Smartcore Ultra LVP Flooring Review | 2022 Pros, Cons & Installation Tips (2023)

We’re taking a closer look at a particularly popular vinyl plank brand: SmartCore Ultra Flooring.

With so many different options in flooring, how do you choose just one? Even if you narrow things down to one type of flooring, you still have a TON of options.

Even though luxury vinyl plank is relatively new to the flooring market, it’s now being produced by numerous manufacturers.

As big brands have begun to recognize vinyl plank’s demand, a huge range of styles and features have become available.

So, what is so great about SmartCore Ultra Flooring?

This unique flooring brand has some stand-out features the company is looking to patent, and offers a diverse product line. Lets dive a little deeper into those features, and find out what consumers are saying about the SmartCore Ultra line.

  • Features
  • Consumer Reviews
  • FAQs
  • The Verdict

Features

SmartCore Ultra flooring is a premium engineered vinyl plank flooring that is available exclusively through Lowe’s. It is durable, attractive, and very easy to install.

It is a glueless floating floor that can be installed on top of most hard surface subfloors. So, you don’t have to remove old tile, laminate, or another flooring first.

While there are many great vinyl flooring products on the market, what makes Smartcore unique is its patent-pending rigid construction. It is designed to hide the imperfections on your subfloor.

This unique construction also prevents telegraphing, which sometimes happens if the subfloor isn’t clean and clear of debris. Unfortunately, many of the alternative vinyl flooring options can show even the smallest speck of dirt or debris left behind.

Another great feature of SmartCore is that it is 100% waterproof and will not warp or swell if exposed to water. So you can install it in wet rooms like bathrooms, kitchens, and basements.

In addition to its waterproof core, SmartCore Ultra flooring has a resilient top layer of luxury vinyl plus a 12 mil. protective wear layer to prevent staining.

It comes with waterproof, structure, and residential wear lifetime warranties. And there’s also a five-year warranty for commercial use.

(Video) SmartCore Pro Review + How-to Tips & Tricks

SmartCore also rates as an eco-friendly option, as it has the GREENGUARD GOLD seal of approval.

Not only is this line a practical option, it is also a very attractive one. Let’s look at the different styles and options available.

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Styles & Options

This vinyl flooring comes in several different sizes of planks or 12” x 24” tiles. You can also order moldings and trim work to match for a finished look.

The vinyl planks offer a number of wood looks in shades of brown and gray including Tahitian Walnut, Canberra Acacia, Rustic Hickory, and several variations of oak. You can also choose vinyl tiles that resemble stone.

SmartCore has a variety of looks to fit different tastes and designs. So, whether you want a trendier look, or prefer something classic, you can find a style to suit you.

Each carton covers anywhere from 15 to 28 square feet and costs between $3 and $4 per square foot. Of course, this can vary slightly depending on where you live.

And with a reasonable price point, this flooring is a great option for most budgets.

Even though SmartCore looks like wood flooring, it is as easy to install as laminate. So, you can save even more by laying it yourself.

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Installation & Maintenance

SmartCore’s 5” planks use drop/lock installation. They are fairly easy to install and only require a few tools such as a circular saw, rubber mallet, spacers, and a tape measure.

Simply lay them over your hard surface subfloor in a staggered pattern. To make sure that your planks have a nice blend of shades, remove them from the box and shuffle them up before installing.

(Video) Smart Core Waterproof Luxury Vinyl Flooring Install, tips, and Review

The 7” planks are installed using the tap/angle method. You’ll need a crosscut power saw, tapping block, hammer, and a pull bar to install these planks.

But the process is still relatively simple and can definitely be a DIY project.

If you live in a colder area and want to install in-floor radiant heat, this flooring works well with it.

Whatever type of SmartCore you choose, maintaining these floors is easy to do.

Try to keep them away from too much direct sunlight and use floor protectors under your furniture.

To clean them, a broom or vacuum with a hard surface setting works great. You can also mop them for a deeper cleaning, but avoid using harsh chemicals on them.

With routine maintenance and a lifetime warranty, you can potentially enjoy your Smartcore floors for a very long time.

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Reviews

So what do people think of SmartCore Ultra flooring? On average, these floors have received 4 stars across the sources we assessed.

Many people who purchased and installed this flooring were extremely pleased with the results. They loved the look of these floors.

A number of people even felt like they closely resembled wood.

SmartCore Ultra received mixed reviews on installation. Some felt they were very easy to install while consumers had more trouble.

However, many people noted how forgiving these floors were with imperfect subfloors (thanks to their patent-pending construction).

Overall, most people who purchased these floors were very happy with the result.

(Video) Smartcore Ultra floating flooring, install tips.

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4 Instant Free Quotes from Approved Local Flooring Installers

FAQ

Is SmartCore Ultra a good product?

Yes, SmartCore Ultra is a good flooring product because it’s 100% waterproof and has a 12mil wear layer. Additionally, SmartCore Ultra has interlocking technology so the planks are easy to install yourself. These luxury vinyl planks are affordable and come with a lifetime warranty.


What is the difference between SmartCore and SmartCore Ultra?

The difference between these two products is the material used for the core of the luxury vinyl planks. The SmartCore Ultra planks are made with a wooden plastic composite that gives the flooring extra bounce. On the other hand, SmartCore features a stone plastic composite core for extra durability.


Is SmartCore vinyl flooring toxic?

Thankfully, SmartCore’s Ultra and Pro lines are low-VOC options. Unfortunately, many vinyl floors are rich in VOCs, chemicals that can be harmful to your health. If you’re looking for a non-toxic alternative, you should opt for non-VOC or low-VOC vinyl planks.

(Video) Are You STRUGGLING Getting Planks Together | Here's 5 Tips That'll HELP

These two collections are Greenguard Certified, which means that they are tested for VOC emissions and more than 10,000 different chemicals. Since they showed low emission levels, the Ultra and Pro lines are an excellent choice for your home if you’re looking for vinyl flooring.


How long does SmartCore vinyl plank flooring last?

Although it’s really tough to tell how long the SmartCore vinyl plank flooring will last, it’s safe to say that this is a highly durable product that will last for at least a decade. In addition, the brand offers a lifetime warranty when you purchase their vinyl planks, so that’s a huge advantage.

SmartCore vinyl planks have a thick wear layer, are waterproof, and can withstand a lot of traffic; they are considered a high-quality option that will be in your home for a very long time. Once you receive your vinyl planks, you have to read the manufacturer’s care instructions and follow them to avoid losing the warranty.


How to install SmartCore vinyl flooring?

Start by ensuring that the room is clean and dry and the subfloor is flat. Next, get the first plank and place it with the tongues facing the wall, making sure that there’s a ¼-inch gap between the wall and the planks. Finally, lock each plank on the short side before you continue with the second row.

Start the second row with a plank that’s more than eight inches long and place it at an angle to the planks from the first row. When you hear a clicking sound, it means that you’ve installed the plank properly.


How to clean SmartCore vinyl plank flooring?

To provide proper care for your SmartCore vinyl plank flooring and to ensure longevity, you should sweep it and vacuum it a few times a week. The next step is to deep clean the flooring once a week or once every two weeks using a damp mop and a cleaning solution for vinyl planks.

You should never use a steam cleaner on your vinyl floors because they can cause damage. Another thing to avoid is abrasive cleaning solutions, bleach, harsh chemicals, vacuums with scrubs or brush extensions.

The Verdict

If you are in the market for a long-lasting, durable flooring that can hold up to a variety of elements, then SmartCore Ultra could be the right choice for you.

It comes with a lifetime warranty, is reasonably priced, and is touted as being 100% waterproof.

It looks like hardwood, without the price or hassle of true hardwood. And it is relatively easy to install.

SmartCore works on most subfloors and is designed to avoid telegraphing. It even has a patent pending on this feature.

You can find it in several sizes, including a tile option, and there are some really nice wood species and colors to choose from.

(Video) What are the BEST Brands of Vinyl Plank and How to Test their QUALITY

However, you can only find them at Lowe’s. So you may have to order online if there is not a store in your area.

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FAQs

Does SmartCore ultra need an underlayment? ›

All SmartCore flooring has an integrated padded bottom layer that acts like underlayment. However, for added soundproofing and thermal insulation, the manufacturer recommends using SmartCore Soft & Sound Underlayment. This product will also provide added protection against moisture and help with leveling subfloors.

Which is better SmartCore Pro or Ultra? ›

The only major difference between SmartCore Pro and SmartCore Ultra flooring is the material each product uses for its core—plus a little bit of design detail. Aside from that, there aren't many differences in color, variety, even protection.

Does SmartCore ultra need a moisture barrier? ›

READ BEFORE INSTALLING: While SMARTCORE is waterproof, it's not a moisture barrier. It's still a good idea to make sure your concrete is cured and a covered with a minimum 6 mil polyfilm moisture barrier, and, when installing over a raised subfloor, that a moisture barrier is installed in the crawl space.

