Smartcore luxury vinyl plank review

Smartcore Ultra Vinyl Plank Flooring Review

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.


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.

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.

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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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.

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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.

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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Jennifer Lester

About Jennifer Lester

Jennifer Lester is a freelance writer, blogger, and home improvement finatic. She loves to write about things that will transform your house into your dream home. Jennifer is a graduate of Texas A&M University. LinkedIn.

64 thoughts on “Smartcore Ultra Vinyl Plank Flooring Review”

  1. LOWES. My brother and myself have installed numerous vinyl floors in the past and have been very successful in doing so. Unfortunately, this particular flooring is defective. There are numerous issues that I will list.

    #1 The ends of the flooring will not snap together because the groove on the bottom side is cut down too low, this allows the flooring to not snap in and hold like it should. This creates a problem mostly because while laying the floor down as you go the others come apart and you have to go back and re-work. Once you have it down and move on it, it will stay together but only after numerous times, it is still not locked in but will stay down due to the other planks holding it.

    #2 The LOWES employee said they had just lost a $25k job due to the flooring being an issue. Apparently some of this flooring is made in the USA, some is made in China, they mix these products and they do not match up. I will add a picture of the boxes to show you. Not only do they not match up but if you try to get them to you will damage the ends so they won’t even go together, and if you do get some of them together they are a different height.

    #3 The backing is different on each one, it does not even look the same which is why the height is off between the two. LOWES has acknowledged this as an issue and is currently sending all of this product back. The company is also recognizing this as an issue and has already made a replacement for this particular style of vinyl. The vinyl I purchased has a rubber backing and also some type of white material in between the vinyl and rubber backing. This white material is very weak and unfortunately is what is supposed to lock the planks together.

    Notice in the picture that the numbers are different, same flooring just different manufacturing codes based on where it is made. If I had a picture of the whole box you would see they are identical otherwise.

  2. Has anyone had problems with appliances denting the flooring? I am worried about my refrigerator making marks when we move it.

    1. As with any heavy object on any floor except cement, to be safe, I place a 1/2″ sheet of plywood down on top of the floor I wish to move any heavy object on.

  3. Can this be used in a 3 season room where it is unheated in the winter (Northeast Pennsylvania)? There is a sturdy plywood subfloor in place. But no heat in the winter.

  4. Had my Smartcore Ultra installed last April (2018), and it’s now Sept, by my Handyman. Put it in kitchen, office, hallways & bathrooms. New carpet in living room and bedrooms.

    Absolutely love it. Do use vinegar and water. Occasionally a mild solution of Dawn and water for greasy spots near the stove. Then rinse with vinegar & water.

    There were samples at our Lowes in Reno. If not available just buy one box of Smartcore ultra and lay it down for a few days. Unpack/repack carefully and they will take it back.

    Chose the “Ultra” because it has the cushy underlayment attached, so one less step for the installer.

    We floated the product over 12×12 tiles. Did not need to fill in where there was recessed grouting. Didn’t remove the molding but instead added some small finishing molding to give it an “exceptional“ look.

    I had taken home some samples to test for waterproofing. I submerged the samples in water for a week. Came out like new and the backing was still attached.

    Sometimes do wish there was a product to add a little more shine. However, didn’t really want a high shine anyway.

    Have moved tables, desk, chairs with no scratch marks. Before buying it I tried scratching samples with sharp objects and was very pleased it remained unmarred.

    Absolutely love my new floors!

      1. Wood. I have dogs and the clippity clap of their nails sounds the same as on my hardwood kitchen floor. I just had this installed a week ago and it is very nice. It brought a nice new look to my living room. I really like it.

  5. We just completed the installation of Smartcore Ultra Woodford Oak in my craft room, and I love it! This is the third “snap and click” laminate floor we have installed, and it was by far the easiest and best fitting. The room is large, approximately 15′ x 18′ with two alcoves and a closet. We estimated we would need 19 boxes, bought 20 just to be sure, and used only 18. We were very careful to use every cut piece we could and ended up with very few scraps. The colors vary quite a bit by box, so be sure to open several boxes and select the variation you want before you start laying it. We installed in a basement room on concrete.. There were a few areas that weren’t exactly smooth, but this material covers a lot of flaws. It took two for us almost two days, but we are very meticulous and slow! It feels so smooth and the cushioning is quite noticeable. I can’t wait to get the baseboards installed and move in! Hoping the wear and stability is as impressive after some use as it appears now.

