This post may contain references or links to products from one or more partners of our parent company and/or subsidiaries of our parent company. For more information, visit this page.
February 26, 2021
NuCore flooring is a budget-priced luxury vinyl plank brand sold exclusively by Floor & Decor. And naturally, a lot of people want to know: is it good?
Does NuCore offer the features you’d expect from the best vinyl plank flooring brands? Or is it just another private-label budget option?
If you are simply looking for the best vinyl plank flooring brands, here is our list of the top 21 brands we reviewed.
Since we’re here to help you choose the right floor for you, we took a deep dive into NuCore flooring reviews, outlined the brand’s pros and cons, and compared it to some other big LVP brands like LifeProof and SmartCore to see how it stacks up.
So: is NuCore waterproof flooring worth purchasing? Find out below!
They’re just different names for the same product—a durable, super-attractive, totally waterproof hardwood floor alternative made of vinyl. That’s why NuCore is often referred to as “NuCore waterproof flooring”.
What Kind of Core Does NuCore Flooring Actually Have?
If you’ve been looking into different vinyl plank flooring brands, you probably know that a material’s core construction plays a big role in its durability and quality.
For example, SPC (stone-polymer composite) cores are known for their toughness; they can put even the most durable wood flooring to shame. WPC (wood-polymer composite) cores are known for their comfort underfoot, with a springiness that can go toe-to-toe with the best engineered wood flooring. So what makes NuCore cores “Nu”? What are they made of?
Well… it’s hard to say. Floor & Decor simply says that NuCore floors have a “rigid core” but provides no other info. So: it’s likely that NuCore’s core is just made of plain ol’ vinyl. While that’s not the end of the world, it’s also not ideal (we’ll explain why further down). And while it seems odd to us that a product called “NuCore” would have a generic core, we’re not here to judge—we’re here to review!
On the other hand, NuCore Performance has, according to Floor & Decor’s website, something that sounds like an SPC core (though they don’t call it that). So again: unclear.
How Thick is NuCore’s Wear Layer?
All NuCore flooring options sport a super-thick 22-mil wear layer. For reference, anything over 12 mils thick is recommended for residential use.
However: many NuCore flooring reviews suggest this wear layer isn’t as durable as one might think (and we’ll talk about that more in a second).
NuCore Waterproof Flooring Is Exclusively Sold by Floor & Decor
Like we said, NuCore waterproof flooring is Floor & Decor’s private-label LVP brand, and it’s the only place you can buy it.
This is actually a super-common practice for big box stores. These stores will usually contract with a well-known manufacturer, and simply slap their label on a certain product line.
We will say this, however: private-label products are usually budget options, and they often come with mixed receptions (for example, the cork flooring Lowes sells isn’t particularly great). And to be honest, NuCore waterproof flooring doesn’t seem to do much to break out of that pattern.
But It’s Unclear Who Actually Makes It
Floor & Decor is a store, not a manufacturer. But info on who actually makes NuCore flooring is pretty hard (read: impossible) to find on the internet.
For comparison, Home Depot’s LifeProof LVP is made by Halstead New England Industries, and Lowes’ SmartCore LVP is made by COREtec. Whoever makes NuCore is keeping it on the DL. And that also raises some red flags, since it’s impossible to know if it’s ethically-sourced or of high-quality.
We Do Know that NuCore Flooring Is Made in China
This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but like many types of flooring, NuCore is designed in the United States and manufactured in China.
If buying American-made flooring is important to you, a domestic hardwood might be a better choice, as many types of vinyl flooring are largely produced overseas. Lots of ash flooring and pine flooring products, for example, are harvested and processed right here in the US.
There are Two Main Lines of NuCore Flooring (and 5 Total Finish Options)
There are two variants of NuCore flooring, a “normal” line and a premium option:
NuCore (the original)
Standard NuCore comes in 5 finish options, while NuCore Performance only offers the first two:
NuCore EIR (Embossed-in-Register)
And within those 5 finish options, you’ll find a ton of color and style choices. Want the look of Douglas fir flooring in a more durable package? How about the look of ebony flooring at a reasonable price? No problem: NuCore has a style to match just about every hardwood species there is.
NuCore Flooring vs. Nucore Performance Flooring: What’s the Difference?
According to Floor & Decor, NuCore Performance is a bit more durable than regular ol’ NuCore flooring.
They say this is because it contains an extra additive in its wear layer: Techtanium Plus. Don’t worry if you don’t remember this from your chemistry class; it’s a totally made-up word.
