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Loose lay installation guidelines USA & Canada

Loose lay floors should be installed in accordance with these instructions as well as the applicable national standards and building codes for the installation of resilient flooring at the time of installation, to ensure a quality fit. These floors are not suitable for installation outdoors or in rooms that will be continually wet. They are suitable for use in traditional residential bathrooms, kitchens, laundry/utility rooms. Failure to observe and follow these installation guidelines and/or current national standards and building codes at time of installation may result in any potential warranty claim being void.

National standards and building codes

  • United States and Canada: ASTM F710 and ASTM F1482.
It is the responsibility of the installer to visually inspect all materials in optimal lighting to confirm it is the correct design, color, batch, quality, free from defects and quantity as ordered. If the material or batching is incorrect or where defects are apparent, the store of purchase must be contacted before the material is installed. Complaints and claims regarding clearly identifiable defects will not be accepted after installation. Preparation and installation should not begin until all other trades have completed their work.

Flooring materials should be removed from packaging at least 48 hours prior to installation and allowed to condition in the room where installation is to take place (tiles/planks may be stacked but must be rested flat). HVAC systems, where available, should be in operation during the acclimation period (at least 48 hours prior to, during, and 24 hours after installation of floor coverings). Exposure to direct sunlight should be avoided during the acclimation and installation process by means of window coverings or temporary measures.

For optimum performance, room temperature should always be maintained between 65-85°F (USA) / 18-27°C (Canada).

Subfloor preparation must comply with ASTM F710 or ASTM F1482 and in strict accordance with these installation guidelines.

The subfloor must be firm, hard, flat, level, smooth, dry, clean and dust-free and should be prepared dependent on your subfloor type. See section “Types of Subfloor” for details.

Moisture of the base subfloor (e.g. concrete) must be measured according to ASTM F1869 (Calcium Chloride) or ASTM F2170 (RH). The moisture limits for Karndean Loose Lay floors are mandated by the limits of of the adhesive used. Karndean adhesive limits are as follows:

  • Karndean K-99 HM 11lbs. (Calcium Chloride) 99% (RH)
  • Karndean DrySet 8lbs. (Calcium Chloride) 95% (RH)
  • Karndean K-Spray 10lbs. (Calcium Chloride) 98% (RH)
  • Karndean 2-part Epoxy 8lb. (Calcium Chloride) 90% (RH)

If any subfloor shows moisture readings above these values, an appropriate damp proof membrane (DPM) or moisture suppression system must be used.

NOTE: Some national standards require the pH of the concrete slab to be controlled.

The 95% RH value is applicable when loose lay is used without adhesive.

NOTE: Wood subfloors should be checked and measured for moisture not to exceed 13%.

The design on this product is randomly distributed and can be heavier on some tiles / planks than others. To prevent heavy and light color shading areas, the tiles / planks should be unboxed and shuffled.

Loose lay can be installed using one of the following methods, led by the environmental conditions of the interior space where the floor is to be installed.

When using DrySet adhesive with Loose Lay you must use 2 coats for optimal performance.

The only Karndean approved additional underlayment is our Quiet Choice acoustic underlayment for additional acoustic performance if needed.

Loose lay must NOT be installed over cushioned vinyl or non-approved underlay; these must be removed and the subfloor treated and prepared to the applicable standard.

1. Grid stick method using Karndean DrySet (2 coats), K99-HM, K-Spray

Light foot traffic, non-commercial, stable in-room climate.

Check that all room edges are solid. Apply a 4” (10cm) strip of appropriate adhesive to all perimeter walls and door thresholds with an appropriate application method and spread rate (e.g. notched trowel, roller). Add further 4” (10cm) strips of adhesive at intervals of 13’ (4m) parallel to each perimeter wall, creating a grid pattern.

Adhesive must be allowed to fully tack off before installation.

Tiles / planks must be fitted tight to the wall, and to each other, across the whole room.

This method is not suitable for the installation of 1m x 1m tiles.

2. Full coverage using Karndean DrySet (2 coats), K99-HM, K-Spray

General foot traffic, commercial and stable in-room climate.

Check that all room edges are solid. Apply our appropriate adhesive to all floor areas with an appropriate application method and spread rate (e.g. notched trowel, roller).

Adhesive must be allowed to fully tack off before installation.

Tiles / planks must be fitted tight to the wall, and to each other, across the whole room.

3. Full coverage using Karndean 2-part Epoxy

High spillage wet areas, sunrooms, conservatories, panoramic windows Recommended for areas that are likely to be subject to high water spillage or extreme temperature fluctuations.

Please refer to separate LVT gluedown installation guidelines for subfloor requirements, preparation and installation procedure using our 'Gluedown installation guidelines'.

NOTE: the company will not be liable for any loss, damage or complaint if the incorrect installation method or adhesive system is adopted for the installation, and / or the adhesive manufacturer’s instructions are not strictly followed.


  • Any primer, levelling compound or other underlayment should be installed in accordance with instructions from that manufacturer.
  • No responsibility will be accepted for any subfloor or joint show through to the installed product, either as a “ridge” or a “valley”.
  • Warning: solvents and other abrasive chemicals used to clean or remove subfloor contaminants can damage the backing of loose lay and affect the product’s performance.

Old adhesive residues

All adhesive residues from previous installations must be mechanically removed. No chemical adhesive removers are allowed on a concrete substrate.