    1. Thank you for your input – I see some pictures show some very dark planks (woodford oak). Did you find those in various boxes and pull them out? We just ordered 35. Having someone install but think will take your suggestion of going through the boxes “Very carefully” before they arrive.

  6. So here it is approaching the end of Aug ’18 and I’m seriously trying to decide if SmartCore is the product for me. I live in a townhome on a cement slab and currently have ugly, cheap laminate in kitchen and equally ugly carpeting elsewhere. I’d like to use this product throughout, including bathrooms. I have no pets and the only young kids are grandkids visits. I do NOT want the maintenance or caution needed for hardwood. I’d like to carry this thru the upstairs as well. Has anyone used this on stairs? Thank you!

  7. I just spent 6 hours at Lowe’s and Home Depot looking at LPV, I’ve already read “Rob’s” 7 pitfalls to avoid with vinyl plank floors. This review of Smartcore Ultra is very disappointing. All it does is explain the features of Smartcore (it doesn’t even tell you what the difference is between the new “Ultra” line and the regular Smartcore line–I”ll tell you what it is: the Ultra is 7mm thick, and the regular is 5mm thick). Please, I’m looking for a review that goes beyond what I can find out for myself by reading the label and company literature. I want a real review by someone who has extensive experience in flooring and has installed both the Smartcore regular and ULTRA floors (for comparison) and has seen how well it wears after a year or two.

    1. Floor Critics

      Hi! Thanks for your critique! We aim to deliver unbiased reviews on popular flooring options by investing time analyzing and assessing company literature, available consumer and expert reviews, and any/all research we can find on a given brand/flooring line/option. This high-level, research-based approach helps us provide helpful info & curated opinions for the vast array of flooring options available to shoppers – rather than just a small handful if we were to personally install each and every flooring line ourselves. In tandem with our reviews and research, we encourage Floor Critics visitors to post their direct experiences with products & brands in each guide’s comment section.

  8. Carol Lee McDonough

    Can I use Vinegar/water mix on this Smart Core flooring that I have in place? Can Lestoil be used? Any other products that can safely be used? I love my flooring but need help on cleaning products…I do not have a Shark.

  9. Can you use Armstrong Shine product for vinyl floors on the smart core ultra floors? I really do not like the dull look and showing of footprints. I hope I did not make a mistake in picking this flooring as they just finished laying it and some porcelain tile yesterday. I have bad back problems and need the easiest way to maintain this floor. The best mop for the most coverage at once, the products and any other info. I really want it to shine. If you cannot use anything on it but white vinegar and water to clean, can you use a floor buffer to shine? I need to clean ASAP as they are bringing my new living room furniture in the morning. Thank you.

  10. Lowes installers indicate they need to apply a leveling compount to the concrete floor in my basement to install the smartcore plus planks. But the floor does not appear to be uneven. Is a leveling compount usually required on concrete?

    1. Yes if floors are uneven they should be skim coated with a cement based underlayment. Although I doubt a Lowe’s installer has the knowledge or skill set to do this. Their installers are HORRIBLE. I’ve fixed more Lowe’s installs than everyone else. 2. Home Depot 3. Smart carpet 4. Empire 5 . Worldwide

  11. Has anyone used a table saw for length and / or width cuts? If so, what blade? And was cutting face up or down best? Thanks

    1. I used a table saw to do a long rip cut and the short cuts as well. I used a basic blade I’d use to cut any wood; didn’t change the blade we were cutting 2x4s with. This stuff cuts like wood. Since I was borrowing my neighbor’s table saw, I bought a good orbital\bevel cutting (bevel cuts for the baseboards) jigsaw that I am going to use on my next project so I can make all my cuts upstairs without the huge mess of a table saw and having to go downstairs and outside and make every cut. A pro may have better suggestions, but mine work quick, easy and well. 🙂

  12. Just had an installation of the smart core product and would like to get in touch with the manufacturer representative. I am not satisfied with the installation and Lowes simply is sending out the installation company, All American Floors located here in the gulf coast of Mississippi. I feel the installation company will not give be an unbiased report.

    1. Frustrated Customer

      I too have had the smartcore installed over engineered wood and tile. After two weeks the smartcore ultra planks started coming up.

