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Vinyl Plank Flooring Review And Tips

Bathroom makeovers are a nice investment in your home, especially with Smartcore Natural Floors sold at Lowe’s.

One of the first projects that we wanted to tackle, once we were settled into our new home, was both of our bathrooms. It was easy to pick the smaller bathroom of the two to start with. Silke was less than enthused with the over-sized and outdated vanity and I wasn’t moved by the old flooring. The same wall color was used throughout the whole house so a different shade of paint was going to help out with setting the bathrooms apart from the rest of the house. Getting rid of the old, nasty flooring was a must.

Working from the bottom to the top. On the first day we took out the vanity and looked at the old, worn and dated linoleum that remained. We wanted it gone but I was even more reluctant to see what was underneath. The floor was fine structurally but of course the linoleum had been glued and it would be a huge mess to try and get rid of it.

Did you know? You can now purchase Luxury Vinyl Plank Flooring at a great price online (includes free shipping). Check out Wayfair.com for their flooring selection.

Small Bathroom Remodel Project

Procrastinating pays off. We really weren’t too keen on the idea of laying more linoleum. Silke just doesn’t care for it and I had kicked around the idea of putting down laminate flooring like the kind we had put down back in South Carolina.

Our First Laminate Flooring Project

It looked good, see picture above, but I wasn’t sure if this was a smart move to make because this floor was going into a bathroom. Moisture build up was going to be a constant issue. Then we talked about tiling the bathrooms, we even went to a ‘How To Lay Tiles’ class at Home Depot one Sunday afternoon. It was while looking at tiles and laminate floors in the store that we first came across vinyl plank flooring.

There was another couple looking at flooring when we came across it. They had laid out a couple of pieces right in the isle and he was examining how they looked and pointed out that they easily snapped together. It looked really good and the wood grain on the pieces actually had a nice feel to them. The thing that really garnered my attention was that this type of floating flooring is 100% water proof.

After taking home several flooring samples and reading a ton of reviews we decided to give Smartcore Vinyl Plank Natural Floors a try.

Shop For Luxury Vinyl Plank Flooring

The bathroom floor being wet is really not an issue anymore, and just when I didn’t think it could get any better, I read that this type of flooring could be ‘installed directly over other existing hard surface floors‘. Rather than ripping up the existing linoleum we could bury it… a fitting resting spot to it’s well lived life.

Laying A Floating Vinyl Floor - Tips & #Review

I was excited! We had something that looked good, is sturdy (the planks are 5.5 mm thick), and easy to install. Best of all, it fits the bill for our bathroom remodel. The cost is around $2.80 / Sq. Ft., we only needed 1 1/2 boxes for our small 6′ bathroom… there are 12 – 5″ x 48″ planks in a box.

Vinyl Flooring Review

Smartcore Vinyl Plank Flooring by Natural Floors

  • 100% waterproof and can be installed in wet areas, planks will never swell when exposed to water
  • Can be installed directly over other existing hard surface floors
  • Easy-to-install, drop and lock profile without glue and with no acclimation time needed
  • Dimensional stable; will not expand or contract
  • Limited lifetime-residential and 5-year light-commercial warranty

Installation is a snap. Literally! You just snap the pieces together. Relying on our experience with putting together our laminate floor, we forged ahead with putting down the SMARTCORE premium engineered flooring. The planks are very sturdy, inflexible and the tabs do not easily break off.

For our previous laminate floor project we bought a table saw, which we sold again after the flooring was laid. Owning a table saw wasn’t necessary with this luxury vinyl plank flooring. All we used to cut the pieces was our miter saw and for the cuts around plumbing fixtures we simply scored the pieces with a utility knife.

Our little bathroom got even smaller with both of us trying to work together to measure and put the proper pieces in place. We quickly got a system down… Silke would pick out the pieces so that we didn’t have the same pattern running together (we noticed 5 different patterns in a box). We measured together, then I cut them in the garage and handed them back to her so she could lay them down.

