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Shaw Endura 512C Plus 7 Rigid Core Vinyl Planks

SPC Vinyl: What You Should Know About Rigid Core Flooring

You’ve probably heard of rigid core luxury vinyl flooring, and how it’s the next best thing since WPC vinyl (wood-plastic composite vinyl). There’s been a lot of talk about rigid core flooring in the last few years, but what makes it so great? And is it the right choice for you?

This guide can help you decide! Here, you’ll learn what rigid core flooring is, the pros and cons, how to install it, and much more.

Let’s take a look.

What is Rigid Core Luxury Vinyl Flooring?

Rigid core luxury vinyl flooring is also known as SPC vinyl flooring. SPC stands for stone-plastic composite. It’s the most durable waterproof vinyl flooring option on the market.

Known for being 100% waterproof with unparalleled durability, these engineered luxury vinyl planks use advanced technology to beautifully mimic natural wood and stone at a lower price point than WPC. 

It’s also a more durable alternative to WPC vinyl. The signature rigid core is virtually indestructible, making it an ideal choice for high traffic areas in the home, and areas with pets and kids. After all, it is used in heavy traffic lobbies, offices, and other commercial spaces.

Like WPC, SPC rigid core vinyl flooring is the top of the line for not just functionality but looks as well. With rigid core vinyl, you’ll see all the hottest wood and stone-look trends and colors in beautiful, convincing planks and tiles.

Related Content >> Vinyl Flooring Buying Guide

What Does SPC Stand For?

TritonCORE Pro 7" Rigid Core Vinyl Planks

SPC stands for stone-plastic composite. It describes the ultra-tough core of rigid core flooring. The stone-plastic composite makes the core layer virtually indestructible. It won’t dent and it maintains its form even on top of uneven subfloors.

That means you can install SPC flooring on any level, over almost any existing hard surface, and for any amount of traffic.

Related Content >> Waterproof Vinyl Buying Guide

Layers of Rigid Core Luxury Vinyl Flooring

Rigid Core Luxury Vinyl Flooring Layers

The layered design is what makes rigid core luxury vinyl flooring so durable. It’s typically made of four layers, but this can vary between manufacturers.

  • Wear layer: This layer protects your floor from wear and tear. SPC flooring is known for having a thick wear layer that offers more protection. Typically, the thicker the wear layer, the better the protection.
  • Printed vinyl layer: This is where you get your gorgeous photo imagery that makes the vinyl look nearly identical to natural materials like stone and wood.
  • SPC core: SPC vinyl contains an ultra-dense, durable core. This waterproof core won’t ripple, swell, or peel, no matter how much liquid you subject it to.

Backing layer: This bottom layer is the support of your plank. It often comes with pre-attached underlayment.

Rigid Core Flooring Thickness

Rustic House 7 Rigid Core Vinyl Planks

It used to be that the thickness of a vinyl plank was a pretty decent indicator of its durability. But that’s no longer the case. 

Rigid core vinyl happens to be one of the thinnest and most durable flooring options you can find. It’s specifically manufactured to be ultra-thin, usually measuring no thicker than 6.5mm.

Popular thickness options include:

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Rigid Core Flooring Wear Layer

COREtec Pro Plus XL Enhanced HD 9" Rigid Core

You already know the SPC core is going to keep your floor waterproof and durable. The interior of your flooring is good to go. To determine how the surface is going to hold up, you need to consider the wear layer. 

The wear layer is the top surface that protects against the wear and tear of heavy traffic. While thickness isn’t a big deal for the plank itself, it’s still an important factor for this layer.

The thicker the wear layer (or, the higher the mil), the more resistant your floor will be to traffic. 

  • 12mil: Although it’s the thinnest option, 12mil is still thick enough for any home and light commercial use.
  • 20mil: This is the most common wear layer for commercial environments.
  • 22mil: Flooring with this wear layer can hold up in intense commercial environments.
  • 30mil: The best of the best. This wear layer can handle even the most extreme traffic.

SPC Vinyl Flooring vs. WPC Vinyl Flooring

Shaw Anvil Pro Plus 7 Rigid Core Vinyl Planks

So if SPC vinyl and WPC vinyl are both waterproof, what’s the difference? And why would you pick SPC vinyl over WPC?

The difference is all in the waterproof core. Let’s dig into the details so you can decide if SPC is right for you.

About WPC Vinyl Flooring

Mannington Adura Max Waterproof Plank

In WPC flooring, the core is made from a wood-plastic composite. This core contains an added foaming agent to increase resilience and comfort. 