      Lowes states it is due to moisture that is trapped between the wood floor and the planks. I had no problem or ripples in wood before planks were put down. The local Lowes wants to charge me to take up both the engineered wood and tile and put the same smartcore planks that were originally on the floor. I was charged $8000 and they want to charge me another $8000 to take up and put back down. Beware of Lowes, they DO NOT stand behind their products.

  13. Is the flooring so waterproof that it can survive 3 weeks of about 3 inches of standing groundwater in the basement? If it can, are there any more products on the market that are reasonably priced that also could?

  14. Is there any way to get samples of any Smartcore luxury vinyl? (Tiles would be great). Chatting with Lowe’s, they say no samples are available.

    1. Karla DeSutter

      The sample we looked at in Lowe’s had a shiny finish, but when we had it installed in the kitchen and great room of our under construction new home the finish is very dull. Is there a product to use to make it shine?

    2. I used it in my kitchen and just butted it up against the cabinets, but I put the fridge on top of it. I really love this flooring. I used it in my bathroom too. One thing not mentioned in the review is that It feels great underfoot.

    1. It’s scratch resistant. The salesperson scratched a sample with a key and it didn’t show any scratches.

    2. Karen & Fur Kids

      I have a diabetic toy poodle, 1 DSH cat, 1 Mainecoon cat, and 2 “guest” cats–1 MDSH & 1 Mainecoon. My floor was “baptized” even before I finished installing it. So, yes it does stand up well to pets. The Lexington Oak will not cloak any sins–Shedding etc. does show, but it shows on carpet too. Fortunately, I think the clean up will prove easier.

  15. Phil Renfroe

    I represent Lowe’s in sales and recently sold Smartcore flooring to one of my customers. He found after the fact, while installing the flooring that some of the product (marked on the boxes) were manufactured in China and others were manufactured in USA with both US and imported materials. We called US Floors to try and get any information about the differences in the products from a manufacturing perspective. Seemed like a good question, since the backing on the product looks very different. No one was able to answer the question and simply stated that if they had issues, they could file a claim. My customer was so dissatisfied with their lack of concern regarding his question, that he is returning 200 sq. ft. he has already installed and canceling an order for 66 more boxes. Has any one used the “made in USA” product and what were the results? The “made in China” product appears to be a better product and my customer has used it successfully in numerous rental properties.

    1. Same thing here, did you ever get a resolve on the backing being different on the US made version? The China product does look better.

      1. Karen & Fur Kids

        From what I’ve gathered the “China” product is another, newer product, that is a vinyl blended with bamboo which is fabricated in China. It is also a higher price-point than the US manufactured Smartcore Ultra.

    2. Today was day one of our installation of this product, and our contractor thankfully noticed the difference between the US manufactured and China manufactured planks, even though the boxes, item numbers, etc. are exactly the same. It’s not just the backings that are different. Thus US manufactured planks also appear sloppily made. There are many planks with paint overspray on the edges, foam bottom, and even on top.

      The China manufactured planks are much better! We informed our Lowes and they are supposed to look into it and call us back. But in the meantime we are one third of the way through our flooring installation. This is a HUGE inconvenience! We really like how the China manufactured flooring is looking so far though.

  16. Looking at installing Smartcore Savannah Oak for new flooring throughout house. Is anyone aware of or have experience where T moldings should be placed due to maximum room lengths, transitions to hallways, etc.? The longest dimension will be approximately 60’ because we will be going through different rooms in an open floor plan type layout and will also be going into hallways at right angles to main floor area. I want to make sure I don’t end up with buckling/separations.
    Thanks for your help

  17. I need help. I purchased SmartCore flooring and love it. My problem is how to clean it. I vacuum to clean up loose dirt but cannot find any recommendations on a liquid cleaner. My contractor said that I should not use a product with soap in it as it would leave a film on the vinyl. Please help by recommending a cleaning product or the best way to keep my beautiful floor beautiful.

      1. I would recommend vinegar and water, probably your safest bet, but the seam mops are good too and just use water. That is what I use and it works just fine.

  18. Has anyone installed the ultra floor in an unheated summer home, where temps are below 32 in the winter? Get any separation?

    1. Chuck, has anyone answered you? We want to install in our enclosed patio and was wondering…thank you, JoAnn.

    2. Don’t use smartcore on a wooden floor home if you live where it stays hot outside. This is my third time pulling these floors out of my house. I did everything they told me, and I’m still sweating under the floors causing mold.

