GemCore Flooring Review – Is It Any Good?
Price Per Sq/Ft: $2.99 – $3.89
GemCore Stone Composite and Stone Composite MAX vinyl plank flooring isn’t a household name, but we rate it as a high-quality and very competitively priced SPC worthy of your consideration. Customers and pros alike appreciate it’s durability and straight forward installation! The choice of styles is smaller than some of the bigger brands, but the look and feel of these planks is impressive.
Last Updated: September 25, 2023, by: Greca Fotopoulos
In our review of GemCore floors you’ll learn who manufactures GemCore, what they offer (including wear layers, sizes and styles), what it costs and where to buy. We wrap up with customer reviews and our verdict.
ABOUT GEMCORE FLOORING
GemCore Flooring is a US-based flooring brand specializing in SPC and LVT flooring. It falls under the umbrella of the Galleher family company, which was founded in 1938 and owns other well-known brands such as Lauzon, Somerset, and Tarkett.
The brand aims to provide better performance than your usual vinyl plank options, offering a floor that looks great, feels great to your feet, can be easily maintained, and takes anything daily household life throws at it.
Our review found that GemCore incorporates a traditional flooring business model involving a manufacturer, distributor, and dealer. In this case, GemCore is the manufacturer, Galleher is the distributor, and stores affiliated with Galleher are the dealers. It’s a smooth-running business structure with many pros; however, all three entities take profits, often resulting in higher costs for the consumer.
SPC FLOORING IS GEMCORE’S PRIMARY FLOORING
Although GemCore offers four collections of luxury vinyl tile, their stone-polymer-composite flooring is definitely their trademark product due to its durability and moisture resistance. We highly recommend choosing their SPC over their LVT if you intend to go for GemCore.
From our experience, SPC flooring is much more robust than luxury vinyl tile since its core is made from 70% stone, resulting in better dent protection, stability, and higher resistance to moisture or temperamental fluctuations.
GemCore offers two lines of SPC: GemCore Stone Composite and GemCore Stone Composite MAX, the latter being the tougher of the two, as the name suggests. We found that both are built to last, consisting of four layers: a wear & tear layer, a design layer, a stone-composite core layer, and a cushioning layer.
Let’s look more closely at all these options;
GemCore gives its customers a decently sized array of options, offering 104 products across 14 unique collections. These can be split into three categories: Stone Composite, Stone Composite MAX, and Luxury Vinyl Tile.
GEMCORE STONE COMPOSITE
The brand’s standard stone composite line consists of 8 collections: Jasper, Crystal, Sapphire, Onyx, Topaz, Opal, Garnet, and Diamond.
Wear Layer & Thickness: Most collections have a 20-mil wear layer* and are 5mm thick overall. Apart from one, the Diamond Collection. This collection features 6.5mm thick planks with an impressive 28-mil wear layer.
*A 20mil wear layer is pretty much the standard for premium-quality SPC and LVP flooring and what we recommend you look for if durability is a priority; therefore, GemCore’s Diamond Collection stands out in that aspect. Only a few other flooring products on the market go beyond the 20mil wear layer mark, such as Floorte Modin Signature (40mil) or Coretec Grande (30mil).
Top Coating: GemCore’s standard SPC planks have a ceramic UV top coating that reflects UV rays and protects the flooring against scratches caused by kids or pet nails. The planks also come with an attached 1mm-thick IXPE underlayment pad.
Water Resistance: Like most SPC flooring options, GemCore’s stone composite is 100% waterproof. The brand even states that the floor can withstand floods. However, when you look at their warranty, it doesn’t cover flooding. This is because while the product is waterproof the chances are your subfloor isn’t.
Styles & Sizes: Despite having eight collections to choose from, none of these offer tile looks. All the styles are based around natural hardwood looks such as Oak, Hickory, or Maple. GemCore uses the EIR (embossing in register) texture technology to design these planks. This technique precisely follows wood grains, producing a more natural hardwood appearance. Buyers can choose from three plank sizes depending on collection: 7” by 48”, 9” by 60”, and the XXL 9” by 72”.
