If you want your floor to mimic the appearance of wood without the hassle or cost, vinyl plank flooring is the best way to go. When it comes to finding some of the best brands that sell this flooring type, two names come to mind: SmartCore and Lifeproof.
Both companies are known for offering excellent options, but which of these two flooring giants does it better? We will find out in this flooring review.
SmartCore vs. Lifeproof – Which is the Better Floor?
From an overall perspective, SmartCore flooring offers better overall durability and longevity. The waterproof core is easily placed with mallets, making it slightly easier to work with.
Both companies have a limited lifetime warranty for residential use, easy installation, and excellent customer support. Lifeproof wins when comparing cost-effectiveness, as you can save about .30 cents per square foot among cheaper options.
Below, we will provide a deeper dive into the comparison between the two companies.
SmartCore Flooring – What You Need To Know
SmartCore is owned by CoreTec, a company known for offering a wide range of flooring options. The SmartCore brand is best known for being a simple DIY flooring solution.
Why Should I Pick Smartcore?
This DIY aspect comes from the glueless flooring technique, enabling you to hammer down vinyl planks with incredible ease. The pre-assembled core makes this floor incredibly waterproof, ideal for both kitchens and bathrooms.
Because the cores are 6 and 1/2 mm thick, you avoid the issue of tracing from the subflooring. This means you spend less time prepping the subfloor, which will cover up anything underneath.
You will still want to ensure your subfloor is level before covering it up. But the drop and lock installation help with making this easy.
The boards use a drop and lock installation technique, not uncommon for these planks. However, the chosen design of SmartCore makes it incredibly simple.
With everything being sold as a combined unit, you only have to hammer your flooring down with a mallet. This applies to all forms of Smartcore flooring.
Smartcore is exclusively sold at Lowes. You will not find it at Home Depot or other hardware stores.
Different Brands of Smartcore Flooring and Their Prices
- Smartcore (Regular) – The standard, relatively inexpensive form of vinyl planks
- Smartcore Ultra – It comes with more design options and sound-reducing features
- Smartcore Pro – Made with an SPC Core (Stone Polymer Composite) for enhanced durability that is comparable to commercial-grade flooring
- Smartcore Naturals – Made with real waterproof hardwood and bamboo veneers. These are not standard vinyl plank flooring.
The Smartcore Ultra and Pro brands are both more expensive. However, they make up for it through more durability in the Pro series and better soundproofing in the Ultra series.
Below is a price comparison table of the four brands:
|Regular Smartcore||$3 per square foot (or lower)|
|Smartcore Ultra||Between $3 and $4 per sq ft|
|Smartcore Pro||Just below $4 per sq ft|
|Smartcore Naturals||Just below $4 per sq ft|
Different Styles of Smartcore Flooring
Lowes currently hosts nearly 140 styles of Smartcore, with most of them being wood-like in their creation. There are a small number of boards that are similar to stone, but wood replacement is more popular.
Most boards come in a 12″ x 24″ tyle set, but you can easily cut these vinyl planks to fit unusual kitchens. Having a utility knife available is necessary to turn this into a DIY project.
Cons Against Smartcore Flooring
Smartcore comes with a range of brands, enabling it to be more expensive across the board due to its recognizable brand. Having premium lines of floor gives users more flexibility.
You’ll see many mentions of high scratch resistance, but vinyl plank flooring isn’t as great as advertised. Typically, you’ll want harder floors like natural wood for this target.
Also, its adhesive can make the flooring hard to remove. So if you want to stick with vinyl plank flooring, you best make that decision knowing you will be stuck with it unless you want an expensive removal process.
Lifeproof Flooring – Why Should You Choose It?
Unlike Smartcore, Lifeproof isn’t known to have much of a presence. You can find them sold by Home Depot. So is it worth your trouble? The short answer: yes.
Why is Lifeproof Flooring Good?
Much like Smartcore, Lifeproof excels at creating a sturdy product with good scratch resistance. It is also straightforward to install with a pre-attached underlayment that makes a complete core.
Lifeproof has an all-in-one flooring option, enabling you to buy quarter rounds and other wall-to-floor attachments. The result is simple to research when finding things that easily fit together. This appeals to DIY sensibilities.
The best part about Lifeproof comes from its cost-effectiveness. Most of them are anywhere from $2.50 to $4 per square foot. This makes it comparable with Smartcore’s cheaper options but slightly more savings.
Lifeproof specializes in providing wood-like flooring with beautiful color variation. The color options range from lighter wood to deep oak, appealing to many sensibilities across the board.
Given that Lifeproof is a more straightforward provider, you’ll find less complexity with multiple brands. Instead, everything they sell is just under Lifeprioof, which adds some complications.
Cons of Buying Lifeproof Flooring
Lifeproof is a smaller company that doesn’t like to expose itself, meaning customer service can be painful. Thankfully, Home Depot should help supplement it, but finding Lifeproof’s company information is a bit tricky.
Searching for their company often leads you down finding a phone case company. The biggest concern with Lifeproof comes from its general scratch resistance. Like other vinyl planks, they tend to over-deliver on that scratch resistance.
In addition, Lifeproof boards are slightly more challenging to install, given the floor-to-wall attachments. Granted, they aren’t too demanding for other types of flooring.
Lifeproof also isn’t known for having any luxury options, making it less “upgradable” than other flooring brands.
Vinyl Plank Floors – Are They Worth It?
Both Lifeproof and Smartcore are known mainly for their vinyl plank floor options. The overall advantages of these floor types come from being waterproof, easy to clean, and pretty durable (not counting scratches).
People who shop for this type of flooring typically want a wood substitute without paying high costs for it. These boards are made with “wood materials” like bamboo dust, wood composite, and colored polymer (or plastic).
So if you do not mind skipping the authenticity or want to save a few bucks, Vinyl plank flooring is an excellent choice for your home.
Alternatives to Vinyl Plank Flooring
Alternatives to vinyl plank flooring will depend on where you use them. However, here are some options that won’t break the budget:
- Laminate Floor – The cheapest form of flooring compared to all possibilities. Despite some stigma, laminate has evolved to be comparable to other premium options.
- Wooden-like Tiles – Wood-look tiles are meant to mimic the appearance of wood-like vinyl plank. The difference between that tiles can be pretty fragile during installation.
- Bamboo and Cork Flooring – Both bamboo and cork are made using wood but have cheaper options if you are willing to look.
Regardless of what flooring type you choose, it is vital to be a little picky. After all, if you plan on a kitchen remodel and select a floor you don’t like, you are stuck with it.
Vinyl plank is easy to maintain, repair, and manage. We hope this writing helps you understand how two of the most popular brands, Smartcore and Lifeproof, can meet your needs.