DESIGN is an endless journey that encourages a closer inspection and new interpretation of indoor spaces. As the UK’s market leader in commercial luxury vinyl tiles (LVT), Karndean Designflooring uses cutting edge technology to create contemporary designs that meet users’ needs, connecting them to the natural world and supporting physical health and mental wellbeing.
Inspired by natural environments around the world, Karndean’s people centric approach to sustainable design balances practical design with resource consumption and environmental preservation. Designed to replicate the characteristics and beauty of natural wood and stone but without any of the drawbacks that come with installing and maintaining the real thing, LVT is available in individual planks and tiles.
Stylish and practical, being waterproof, slip resistant, durable, easy to clean, and compatible with underfloor heating, LVT offers designers the ultimate flexibility to create imaginative and bespoke designs that stand out for all the right reasons.
There are many designs and laying patterns to choose from, including parquet and herringbone, intricate geometric or 3D effects, as well as straight lay, 45-degree and 90- degree. Decorative borders and design strips can add bespoke elements or designers can create intricate unique designs with a combination of complementary or contrasting designs.
With a huge range of realistic wood and stone designs available, it’s easy to recreate the natural look of a wood or stone floor but with all the benefits of luxury vinyl flooring. Using different shades of the same design or a mix of wood and stone designs LVT can be used to highlight activity zones or to facilitate wayfinding.
In environments such as retirement or care homes that require a ‘home from home’ feel, specifying LVT in an authentic wood or stone effect can meet the desire for a domestic look yet also meet the technical specifications of a healthcare setting. Making use of familiar looking wood flooring designs ensures that dementia care environments will be soothing and comfortable as well as aid navigation.
Karndean Designflooring offers a range of interactive tools to support the design process. Available to use on mobile, tablet or desktop, Floorstyle is a ‘view in room’ digital tool with the exclusive functionality to view alternative laying patterns and introduce added design features. After uploading a photo of the project space, designers can explore different gluedown, loose lay and rigid core floor designs and laying patterns.
New for 2021, Karndean Designflooring has introduced an interactive CGI tool which puts the specifier at the centre of a 360-degree virtual reality environment. Users can choose from real-world settings such as co-living, build-to-rent, co-working, a gym or a bar restaurant and experience how different design options would work in situ.
Although LVT has always offered endless design capabilities using wood and stone effect planks and tiles, solid colours and geometric shapes also offer opportunities to recreate period features such as classical tiled floors or to design a unique statement floor.
Unlike other materials, LVT can be intricately cut to create any bespoke shape or image, logo and mission statement which can be matched to fit in with the overall floor design.
With geometric shapes, such as triangles, chevrons and hexagons, cut in either wood or stone designs, it is possible to create a unique statement floor for any situation. A 3D effect can be created with repeating patterns in three colours to give an individual style and visual interest to commercial and residential spaces. Alternatively, the opulence of historic interiors can be recreated with heritage patterns of tiles in solid colours. With such wide scope for shape and colour, the only limit is the designer’s imagination.
LVT is a multi-layer product that builds to create a highly durable flooring surface. The combination of the five layers, as shown in the diagram below, creates a flooring product that has many benefits and offers highly versatile design possibilities.
The base layer is designed to bond with an adhesive and adhere to the sub-floor while the stability layer gives structure and resilience. The authenticity of each design comes from the photographic film layer which is based on the original wood or stone materials to create a contemporary interpretation. This ensures every product has an individual story to tell, from its origins to its considered blend of colours and distinctive knots, grains and textures.
The wear layer is a hard-wearing, transparent layer with a textured emboss for grip and effect. Finally, the top layer offers K-Guard surface protection with a PU coating which adds durability and facilitates lifetime maintenance, eradicating the need to seal the product post-installation.
There are two common emboss types used in LVT products. A random texture provides an emboss that varies in texture from a light emboss for a smooth engineered finish to a stronger texture that gives a more rustic appearance or even mimics a hand finished texture such as hand scraped wood.