Floating vinyl floor how to and review

Vinyl Planks Floor Laying Tips

  • Measure your room side to side and corner to corner to figure out if the room is square

Our room wasn’t square. We split the difference between the two sides and we were able to cover the difference with the 1/4 inch trim.

  • Take your room dimension and divide it by 5 (width of plank) to figure out how many rows of planks you need (for instance, we needed 12.8 rows)
  • If you end up with .6 or less for your last row, cut your starting row in half
  • Don’t cut the length of your boards less than 6 inches
  • Use a rubber mallet and a wood or rubber block to get a tight seam

This flooring may be made out of vinyl, and is quite sturdy, but I really didn’t feel comfortable pounding on it with a conventional hammer. One thing I did notice is that when Silke applied pressure from the end of the row using a crowbar while I pounded on the seam on the other end, we could hear a definitive snap as the two pieces joined.

This is really a good video to watch and learn even if you’ve already laid out floating flooring before.

With each piece of flooring that we added we saw the bathroom take on a completely different feel.

Even in this very small space we didn’t have any trouble making the pieces fit together. We used a rubber mallet and a rubber block to ensure that the seams butted up together tightly. You can hardly see the seams at all now and water beads right up on the surface.

Once the trim was added we couldn’t help but marvel at how well it at all came together. We love the look of the planks, the color we chose is dark brown with a touch of gray. These vinyl planks feel surprisingly real, like actual wood, since they have ripples on top.

Luxury Vinyl Plank Flooring

To finish our bathroom redo project we installed a smaller, bright white vanity which makes the room look a lot bigger. It is nicely accentuated by the new darker flooring.

Vinyl plank flooring by #NaturalFloors

We are more than happy with how things had turned out and already calculated how many more boxes of vinyl floor planks we will need to purchase to finish the second bathroom.

Find SMARTCORE vinyl flooring in several different colored wood grains at Lowe’s.

We love the classy look of our bathroom now and highly recommend the vinyl planks by SMARTCORE Natural Floors Sold Exclusively At Lowe’s.

If you have any thoughts or experiences with vinyl plank flooring please share by leaving us a comment below.

51 Responses to Vinyl Plank Flooring Review And Tips

  • I love your finished bathroom, it looks so upscale now. You did a great job! Thanks for all the tips too.

  • Woohoo, that’s exactly what we were hoping for. The bathroom does look and feel a lot more spacious now after the redo. You can’t see this in the pictures, but we also installed a rounded shower curtain rod with a white ‘hotel-style’ curtain that has a see-through section on top (like this one http://amzn.to/1n64y81). This gives us a ton of extra elbow room and lets in the natural light while taking a shower. I love it!

  • How do you like it now that it’s been in awhile? I am worried about durability as the samples I see in the store are pretty well beat up with the wear layer peeling off.

    • Hi Pati, so far the floor in the bathroom still looks brand new. No wear and tear at all. We just laid more of the same vinyl flooring in a small hallway by the front door a few days ago. This will be the true test since it’s a very high traffic area.

  • We are set on Smartcore just not yet on a color. What is the name of this Smartcore color?

    • Hi Kristi, I can’t believe we didn’t mention the floor color in the article. Sorry for the oversight. We decided on Acacia, its a warm and inviting color that goes well in the bathroom as well as our entry hall. It’s been a few months now since we installed the first planks and we don’t have any scratches or marrs. We’re very happy with the color.

  • Any update on durability and wear after a couple of months? Looking at the same product and would love some additional info. Thanks!

    • Hi Jean, Sorry for the late reply. So far the Smartcore flooring is holding up very well. I have noticed no wear and tear at all in the bathroom. Since we first installed the vinyl planks in our bathroom we have also used the same flooring in our front entrance hallway (about two months ago). There is lots more traffic by the front door, people with shoes on, and the planks don’t show any wear there either.

  • Just curious how you sealed the Smartcore around the tub? We put smart core in our kitchen last year and love it. My hubby is just concerned about putting it around our tub because of the floating nature of the product and it can’t be held in place by molding.

