SmartCore Vinyl Plank Flooring Reviews 2020

Smartcore vinyl plank flooring quality is above average, but not quite premium. The cost is competitive. That combination of higher quality and lower cost gives you good value.

You can expect 8-12 years from the floor, possibly more if it is treated with TLC.

Here are facts about Smartcore: 

  • It is sold exclusively at Lowes
  • Smartcore vinyl plank flooring is manufactured by COREtec, a brand that makes Basic, Better and Best lines (See our COREtec Review for details on this leading brand)
  • Smartcore is graded “Better”
  • Installation can be interlocking/floating or glued down

This Smartcore LVP/LVT flooring review provides in-depth research to assist your buying decision. It includes:

  • Smartcore Vinyl Flooring Reviews of the two lines – Ultra and Pro
  • Summary Table in the Reviews section that allows you to quickly compare your options. We’ve prepared tables for all major brands including Shaw, Mohawk, Armstrong and COREtec.
  • The Features section highlights construction and warranty details that are useful when comparing Smartcore to Armstrong, Mohawk and other top brands.
  • Our Bottom Line evaluation and recommendation for Smartcore LVP/LVT vinyl plank flooring

Smartcore Vinyl Plank Flooring Reviews

There are two lines of Smartcore: Ultra and Pro.

Here’s a bit of technical information about their construction and where they are typically installed.

Smartcore Ultra LVP is called WPC flooring:

  • WPC = wood, polymer core. It is a blend of wood fibers and polymer plastics
  • WPC floors are softer
  • The best use of a WPC floor is residential, but Smartcore Ultra has a 5-year commercial warranty too

Smartcore Pro is called SPC flooring:

  • SPC = stone, polymer core. Crushed limestone is blended with the polymers for strength and rigidity
  • The floors are more rigid and resistant to dents
  • SPC flooring has a 10-year commercial warranty in addition to a lifetime residential warranty

Here is a summary table, with details following:

Line

Thickness (1)

Wear Layer

Cost/sq. ft.

Warranty (2)

Ultra

7.5mm

12 mils

$3.20 - $3.40

Lifetime/5

Pro

6mm

20 mils

$3.50 - $3.65

Lifetime/10

(1) Thickness: This is the total thickness of the plank.

(2) Warranty: The first number is the residential warranty. The second is the commercial warranty.

Cost: The prices shown are just the flooring planks and tiles. Trim and transition strips, if needed, are extra.

Installation: This is DIY-friendly flooring, but if you hire a pro, expect estimates to range from $1.50-$2.75 per square foot for installation. Cost varies based on the complexity of the job and cost of living in your area.

Smartcore Ultra Vinyl Plank Flooring Review

Smartcore Ultra Vinyl Plank Flooring

Best described as midgrade LVP/LVT, Ultra is available in fewer styles than most major brands. But cost is reasonable for vinyl plank flooring of this quality.

The wear layer is 12 mils. 6-12 mils is average for residential-grade vinyl plank flooring.

All styles are 7.5mm thick and have attached pad.

  • Styles: There are about 25 styles. Styles are occasionally added or discontinued. If you’d like more style options but like this type of flooring, see Shaw Floorte and COREtec Plus lines.
  • Types: Most are wood, but you have a handful of stone tile looks too. There’s a good mix of rustic, traditional and contemporary planks and tiles to consider.
  • Colors: Mostly browns in light, medium and dark, but there are a few gray and off-white options.
  • Sizes: Planks are 6”x48”. Tiles are 12”x24”.

Where to Use Smartcore Ultra LVP and LVT

This is a popular choice for homeowners that want good quality at a fair price. Both cheaper and more premium vinyl plank flooring is available.

It is waterproof LVP, so it is suitable for any room or your home and any level, including the basement.

We recommend Smartcore Ultra for residential use if you expect to live in your home for at least 5 years. That’s how you’ll get the best value from your investment. If moving soon, then cheaper LVP is a more cost-effective choice.

Smartcore Pro Vinyl Plank Flooring Review

Smartcore Pro Vinyl Plank Flooring

This is slightly thinner (6mm) but tougher LVP due to the rigid stone and polymer core. It has a 20 mils wear layer, which is about average for commercial-grade LVP.

Pad is attached.

Smartcore Pro is waterproof and suited to wet areas in homes and commercial buildings.

  • Styles: About 15.
  • Types: Wood only. Most have a rustic appearance – weathered wood, wide, open graining and similar traits. There are a handful of traditional hardwood floor looks too.
  • Colors: There are choices in light, medium and dark ranges. Some styles include multiple colors, a style called multi-tonal.
  • Sizes: Planks are 7”x48”.

Where to Use Smartcore Pro LVP

It’s backed by a lifetime residential warranty, so putting it in your home is an option.

However, since it is harder, many homeowners use throw rugs where they commonly stand or in front of couches and easy chairs.

The ideal setting is a commercial building. It has a 10-year commercial warranty.

Smartcore suggests Retail (Shops, salons, showrooms), Medical (waiting/patient rooms, hallways), Hotels (guest rooms, lobby), Offices & Restaurants and Institutional (classrooms, training rooms, residence halls).

Special Features of Smartcore Vinyl Plank Flooring

These are notable features, though not all are unique to Smartcore.

Waterproof Construction – with a Recommendation

Even the WPC – wood/polymer core – is labeled waterproof because it is fully encased in vinyl.