GEMCORE STONE COMPOSITE MAX
Made in the USA, GemCore’s Stone Composite MAX is an improved version of their regular SPC. It’s slightly more expensive but offers better performance and visuals. This range consists of only two collections, Yosemite and Teton, with only 16 unique styles to choose from.
Wear Layer & Thickness: GemCore Stone Composite Max planks have a respectable 20mil wear layer and are 5mm thick overall. This includes the pre-attached XPO foam backing, which acts as an underlayment and moisture barrier.
Top Coating: Unlike GemCore’s standard SPC range, Stone Composite MAX is protected by their trademarked Scratch Shield MAX ™ top coating. It’s unclear what this coating is precisely, but the brand states that they use mineral-enhanced technology, making it tougher than your regular ceramic UV coating. The pros we spoke to, with experience of working with GemCore, confirmed that this new top coating was super tough, which explains why GemCore even recommend it for commercial use.
Water Resistance: Stone Composite MAX flooring is 100% waterproof. It can handle spills, leaks, and even floods. The stone-based core provides ultimate moisture resistance without needing an acclimation period before installation. GemCore’s Composite Max can even be installed on below-grade floors.
Styles & Sizes: There’s not a lot to choose from, with only two hardwood-look collections. However, the 16 unique designs are all different, offering some diversity. Browsing GemCore’s Composite MAX brochure, you will find dark, light, and gray shades of hardwood. Plank sizes are a relatively small 7.5” by 48” for the Yosemite range and a larger 9” by 60” for the Teton range.
GemCore also states that these two collections have much fewer repeated patterns than their other series. For us, that’s vital if you want a natural, hardwood-look floor.
Unlike most SPC and vinyl flooring options on the market, which are typically labeled as ‘Low VOC,’ GemCore Composite MAX is Zero VOC Certified, meaning it doesn’t release ANY harmful toxic chemicals in your home over time.
GEMCORE LUXURY VINYL TILE
Although our review is focused on GemCore SPC flooring, here’s a brief description of their LVT options.
GemCore offers four collections of glue-down LVT flooring available in three sizes: 6” x 48”, 7” by 48”, and their ultra-wide 10” by 60” planks. These planks are very thin compared to their SPC options. Overall thickness is between 2-3 mm. On the bright side, some collections offer good scratch and scuff resistance with a 20-mil wear layer.
Our HomeFlooringPros report that LVT is mostly used commercially, so it can be tough in high-traffic scenarios. However, most LVT options have very frequent pattern repetition, resulting in a cheap-looking floor lacking style and detailing. All in all, it’s a great option for commercial business on a budget but not so much for residential purposes.
As you glance at the GemCore warranty table below, it’s no surprise that the best warranty covers the product with the thickest wear layer. After all, the wear layer is a protective barrier against daily wear and tear.
So, the warranties seem fairly long on GemCore’s SPC ranges. A Lifetime Residential coverage sounds nice, right? Well, it’s not so great when you dive deeper. Judging from our experience in the flooring industry, the warranty is not there to protect your floor but rather to protect the brand from paying out.
Firstly, the lifetime limited residential warranty is prorated by the number of years after the date of purchase. The prorated warranty only applies for the first 30 years. If you make a claim 10 years into your warranty and it goes your way, you’ll actually only receive 66% of the total cost of replacement or refund, including labor.
Secondly, after those 30 years prorated years, the replacement or refund is capped at 5% of the original purchase amount. So, all in all, the lifetime limited warranty is more like a 30-year warranty, which loses its value over time. However, we’re not being harsh on GemCore; most flooring brands have a similar warranty policy. You can see their warranty details here.
|Product Name||Wear Layer||Residential Warranty||Light Commercial||Commercial|
|GemCore Stone Composite MAX||20mil||Lifetime Limited||15 Year||5 Year|
|GemCore Stone Composite||20mil||Lifetime Limited||15 Year||5 Year|
|GemCore Stone Composite (Diamond)||28mil||Lifetime Limited||20 Year||10 Year|
|GemCore LVT (Majesty)||20mil||Lifetime Limited||15 Year||10 Year|
|GemCore LVT (Advantage)||20mil||Lifetime Limited||15 Year||10 Year|
|GemCore LVT (Meridian)||12mil||25 Year Limited||5 Year||None|
Installation of GemCore flooring varies depending on which collection you choose.
