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Has anyone used Smartcore Floors from Lowes

amoore1205
January 20, 2015

Hi, we're looking for something that we can put over ceramic tile in a rental property. The smartcore flooring from Lowes is advertise to lay over existing flooring. Has anyone used this product?

Thank you!

Comments (159)

  • ikeda1571

    We are installing Smartcore flooring over our basement floor after water damage resulted in removal of the carpeting. We chose Rustic Hickory, and while very pretty, many of the planks are popping up after being smapped together. Some of the connecting mechanisms break off, and we are having to glue down pieces to hold the floor in place. The cement floor is relatively smooth and even. We are using this flooring because it should be resistant to water damage. Would not recommend this product....unfortunately, we were in a situation where we needed to do something quickly and had little time to research. Another negative is that the floor must be installed from left to right, however a narrow hallway/laundry area is left of the main room, and carrying the floor from that main room into the laundry area forced us to install from right to left....awkward, indeed. Lowes was a convenient place to shop, so we had few options. Do your homework!

  • annemc00

    Hi! So many great comments on this site! We are trying to decide whether to do ceramic wood-look tile or the Ultra in the bathroom. There will be a claw-footed tub. I have concerns about the weight and the feet indenting the vinyl. Thoughts?

  • Nancy

    Unless you can spread out the weight of the feet, it will dent smart core. A full claw foot tub is very heavy! I’d go with tile.

  • Nancy

    Unless you can spread out the weight of the feet, it will dent smart core. A full claw foot tub is very heavy! I’d go with tile.

  • Nancy

    Unless you can spread out the weight of the feet, it will dent smart core. A full claw foot tub is very heavy! I’d go with tile.

  • wine4don

    Hi we just purchased some woodford oak to replace bamboo . @ forty5cal1911 I see some dark planks in your pictures under the cabinets. Are there some very dark planks as part of the colorations? Anyone with additional Pics or advice on this color would be greatly appreciated. I'm also reading we can not put normal rugs one these? Is this true? Will turn the product yellow, like the Foam mats for your feet in the kitchen..

  • Karen Jorde
    Smartcore Ultra 1st Time DIY Font Hall Success!

    I guess I'm pretty proud of myself after completing my DIY installation of Lexington Oak Smartcore Ultra flooring in my front hall. Was it easy? Well, not as easy as the videos showing someone gently tapping the planks perfectly into place, but if you use the correct tools (a dead blow hammer, tapping block, pull bar, spacers, vapor barrier underlayment [on a cement floor], and a 10" miter saw for angled cuts), and follow the directions for fitting the planks together--basically anyway--for the price point, you should be pretty happy.

    My original vinyl linoleum floor was curling at the front door from moisture. So, it had to go before the new flooring could be put down. The front hall floor has always been cold, so I chose an underlayment with insulating properties despite the skepticism of my sales associate-friend. However, if you read all the installation documents there are, you find that when installing over a cement slab the extra underlayment/vapor barrier is OK. Besides, I'm originally from North Dakota-Minnesota and I've never found extra insulation hurt, no matter what Southerners say.

    I have a diabetic dog, two cats, and two "guest cats." That means the floor was baptized several times before I'd even finished the installation. So, yes the Smartcore Ultra is waterproof and does clean up easily.

    The floor color is a tish darker than I personally would have liked, but it paired well with the darker grain in my existing Gunstock Oak trim. Unfortunately, being perfectly matched doesn't happen when you are doing an update.

    Does it show the dirt? Well, yes, but then I don't think missing a accident or fur-ball bazor is too good either. I'm planning to use it throughout my main floor, stairs (Landings for sure), and an upstairs hallway. If now seeing daily dirt, dander or mishaps makes me too OCD, I guess I'll have to get one of those automatic floor sweeper vacuums.

    I am a bit disappointed with the ability to use this product on stairs. (Full disclosure, I do work at Lowe's, but not in the flooring area.) Lowe's installers will not use floating floor materials to redo stairways. The liability issues are obvious. As a result, professional installers prefer to use hardwood staircaps. At $40-$150 per staircap that is not an affordable option--at least for me.

