NuCore Flooring | 2021 Waterproof Vinyl Plank Review

nucore waterproof flooring

It seems that rigid core flooring (EVP Flooring) is all the rage now in the luxury vinyl plank flooring market! And for good reason: this is a very stable type of flooring, extremely waterproof and generally available at very competitive prices.

NuCore flooring is a good example of rigid core construction. Available exclusively at Floor & Decor and retailing at less than $4 per square foot, it offers the authentic look and feel of wood or stone, at a bargain price.

Here’s our NuCore flooring review in full.

WHAT IS NUCORE FLOORING?

As mentioned above, NuCore is one of the new breeds of luxury vinyl plank, known as rigid core.

It is constructed in several layers (a bit like laminate flooring) with a resistant wear layer on top, followed by a decorative design layer (a wood or stone image), then a vinyl layer adhered to a waterproof rigid core made of plastic composite, and finally a cork backing that serves as underlayment.

All of the layers that are used to construct NuCore are 100% waterproof, and NuCore say that the top wear layer is not only scratch and satin resistant, but anti-microbial too.

NuCore waterproof flooring is available in a range of sizes, with wood look planks in 47.95” lengths and widths 3” to 8”, and stone looks in 12” x 24” tiles. Plank thickness is either 5.5mm or 6.5mm, and the wear layer is rather generous: 20 mil or greater.

Most of the NuCore rigid core designs have a texture that has been embossed in register (EIR), which means that the design layer itself is textured – usually following the line of the grain, or strata textures of stone. The idea is that, when you run your hand over a vinyl plank that has EIR, it will feel just like the real thing.

At the time of writing, there were 9 different stone look NuCore vinyl tiles, and 90 different wood look planks!

This is a huge amount of choice, as each design is entirely unique in color and tone, and just about every style is covered; from rustic hand scraped barn wood, to classic high gloss mahogany; whitewashed oak to dark gray and near blacks, and everything else in between!

PROS & CONS

The advantages of NuCore Rigid Core Vinyl Plank are:

  • an extensive range of styles and colors
  • competitively priced, under $4 per square foot
  • waterproof, scratch and stain resistant and anti-microbial
  • can be installed on, below, or above grade
  • can be installed in bathrooms and laundry rooms
  • installed as a DIY friendly floating floor, with locking method
  • has cork underlayment already attached

The disadvantages of NuCore Rigid Core Vinyl Plank are:

  • it is only available from Floor & Decor
  • scratch resistant does not mean scratch proof – customer experiences have been largely disappointed by this claim (see below), so be aware that NuCore flooring can get scratched

INSTALLATION

In most cases NuCore vinyl planks are installed as a floating floor, using an “angle-and-tap” locking method that does not require glue or nails. However, if your room gets sustained direct sunlight (as in a sunroom) it is recommended to glue the planks down to the subfloor with a cork adhesive.

NuCore can be installed over most types of subfloor, except for carpet. You can also install up to 6400 square feet without using any transition pieces or molding, allowing for a sleek, uniform finish.

WHERE CAN NUCORE FLOORING BE INSTALLED

NuCore vinyl plank flooring can be installed in any room and at any level of the house, including basements. Because it is waterproof, it is also suitable for bathrooms and laundry rooms.

However, we do not recommend you use this kind of flooring for wet rooms or very high humidity spaces, like saunas.

HOW DO I PREPARE MY ROOM BEFORE INSTALLING NUCORE?

For best results it is important to keep your room at a constant ambient temperature of between 60° – 80°F, before, during and after installation.

Unless your boxes of NuCore have been in super cold or super hot conditions during storage, there’s no need to acclimate your planks before installation. Simply get your subfloor ready and get on with the installation!

As with all floor installation, the subfloor needs to be clean, dry and level. Although NuCore comes with an attached cork underlayment layer, concrete subfloors should have an added vapor barrier, and Floor & Decor recommend using additional Sentinel Protect Plus underlayment if you’re concerned about sound absorption.

WHAT ABOUT RADIANT HEATING?

NuCore can be installed over subfloors with embedded radiant heating, as long as the maximum temperature does not go over 85°F, and provided certain installation controls are met – these are detailed in full in the installation guide.

CLEANING AND MAINTENANCE

Because of the lifelike surface texture, you’ll find that NuCore will require regular vacuum cleaning, using a soft bristle attachment. Follow up with damp mop using a vinyl flooring cleaner that doesn’t have wax or oil.