Floor & Decor Claims These Two Lines Have Different Wear Layers…But it’s Unclear How
So what is “Techtanium Plus”? And why does it matter?
Well, almost all the best vinyl plank flooring brands include wear layer additives to better resist scratches and other common damage. Some of the most common additives are aluminum oxide crystals and tiny ceramic beads. Some companies even use industrial diamonds to strengthen their wear layers!
However: wear layers made of simple vinyl are not particularly durable, regardless of how thick that wear layer is. So the fact that there’s no actual information on Techtanium Plus isn’t a great sign.
In fact, a quick Google search for “Techtanium” largely shows results for two things:
A model of water heater.
A fire extinguisher company in The Philippines.
And yes, we’re serious.
Anyway, we’re not trying to pooh-pooh Floor & Decor’s internet presence—we’re just trying to figure out what the actual difference is between NuCore flooring and NuCore Performance flooring.
So: is NuCore Performance actually any different from regular NuCore? We honestly couldn’t say. And this might also offer a clue into some big durability issues that tend to pop up often in NuCore flooring reviews.
NuCore Performance is a Touch More Expensive
NuCore Performance is slightly more expensive per square foot, but the “Techtanium” (whatever that is) supposedly makes it more resistant to scratches, dents, and sun damage.
In fact, Floor & Decor gives the Performance line the OK to be used for sunroom flooring. However, it’s unclear whether regular NuCore waterproof flooring is OK for sunroom use too.
Some NuCore flooring reviews mentioned that it is, but only if you glue it down to counteract warping… which is odd, because warping is not something you’d expect from vinyl flooring. Weird.
Regular NuCore does have one big advantage over NuCore Performance though: it offers a lot more styles to choose from.
Both Options are Completely Waterproof
The one feature that both NuCore lines share: they’re completely waterproof.
All of that to say: there is one big issue here with the NuCore waterproof flooring designation. NuCore flooring reviews often mention that the seams of this product can pop up under certain conditions, rendering the floor not waterproof. We’ll talk about that more in the “cons” section below.
NuCore Flooring Reviews Are Generally Positive for Both Lines, But…
The NuCore flooring reviews we read would suggest that both NuCore and NuCore Performance lines are reasonably positive. But there’s a catch.
…Actual Reviews are Suspiciously Absent from Many Sites
NuCore flooring reviews are oddly difficult to find (especially for such a popular product) and those that exist seem to omit key details, like core composition, “Techtanium” definitions, and best uses. Oh, and there are zero customer reviews on Floor & Decor’s website itself.
How Much Does NuCore Flooring Cost?
NuCore waterproof flooring generally ranges between $2.50 and $3.80/sq. ft., which is below average for quality LVP. And remember that NuCore Performance occupies the higher end of that range.
It’s also worth mentioning that when it comes to vinyl plank flooring, you generally get what you pay for. There are budget options even among the best vinyl plank flooring brands. This pricing, though, is low for a quality brand.
And given that Floor & Decor doesn’t offer any information on who actually manufactures NuCore flooring or what’s in its core or wear layers… well, you do the math.
What Styles of NuCore Waterproof Flooring Are Available?
Back to the positive stuff!
There are well over 100 different patterns and colors of NuCore waterproof flooring—which is a fantastic selection.
Floor & Decor updates their selection every so often too, so if you don’t care for any current styles, you may find something in the future.
All of the different patterns are also divided into the 5 finish options we mentioned above. Most take on a very similar appearance to prefinished hardwood flooring, but like we said, some are available in tile-look variants too.
Before we dive into the texture options, though, it’s important to highlight that NuCore Performance is only offered in the Textured and EIR finishes. Standard NuCore comes in all five. Why? We’re not sure. Floor & Decor doesn’t clarify.
NuCore Textured takes up the bulk of Floor & Decor’s NuCore offerings. As the name implies, NuCore Textured feels like whatever it’s supposed to be imitating (i.e. oak NuCore should feel similar to real oak wood).
NuCore EIR (or Authentic Texture) seems to go a step further and—we guess—fully mimics the “authentic texture” of the source material. The reason for our hesitation? There’s very little info available that specifies the difference.
NuCore flooring reviews seem to like both finishes but there is one oddity: NuCore EIR is either cheaper or priced the same as Textured variants, so the assumption that EIR is the premium option is likely false.
Maybe it’s just manufactured using an EIR (embossed-in-register) process rather than whatever process is used to create NuCore Textured? We’re not sure; again, Floor & Decor doesn’t specify.