    • Hi Robin, we used Silicon based caulk around the bathtub. The floor is still floating on the three other sides and we figured that was all it needed. I did a little research beforehand and found others doing the same thing.

  • I found this floor hard to install. Does not lock together and stay to many seems show. Wish I would have done more research. If you look around Similar complaints are noted. I have installed laminate was expecting the same results. Not so.

    • Michael,
      I’m sorry to hear that it gave you trouble. We used a rubber mallet and a wooden block on a few of the joints to get them to ‘snap’ together. No problems with the seams that you saw either. How large of an area did you cover?

  • Thank you for the tips on putting the flooring in. I have always found that my measuring is always off. That is something I will need to work on if I am going to do my whole kitchen ! I really appreciate the photos as well ! Thanks again.

    • You are very welcome Robert! I’m glad you found this article helpful.

      Measure twice, cut once comes to mind, lol. One of the great things about a floating floor like this is that you do have a little leeway. There needs to be some space for the boards to expand, just make sure you can cover the gap along the sides with a piece of trim. Good luck on your upcoming project!

    • We are looking to install this in our whole house. But I want a continuous look. No tmolding. Will this work with a floating floor??

  • I thought I read that there is no expansion on these.

  • rally helpful.. many thanks a lot. and in addition My partner and i received a lot more suggestions relating to support.

  • I installed the same product in our bathrooms and the laundry room. The installation is really easy if you have some patience and work well with your hands. The only issue I had was that every once in a while, the factory had a tiny piece of plastic shaving left in a plank groove that prevented planks from fitting tightly together. I just removed that debris and it fit perfect.
    I undercut the door trim so the planks slid under them a tiny bit.
    Also, after the first room, I now use a 2 mm underlayment, to avoid the planks making a little tapping noise in a couple of areas when you walk on them. (I put it over ceramic tiles.)
    This was my first time doing anything like this and was not hard to do, and my wife loves it.

    • Hi Jim,
      Thanks for your comment, we had one or two boards that had the extra material still in the groove as well (we only used 4 boxes in total). We didn’t think it was a big deal either.

      Good idea with the underlayment, it gives the floor a little extra cushioning and eliminates traffic noise. We really love the look of this floor and have used it in our front entrance hallway since we wrote this DIY article. It’s a great flooring choice for high traffic areas.

  • OMG you little pussy. IF IT’S NOT PERFECT YOU SHOULD HAVE HAD A PRO DO THE JOB.

    • Cindy, the whole idea behind a DIY job is to forego the high costs of hiring a pro. The job did turn out very well, I really don’t think a pro could have installed the flooring any better. We are very happy with the results.

      • My husband is having a terrible time with the installation. One part goes together and then a previous part comes undone. Is there no help number available?

        • On no Grace, I’m sorry to hear that. As you can see in the third picture, we used a rubber mallet and a rubber block to help ‘pound’ the planks together. Sometimes you have to be a little forceful with them. Here is the link to a good how-to video: http://www.lowes.com/projects/build-and-remodel/how-to-install-vinyl-plank-flooring/project

          Also, the folks at your local Lowe’s store, where this flooring is being sold, are usually really helpful. They sometimes offer flooring classes and I’m sure they’d be more than willing to answer all of your husbands questions. Here is their toll-free number as well: 1-800-445-6937

          Good luck and let us know how it turned out. – Silke

  • I just returned 1400 square feet of this smartcore flooring ( approximately $3,400) to Lowes after attempting to install it. What a NIGHTMARE!! Do not buy this product. I am smart, patient and have done a ton of remodeling. As many others have expressed and experienced… you get some pieces “locked” together, and then you look right or left and there are edges popped up all over. I just couldn’t even imagine continuing with such a large space knowing the expense and the potential of it not staying locked together. And someone please tell me how in the world are you suppose to lock in a piece when you’re at the end of a row and the wall is there???? How would you ever be able to tap it in place with a rubber mallet? I am so thankful that I stopped when I did. The fact that you have to lock in a tongue and groove system both on the elongated side and the width is impossible. Thankfully, I dealt with a wonderful lowe’s manager in Indiana who immediately refunded my money and went so far as to give me an in-store credit when he heard about my travel expense (I went to two different lowes to get the total of 58 boxes that I needed in the color we wanted.) I spent hours both loading and unloading all of it (4 times total handling all of the boxes) and then attempting to install in… which I never made it past the 4th row. I spent at least three hours trying… but it was terrible!!!