Ordinarily, we would recommend that you avoid using steam cleaners on rigid core flooring, but Floor & Decor claim that steam cleaners are allowed provided you don’t steam for prolonged time on one spot, use the lowest power setting and a soft pad.

Even though NuCore rigid core flooring is waterproof, it is still sensible to dry up spills quickly. Other sensible maintenance precautions apply, such as using felt pads under furniture, area rugs and doormats, and avoiding prolonged direct sunlight.

Read our How to Clean Vinyl Flooring post.

PRICES AND OPTIONS

NuCore is sold exclusively at Floor & Decor, and at the time of writing, cost between $2.35 and $3.80 per square foot. This puts it in the middle value range for rigid core flooring.

PRICE COMPARISON

Here is a selection of comparable brands for price comparison:

Brand Price per square foot
MSI $1.60 – $3.50
Islander $1.70 – $3.85
Smartcore $2.00 – $3.70
NuCore $2.35 – $3.80
Congoleum Triversa $2.50 – $3.50
LifeProof $2.79 – $4.39
Armstrong Luxe Rigid Core $2.79 – $4.39
Mannington Adura MaxAPEX $3.00 – $6.00
Adura Flex flooring $3.00 – $3.50
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
Armstrong Pryzm $4.90 – $8.00

CONSUMER REVIEWS

Floor & Decor do not currently offer customers the option to review their products; however there are consumer reports on their social media pages, many of which point to very mixed experiences with NuCore.

It seems the most widely reported negative experiences is that NuCore does get scratched – consumers need to remember that a claim to be scratch resistant does not mean that a product is completely scratch proof.

As with all flooring investment, care should be taken to minimize the risk of scratching, see Cleaning and Maintenance tips above.

We have also found a very informative blog post detailing one family’s largely positive experience of NuCore flooring which is worth reading.

The review is very open and honest about all aspects of the flooring including a few great observations:

“It doesn’t scratch easily, but our flooring has gotten some scratches. You have to hunt for them though. The scratches aren’t white, but brown in color, so they blend in with the floor.”

“We have one place where a seam popped. I think it is mainly due to the fact that we put a very large and heavy piece of furniture right beside that seam though.”

“So is it really waterproof? Yes, at least with the water issues we have had. Shortly after moving in, we had a major dishwasher leak…[but]… we never had an issue with the floor buckling, deteriorating or anything else because of the water. Now of course, we didn’t let the water sit there for hours to just see what happened, but all in all, no issues.”

14 thoughts on “NuCore Flooring | 2021 Waterproof Vinyl Plank Review

  • June 30, 2021 at 1:03 am
    Permalink

    After having this flooring for 2 years, I wish we had chosen something else. We used this for the whole house and used a vapor barrier as required for warranty. We had a certified installer do the work.

    Overall, initially, the floor looked good, but it definitely sounds and feels like plastic underfoot. It is not the wood-feel advertised. At first, it felt like a layer of plastic sort of floating above another surface, bowing upward a little in spots. Our installer said it would relax after a little time. It did…somewhat. The floor still feels like it flexes a bit as we walk on it.

    Dent Damage: We got Teflon feet for our chairs to prevent scratching. I thought this was what was recommended. They do not scratch, but do leave dents from as little as human weight on a kitchen chair. We now have an indentation texture around the kitchen table. We have been told that felt pads were recommended. That is not what I read at the time and I bought and installed the Teflon especially because of the floor installation. They tell me the flooring is dent resistant, not dent-proof. The warranty does not cover dents. I would expect it to withstand the weight of a human on a kitchen chair. That seems to be normal use. It would definitely be less pressure per surface area than someone walking with high heeled shoes!

    Shrinkage: Even though it feels like the floor has a gap between the vinyl and the concrete (with a vapor barrier), some planks have shrunken enough to pull out from under the baseboards and one seam in the hallway has split.

    Warranty: They say it is not a manufacturer’s defect; it is an installation error or water damage.

    I can guarantee these areas have not gotten wet, but am concerned that they deem it an installer error. Our installers only had a one year installation warranty. The shrinkage damage appeared after that time. I am concerned about future shrinkage, so will be pursuing an independent flooring inspection at my own cost.