    Although the USFloors representative was more than helpful, I personally was not impressed with the method of installation they prescribed. Based partly on info/reviewers I will be implementing my own workaround, that I assure you will not "float" or pose a danger. However, IMHO, USFloors would do well to add proper staircaps to the Smartcore Ultra and other product lines.

    At the end of the day, I am fully satisfied with my first Smartcore Ultra LVP flooring purchase and DIY installation. I am in process with preparing to install the flooring in my kitchen, dining room, livingroom, and hallway-type areas. I did the hallway and stairlanding as a solo effort. I might call for "reinforcements" to complete these other areas. At the very least, this DIY'er who spent years watching and learning from her dad, uncles, and craftsmen friends is going to use a brad nailer to attach the quarter-round. Relatively speaking, replacing the quarter-round was the trickiest part of the job.
  • Robyn Nelson

    Karen Jorde

    While the carpet was still on my stairs my installer told me he could put caps on the treads. Looked into them and they are very expensive. I pulled the carpet off and found good treads with rounded fronts. I am going to stain or paint the treads and paint the risers white. The treads under your carpet look like they could also be rounded. Perhaps you don't need to put the vinyl on the treads?

  • Nancy

    Yes the Cap-a-tread product is outrageously expensive. You can get “retro treads” at big box stores in oak and some other woods that can provide a more finished look if your treads are really torn up.




  • Karen Jorde

    Stairs and Landings

    Yes, when I get to that phase, I am going to take a look at the existing stairtreds. If the treads are in good shape I will go with a refurb and paint/stain as well. The landing was OSB. So, I laid the Smartcore Ultra and used the matching bullnose. No, I did not use their prescribed method, but trust me that plank and bullnose isn't going any where. I did use the Loctite premium construction adhesive, clamped, and weighted the bullnose and first plank. The extra step I took was to pre-drill a small hole in the very edge of the plank and then nail it in place with a paneling nail. IMHO the attached underlayment is going to give it the flex or float, but keep the other planks in place. Because I choose to fit the bullnose into the plank tongue, I laid the rest of the landing using the backfill method. It wasn't anymore difficult than the normal technique.

  • Karen Jorde
    Thanks--Fingers crossed that what's there can be refurbed!
  • Karen Jorde
    P.S. Be careful not to clamp the bullnose too tight. I think I was trying to "help" the adhesive to set and there's a little dent in the bullnose where I put the clamp. The new quarter-round does hide the panel nail. The edge of the step on the landing was a little tricky, but even a professional installer has to deal with whatever is already there.
  • Nancy

    Just remember, now that you've put Smartcore on the landing, that landing is now a teeny bit higher than it used to be. If you find people tripping (going up or down), when you finish the existing treads you might need to shim them a bit to even out the heights. Hope that makes sense.

  • Karen Jorde

    Given that the carpet and pad were removed, the landing is actually about 3/8ths of an inch lower and of course it is solid when you step on it. The biggest new thing is the dog can't stand right on the edge and bark because she doesn't have any leverage. She was happier when I secured an area rug on it. Eventually, I'll settle on a runner of one sort or another.

  • Mike Smith

    I am planning to use Smartcore Ultra Tivoli Travertine for my basement. Why does the instructions and couple of comments here say to begin work from left to Right only ? Whats stopping me from going Right to left for ex ?


    And for the 1st row of the LVT, do I need to cut the edges off to make it flush against the spacers ?

  • Karen Jorde
    I'll ask one of the flooring people tomorrow for you. My shot in the dark guess is that maybe its faux stone appearance works something like the nap of a fabric.
    As I understood the directions for the wood planking, it was always best to have the "groove" side against the wall, even if you need to work using the backfill process. Unless the directions said differently, it sounds as though the "groove" should always be removed from the piece flush to the starting wall. Given that the two edge pieces should be of comparable size, or else the floor would be out of balance, cutting/trimming the edge pieces seems almost a given.
  • Nancy

    Mike, you can work "backward", but with the way the end locking mechanism works it will be more difficult to get them joined/locked. Try installing a few pieces the way you want and see how tough it is and what issues might crop up.