    • Hi Sue, I’m sorry to hear about your difficulties. It does sound like a nightmare, yikes! I’m glad you where able to get a refund.

      We only used the vinyl floor planks in very small areas (a tiny bathroom and a small hallway) not sure if that would make a difference. We did get the pieces to fit together nicely as you can see in the pictures, in case you’re wondering we didn’t alter the images in any way, and used a crowbar to ‘persuade’ the end pieces into place.

      It really helps having two people work together, but all in all I didn’t find the installation any more difficult than laying laminate flooring. In fact, I have worked with cheap laminates years ago where the edges break off very easily. Now there’s a waste of money!

      What type of flooring did you end up using then?

    • they make a special tool that is essential for installing last piece against wall

      • Thank you for your comment Matthew! There is a tool kit available for around $20, here is the link – http://fave.co/2lDXE8L

        This vinyl plank flooring installation kit with tapping block, pull bar and 50 wedge spacers is designed for the do-it-yourself installer.

    • All you needed to do was buy a flooring pull bar to get the end pieces in.

  • It isn’t the floating floor that expands/contracts. It is the house. Dimensionally stable vinyl tile has negligible expansion/contraction over a wider range of temperature than a house is likely to see. The same cannot be said for the wood or other construction materials, thus the recommendation for a 1/4″ space around the floor edges.

    I installed this flooring in several rooms of my home, by myself, with no previous experience. The key to making the installation easy is getting the first few rows STRAIGHT! Your existing wall will not likely be very straight so you need to work with your spacing materials to get a good start. Get a good start and the rest is easy. Once I got the first three rows in, I stacked the rest of the planks on the first row to help keeps things from moving. If everything is straight there is very little need for tapping to close the seams.

    Yesterday I completed installation in the third bedroom. The hallway was a piece of cake and the dining room is next. I like the looks of this so much I have now decided to install about 400 sq-ft in my basement.

    I purchased this flooring based on a recommendation from someone who installed this in her house last year, and did it herself. The only way to make a job like this easier is to hire someone else

    • Hi Aaron, Thank you so much for your great comment. Everything you said makes perfect sense! We didn’t have any of the issues and difficulties Sue was talking about in her comment. Nick’s brother is a carpenter and he told us how to make sure the room is square. We did address this in our article: “Our room wasn’t square. We split the difference between the two sides and we were able to cover the difference with the 1/4 inch trim.”

      Thank you for explaining the vinyl floating floor factor to me and our readers. I never knew that it’s the house not the floor that’s expanding and contracting! It’s good to hear that you like the flooring as much as we do.

    • we just put this in on several rooms, a dining room, kitchen, bathroom and utility room and its not that hard, there are tricks to it, but it is well worth the money doing it yourself and not that hard-buy the tool Lowes sell-and it just looks beautiful!!! I highly recommend this, and we had no issues with it coming up, locked together great-and looks great too

      • Gail,
        Thank you for your comment! It’s good to hear that your projects turned out well. Being able to tackle these renovations by yourself, not only do you save money, but you also gain a sense of accomplishment, right? Which tool are you talking about? I don’t think we bought a special tool for our bathroom project. Is it something you need for a larger room?

  • I am planning to install smartcore in the basement on concrete slab. The family room is of size 26 ft by 19ft. Is this too big for the plank to stay locked?

    • Hi Cheng, The only time you might have a problem with the planks not locking into place is if you’re working on an uneven surface. Use a level and tape measure to determine if your floor is level. The guys at Lowe’s, Home Depot or where ever you decide to purchase your flooring, will be able to help you as well. Good luck with your upcoming project!