    Reply
  • May 13, 2021 at 5:46 pm
    Permalink

    Floor and Decor (and NuCore) does not warranty the product if it falls apart if you use a rolling desk chair on it. Seems like they would have mentioned that when we purchased it. We have always been loyal Floor and Decor customers but no more. The labor alone is more than $750 to replace this.

    Reply
  • May 11, 2021 at 11:41 pm
    Permalink

    What is the best way to clean NuCore “coffee” flooring when drywall dust has lain on it? We’ve tried Bona with a mop and tonight I used a soft -bristled brush, dipped in a bowl of Bona, & wiped the floor with a clean towel. Unfortunately its not helping enough to get our planks make to their “out of the box” color.

    We’re desperate for a solution–our floor is brand new!

    Reply
  • March 30, 2021 at 12:51 pm
    Permalink

    this floor scratches and dents so easily–very disappointed. Now that I have completely read warranty it does not cover either!!!

    Reply
  • November 24, 2020 at 3:08 pm
    Permalink

    Very hard to clean.

    Reply
    • December 8, 2020 at 4:37 pm
      Permalink

      Hi, we’re considering buying the Nucor vinyl flooring. Is it hard to clean because of the texture or a different reason? Also, how was it to install?
      Thanks for taking the time to answer our questions!

      Reply
      • April 22, 2021 at 2:02 pm
        Permalink

        Haven’t had to clean it yet, but it scratches easily (rolling a vacuum over it, I kid you not) and many times the planks do not click together. I will end up replacing this junk.

        Reply
  • August 19, 2020 at 8:52 am
    Permalink

    I have install this product in our basement 4-5 years ago, directly onto our cement pad, no barrier as suggested by Floor & Décor. Against hope we did have a small flood in our basement when the sump pump didn’t activate.

    I have enjoyed the product, but I find it strange that there is no documentation ANYWHERE about how best to dry the floor or even if I should wash the floor with a anti microbial wash.

    I would love to get a some information about what best practices to follow AFTER Nucor has gotten soaked.
    I have been running fans and Dehumidifiers, but again I was curious about should I also wash the floor with a Anti Microbial wash or do anything else to it.

    A few side notes for anyone interested
    I installed myself. No issues with product. Just make sure you have a perfectly flat and clean surface. I have one spot that has a pebble and I can feel it thru the floor. I have another spot that isn’t perfectly level and this causes the plank edge to pop up a little (perhaps a millimeter). Make sure you get your seams tight.
    It is scratch resistant, but not scratch proof.
    We are on a cement subfloor, and we haven’t noticed any compression marks.
    It does have a slight plastic feel underfoot, but any wood product wouldn’t have held up in this location so this was our best and only to have a plank like floor.
    It does appear to have some static charge which makes it pick up dust quickly. (sweep often)
    We have seen no damage at all caused by the water.
    We are very happy with the product which has survived well in our basement which has gotten wet a few times.
    No noticeable wear in the walking paths, but we generally take off our shoes as well.

    Appears to be a lack of support information online about care of the floor, in general and post flood

    Reply
    • March 21, 2021 at 9:37 pm
      Permalink

      did you call their customer service to obtain the information you were looking for? I am thinking of buying flooring from them in near future. Just curious. Thank you for the detailed feedback.

      Reply
    • May 14, 2021 at 11:14 pm
      Permalink

      How an what do I use to clean my floor with

      Reply
  • August 12, 2020 at 3:29 pm
    Permalink

    The snap lock system on this lvp is sub par at best…the grooves break very easily..I’m in the process of laying about 750sq ft throughout a house. It’s hard to work backwards..its also very hard to get together under door jambs when you are installing without transitions

    Reply
  • June 28, 2020 at 3:45 pm
    Permalink

    I recently had Nucore vinyl installed in my home. The contractor used the recommended moisture barrier. I must say, I do not like the way this floor feels under foot. In some places it feels solid, and in others it feels spongy. If I had to, or could, take it up and use another product, I would.

    Reply
    • October 8, 2020 at 9:20 pm
      Permalink

      Put a long level or straight plank on your floor if you notice a gap in the middle or if it rocks back and forth like a seesaw then it maybe your subfloor which could be a problem with many other brands as well. You would then need someone who is good at feathering thins out.

      Reply
  • June 17, 2020 at 4:29 pm
    Permalink

    Can these floors be installed in a garage in NC?
    Please advise
    Thank you
    Liz

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *