LVP (Luxury Vinyl Plank) flooring is one of the best choices of plank flooring available on the market today, and SmartCore LVP is one of the highest quality flooring options you can get.
Although it is not perfectly suited to every home, it may be an ideal solution to your home.
Today we want to take a closer look at the brand and will help you decide if your next floor-based home investment will be including SmartCore LVP.
SmartCore Admirable Features
There are plenty of benefits and features of LVP flooring, we have picked out the best of the best to show you right here.
- You can install SmartCore easily yourself, with its interlocking planks it can make it very easy to perform a self-installation.
- They are cheap for high-quality and can be easily afforded, even on a budget.
- SmartCore is available at every Lowe’s around the country.
- The planks come with underlayment attached and included for ultimate ease.
- SmartCore LVP has 4 styles to choose from each with its unique colors and patterns.
- It is 100% waterproof, so is still installable in wet areas of the home, meaning it is suitable for bathrooms, washrooms, and basements.
SmartCore Flooring Expectations
The SmartCore flooring company began in 2013, as a part of COREtec, a brand by USFloors. Now as it is a part of the larger family, this vinyl has seen a vast increase in production and sales popularity. Since 2017, Shaw flooring purchased USFloors and then further improved its quality.
The primary reason for their popularity is their high-quality standards. SmartCore is a budget brand, making them thinner and less durable than other names inside the brand, such as COREtec and Shaw. This being said, some of the technologies from these high-quality brands are now used in SmartCore designs.
When you buy SmartCore you also get their colors, thickness, and style, as well as the COREtec layer system and the Shaw wear layer too. Though it is not as high in quality as the other two are, it is still a vast improvement from what it used to be.
You have four style options to choose from; Base, Pro, Ultra, and Naturals, you have a selection, good price, and functionality It is an ideal choice for those who have less space to cover, or for those on a tighter budget.
These planks have aesthetics, as well as excellent wear and a great warranty available. When compared by some o the flooring leaders in the industry, you will see where these planks lack But on their own and when installed in your home, it is ideal for many.
The SmartCore planks, like many others, are composed of four layers. Each layer plays an important role in the overall construction, aesthetics, and durability.
You get a choice of four style options and the main difference in these four will be the wear layer or the core layer. Let’s have a look at what this means.
The top layer, and the main part of the floor that you will see when you are walking on it, is the wear layer. This is the layer that you interact with, you walk on it.
With SmartCore, this layer is between 2-5 millimeters thick and it offers scratch protection, keeping the lower layers protected.
Each plank is water-resistant, many being waterproof on their own. It is this layer that offers the majority of moisture protection once the installation is completed.
Forming a watertight seal over the planks, and assisting in reducing the width between the planks where dust, dirt, and debris could collect.
Beneath the wear layer, you have the image layer, which kind of speaks for itself. This is the aesthetic, the photo-realistic layer.
This is a very thin layer and is nothing more than a strip of vinyl with a picture on it. Most of the images are wood grain, but you can also get options in stone, slate, and travertine.
This is the layer that gives the planks their wood-appearance, or stone, whatever you choose. It is imperative when you install that you pull planks at random from the boxes that you have purchased.
Each box will have more or less ink distribution in the images, and when you install it correctly, this can offer a more natural-looking wood appearance with slight color variations through the floor.
The backbone of your planks is in the core layer, it is where the magic happens. You can find two options for the core material.
The most common is wood-plastic, which is also known as WPC, which is a wood pulp, bamboo dust, and PVC plastic composite, that offers strength and durability. This is a very popular option.
In the SmartCore Pro line, you can find the stone-plastic core, also known as SPC. This is a composite made from ground stone. Pulp. bamboo dust and PVC. This option is more durable than WPC and is also more rigid. It offers a longer life too.
The only downside of this plank is that it is not as forgiving underfoot, which makes more a solid and hard walking surface which is not exactly what you want if you intend to walk barefoot on it regularly.
One thing worth noting is that COREtec planks use a patented COREtec WPC extruded wood core technology. This is not used in SmartCore, as it would add additional costs and would make SmartCore more expensive, which is against the goal of this make.
Finally, we have the bottom layer, this is the underlayer and is usually cork or some other rubber-based material. With SmartCore there are two base layer options available.
The first option is an enhanced acoustical pad, this is a redesign from the Shaw brand underlayment. This adds extra softness to the plank and helps to absorb more sound. This, much like the SPC core, is found primarily on the Pro line. It assists in offsetting the stiffness of an SPC.
The other option you can get is called the ‘UltraSoft’ underlayment. This does absorb some sounds but is not as talented at this as the acoustical pad.