However, if floors are consistently wet, then we recommend Smartcore Pro with the stone/polymer core.

Attached Pad

These days, most LVP and LVT comes with attached pad. This slightly raises product cost, but lowers installation cost by reducing a step.

Float it or Glue it

The tongue & groove interlocking construction creates a floating floor.

However, once interlocked, the flooring can be glued down too. When would you glue a floor?

  • Stairs: Flooring on stairs should be glued for safety.
  • Large floors: Areas of open flooring – especially in commercial settings – should be glued for stability.
  • Sun: Areas of flooring in direct sunlight should be glued, because the heat can cause floating floors to expand and come apart

Wear Layers

  • The Smartcore Ultra has a 12-mil acrylic wear layer.
  • The Smartcore Pro has a 20-mil urethane wear layer that is reinforced with ceramic.

We mention these for comparison as you research other brands.

The Pro wear layer is thicker and tougher, a better choice in commercial settings and in homes with big dogs and where shoes are worn indoors.

Most Subfloors and No Telegraphing

Smartcore vinyl plank flooring can be installed over wood, concrete and tile with the proper preparation (see the Installation Guide for your flooring type).

Both Ultra and Pro are rigid enough to prevent slight imperfections and tile grout lines from showing through the flooring, a problem called telegraphing.

Low-VOC Floors

VOCs, or volatile organic compounds, are a significant source of indoor air pollution when they leach from building materials.

Smartcore Ultra and Pro are both certified GreenGuard Gold as low-VOC products, which means, “this flooring meets stringent indoor air quality emissions criteria.”

Smartcore Vinyl Plank Flooring Pros, Cons and Ratings

As we’ve said, this is a COREtec brand in the cheap to midgrade range.

Pros:

Both WPC and SPC cores are available. Both offer a lifetime residential warranty. Selection is fair to good. Quality is excellent.

Cons:

Cost is higher than for comparable flooring.

Ratings: 

  • Range of color/style options: 4
  • Quality: 4
  • Ease of installation: 5
  • Green/Low-VOC: 4
  • Overall Rating: 4.25 out of 5

Looking for Qualified Installer for Smartcore Flooring?

Some readers complained that they cound't find the local installers or overpaid the installation. Then we developed an online free estimate tool to help you get at least 3 local bids in 24 hours. 

This tool is powered by our partner Networx which has been specializing in collecting, vetting and rating vinyl flooring contractors for more than 20 years.

Comparing the 3 bids can help you get the reasonable installation cost and avoid getting ripped.

The Bottom Line

Smartcore, made by COREtec, offers quality that is better than average, though not the best. It’s one of the better options in the mid-priced range.

Selection is only so-so, at it is sold only at Lowes.

Here’s what we recommend:

If you’ve had good experiences with Lowes (or at least not bad experiences), take a look at the selection. Start online, and if a few options get your attention, go to a Lowes to see and feel the planks in person.

If you like the flooring but can’t find a color/style you want, then look at COREtec, since Smartcore is COREtec flooring by another name. View the much larger COREtec selection online, and then find a local store using the Store Locator to see it in person.

Another option is to browse Shaw, since Shaw is the owner/manufacturer of COREtec and Smartcore. Shaw Floorte is comparable to Smartcore Ultra. Shaw Floorte Pro is comparable to Smartcore Pro, and the Shaw selection is much larger. 

FAQ

Q: Can you install SmartCore vinyl plank flooring over ceramic or porcelain tile?

A: It’s not a problem as long as the tile is firmly attached to your subfloor, clean, and level.

Q: Is SmartCore available anywhere else but Lowes?

A: No. At this time, Lowe’s is the only store online or locally where you can purchase SmartCore luxury vinyl flooring.

Q: How is the pattern repetition with SmartCore Ultra?

A: The company has 6 repeated patterns for this collection.

Q: Can you cut SmartCore with a razor knife?

A: While it’s possible, it’s not advised as some forms of this flooring are quite thick, and you’ll need to take padding into account as well. A circular saw is often the cheapest and best alternative to a razor knife.

Q: Can SmartCore be installed under kitchen cabinets?

A: Shaw recommends using T-180 glue if you have to install SmartCore flooring underneath kitchen or bathroom cabinets.

Q: Are SmarCore vinyl tile or flooring planks rated for use with wall installations?

A: At this time, the company doesn’t have any vinyl flooring that has been tested or rated for installation on walls.

Q: Where is SmartCore made and manufactured?

A:  SmartCore luxury vinyl planks and tile are currently made in China.

Q: Will pet urine stain my vinyl flooring?

A:  Luxury vinyl is resistant to water and highly resilient against stains, including pet urine. That being said, you need to clean up pet urine promptly, or it could have an effect on the color of your flooring over time. 

Q: Can I use a steam cleaner on SmartCore luxury vinyl tile or planks?

A: No, it’s not advised, and it could void your warranty.

Q: Is there a period of acclimation required before installing SmartCore vinyl flooring?

A: SmartCoreUltra does not need to acclimate before installation.

Q: What are the tolerances required for installation if your subfloor isn’t completely level?

A: You need to ensure any subflooring is within 1/8” every 6’ or at 3/16” for 10’ spans. If your subfloor doesn’t need those standards, you’ll need to use a leveling compound to bring your subfloor within the recommended tolerances for a proper installation.

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.

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