Nevertheless, the EIR finish supposedly does a good job of mimicking hardwood flooring.
If you’ve seen “hand-scraped finishes” on different types of wood flooring, you’ll know what this finish looks like. And in our opinion, these options do look good, even if they’re not actually finished by hand.
As it sounds, NuCore High-Gloss simply ups the glossiness of the finish. Wood-look floors still dominate this category but there are also a few tile- and stone-look choices too.
NuCore Smooth is essentially the same as the High-Gloss option, minus the “high” part. The effect is subtler, more matte, and there are fewer style options to choose from.
How Do You Install NuCore Waterproof Flooring?
NuCore flooring can be installed as a floating floor or using a more-traditional glue-down method.
What is a floating floor, you ask? Easy: a floating floor (also known as “click-together flooring”) is snapped together via tight-fitting grooves in each plank—meaning it’s held down by gravity and friction instead of by nails or glue (so it “floats” on the subfloor).
Is it as easy to install as magnetic flooring? No. Is it the second easiest way to install flooring? Very possibly.
All of that to say: installing NuCore flooring is an absolute breeze.
NuCore Flooring Reviews Say It Can Be Installed Almost Anywhere
Another great thing about NuCore—and LVP in general—is that it can be installed almost anywhere in the home. And NuCore flooring reviews say it lives up to this claim.
However: Floor & Decor mentions that NuCore is not intended for garages or workshop spaces. We’re not really sure what to make of that. Maybe it means NuCore can’t handle heavy objects?
The Pros of NuCore Flooring
Ok! Now that we know all about NuCore’s basics, let’s talk about its specific advantages. To be fair, NuCore waterproof flooring’s pros mostly come down to the fact that it’s LVP, rather than anything specific to the floor. That said, it seems to be an okay vinyl plank floor for the (very low) price.
NuCore Mimics Hardwood Reasonably Well
NuCore flooring is a great substitute for many wood flooring types, and you can use it to create classic wood floor designs like herringbone parquet.You can definitely tell the difference, but from a distance, NuCore could fool the casual looker.
There are TONS of Options to Choose From
One of the best things about NuCore flooring: it offers a huge selection.
For example, let’s say you want the look of hickory flooring in your living room. If you know anything about the pros and cons of hickory flooring, you’ll know its price tag can be high. NuCore flooring gives you the appearance of hickory—in whatever finish you want—but without the disadvantages of hickory flooring (like the price).
Floor & Decor says that (almost) every layer of its NuCore flooring is waterproof, and the NuCore flooring reviews we read seem to agree. This makes it a good choice for mudroom flooring, and it’s clearly superior to water-resistant wood flooring in this regard.
But: like we said earlier, there may be a reason to question this claim (more soon).
NuCore comes with a lifetime limited residential warranty and a 15-year commercial warranty (20-year for NuCore Performance). That’s a fantastic warranty for any floor.
But: these warranties have a huge downside that we’ll get into in a second .
NuCore Waterproof Flooring Comes with a Built-In Backing
NuCore flooring comes with a back layer that you can place directly atop your subflooring (learn what subflooring is here). The layer is intended to make the flooring comfier, but it’s not a true substitute for underlayment—so be warned.
And that Backing Is Made of Cork, Which Is Quiet and Comfy
The backing layer is also made of cork, so it’s quiet and has a tiny amount of give that reduces impact force. This makes it sound-dampening and comfortable to walk on.
That said, NuCore is GreenGuard Gold-certified as a low-VOC flooring choice—meaning it’s very safe for your family and home. It still contains a small amount of VOCs, but nowhere near a harmful level.
Of course, if you want zero-VOC synthetic flooring, non-toxic laminate flooring and non-toxic vinyl flooring do exist. And while there are many differences between vinyl plank vs. laminate, they’re not so different that you can’t substitute one for the other.
The Cons of NuCore Flooring
While NuCore flooring reviews are generally positive, there are a few flaws—big, big flaws, actually—that tend to pop up when you read enough of them.
NuCore Flooring Reviews Suggest it Scratches and Dents Really Easily
First and foremost: NuCore flooring reviews often mention that the floor is actually super easy to scratch and dent. For a supposedly “resilient” floor, that is really not good.
After all, people buy LVP because they want scratch-resistant flooring. So if this vinyl plank isn’t actually scratch-resistant… well, that’s a big problem. And again, this raises the concern that Floor & Decor may be exaggerating NuCore’s durability.