A registered emboss delivers a texture that corresponds to the image used in the print layer. For instance, a knot in a plank can be seen but the inherent roughness or texture can also be felt, and they match. For improved authenticity, the latest Van Gogh Brushed Oak designs feature an enhanced natural wood grain emboss which accentuates the individual aesthetics of the natural wood.
Durable wear layer
The thicker the wear layer, the more durable the product. The international standards ISO 10582 and ISO 10874 help specifiers relate wear layer thickness of a product to its end use suitability. For example, most commercial applications state that a 0.55mm wear layer is required. This will provide good wear characteristics for heavy commercial applications. For very heavy commercial traffic areas a 0.7mm layer is preferable as this will provide a more durable surface and therefore a longer lasting floorcovering.
With hygiene and infection control a key topic, it’s important to specify a flooring that offers no hiding place for dirt, allergens or microbes. Floors benefiting from a surface protection system using PU technology will provide a hygienic and durable finish. Karndean’s K-Guard technology ensures that there is no need to apply an additional surface treatment following installation and provides a hygienic and easy to clean floor suitable for both residential and commercial settings.
With health and sustainability high on the agenda, it’s important to note that all Karndean products are ortho-phthalate free, low in Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) and contain production and post-production off-cuts which have been granulated and recycled back into the product to reduce waste.
Manufactured to ISO9001 standard for quality and ISO14001 environmental certification, all Karndean products are designed to look as beautiful as they day they were installed for many years to come.
The Pendulum Method (BS 7976) is used to assess the slip resistance of LVT in the UK and it is the preferred method of the Health and Safety Executive. Testing both the wet and dry rating, the Pendulum method was first introduced by the UK Slip Resistance Group.
Recognising the importance of slip resistance in environments such as health, care and education, Karndean has worked with its supply chain to develop its Opus Enhance range of wood and stone designs which boasts a result of 40 plus in the Pendulum Wet Test.
Slip resistance of an installed floor can be affected by surface contamination such as water and grease from spillages, inappropriate maintenance techniques and wear. Therefore consideration should be given to whether the floor will be always dry or if contamination is likely and whether it will be subjected to heavy traffic, as these factors can influence installed slip resistance and safety.
Subfloor preparation is vital
Like all floorcoverings, the most important part of any installation is the preparation of the subfloor. In fact, subfloor preparation makes up 75% of the time required when installing an LVT floor. For a quality result and long lasting floor, it’s imperative that the subfloor is clean and dry, free from oils and bituminous compounds. The subfloor must be smooth, sound and level, and be less than 75% relative humidity.
A moisture test should be carried out to ensure that the floor can be laid successfully. A newly built property will have a damp proof membrane installed to meet building regulations however, if the subfloor has not had time to dry out thoroughly, it may be necessary to install an additional surface Damp Proof Membrane. Alternatively, a rigid core format can be used over new floors that are still drying out.
With refurbishments, a screed is often required to ensure a smooth and level subfloor. If relative humidity is above 75% a liquid DPM must be applied prior to the floor covering going down.
Natural wood floors shrink and expand depending on the atmospheric conditions so when laying over existing wood floorboards it is imperative that the floor is prepared by overlaying with a good quality 6mm plywood, complying with BS 8203-2017, to form a strong and smooth surface. The ply must be fitted with a ring shank nails or screws fixed at 150mm centres, finished flush with the surface. It may also be necessary to apply a levelling compound to ensure a level surface.
If a new LVT floor is replacing carpet or previous LVT, the subfloor should be clean, dry, smooth, sound and free of old adhesives and previous product. With ceramics and stone, provided there is no damp and they are secure, they can be overlaid with a smoothing compound prior to LVT installation. Specifiers should expect suppliers to provide comprehensive instructions for ease of installation and to ensure a high quality finish.