Does SmartCore LVP need underlayment? ›

Q: Do I need additional underlayment with SmartCore? A: While the attached underlayment does provide some insulation and sound dampening properties, it's not a moisture barrier. For installations over concrete slabs, Shaw recommends using a 6mil moisture barrier with SmartCore vinyl flooring.

Do I need a moisture barrier under vinyl plank flooring? ›

Existing Flooring

Meaning, if you're going to install vinyl plank flooring over tile, vinyl flooring, and even hardwood. As with the plywood floor, there's no need to worry about a moisture barrier; the underlayment should provide cushioning and sound-deadening benefits.

Do you need a moisture barrier under vinyl plank flooring on concrete? ›

Is a moisture or vapor barrier required for vinyl flooring? Typically, moisture barriers are needed when vinyl flooring is installed on top of a concrete subfloor or crawl space. Please refer to the manufacturer guidelines, installation instructions, and warranty information for more details.

What is the best vinyl plank on the market? ›

The best vinyl plank flooring for most people is the Shaw Primavera Luxury Vinyl Plank Flooring. It's 100% waterproof and is scratch-, skid-, and mark-resistant, making it ideal for long-term use in high-traffic areas. Plus, it's available at a nice mid-range price and boasts easy click lock installation for the DIYer.

What thickness of luxury vinyl plank is best? ›

The most common thickness of LVP used in common households is 12 mil, but if your household is fairly active, or has a number of pets, a higher thickness is recommended – such as 20 mil. Most thicker planks, such as 28 mil, are used for commercial rather than household installations.

What happens if you don't leave an expansion gap for vinyl flooring? ›

When you don't have the proper expansion gap, the pressure caused by the natural expansion of the floor will need to go somewhere. This causes the floor to buckle and often leads to irreversible damage that calls for plank replacement. Buckling: What happens when a floor can't expand properly.

What happens if you don't put moisture barrier under laminate flooring? ›

Water vapor can cause serious damage to your home. For instance, if your flooring gets wet, it could cause mold and mildew, and even destroy your floor (source). No one wants that, so vapor barriers are there to help prevent the floor from getting wet.

How do I clean my SmartCore Ultra vinyl plank? ›

Use a microfiber wet mop pad to mop the floor with cleaner. If pad becomes dirty, be sure to replace the pad with a new microfiber wet mop pad. Mop floor in sections. Always rinse the floor with water only by mopping with water to remove any remaining residue from the floor.

Do you need to leave gap around vinyl plank flooring? ›

Because of vinyl flooring's climate sensitivity, be sure to leave about a ¼-inch expansion gap around the perimeter of your floor. This way if the flooring expands it will have the space to do so and it won't warp or buckle in the middle.

Do you need a vapor barrier with luxury vinyl plank? ›

Luxury vinyl plank manufacturers mention only vapor barrier in their installations. They recommend this due to not allowing (concrete subfloor) getting moisture or alkalinity to your flooring choice. This will eliminate any potential for claims or damages to the manufacturers flooring.

Does Smartcore LVP need to acclimate? ›

Acclimation of material prior to installation is not required however the floor covering should be installed in a climate controlled environment with a temperature between 55° - 85°F (13°-29°C) or average temp. of 70 degrees (21.1°). Post installation temperature range is between -25 and 155 degrees F (-31.6°- 68.3°C).

Can mold grow under vinyl plank flooring? ›

Although vinyl flooring is known to be waterproof, liquids can still seep through the grooves, edges, or unsealed seams and get trapped underneath the flooring, causing mold to grow.

What is the best underlayment for vinyl plank flooring on concrete? ›

When choosing an underlayment for vinyl plank flooring on concrete, it's best to pick an option that provides heat insulation and moisture regulation. Wood subfloors do an excellent job of regulating temperatures and controlling moisture, but they don't absorb sound, so a felt underlayment makes for a great pairing.

What do you put under LVP on concrete? ›

If you have any areas on a concrete subfloor with moisture concerns, it is recommended to use a vapor barrier underlayment that will not add any cushion to the planks. For click lock vinyls over 4mm, you'll want to choose an underlayment specific to a vinyl floor, such as our Perfect Mat Underlayment or Floor Muffler.