This susceptibility to damage may be explained, however, but the next two cons.
The Product’s Wear Layer is Thick, But Not Effective
NuCore waterproof flooring has a 22-mil wear layer, which is super-thick by industry standards.
However: as we said before, a thick wear layer doesn’t always mean a good wear layer.
Remember what we said about most wear layers having added compounds to make them more effective? And about how Floor & Decor offers zero info on what their wear layers are made of?
Yeah, that means it’s not particularly durable. If their wear layers are simple vinyl, they offer very little extra protection. And since we can’t find any info about what “Techtanium” is, we can’t say that it offers any more protection than regular NuCore.
And that’s probably why this “resilient” flooring isn’t actually resilient against scratches.
And Its Core Is Probably Just Made of Vinyl—Hence the Denting
The fact that Floor & Decor doesn’t specify what NuCore flooring’s core is made of suggests that it’s just vinyl (with no extra additives).
We know what you’re thinking—is that really so bad? It is vinyl flooring, after all!
Well, yes and no. Like we said, most other LVP brands infuse their cores with other materials to make them more durable or comfortable—even floors in NuCore’s super-budget price range.
So the fact that this floor is (most likely) straight-up vinyl probably explains the issues with denting we see so often in NuCore flooring reviews.
NuCore Vinyl Seams May Also Be Vulnerable to Warping…
Some reviewers note that after moving furniture or cleaning their NuCore flooring, they noticed damaged planks. In particular, they noticed that the seams had popped up.
This suggests their NuCore floors may be warping—perhaps due to temperature changes, or because it can’t handle heavy objects (like furniture).
The reviewers don’t single out a particular collection either, and while we’d usually dismiss an isolated claim, this complaint pops up often. And obviously, that’s not good for a vinyl plank floor.
…Which Makes Us Question How Waterproof It Really Is
If LVP starts to warp, it loses its seal. Without a seal, water can seep through the cracks, causing all sorts of nasty problems (like mold and mildew). While NuCore itself may be waterproof, we’re betting your subfloors aren’t.
The best vinyl plank flooring brands are completely waterproof. If NuCore struggles with this… well, you get the point.
The Grooves Between NuCore Flooring Planks Can Be Hard to Clean
This only applies to some products, but a few NuCore flooring reviews point out that it can be extremely hard to clean in between planks.
Admittedly, this isn’t entirely fair because seams are literally what separates vinyl plank from sheet vinyl (and NuCore isn’t the only brand that suffers from this issue). But it may suggest the seams are too deep, or that some products may have too deeply-beveled edges.
Some NuCore Flooring Reviews Say That It Loses Its Sheen
Another thing numerous reviews point out: NuCore flooring loses its sheen relatively quickly. Unfortunately, this is only covered by the warranty if the design layer suffers more than two square inches of damage.
NuCore Flooring’s Warranty Has Really Frustrating (and Bizarre) Limits
For one, NuCore’s warranty is prorated—which means that for each year of ownership, the warranty covers less and less damage. Essentially, this destroys the benefits of any warranty.
Additionally, the warranty only applies to the original buyer and won’t cover labor costs.
Many types of common damage aren’t covered by the warranty either, including scratches and dents (despite claims that the product is resistant to both). Add this to the quickly-piling list of durability concerns.
Floor & Decor will cover fading, defects, and a “total loss” of pattern in spaces of at least two square inches so long as the flooring was installed properly and subjected to “normal residential traffic.” Vague.
Like Most LVP, NuCore Isn’t Super Environmentally Friendly
This isn’t a con of NuCore flooring so much as it’s a con of Floor & Decor’s website. There are no customer reviews on the entire site, so you have to take the company at its word that the product is good. And given everything we’ve seen and read, we’re not totally prepared to do that.
NuCore Lacks Transparency. And That’s Not a Good Sign
As you’ve probably noticed, NuCore flooring reviews and Floor & Decor product listings seem to leave a lot out. Who actually makes it?What’s the core made of?Can it actually be used in sunrooms? What’s the wear layer made of? Why does it seem to have issues with warping? Why are there no reviews on the website? What the heck is “Techtanium Plus”?
There’s a pattern here and, well, the silence seems to be an answer. With most products (of any kind), a lack of transparency is rarely a good sign. And that’s all we’ll say about that.
How Does NuCore Flooring Perform Against Other LVP Brands?
