It seems that rigid core 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
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.
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|
|LifeProof||$2.79 – $4.39|
|Armstrong Luxe Rigid Core||$2.79 – $4.39|
|Armstrong Element||$3.30 – $4.60|
|Mohawk SolidTech||$3.50 – $6.25|
|Mannington Adura Rigid||$3.60 – $4.60|
|COREtec Plus||$3.80 – $7.99|
|Armstrong Pryzm||$4.90 – $8.00|
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.”