Imagine WPC flooring as a plush, luxurious home carpet. It’s soft and comfortable, but it’s not as durable or easy to maintain as a low-pile commercial carpet.

About SPC Vinyl Flooring

COREtec Galaxy Plus Rigid Core Vinyl Planks

As you now know, the core for SPC vinyl is a stone-plastic composite. It is unbending unlike traditional vinyl and virtually indestructible. 

SPC rigid core is more like commercial carpet. The flooring is thinner, less giving underfoot, and ultra-sturdy and durable.

SPC rigid core is less susceptible to dents from heavy furniture compared to WPC flooring. That’s what makes it great for commercial environments. No matter how much traffic you see, SPC flooring can take it.

Pros and Cons of Rigid Core Luxury Vinyl Flooring

Shaw Paragon Tile Plus 12" Rigid Core Vinyl Planks

Not sure if this is the right flooring for you? Check out the pros and cons to help you make your choice.

Pros of SPC Vinyl

  • It’s 100% waterproof: You can install it in any high-moisture room – bathrooms, basements, you name it. It’s also perfect for business owners, pets.
  • Perfect for imperfect subfloors: Rigid core vinyl flooring is designed to cover imperfect subflooring that might have minor cracks and dips. It’s engineered to be installed over any existing hard surface, including tile.
  • Ultra-durable: SPC vinyl flooring is the toughest, most durable vinyl flooring option on the market.
  • Realistic wood and stone looks: This flooring can mimic natural materials better than ever before. SPC looks are usually incredibly convincing and beautiful.
  • Minimal maintenance: All you need is the occasional vacuum and damp mop to keep your floor looking fabulous.
  • No expansion/contraction: One big worry for traditional hardwood flooring is expansion and contraction causing shifting or buckling in the floor. Rigid core does not expand or contract, even when moisture is present.
  • Easy, DIY installation: Rigid core luxury vinyl flooring is easy to install yourself with most options interlocking and floating over your existing surface.

COREtec Pro Plus 7 Rigid Core Vinyl Planks

Cons of SPC Vinyl

  • Less comfortable underfoot than WPC: Manufacturers designed rigid core to be sturdy, not comfortable. That’s why it’s so popular in commercial environments.

Where Should You Use Rigid Core Luxury Vinyl Flooring?

Shaw Endura 512C Plus 7" Rigid Core Vinyl Planks

While rigid core is typically sold as a commercial flooring option, it’s a great choice just about anywhere you need durable, waterproof flooring. Popular applications include:

  • Kitchens: If your kitchen sees lots of traffic, consider choosing rigid core vinyl flooring. You can always purchase an anti-fatigue mat to place over the areas you stand the most for added comfort.
  • Bathrooms: Because of its waterproof capabilities, rigid core luxury vinyl flooring is a great option for providing a gorgeous, realistic wood or stone look in your bathroom.
  • Basements: Many basements are prone to water damage so waterproof rigid core flooring is a great option. Additionally, you typically don’t spend as much time standing in a basement so the lower resiliency isn’t a big drawback.
  • Commercial and high-traffic areas: It’s perfect for commercial areas that see a lot of traffic. It’s also extremely popular in grocery stores and other environments where spills happen frequently.

Who Should Choose Rigid Core Luxury Vinyl Flooring?

New Standard 2 Rigid Core Planks

SPC flooring started primarily as a commercial flooring option. However, it’s quickly becoming a residential staple.

Almost anyone can benefit from rigid core’s waterproof features and durability. Here are a few types of people we highly recommend it to.

  • Pet owners: We know pets can completely wreck a floor between accidents, nails, and running, but rigid core flooring is built to handle it. It’s also typically less slippery on those little puppy paws than laminate.
  • Homeowners with imperfect subfloors: One of the biggest selling points for SPC rigid core flooring is that you can install it over uneven subfloors. Save money and ditch the leveling company by using rigid core flooring.*
  • DIYers: Most likely, you won’t need to rip out your existing subfloor. Just interlock and float your rigid core vinyl over the existing surface.
  • Business owners: Rigid core luxury vinyl flooring is designed with business owners and commercial spaces in mind. It is the most durable waterproof vinyl flooring option on the market. Its sharp looks keep your business looking modern and stylish.

*Note: Rigid core can be installed over most uneven subfloors. If the imperfections are extremely large, some leveling may still be necessary.