How does NuCore flooring stack up against other brands? The short answer is that it might hold its own against other lower-end box-store brands—but is seriously lacking when compared to better LVP brands.
NuCore vs. Pergo Extreme
Our Pergo Extreme reviews explain why this LVP option is tough to beat, at least when compared to NuCore. Pergo doesn’t suffer from the same durability concerns, it’s unquestionably waterproof, and there are options just above the price range of NuCore flooring.
NuCore vs. Proximity Mills
Proximity Mills is the newest LVP option on this list and arguably the most intriguing. For one, it’s one of the very few LVP options that’s recyclable. It comes in zero-VOC options. And like it may just be the most durable option here. But what we really love about it is its cost-to-benefit ratio. If you’re looking for performance LVP on a budget, it’s the one we’d suggest.
Newton is a true budget brand, in that it sells solid, dependable products without the bells and whistles. So how does it compare to NuCore? In a word: favorably.
Newton’s products are cheaper, they have better cores (just check out the specs of their vinyl products) they have comparable wear layers, the list goes on. If you’re looking for a classic LVP product that’s better than NuCore’s (and if you don’t need the insane durability of a Proximity Mills or a Pergo Extreme), this might be the brand for you.
NuCore vs. Doma
If you’re looking for something that’s both gorgeous and dependable, you might want to consider checking out Doma’s LVP flooring. This company makes some gorgeous vinyl floors, which are probably the most stylish and trendy ones available today.
Doma’s LVP is also eco-friendly, as they only sell low-VOC or VOC-free products.
NuCore vs. LifeProof
LifeProof vinyl flooring is Home Depot’s high(er)-end in-house LVP brand. And to be blunt: it’s not very good. The problem: we’re not sure we can definitively say that NuCore is better, because there’s so little to go off of—unlike LifeProof, which has reviews and info everywhere.
NuCore vs. SmartCore
SmartCore flooring is Lowe’s private label brand and suffers from many of the same flaws as LifeProof. NuCore flooring offers a significantly larger selection of styles than SmartCore, but SmartCore is a more well-constructed product.
NuCore vs. COREtec
CORETec is the inventor of wood-polymer composite cores (WPC) and is widely respected as one of the top brands in vinyl. So, we feel confident in saying that the only area that NuCore definitely wins is the price tag: CORETec costs about $3–$9 more per square foot than NuCore.
But: CORETec’s higher price is attached to a way-better product
NuCore vs. Shaw
Shaw is in the same boat as CORETec (it actually owns CORETec). On average, its many lines of LVP cost more than NuCore, but the extra moolah goes towards superior durability and quality too.
So: Is NuCore Flooring Good? It’s Not the Worst Ever, but NuCore Flooring Reviews Suggest it’s A Product to Avoid
Is NuCore waterproof flooring good? Compared to budget options like LifeProof and SmartCore…eh. We’d say it’s similar, if a bit lower in quality. But then again, it’s cheaper to buy—so you get what you pay for.
Is NuCore flooring good compared to top brands like CORETec? Definitely not.
The durability concerns are problematic, especially considering that great brands like Pergo and Proximity Mills are both comparable in price and don’t have those concerns. And given its issues with warping, losing its sheen, and warranty snafus, we’d say it’s probably a brand to avoid.
But like we said: it’s really, really, really affordable. So if you’re willing to take the risk for that price, we say go for it!
If not, we’d recommend checking out some of our other articles—or finding a top-rated flooring store in your area to get some expert advice. And whatever you choose, good luck with your flooring project!
Christian is a freelance everything-writer, editor, & SEO guy. When he’s not writing about flooring and remodeling, he’s either writing news for the California American Legion or writing fresh content for his camping & EDC blog (or, you know, actually camping).
Hickory luxury vinyl plank (LVP) flooring has become one of the most popular types of flooring over the past few years. It is a durable and affordable alternative to traditional hardwood flooring, as well as being fairly easy to install. Here we will take a look at what hickory LVP flooring is, how it compares […]
If you’re looking into waterproof laminate flooring, you probably have some questions. First among them: is there waterproof laminate flooring? As in, does it even really exist? As it turns out, waterproof laminate flooring is real—and some of the best laminate flooring brands make it.
If you’re looking into different types of floor tiles, you’re probably in on the secret already. But if not, you should know: tile is cool now! And we mean cool. Like, hipster-fabulous, Brooklyn-bound, ultra-chic cool. Let’s put it this way: tile is so cool, the Washington Post even wrote an article about just how cool it is.