    I'm not aware that even the tile look vinyl planks have any "nap" to them. But I've only installed wood looks so far.


    And many laminate manufacturers do recommend cutting off the tongue that will be against the spacers. One factor would be, what are you using to cover the gap? If you want a fairly small piece of quarter round, cutting the tongue off before installing insures that as the floor contracts, you won't see any of the tongue showing (because these floors do expand and contract some, although generally not as much as laminate).

  • Nancy

    You can install some flooring right to left, but it's harder to get the locking mechanism engaged without unlocking prior installed planks. Try a couple rows and you'll see.


    And cutting the tongue off against the spacers enables you to use a smaller piece of quarter round to cover the gap, without worrying about the tongue showing when the floor contracts (even vinyl floors expand and contract a little).

  • Mike Smith

    Hello Karen/Nancy, thanks so much for your responses. The base molding has not been put yet in the basement, so I was planning to cut the tongue/groove off the 1st row against the spacers and the base molding should cover the gap.


    Still not clear about the requirement why we need to go to from left to right during the install. Like Nancy said, its has to be tried and seen.

  • chance cruz

    BEWARE!! We just purchased the SMARTCORE Ultra Blue Ridge Pine laminant flooring fom LOWES. My brothe 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 tha I will list. #1 The ends of the flooring will not snap together because the groove on the bottom side is cut down to 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 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. Apparenly 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 whichis why the height is off between the two. LOWES has acknowledged this as an issue and 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 vinly. The vinly I purcahsed has a rubber backing and also some type of white material in between the vinly 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 differrent, same flooring just differetn manufacturing codes based on where it is made. If i had a picture of the whole box you would see they are identical otherwise.


  • Nancy

    Chance, no pictures came through, would love to see them if you can repost them.

    I'm assuming you're returning all your flooring for a full refund?

  • chance cruz

    For some reason it will not accept the photo.

    No I did not return the floors, I already had a couple of the rows donw and all of the floor laid out. I was able to install all of the floor but I have every intention on contacting the manufacturer and LOWES, I want someone to send me a letter stating that the floors are defective and i I ever have an issue i want them to replace them at their cost. I should not have to do the work twice.

  • Mike Smith

    Chance, if the product from US and China were not compatible and it had a different under layment based on place of manufacturing, then how did you manage to get them to lock ?

    Earlier you said that they will not lock but now you are saying that you are able to finish the install ?

    And if there is so much issue with the product, then why will you not return it for a refund ?

    Its fairly easy to load a photo. I just uploaded a pic from Lowe's website.


  • Karen Jorde
    Mike--I asked one of our flooring specialist why the directions would say specifically for you to work left to right (Or right to left for that matter!) and she said she's never heard that as a requirement either. So, she thought it might be more as a figure of speech. The only other thing I can think of is when you are giving directions to people on a stage, you always have to remember that your right is their left. So, if you want them to move to your left, you have to tell them to "Move to stage right." I once had a shelf where the back and front looked very similar. I had it all put together and it was a bit wobbly. Too late to change, (unglue) I realized the diagram was like looking at a stage. For me, their right should have been left and changed how front and back fit together as well. Oops!
  • chance cruz

    Mike Smith the underside was not different from the USA made product to the China made, it was different only on one box of the USA made product. The LOWES floor sales/installers said they had never seen that type of underside before, we couldn't find another box with it either. Same box, numbers, everything but different product.


    I returned the China made product and got boxes that were only manufactured in the USA. These did snap in but do not lock in, you can pull them apart with little force, that should not be. On previous floors I have installed once I locked the planks together you could hold them up and they would stay together. These do not do that, so while snapping other pieces together some would move and required rework.


    I will try again with the picture, yes seems to be easy but mine would not load up, dont know why.


    So are you asking out of curiosity or are you questioning me?

