.

How to cut and fit karndean floor
DIY fitting a vinyl floor
How to cut karndean floor
anti slip friction backing on karndean

It's super easy to do, although you do need to have fairly good knife skills to give an evenly scored line. When cutting our boards, we also made sure to cut up to the line, rather than taking the line off. The snugger the fit, the better!


Tricky Bits
So the one tricky bit we have to deal with, was cutting around the door frame/architrave. This is obviously a very intricate area and trying to cut a curved sharp and well scribed cut into a material that was quite leathery was just not working for us. We really wanted it to look perfect and not sloppy, so we ended up cutting a little bit of the architrave out with the worx so we could slot the karndean underneath instead. Corner cuts were generally fine - just any odd shapes are a little iffy, so we took the short cut.

fitting karndean around architrave

For large rooms, Karndean do suggest using a tackifier around the perimeter and every so-many cm into the room as well - this just adds a bit of extra stickiness, but it doesn't permanently hold the planks in place. You can read their official installation guide here.

Final Look

So this is the final result and what our little inner hallway porch now looks like. You can see I've given the room a VERY quick coat of white paint over that grotty wallpaper. But don't worry - we will be giving it a proper makeover eventually! I think the new Karndean floor is absolutely fab - and needless to say, so so much better than what was here before. It's completely waterproof, so great for use in a mucky hallway and will be MUCH easier to clean over wood. And despite it not being real wood, it does looks and feel really very realistic too. I should also mention this is the 'Providence' Style (LLP108) floor, which is based on North American White Oak - fancy!

karndean providence vinyl floor
vinyl imitation wood floor
DIY vinyl wood floor

General Thoughts

Grant actually laid this whole floor himself (yes, I'm the blogger but y'know, small spaces and that 😉) but he was super impressed with how easy it was to do. Other than re-doing the cuts around the architrave, the floor took no more than a few hours to lay. And that involved the prep-work and a few tea breaks as well! So it was super quick to fit; no sawdust, mess, no noise(!) and as a product to DIY yourselves, it definitely gets the thumbs up from us! It's literally just a no-nonsense product.

As an actual floor covering, we also really like it too. We never wanted to have floorboards in this little space as keeping them clean in a high traffic (dirty shoes!) area is a definite losing battle! Karndean is much more practical, being fully waterproof and maintenance free. It also doesn't have any creaking sound, which is fab for us considering we both work nightshifts and often creep into the house at weird times in the night! And it's also far more durable - definitely need this one when we're still renovating!

DIY installing karndean

Where to Buy & Costs

We received this Karndean from AA flooring, who stock all types and styles of Karndean and they're also the cheapest online stockist for Karndean as well. In terms of price, I definitely wouldn't be putting Karndean into the category of 'cheap' - it is, after all a luxury floor covering. However comparative to real wood, it is a little cheaper and it has many more benefits that often make it a more favourable choice. There are many different flooring designs for Karndean, but you can expect to pay between £28-£42 per m2, dependant on style.

If we were looking to buy this product, it would probably be out of our budgets for a large sized room - however if you do have the budget to buy, then I would definitely recommend checking Karndean out as a worthwhile contender!

I'd love to know what you think to our new floor. Have you given Karndean a try? Are you looking to DIY-install?


*I received Karndean for the purpose of this review. All words, thoughts and opinions are my own. Thank you for supporting the brands who support this blog!
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2 comments

  1. We have used laminate in previous houses and I thought kardean was the same to be honest! It looks like its a lot easier to lay than laminate though. It's always great when you can fit something yourself, it really keeps the costs down #homeetc

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  2. It looks so, so smart! I've heard lots about Karndean but was always a little bit cynical so it's really re-assuring to see someone I trust on the home improvement recommend it and show how easy it is to fit. Thank you for linking up to #HomeETc X

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