Instead of this, it offers a flooring plank that feels soft underfoot, providing an almost spongey feeling. The planks will sink and rise, similar to what you might feel with a memory foam mattress, in a way.
On the Ultra line, the UltraSoft underlayment provides comfort and warmth to an otherwise hard and cold, somewhat unhomely flooring option.
Installation of SmartCore
Installing LVP is one of the easier DIY flooring options you can do. Although, it is not for everyone.
Not every person will be excited to take on a floor installation, even if it is super simple. Sometimes you do not want to be crawling around on the floor for some hours.
In instances where you do not want to install it DIY, you can hire a professional to do the installation for you. Before doing this you should get a minimum of three quotes, keeping a few things in mind if you do choose to do this though.
Many quotes will include the price of materials, so you should make sure that if you have already purchased your LVP, that this is reflected in the quote you get.
You also need to remember that many contractors will also include the cost of clean-up in the overall quote. While this is ideal it does mean that some of them can take the remaining materials.
So if you have boxes of LVP leftover, you will need to keep them, make sure that this is clear when you go through your quote.
If you decide to install the planks yourself and DIY the job, then there are a few methods you can use. It is best to take it slow, take your time with it, and do it row by row.
We’ve created a brief overview of the basic process to help you know what a DIY LVP installation with SmartCore entails.
- First of all, you need to acclimate the planks to the room that you will be installing them in. To do this, you need to place the boxes in the empty room for at least 24 hours before you install them.
- Clean the flooring and remove any trim molding, baseboards, or other items that may interfere with your installation.
- Mark your flooring with a chalk line, you will need to find the middle point of the longest wall, and move ⅛ to ¼ inch away from the wall, then mark the spot. From this spot, you should run your chalk line to the ends of the room.
- When chalking, you want to mark away from the wall, as this will help to prevent installation along a line with a warped wall. You should also allow space for expansion once the installation is completed.
- Pull planks from alternating boxes at random to get a good mix of image layer coloring so that our floor looks more natural.
- The most important row is the first. You want to cut the first plank to be at least six inches shorter. Doing this will help to maintain the offset in the future rows you lay. Follow your chalk line and keep the edge lined up with your markings.
- Each row should remain to be six inches offset so that the end joints do not line up with other rows. Continue to lock the planks together with each row until you reach the final row.
- To get the final row into place, they will need to bend and twist, this is not difficult though. You need to ensure all pieces are locked together, using a mallet or even a hammer to do so.
- SmartCore planks need about 15-24 hours to expand after the installation is completed. Once the installation is done and you have removed any spacers that you placed along the walls, leave the room and avoid walking on it for at least a full day (24 hours).
- Once the waiting period is over you can then move your furniture back into the room and start to enjoy your new floor.
It is just that simple.
Care and Maintenance
Once you have completed your installation you will need to regularly clean and inspect your flooring, which is pretty simple.
Like any flooring, you should clean up spills or messes as soon as they happen. Although LVP flooring is stain-resistant and waterproof, it will not last forever.
If spills, colored liquid, mid, or chemicals get onto the floor and sit there for a while, you are just opening up a door to possible issues in the future. Which is best avoided.
Aside from cleaning up random messes, you should also maintain a regular cleaning habit, this should mainly consist of sweeping or vacuuming, much like many other hard floors.
If you decide to vacuum, then you should ensure that your vacuum cleaner does not have a rotating brush, if it does you should make sure that the rotating brush roller can be turned off.
This is because brush rollers can scratch at the wear layer and this will leave your planks looking dingy or marred. You should also consider that from time to time you should also mop your LVP floor.
While you can use specialized vinyl cleaning chemicals to mop your floor, warm water does the job just as all. You also do not need to wax or polish the planks to clean them. Warm water will remove dirt and debris which should leave your planks looking new each time without any extra hassle.
While you carry out your clean you should inspect the planks, ensuring that they are seated and sealed correctly, double-check for warping or bowing. If you do notice any planks that are peeling up, warping, or bowing, then these will need replacing.
Smartcore planks do not have a thick enough wear layer to allow for sanding or repairing. So, instead broken planks will need to be pulled up and replaced, which can be very daunting, especially if the damaged plank is in the center of the room. This is why it is good to complete regular cleans and care, to best avoid this issue.
Pricing and Warranty
SmartCore planks are sold by the square foot. So, each style you can get will come in a box that has approximately 18-24 square feet of coverage.
Once you have measured your space you will need to find the style that you prefer, then find out how many boxes you need.
Based on general averages of brand widths, weights, and room sizes, a standard home replacing an entire floor space will need around 75 boxes or 1400 square feet. SmartCore planks tend to average between $2.50 and $4 per square foot.