Related Content >> Vinyl Flooring Trends: 20+ Hot Vinyl Flooring Ideas

How to Install Rigid Core Luxury Vinyl Flooring

Mannington Realta 12" Rigid Core Vinyl Planks

Good news! Rigid core flooring is extremely DIY-friendly. These tiles and planks feature a tongue and groove interlocking installation that allows you to easily click and lock the floor together just like traditional laminate.

Instructions vary from product to product, but here is an example of what a typical installation consists of.

  1. Ensure your subfloor is clean, level, and free of any major imperfections.
  2. Place the first plank with the tongue side facing the wall. Press the end seam of the second plank into the end seam of the first plank, and then lock them together by laying the plank down. Continue working left to right.
  3. Install the first plank in the second row by inserting the tongue into the groove of the plank in the first row. Continue through the process until all planks are installed.
  4. Protect all exposed edges by installing wall molding and/or transition strips. Make sure that no plank will be secured in any way to the subfloor.

How to Cut Rigid Core Luxury Vinyl Flooring

Shaw Paragon Plus 5 Rigid Core Vinyl Planks

To cut your rigid core planks for installation, just follow these simple steps:

  1. Measure and mark the planks where you need to cut. 
  2. Use a minimum 40-tooth blade on a power saw to complete the cut.

How to Clean Rigid Core Luxury Vinyl Flooring 

COREtec Pro Plus XL 7" Rigid Core Vinyl Planks

This luxury vinyl flooring is easy to clean and maintain. Just follow these simple steps to keep your floor looking effortlessly beautiful for years to come.

  1. Sweep or vacuum up any dirt, dust, or grit once a week. 
  2. Clean up spills immediately to prevent damage to the floor.
  3. For the occasional deep clean, mop with a damp mop and a solution of soap and warm water. Never use a wet mop.

Here are some other helpful maintenance tips to prolong the life of your floor. 

  • Use felt pads under chairs and furniture legs to prevent scratching of the flooring surface.
  • Place doormats at all entrances to prevent tracked-in dirt, rocks, moisture, and other debris.
  • Avoid using rubber-backed mats as they can stain the flooring surface over time.

Rigid Core Vinyl Flooring FAQ

Shaw Cross Sawn Pine HD Plus Rigid Core

Still have questions about rigid core vinyl flooring? We have answers to the most frequently asked questions.

Does rigid core flooring need underlayment?

As is often the case with luxury vinyl flooring, the underlayment may come pre-attached. However, if the flooring you want doesn’t come with pre-attached underlayment, you will need to buy it. 

Underlayment is essential for your floor because it provides extra cushion, sound absorption, and thermal insulation, and it prolongs the life of your floor.

Does rigid core flooring need to acclimate?

Typically, you don’t need to acclimate rigid core vinyl flooring before installation. The stone-plastic composite core is dimensionally stable, meaning it doesn’t expand and contract with temperature changes. That means you don’t need to wait for SPC vinyl to get used to the temperature of your space.

However, you should still check the manufacturer’s instructions to ensure acclimation isn’t necessary.

TruCor 5 Series Rigid Core Vinyl Planks

Is SPC flooring toxic?

SPC vinyl flooring is a healthy flooring choice. It’s free of toxic materials and carcinogens like formaldehyde. You can also find low-VOC or VOC-free rigid core flooring that is FloorScore certified to have high air quality standards. Just look for the FloorScore badge on our products. 

Conclusion

Congratulations! Now you have everything you need to know about rigid core flooring. It’s the perfect durable flooring for busy homes and commercial spaces. Plus, it’s stylish and easy to maintain. If this seems like the perfect floor for you, get started with some free samples today!

ORDER FREE SAMPLES SHOP ALL RIGID CORE VINYL

About Ari Ziskin

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Ari Ziskin is our resident expert in all things fitness, dance and flooring trends. After five years of blogging at Ari’s Menu, where she was featured on sites like The Huffington Post and Buzzfeed, Ari decided to pursue writing full-time. Nothing makes her happier than sharing her knowledge to help people create their gyms and begin their fitness journey.

19 Comments on “SPC Vinyl: What You Should Know About Rigid Core Flooring

  1. The Rigid core luxury vinyl flooring. Is one of the best vinyl flooring. It is the most durable waterproof vinyl flooring out their. I have the wood color with the 20mil thickness and it looks beautiful in my home. It is the way to go if you are looking for vinyl flooring

  2. Temperature fluctuation questions/experiences…Is SPC is more stable for lower temps?? or in 3 season homes??… I live in the New England Area.. We have customers that have cabins on a lake..
    It is my findings that WPC can withstand lower temps (-20) than SPC’s (-5)…
    The SPC has a harder surface??