  • chance cruz



    China made vs USA made. Same product but will not match

  • Mike Smith

    Chance, I am planning to order Smartcore Travertine this week. So I am curious regarding the install issues (specially the locking part) and a bit surprised that no one else has had this problem..

  • chance cruz

    Mike I would highly suggest you steer away from the stuff I used. While I was at Lowes the salesman showed me a new style they are already stocking to replace what I used. The manufacturer recognizes there is a problem. Wish I had more photos to show you. I do have one spot on my floor where you can see that the floor did not lock in, however it can be interpreted as not being installed correct. I should have taken photos of the different backing, at the time I just wanted what I needed to finish my floor.

    My floor did come out great but only after having to fight with it and many trips to the store to bring and pickup product. I purchased my floor from the Lowesn Slidell on Natchez drive, I'd suggest you call there and see what they say regarding the flooring. Good luck on your floor.


  • chance cruz

    Mike I was just speaking with my brother, there were two other issues I forgot to mention. The ends of some were cut at a slight angle so they wouldn't go together without pulling the middle apart. Also we found about a box worth that was bowed in the middle. There were so many issues...

  • Mike Smith


    Hello Nancy and Karen, I figured out the left to right install reason. The way the Travertine Tile is designed, it has the male groove on top and left side and female groove on right and bottom. If I reverse the tile, it will make the install very difficult. I have attached a pic for reference.

  • Mike Smith

    Hello Karen, what brand extra underlayment do you recommend or just use plastic moisture barrier ?

  • Nancy

    Mike, in case Karen doesn't respond. Most LVP has restrictions on how much underlayment you can use. Too thick/too cushy and you risk damage and separation of the locking mechanism. Most places that sell flooring have special underlayment specifically for LVP. If the LVP already has underlayment attached, you might not be able to use any additional.


    And most but not all require moisture barrier over concrete slab or crawlspaces.....your underlayment may or may not count as a moisture barrier.



  • Karen Jorde
    Apparently the specific product I used is currently unavailable. If were to have to choose a product for this project right now I would probably choose Pergo Gold Underlayment. Normally a very basic underlayment will do. However, this part my effort was my front hallway, right on the concrete slab. In that case an underlayment with a little more depth is fine. What's more, I didn't want to have a cold floor!
  • Karen Jorde
    P.S. There were a variety of depths listed in the various SmartCore Ultra on line (official) sources. The thickest I saw was 6mm. I think what I used was 3mm. Extra underlayment is suggested only for flooring laid on concrete. On the stair landing I laid it directly on the OSB.
  • Michael Anthony

    Hello. I am deciding between basic smartcore product (without padding) and the ultra product for a second story condo. We want to prevent noise from protruding down to the condo owner below. Should I buy the basic entry level smartcore product with good padding like easygo, to ensure a good sound barrier or will i be fine with no underlayment/Ultra product? Which is better? The floor is concrete yes concrete on second floor. I assume I dont need a moister/vapor barrier either. I hear good things about ultra, but dont know if its quiet enough. Could I add additional underlayment to Ultra? When we pulled back the carpet, we found and inch of some type of floor leveler applied to the top of the concrete, its sandy and when you walk on it dust comes up..its awfull mess.. It came up in one place as shown in pic..the floor is level but has dirt or sandy touch to it. It appears the nieghbors below can hear us walking once we tore the carpet out.. So back to my questions, basic with good underlayment, ultra by itself or ultra with extra underlayment? I dont see any reviews on the entry level smartcore without padding..it looks the same as ULTRA in terms of wear layer and core without the padding. Oh, yes
    Since this is concrete on second floor with no moisture, only sandy dust, do I need underlayment regardless? Please help!!!

  • sutrotower96

    When we were selecting our LVP for out 2nd level condo we couldn't find pictures of the floor color we were going with, so I am posting it here for others that may want to see the Lowes Smartcore Ultra Brunswick Maple color.


  • danandthres

    Looking at the Smartcore Naturals, specifically the Rivers Edge Oak. i have not read any of the above specifically regarding that product. I am wondering if the real wood veneer layer holds up with no splitting or cracking.