Can you put vinyl floor directly on concrete? ›

As you don't have to install underlay for Vinyl Flooring or LVT, this can go directly onto the concrete subfloor. However, allow 24 hours for your flooring to acclimatise by leaving it out of its packaging. When it's ready, unroll your vinyl flooring and cut to size after measuring your room.

What is the most popular color of luxury vinyl plank flooring? ›

Grey. Grey vinyl plank flooring are a popular and neutral luxury vinyl choice that works well with many types of interiors and design schemes. It's available in different luxury vinyl styles, including wood, tile, and stone looks.

What is the most popular plank flooring? ›

Of the domestic wood species, oak (red and white) is the most popular, although not the hardest. Hickory and maple are harder than oak and are ideal for active homes.

Are thicker vinyl planks better? ›

As a general rule, a thicker vinyl will provide more stability and comfort underfoot. So if you are looking for flooring to refresh your low traffic bedroom, a thinner vinyl plank flooring will work great for you.

What vinyl floor thickness is best? ›

The rule of thumb is to use 4mm to 6mm thickness in heavily used areas of the house and 4mm and below for areas like the bedroom.

Which vinyl plank is easiest to install? ›

Low-Key Luxury Vinyl

Luxury vinyl flooring is also one of the best types of flooring for an easy install process. Since many luxury vinyl floor styles come in planks, they can easily be installed with a click-and lock-system over your floor's sublayer; it's what's known as a floating layer.

Is 12 mil wear layer enough for dogs? ›

Residential projects with foot traffic in an entryway or households with pets should stay in the 12-mil to 20-mil range, while lesser-used areas could handle a lower wear layer. For commercial projects, stick with a 20-mil to 40-mil wear layer for the best protection possible.

Is there a difference between vinyl plank and luxury vinyl plank? ›

The only difference between the two is the form. Luxury vinyl flooring (LVF) can be cut in either plank (LVP) to mimic hardwood or into groutable squares for stone and tile looks, called luxury vinyl tile. What is LVF?

Are there different grades of luxury vinyl plank flooring? ›

Different grades of LVT have a range of wear layer thickness, ranging from 4 mil to 40 mil, which translates to 0.1 to 1 millimeter. The thicker the wear layer, the better the overall quality and the longer the flooring will last.

Can vinyl plank flooring be installed under kitchen cabinets? ›

Should you install LVP under cabinets? No, you can't put cabinets on top of a floating vinyl floor. Like other types of floating floors, floating vinyl flooring and LVP should not be installed under cabinets.

What causes vinyl plank flooring to separate? ›

Sunlight & Heat

One of the major causes of buckling in vinyl plank flooring is expansion and contraction of the material. As the material becomes warmer, it can expand slightly, causing the floor to buckle. In the colder weather, the opposite is true and the floor can contract, leaving gaps between two of the tiles.

How do you start the first row of vinyl plank flooring? ›

Lay the first row of vinyl plank flooring along the wall, leaving the manufacturer-recommended amount of expansion space between the plank's edge and the wall (usually about 1/4-inch). If the planks are cut, make sure the cut edge is facing the wall.

Which is better laminate with pad or without? ›

Laminate flooring manufacturers typically recommend an underlayment. What happens if you don't put padding under laminate flooring is moisture coming through the subfloor can cause it to warp and mildew. And footsteps on the floor will be louder.

What should you not do when installing laminate flooring? ›

Common Mistakes When Laying Laminate
  1. Laying laminate floors in the wrong areas. ...
  2. Not sealing your floors against moisture. ...
  3. Not letting your laminate flooring acclimate. ...
  4. Not making sure the floor is level. ...
  5. Not using an underlay. ...
  6. Not using a vapor barrier (where needed) ...
  7. Not leaving room for edge expansion.
2 Nov 2021

Do I need a vapor barrier and underlayment? ›

Very often, particularly in a below-grade installation on a concrete basement floor, a vapor barrier is recommended in addition to the underlayment. That vapor barrier would go between the subfloor and the underlayment.

Can you use Swiffer on vinyl plank? ›

You can use a dry Swiffer mop pad on vinyl plank flooring products. The dry Swiffer is an excellent way to capture dust and pet hair for a thorough clean. If you use a Swiffer WetJet, you'll need to refer to your product's directions and make sure that the product is waterproof.

Can you use Swiffer wet ones on vinyl plank flooring? ›

Swiffer wet cloths are designed to be used on most floor surfaces, such as: vinyl.

Does vinegar ruin vinyl flooring? ›

Like with hardwood floors, vinegar's acidity will take away the shine and sheen of a no-wax floor, such as vinyl and linoleum.