For the Yosemite, Teton, Emerald, Topaz, Ruby, Sapphire, Jade, and Opal collections, you install using a tap-down locking system. Here’s a link to the instructions.
For the Crystal, Jasper, Diamond, and Garnet collections, you install using an angle-angle locking system. Here are the instructions.
On the other hand, all of GemCore’s luxury vinyl tile ranges have to be glued down; for detailed instructions, click here.
So, which method is the most convenient? Most installation pros we spoke to reported that the tap-down and angle-angle locking systems are similar and relatively simple to master, even by DIYers with moderate skills. The glue-down method is messier, more time-consuming, and requires more skill. And, of course, you have to take adhesive costs into consideration.
The standard GemCore Stone Composite line is priced between $2.99 and $3.59 per square foot, while the Stone Composite MAX line is priced between $3.69 and $3.89 per square foot.
Compared to similar SPC flooring products, such as Flooret Modin ($2.95) or Republic SPC MAX ($3.39 – $4.09), GemCore Stone Composite is in the middle. It’s slightly cheaper than Republic SPC but slightly more expensive than Flooret Modin.
Here’s our vinyl price comparison table which compares GemCore prices with other reputable brands.
|Brand||Price per square foot|
|DuraLux Performance||$1.39 – $3.49|
|Smartcore||$2.00 – $3.70|
|CoreLuxe Ultra||$1.39 – $4.79|
|NuCore Flooring||$2.35 – $3.80|
|Congoleum Triversa||$2.50 – $3.50|
|LifeProof||$2.79 – $4.39|
|GemCore SPC||$2.99 – $3.89|
|Mannington Adura Flex||$3.00 – $3.50|
|Mannington Adura Max||$3.00 – $6.00|
|Mohawk SolidTech||$3.50 – $6.25|
|Mannington Adura Rigid||$3.60 – $4.60|
|Pergo Extreme||$3.99 – $5.99|
|COREtec Plus||$3.80 – $7.99|
|Karndean Korlok||$4.50 – $7.00|
WHERE TO BUY
Hundreds of flooring stores across the country stock GemCore flooring. The best way to find a store near you is to use their find a dealer tool.
Alternatively, you can shop online. Several online stores stock GemCore, including LA Floor Coverings and Factory Direct Floor Store.
MOST HELPFUL CUSTOMER REVIEWS
GemCore customer reviews on the web are mixed. Some people praise the floor, while others report major problems.
“We had Gemcore Topaz installed in our new home 2 years ago. We have 2 cats and 2 labradors. We really love the product and had no issues so far. I’ve dropped many heavy objects on the floor with no scratches or buckling so far.” ~ Katie, Durham.
“I just bought a new condo and bought Gemcore Onyx. It was fitted by my builder and looks beautiful, but the floor is now separating at the seams. It’s only been 8 months since it was installed, and I’m the only one living in my condo, so there’s not a lot of foot traffic.” ~ Tia, Sacramento
“I’ve installed GemCore in two houses, and I love it. It’s easy to install and looks very close to real hardwood” ~ John, Seattle
“We just had GemCore Yosemite installed in our home. While it looks good, there are a few spots where the floor has some bounce. Has anyone had this issue?” David, Houston
HOME FLOORING PROS VERDICT
GemCore vinyl plank is a good example of a great brand that’s out there to be discovered if you’re willing to make a little more effort. You won’t find GemCore at the big box stores
About the Author: Greca Fotopoulos
Greca is the lead style writer at Home Flooring Pros (more), with a BA in Technical Art, she’s focused on flooring trends, flooring ideas, and flooring brand reviews.
“There’s nothing more satisfying than creating a home that you love. The hardest thing about this job is trying not to covet all the great floors I get to review; if I could remodel my home every month, I would!”