How to Install Smartcore Pro Flooring
This article is one of a series I’ve written on how I’m turning my Tuff Shed into a fabulous garden “She Shed.” I’ve already insulated it, then covered the insulation with drywall (a project that definitely needed 2-3 people), put drywall primer on all the walls & ceiling…..then painted it! Next up came a more fun part: picking out flooring for the shed. In the end, I chose a wood laminate from Lowe’s that could handle big temperature swings: their Smartcore Pro flooring line. Here, I’ll discuss & show “How to Install Smartcore Pro Flooring in a She Shed!“
Though many of my “She Shed” projects have required a helping hand: the only *person* who helped install this flooring was my dog Charlie! Hopefully after reading this article, you’ll feel ready to tackle this project on your own, if need be…
Videos I Watched Prior to Install
All I did before installing my Smartcore flooring was to watch two videos, which can be found below. After watching two different styles for the install, I felt confident I could tackle this project on my own.
And I really like how in the second video, the guy is using a simple “tap-tap” method to settle the vinyl planks down to the floor. SO EASY, & it didn’t require me to buy any additional equipment (I didn’t even need a rubber mallet)!
At minute marker 2:36 in the video below, you can see the “tap-tap” method the gentleman uses to set the vinyl plank in place. You’ll always be tapping the LONG side of the flooring, as that’s really the only side accessible to you.
If you still don’t feel confident about installing vinyl flooring after watching these videos, keep searching on YouTube. There are LOTS of videos on this topic!
Tools I Used for Install
Of all my projects, I used the least amount of tools for this project…which I did not expect.
- T-Square (which we used for the drywall project too) to make a straight cut;
- Utility knife (this if how I cut the planks ~ by making several “scores” on both sides); but a…
- Vinyl Plank Cutter is an even easier way to cut any type of laminate wood flooring;
- A sander (I used this for the “tap-tap” method which is shown in the video above;
- Rubber mallet (can be used to tap short end of planks together more firmly);
- A Dewalt drill (used only to drill screws in the floor to start the project ~ the screws keep the first piece from moving around).
- Cleaning Supplies: I used a broom, mop, & leaf blower to make sure the floors were entirely clean & dust-free before starting. Then, I kept a pile of wet rags on hand to dust off each plank before installing.
Step-by-Step: How to Install Flooring
- Step One: Clean up the space & take out any unnecessary furniture, etc. I swept, mopped, & used my cordless leaf blower to blow out any remaining dust from the shed. You want a clean, even surface to work with. Because my shed was just installed, the floor was pretty even. If yours is not, you’ll need to use drywall mud to “fill” in any low spots, then sand them down to match the rest of the floor. An even floor is essential for installing Smartcore flooring!
- Step Two: Decide which side of the room to start on. I chose the left, & simply started laying planks down (no measuring involved). If you want, measure your entire space’s width, then divide it by the width of the planks ~ to figure out if you need to chop down your original boards to a shorter width. But again, I didn’t do this! Because I was working with a 12×12′ square room, I figured it would work itself out.
- Step Three: Lay your first boards down, with the grey strip facing out into the room ~ so you can attach it to your next boards!! Put another way, the side facing the wall is the side with NO grey strip/just an edge. To keep these first boards in place (because they can get squirrely & move around), my friend Caroline gave me a great tip: drill a drywall screw diagonally down into the corner of the floor, where it meets the wall. The screw is small enough to give you that few millimeters you need to leave between the board & the wall (in case of expansion). And more importantly: it holds these first boards in place as you start working. If you put a screw on each side of your first boards, they shouldn’t move (mine didn’t).
- Step Four: When you come to your first wall (length-wise), you’ll need to make your first cut. To make this cut, you can use a utility knife, or to make it even easier: a vinyl plank cutter. I used a utility knife & simply scored the board on both sides, then snapped the board in half ~ but this takes a little longer. The vinyl plank cutter makes these cuts in one motion, & will be more exact. Again, I didn’t take any measurements: I simply lined my board side-by-side with the board I wanted to attach to, flipped it over, drew a line with a sharpie, & started scoring (shown in photos below). ALWAYS make sure the grey (short) side remains, as that is what attaches to your existing plank board.
- Step Five: Use the board you just cut to start your next row. The “unpretty/cut” side faces the wall, which leaves the grey strip facing out, which will attach to your next plank. When you start your boards in each row, make sure you keep staggering & use all different lengths of boards, to ensure the strength of the whole.
- Step Six: On your second row, attach boards lenth-wise first to the original flooring ~ & then either “tap-tap” them into place (tapping on long side of the board). OR, use a rubber mallet to tap the short end down (& long end if necessary). NEVER use a hammer to tap the edges together, as it can damage the edges & render them useless. Before you tap into place, MAKE SURE the entire grey edge on the long end is firmly in place on both ends.
When I forgot to do that, I ran into trouble & had to go back.
- Step Seven: Continue adding planks in the same manner as above, making sure to stagger the size of the first planks in each row.
- Step Eight: On your final row, if you’ve already made your measurements in the beginning ~ this row should fall right into place, & already by the perfect width. If you’re like me & didn’t measure: you may need to measure here. Mine ended up being about 3/4″ from the right wall; a little more space than necessary. BUT, in my case, I knew there’d be a large potting bench on this entire side of the wall, so I left mine as is. If you do need to make small cuts at the end, a vinyl plank cutter will be far easier to use to make these more difficult cuts.
And that’s about it! This truly wasn’t that hard, & only took two days to install. To find out how my friend & I installed beautiful *real* cedar planks on the ceiling, read this article…
How to Install Smartcore Pro Flooring
On a scale of 1-10 (10 being most difficult), I’d rate this project a 4 out of 10. The hardest part was how I felt the next day. Because I was bent over for 4-5 hours at a time, my back hurt quite a bit. But luckily, it took just two days ~ & the second day went much quicker, because I knew what to expect.
This is definitely a project you can tackle on your own….I promise! And if Lowe’s delivers the flooring for you, it will be even easier….
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