  19. We put this flooring down in our wash room and we love it. It was pretty easy to install after we got the hang of it and got in a grove with it. It looks great and we love the feel of it. We will be putting it through out the rest of the house!

    1. I would also like to know about this. I need a flooring for a basement that gets occasional groundwater and do not want to waste money on flooring that would need to be replaced. I just want one that could dry out left in place.

  20. I purchased the rustic hickory smartcore flooring. I have found it not to be as easy to install as the videos state. There was an bump in the foundation and it is causing problems getting the flooring to stay together. I’m no pro but this is harder to do and has taken two weekends and I’m still not finished.

    1. brad auberger

      I agree – just finished whole first floor 65 boxes. Patience is needed and not “simple” to attach. Most videos show a plank being put down and whacked with a mallet. This is not even close on how to put together. I am finished and they do look good.

      TOOLS NEEDED ARE TAPPING BLOCK AND A TOOL THAT I CAN’T REMEMBER THE NAME OF. IT’S ABOUT 10 INCHES LONG —‘PULL BACK,” MAYBE? Same section as tapping block at Lowes — right next to it in flooring dept. Also buy the mallet with black rubber on one side (soft-and white on other (hard).

      When tapping, tap the edge of flooring as to not damage the latching piece. Last piece of advice: always check a couple rows behind you as you progress and make sure there is no disconnection. You will know if it disconnected if you can see a white line between planks.

    2. Got this same exact from Lowes. Installers are here to install. Too much of it is defective. Stopped laying. I am not happy, obviously. Smartcore did a bad job of making this batch. If it is all like this, we will not be getting anymore! So, buyer beware!

  21. For my old-fashioned look bathroom (clawfoot tub, etc.) I want to have Smartcore 12″ x 24″ tiles. I don’t want wood-look and I don’t want planks. How can I get the tiles? I just did an online chat with a Lowe’s representative and she didn’t seem to have tiles to offer. I am in Pittsburgh, PA. thanks!

    1. My experience has been that the online chat representatives are not necessarily well informed. Go online and simply add the items you want to your cart and checkout – most likely using option “ship to store” for pickup by you. In this case I would order 1 box only for my inspection purposes and to see what a 15 sf area of flooring would look like. You can return to store if you don’t like it, or simply order quantity needed for your project.

  22. I had read this blog and was impressed with the review. However, after reading this I chatted with lowes online with a question. The agent referred me to this site, so it makes me wonder if all the info from the blog is just an advertisement for smartcore. Unsure if I want to purchase now!

    1. Floor Critics

      Hi Jayne! Thanks for visiting Floor Critics & checking out our work! Our writing team researches & produces their content independent of any influence from 3rd party companies. That includes this article, so rest assured – Smartcore did not pay us to write this review. 🙂

      1. LOL

        Lowe’s, Home Depot, Floor and Decor, AND lumber Liquidators all had staff that recommended this site to me for research… I had already found it but it made me think well of the staff I have dealt with at all stores….

        No decision yet. I love the Armstrong Pryzm but not the price point…. I’ll be visiting here regularly til we’re done. Thank you for such an informative website!


  23. Does VOC emissions from vinyl flooring refer mainly to formaldehyde, or something else?

    Consumer Reports says the federal formaldehyde emission rate should be established at 2 micrograms per square meter per hour, instead of the 9 micrograms per square meter per hour, used by Certification labels Greenguard Gold and FloorScore.

  24. I live in London Ontario Canada and have a 11 ft by 15 ft wooden Deck approx 8 ft above the ground. My contractor is putting a roof over it that attaches to my house and extends approx 1 ft over the end of the deck. Also, he is installing a screen on the three sides and is covering the existing flooring with 5/8 interlocking plywood. The deck will get wet in heavy thunderstorms and in the winter will be subject to freezing weather. I would like to cover the floor with Smartcore Ultra vinyl planking. What do you think? Thanks.

  25. I just purchased 200+ square feet to redo my daughters room. So far, the hardest part has been removing all the raised nail heads, tack boards, baseboards and screwing down the plywood so it won’t squeak.

    Laying out the pattern and seeing where you end up at the opposite wall is important. You don’t want a few inches gaps but larger (8 inches or more) are fine. These can be filled with cut pieces later.

    This floor will flow into the bathroom and out into the hall, so spacing is important. Eventually the entire upper floor will be done with the Smartcore Tahitian Walnut planks.

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