  • I have the Smart Core flooring throughout my home, we love it because we have pets inside. Just wondering I can’t seem to find anything on the Internet what do you clean your floors with ? Can I use Pinesol ? Lysol ? or is there a special brand you use ?

    • Hi Patti, I’m glad you’re enjoying your vinyl flooring.
      When I clean our small bathroom I usually just take my bathroom cleaner, Lysol or Shaklee’s Basic H2, and get down on my knees with a rag in hand. For cleaning larger areas, like our hallway or in your case the whole house, I would recommend a mild floor cleaner like Bona.

  • Great job! I bet you can’t wait to do the fun stuff. I would love to share your blog with our website readers! You have some excellent points about Vinyl Plank Flooring! Feel free to email me and let me know if I have your permission! Thank you :)

    • Hi Jeremy, Thank you for your kind words and for checking with us. We would love for you to share our blog articles with your readers via your favorite social media channels. If you want to add our content to your own website please give us credit and a link back to the original article on our own website.

  • Hi, we just ordered our smartcore from Lowes, does this have to sit in your home for 3 days until installed like other flooring or can we install right away ?

    • Hi Trieste, It’s always a good idea to let flooring adjust to your home before installing it. Vinyl plank flooring, just like other types of floors, need to acclimate to the temperature of the room they are being installed into. Give them at least 48 hours before starting your project.

  • How do you clean it? Can you use a steam mop for cleaning?

    • Hi Toni, I would think a residential steam mop should be alright for cleaning vinyl floor planks. To be on the safe side, try it out in an inconspicuous corner to make sure it doesn’t cause any damage. As I said before, I usually just take a mild cleaner and get down on my knees with a rag in hand. For cleaning larger areas I would recommend a mild floor cleaner like Bona and a mop and bucket.

  • We bought the smartcore flooring for kitchen remodel. Kitchen gutted, new cabinets to put in. We wanted to put under the new cabinets. But, it’s a floating floor. Which previous comment said the house contracts which makes since. But could the flooring be placed under cabinets and glued? We were very disappointed when reading installation. I don’t have any product, as of yet. But should I cancel order, if recommended not to be placed under cabinets. Please advise.

    • Hi Billie Dann, thank you for your comment. First off, neither Silke nor I are trained carpenters, just DIY’ers. That being said, I really don’t think that you should place the flooring under your cabinets simply because it will not allow it to expand and contract. Your best bet is to consult with one of the carpenters that work at Lowe’s or Home Depot. They’re usually pretty knowledgeable and can advise you on your best course of action.

    • If you are putting a floating flooring in a kitchen, all you need to do is get some quarter round for around the cabinets to allow for expansion/contraction.

  • Did you guys cut it around the toilet or remove the toilet to intall underneath it? Thanks!

    • Oops. I see it in the picture now.

      • No worries Doug! As you saw in the picture above we removed the toilet, cleaned the old floor, cut the vinyl boards up to it, used a new wax seal and replaced the toilet to sit on the boards. We also used caulk to seal around the bottom of the toilet.

  • If a dog urinates on the Smart Core Ultra floor that snaps together .what are the chances that this urine will seep under the vinyl and into the wood beneath? I understand they snap together on the sides but what about where the butt together. It is going to be a very large investment for us and I do not want to think if a doggie spot was to get missed for cleanup it will get leached in the wood thru any pathway and thus become a stinking mess . I just wanna look at the worst case scenario . Even one leak could do this anywhere in the floor? Just asking and Thank you

    • Hi Daniel, that’s a great question and I’m sure many dog owners have wondered the same. Since the vinyl planks fit together seamlessly on all ends, it shouldn’t be a problem. We installed the flooring in our tiny bathroom, and although we don’t have a dog living with us at the moment, we have had small water puddles on the floor from showering/splashing with no adverse effect. I hope this answers your question.

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