  • danandthres

    Has any one had experience with the SmartCore Naturals? I’m looking at the Rivers Edge. Wondering if the real wood veneer holds up to splitting and cracking.

  • anyid

    I have been looking for reviews and firsthand experience with the Smartcore Natural products, also, but it is so new that there is no info out there yet. I wish it had even a little sheen but the Maple seems to be pretty matte, which is trendy now, but to me it looks like I'm putting unfinished lumber on the floor. Just not my taste.


    I did soak the sample piece in a bowl of water for 36 hours and then dried it out. The only way you would know is if you looked at it when wet-a little water seeped into the wood pores a few millimeters up the cut edges. After drying a few hours, you'd never know. It didn't swell or discolor-it just dried out and looked the same! If you read the install instructions, it does say to use silicone caulk around the perimeter in tropical locations (as in Florida where I am) .



  • sutrotower96



    A few more pictures of the brunswick maple for those that want to know what it looks like. Project done.

  • Claire Smith

    Thanks for posting your pics. I’m considering Brunswick Maple.


  • czibell

    We have small rental houses. When a tenant moves, out with all carpet. We do the entire house in Brunswick Maple. Next vacancy -Brunswick maple. Absolutely love it. Have three houses left with carpet

  • csunbean

    Looking for reviews of The Smart core NATURALS. I want to know if the wood veneer and finish hold up. Thanks

  • Nancy

    Csunbean, you might want to start a new discussion/thread because that's a totally different type of product. Your question will get more attention if it's on it's own.....

  • HU-651303912

    Help! I purchased the Smartcore pro gardena marble.....and cannot get the planks to lock. What is the trick? I've bebbeen through 2 boxes and they don'don't lock and break.....not my first floor either.

  • Nancy

    If you've installed click flooring before, you know to clean out the tongue and groove to remove any dust or bits left over from cutting?


    Can you get them to lock if you try just two pieces on a table top? If not, it may be a defective lot.


    This was a review on Lowes.com, in case your issue is the end joints:


    As a flooring installer with almost 30 years experience I know what I'm talking about. This is a very fine quality floor and I highly recommend it. As you can see in the reviews almost all of the bad reviews are because of difficulty snapping the flooring together. The designee of the Smartcore Pro is a little different from the Ultra or the Standard Smartcore. We had a customer call and say that his installer could not get the end joints to snap together. The end joints simply overlap and are tapped into place with a Dead blow hammer. Buy the black plastic dead blow hammer that is available at Lowe's I did a practice floor with a rubber mallet and it did not work. The rubber is too soft and absorbs the blow . With the dead blow hammer the end joints snapped right together with no problem.

  • Smokie Yaznomi
    ultra comes in two flavors. one product made in USA and One made in China. The China one has holes in the padding. The US version has no holes and consists of a piece of solid foam. when you make a large order, they sneak in the USA version. The China version is what is on display. We did not like the way the two locked together. larger gap, it appeared the overall thickness is not the same on the two. my advice make sure you buy one with holes
  • James Brooks
    Has anyone used the Smartcore transition moldings? The T mold appears to be incomparable with installation next to existing tile. Also, the all purpose mold for carpets seems to be unavailable in Lexington Oak from Lowes. Any solutions appreciated.
  • Angie Armstrong

    We are using Smartcore Ultra in Blue Ridge Pine and having nothing but major issues. Have talked with Lowes and the manufacturer. We like another man that posted have some made in China (has a halograff symbol on the box) and some from the US. 77 boxes and 41 to 36! We measured height and seems to be the same. It just does not seem to want to marry together right. Too many gaps no matter how hard you pound it. It does say to use a rubber mallet and not a dead hammer. Husband jas messed with it since Dec. and not getting anywhere with it other than redoing, redoing, redoing, redoing! Still have the WHOLE house to go! Pics show gaps. Looking at large area, not close up, then it looks ok. It isn't ok! We purchased ours at Lowes in Bridgeport, WV.





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