Should I remove baseboards before installing LVP? ›

You may want to purchase some quarter-round pieces in a matching color to cover up this gap. For a better look, however, our experts recommend removing the baseboards prior to laying down new flooring.

Does direction of vinyl plank flooring matter? ›

Flooring is typically installed in the same direction of your leading source of natural light, and the same goes for luxury vinyl. If you have large windows in a living room or an entryway that allows a flood of natural light, then run your planks in the same direction.

Which side of vinyl plank goes against the wall? ›

The tongue is the side that you will want to place against the wall as you start your laminate-flooring installation.

Does SmartCore ultra need underlayment? ›

All SmartCore flooring has an integrated padded bottom layer that acts like underlayment. However, for added soundproofing and thermal insulation, the manufacturer recommends using SmartCore Soft & Sound Underlayment. This product will also provide added protection against moisture and help with leveling subfloors.

Does LVP need underlayment on concrete? ›

Any type of flooring can benefit from an underlayment — even luxury vinyl tile. This holds true no matter what type of subfloor it will be installed on, including concrete, wood flooring, or any other type of flooring. Underlayment can improve the vinyl tile's ability to absorb sound.

Does SmartCore need vapor barrier? ›

READ BEFORE INSTALLING: While SMARTCORE is waterproof, it's not a moisture barrier. It's still a good idea to make sure your concrete is cured and a covered with a minimum 6 mil polyfilm moisture barrier, and, when installing over a raised subfloor, that a moisture barrier is installed in the crawl space.

Which is better SmartCore pro vs SmartCore Ultra? ›

SmartCore Pro and SmartCore Ultra Only Have One Wear Layer Thickness Option. SmartCore Pro only comes with a 12-mil wear layer. and SmartCore Ultra only comes with a 20-mil wear layer. Those are your options, take 'em or leave 'em.

Do you need a moisture barrier under vinyl plank flooring on plywood? ›

For vinyl flooring installations over wood subfloors, you will not need to worry about a moisture barrier, but you may want an underlayment for added cushion or sound reduction. It may also be a requirement in certain HOA or apartment complexes to have a sound barrier with your flooring.

Do you need underlay for self adhesive vinyl planks? ›

Many manufacturers recommend the use of a self-adhesive underlay for laying self-adhesive vinyl floors. The purpose of an adhesive underlay is to make the bond between the subfloor and a self-adhesive vinyl floor even more stable and durable.

Does Pro core flooring need an underlayment? ›

Q: Should or can I use an underlayment with ProCore®? A: It is not required, but permitted, to use an acoustic underlayment for residential applications only.

How thick should your luxury vinyl plank be? ›

The Lowdown on LVP Thickness

The most common thickness of LVP used in common households is 12 mil, but if your household is fairly active, or has a number of pets, a higher thickness is recommended – such as 20 mil. Most thicker planks, such as 28 mil, are used for commercial rather than household installations.

Is cork or foam backing better for vinyl flooring? ›

However, foam does have more give than cork so, while it is the more popular option, we recommend cork. Cork has less give, making it less likely to flex underneath your planks. There are some extra dense grades of foam that can work under wood floors, but they are usually not as durable as cork.

How level does a floor need to be for LVP? ›

If you're installing vinyl planks on top of a concrete floor, the standard tolerance required is for the floor to be level to 3/16” within a 10' radius. It also can't have a dip of ⅛” within 2'. Level means that a floor doesn't slope in any direction. From one end of the room to the other, there is no pitch.

Do you put anything under vinyl flooring? ›

In short, vinyl flooring itself can be completely self sustainable and does not require an underlayment to function properly. Another reason underlayments may be suggested for vinyl flooring is if the vinyl flooring type is thin.

Should underlayment run perpendicular or parallel? ›

Underlayment panels should be installed with the long direction, or strength axis, perpendicular to floor joists, never parallel to the subfloor seams. All panel edges should be staggered at least 2 inches to the subfloor seams for increased stability.

Do I need a vapor barrier between subfloor and underlayment? ›

Very often, particularly in a below-grade installation on a concrete basement floor, a vapor barrier is recommended in addition to the underlayment. That vapor barrier would go between the subfloor and the underlayment.

Should I seal my subfloor before installing vinyl plank flooring? ›

Moisture problems are most prevalent in concrete subfloors, and most of the time, a moisture barrier must be installed before laying the vinyl to prevent floor damage.

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