With a product design team spanning three international regions, the minds behind Karndean’s offerings often work together as one global team at its U.K. headquarters. Because the company develops its own designs on premium vinyl, those working on the products take their time when analyzing trends and developing the latest visuals to deliver to the market.
With the recent developments in multilayer vinyl flooring products, which are best described as “rigid-core” or “enhanced” LVT offerings, just about every flooring company has developed its own take on this new category. According to Jenne Ross, Karndean’s marketing director, the manufacturer’s version of the revitalized LVT, Korlok, took longer for development as the team had to ensure “the technology was premium enough to put the Karndean name on it.”
And with exceptional composition comes exceptional aesthetics. The French Oak selections from Korlok are inspired by authentic French oak flooring dating back to the 17th century. The hundreds of years of wear result in distinct characteristics created by foot traffic and the natural aging process. To achieve this effect on vinyl, Karndean worked with salvaged lumber distributors in the U.K., where there is access to centuries-old wood. “In the U.S., we get excited if we find materials that are 100 years old,” Ross said. “But we source different products from different regions.” For this particular offering, the global team head, Martin Bell, who is based in the U.K., worked with a distributor who had salvaged wood from a French chateau that dated back to the 1600s.
The advantage of working with a material that perfectly mimics these reclaimed materials rather than the actual aged wood is avoiding the milling process to remove things like bugs, dirt, and bacteria to make it usable. “There are also splinters and cracks that make it impractical for use,” Ross noted. Making this wood into flooring would come at an extraordinary cost, so Karndean has developed rustic, historical visuals on a vinyl floor with superior performance capabilities.
“The product is aesthetically pleasing and has the Karndean story, but also really offers premium performance to [stand up to] commercial environments” she added. Taking the time to ensure above-average performance, the company “went into development with [the proprietary, waterproof K-Core technology] so Korlok could perform to the indentation standard for what is needed in commercial applications.” Korlok also features acoustic, closed-cell backing for sound abatement and water protection.
From the visuals of salvaged wood, two colors were created for Korlok French Oak: reclaimed and antique. Reclaimed features a gray tone, with a look that is very close to the piece of wood that inspired the selection. Karndean bleached some of those original planks and examined their character; beams were selected to make print film designs that resulted in the final product. Antique French Oak, on the other hand, is brown. The same boards were used for inspiration, but through Karndean’s coloring process the design team developed a patina that worked the visual into a warm, earthy brown with some red hues that often occur from the traditional antiquing patina process.
While Karndean products feature additional layers of color in their print film, “it’s not just creating a print film to look like wood; it has a lot to do with the quality of material we put in our wear layer and the effort we take in developing our own embossing in texture,” explained Jenne Ross, Karndean’s marketing director. “It is really about how light reflects off the top of the product; that’s the ultimate way of knowing how it’s going to look like the real thing. A lot of people think it’s about the print film, which is true, but a lot [of the realistic visual] has to do with the embossed layer and the quality of vinyl you use, along with how the light reflects off of it.”
Photography courtesy of Karndean