Then when it comes to warranty, SmartCore offers a limited lifetime warranty for residential/ home installations. However, be sure to read the agreement so that you know what is covered and when certain parts of the coverage may stop.
As an example, manufacturing defects, cracks, or other possible functional issues are covered for 90 days, or up until the installation.
A vast majority of the warranty will cover normal wear and tear. It is also important to remember that if planks are installed in a commercial setting, that is considered light traffic, not mild or heavy footfall environments then the warranty period will only be for five years.
SmartCore Vs Competitors
There are plenty of options for you when it comes to LVP besides SmartCore. There are plenty of brands out there that have their pros and cons.
Let’s take some time to have a look into the aspects of these most popular brands of LVP flooring.
The biggest competitor for SmartCore is LifeProof. It is also a big box retailer exclusive. Instead of Lowe’s, LifeProof is found at Home Depot.
Both LifeProof and SmartCore offer a range of colors, thicknesses, and styles. Both are also 100% waterproof and offer a lifetime warranty.
The biggest difference between these two brands is in the choices of core and premium options. SmartCore is slightly more expensive but has a much better underlayment and a stronger core. Yet, both of these brands offer professional installation through their sellers.
One thing that is notable about LifeProof is that not all of their styles are available in every region. Home Depot limits which styles are available for online purchasing as well, so to get the widest selection it is best to physically go in-store.
SmartCore also has a limit in their online availability, that being said, they make up for this as they offering shipping to your home of any of their styles that they stock locally.
When it comes to the best of the best, the LVP leader is generally Shaw. Since Shaw now owns USFloors, they also own SmartCore, and there have been several designs for SmartCore that have benefitted from this.
However, Shaw still saves the best for themselves. They are not usually marketed to budget-friendly customers, and they do have some rather pricy planks. But, you must remember, you get what you pay for.
Shaw has some of the thickest millimeter planks with incredible wear protection, scratch resistance, and waterproofing. Their SPC and WPC cores have even more strength and durability than SmartCore which allows Shaw to have longer and better commercial warranties.
They have a large selection of colors, styles, and brand-lines than what you will find with the more limited SmartCore brand. If you are not tight on your budget and want the best of the best then Shaw is the choice for you.
However, if not, SmartCore does use a lot of Shaw technology and does therefore have a more durable plank thanks to this.
Karndean is not often spoken of, but it probably should be. LVP by Karndean is a very elegant solution that offers some of the best and more realistic photo layers of all.
They do also have textured wear layers on some of their models that fully mimic hardwood flooring.
One of their greatest reasons they are so loved is that they offer loos-lay installation. Which takes easy DIY LVP installation and makes it even easier, which we thought impossible until now. With loos-lay, there are no interlocking pieces, instead, each plank has a rubber padded footing.
This means you just plank the planks on the floor and gently tap them together, The rubber backing they have offers sound dampening, slip resistance, and completely avoids the need to use grooved locking planks.
Much like SmartCore, Karndean also offers tongue and groove planks as well. They do offer more style options than SmartCore and also have a lifetime warranty on all styles that do not pro-rate over time. They are much more expensive though and for larger projects, the costs can get rather high.
SmartCore: The Best Bits
- Offers simple and quick DIY installations.
- Available on Lowe’s website, or inside any Lowe’s store countrywide.
- Comes with a lifetime residential warranty.
- 100% waterproof design so is suitable for installations in any room of your home.
- All of the planks have an underlayment attached for both comfort and sound absorption.
SmartCore: The Downfall
- There is no antimicrobial layer, a feature you may find in some other brands
- The warranty drops to a smaller 5-years when performing a light commercial installation.
- Higher in cost compared to other brands in a similar quality range.
- Repairs are next to impossible, if planks get damaged you will have to replace the whole plank.
SmartCore is an excellent choice if you are on a budget. They offer several styles and a variety of lines to choose from. You are sure to find the look for you.
We hope that this has given you all the information that you seek on SmartCore LVP flooring and which is the best for you, SmartCore or otherwise.
How long will SmartCore LVP last?
SmartCore LVP is designed for residential installation. Once it is correctly installed and maintained well, with regular and satisfactory cleans they can last a couple of decades.
A majority of SmartCore planks will usually maintain their beautiful appearance and stellar functionality for 20 years, sometimes more.
Can you install SmartCore in the kitchen or bathroom?
SmartCore LVP is 100% waterproof, so you can install the planks in any room of your home, including wet areas such as a bathroom, kitchen, or washroom.
Depending on the location of your room, if it is subterranean, above ground, or on the second floor, you may find there will be a variation in its durability.
If you place large and heavy items on top of the flooring you may also find that it may crack or bow.