NOTE: Any contaminants left on the surface of the subfloor may adversely affect future adhesion or cause discoloration.

Concrete floors

Subfloors / Screeds: All cracks and joints must be filled using a suitable repair system and the floor needs to be level in accordance with ASTM F710.

The surface of concrete floors to receive resilient flooring must be dry, clean, smooth, and structurally sound. They must be free of dust, solvent, paint, wax, oil, grease, residual adhesive, adhesive removers, film-forming curing compounds, silicate penetrating curing compounds, sealing, hardening, or parting compounds, alkaline salts, excessive carbonation or laitance, mold, mildew, and other foreign materials that might affect the rate of moisture dissipation from the concrete, the adhesion of resilient flooring to the concrete or cause a discoloration of the flooring from below.

Any gypsum (anhydrite) based floors must be sealed with a compatible sealing compound.

Mosaic / terrazzo / ceramics / quarry tiles

Test floor for evidence of damp. If dampness is detected consult your supplier. In most cases these substrates will not be sufficiently absorbent for the adhesive to disperse into the substrate. These should either be removed, and the subfloor prepared and treated as per the exposed subfloor, or mechanically prepare the surface by thoroughly cleaning, rinsing, and abrading the surface, taking extra care to ensure that the surface is firm, dry and free of wax, oil, dust, and loose tiles/ fragments and that all holes are repaired with a suitable fast- set repair mortar.

Apply an appropriate primer & levelling compound by consulting your underlayment supplier, ensuring that all grout lines are filled with no show-through or telegraphing. A second topcoat of primer and levelling compound may be required to smooth over old tile grout lines.

Timber, particle floors and OSB (Oriented Strand Board)

Subfloor material should be well secured, loose boards firmly fastened, and worn/broken boards replaced. For Loose Lay floors you must install a minimum 1/4” (5.5 mm) underlayment/flooring grade plywood fixed according to manufacturer’s instruction and to ASTM F1482 standards. Plywood joints should be smoothed over using a cement-based skim coat/patch or alternatively a suitable primer and cement-based levelling compound.

Thermoplastic / woodblock / parque

Any wood products directly adhered to concrete must be removed prior to installation of any resilient flooring. Wood products attached to a wood substrate can be overlaid with underlayment/flooring grade 1/4” (5.5 mm) plywood. Using a cement-based floor patch, fill in the plywood seams and fasteners per patch manufacturer’s instructions.

Laminate / hybrid / EPC / SPC / engineered timber or other floating floor

These are to be removed including any underlays. Then assess and prepare the exposed subfloor to the applicable standard.

Linoleum / sheet vinyl

If you have 1 layer of, well adhered, non-cushioned, stable, existing flooring VCT, Vinyl, LVT, Ceramic Tile, Stone, or Terrazzo, you may install directly over these properly prepared floors. All sealers or waxes must be removed, and any necessary floor prep must be performed prior to installation of LVT.

Metal and painted floors

Fully remove any loose paint or other finishes.

Raised access floors

Ensure raised access panels are firm, level, smooth, clean and free from defects and contaminants. Raised access panels should be in accordance with local building standards: gaps between panels should not exceed 1/32” (1 mm); the overall floor to be level within 1/16” (1.5 mm) over a 16ft (5 m) radius; unstable, uneven or poor-quality panels should be suitably repaired prior to installation; tiles should be set out such that their edges do not fall on or close to the edge of the raised access panel.

Other floors

Please consult your supplier.

Loose lay flooring is suitable for use over underfloor heating systems, but these must be controlled to keep the interface between the subfloor surface and the backing at no more than 85°F (USA) / 27°C (Canada).

The system must be switched off 48 hours before, during, and for 48 hours after the installation, then temperature gradually increased by no more than 4°F (2°C) per day to desired warmth.

The room temperature must be between 65-85°F (18-27°C) prior to and during installation.

Electrical underfloor heating: please consult manufacturer to ensure their system is compatible with this flooring. Mesh/wire systems: must be installed according to manufacturer instructions, embedded into a base coat of appropriately reinforced smoothing in consultation with the selected underfloor heating manufacturer.

IMPORTANT: Care must be taken to avoid damage to the floor caused by localised hot spots. Particular consideration must be given in placing rugs and items of furniture which do not allow hot air circulation. No responsibility for damage to floor tiles/planks can be accepted under these circumstances.

  • Use entrance mats to protect against grit and moisture. Ensure they are not rubber-backed (of a non-staining variety) to prevent any discoloration of the floor.
  • Avoid sliding or dragging furniture or other objects across the floor - use floor protector pads to prevent scratching.
  • Use large castor cups or other means to protect against indentation from heavy furniture.
  • Regularly sweep the floor to remove loose dirt or grit as these can cause fine scratches.
  • For a thorough clean, a range of pH neutral cleaning materials are available. Avoid the use of household cleaners and bleach-based detergents. These could make the floor slippery or cause discoloration.
  • Always mop up spills as soon as possible to reduce the risk of slipping and possible staining.
  • Do not subject loose lay to standing water. This will present a slip hazard.
  • Floor care guides are available from your supplier or the website.

* USA requires adhesive sourced from supplier only.

** Stable in-room climate = rooms where a low rate of temperature fluctuation is expected in any 24-hour period. Where it is anticipated that internal temperatures could have a variation of 59°F (15°C) or more, the area should be considered as having an unstable climate and the use of Karndean 2 Part Epoxy be adopted.

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