    Not a lot of info out there that states this..

    • Hi Cameron,

      Both WPC and SPC floors can be installed in a room that has temperature fluctuations, but, actually, SPC floors tend to perform better than WPC when it comes to extreme temperature changes. SPC floors have a denser core which makes them more resistant to expanding and contracting in extreme temperatures than WPC floors.

      Thank you for your question!

  3. This article says that “Rigid core luxury vinyl flooring is known by experts in the industry as WPC Vinyl 2.0.”
    It also says “Rigid core luxury vinyl flooring, also known as SPC flooring.” The article also says “SPC flooring contains a solid, waterproof WPC core”.
    You defined SPC as stone polymer composite. What is WPC?
    I’m confused. We would be interested in WPC because (according to article) it is more comfortable. We opted out of porcelain tile because my DW is worried about joint pain.
    So we are looking for a product with “more comfort”.
    Is the rigid core flooring available in both WPC and SPC? Or is “rigid core” NOT WPC?
    Please clarify, thanks.

    • Ok, I see that WPC = wood plastic composite, where SPC = stone plastic composite.

    • Hi Eric,

      Rigid core is SPC flooring- a stone composite center that makes it “rigid.” It is also waterproof.

      WPC is also waterproof, but has a more flexible core material, making it more comfortable.

      I hope this helps!

  4. I have 2 layers of old linoleum flooring in my kitchen, it is 1/8″ thick. I was going to install vinyl planking but installer said I would have to rip out the lino, because it was two layers, and that the floor would move. Is it ok to install Stone Polymer Composite vinyl planks right over the lino?

    • Hi Louise,

      Thank you for your question. SPC vinyl plank flooring can be installed over any existing floor. Just be sure to clear the linoleum of any debris and mop and dry the floor first. You’ll also want to level the floor if the surface has any embossing or seams.

      Hope this helps, good luck with your project!

  5. Hi, I understand the SPC and WPC planks themselves are waterproof, but what about the click-lock joining? It seems to me that such a joint cannot be made 100% sealed? Will water seep under the flooring if for example my dog up-ends her water bowl, or washing machine spills a load of water out and I am not immediately there to mop it up? In such a situation I should then remove the SPC/WPC flooring so that the underlying sections can be properly dried? Can the flooring be dismantled and then set together again?

    • Hello Nina! Thank you for your question.

      Today’s SPC and WPC click lock floors are designed to join together so tightly that water can’t quickly or easily seep through the seams. In the case of a flood or a washing machine malfunction, it’s possible that moisture can get through, likely around the perimeter of the floor. If that does happen, you can pull up the flooring until the subfloor is dry, and then you can lay it again.

  6. Is the SPC vinyl compatible with DMX Airflow DMX Airflow Premium 4 mm Flooring Underlayment? thank you!

    • Hello Lidia,

      Thanks for your question! SPC vinyl should work fine with this underlayment as long as it doesn’t already have an underlayment attached. Installing SPC with a pre-attached underlay over another underlayment could void the SPC warranty.

      Please let me know if you have any other questions!

    • Hello Javier!

      Thank you for your question. If this question is about radiant heating, then yes, you can install our engineered vinyl flooring over radiant heat floors. Let me know if you have any more questions!

  7. Hi. I have heard that the only default of this product is that it is not UV resistant and I also see nothing on your marketing about it? I want to install flooring on the South Coast of South Africa – known for very fierce UV radiation.

    • Hi Jacques,

      Thank you for your question! Most vinyl won’t be UV stable. Some manufacturers do add some UV resistance, but unfortunately, we don’t carry any UV resistant vinyl at this time. Vinyl flooring manufacturers will usually recommend you keep your shades/blinds closed whenever possible, and also occasionally rearrange your furniture to prevent one spot from getting too much exposure to direct sunlight.

      I hope this helps! Please feel free to reach out if you have any more questions.

  8. Hi there,

    Since SPC is less susceptible to expansion in cases of extreme temperature change can I install the kitchen cabinets on top of it? I want to avoid cutting it around the cabinets.

    Thanks,
    ZB

    • Hi Zoli,

      Thank you for your question! Kitchen cabinets can usually be installed on SPC as long as the SPC is glued down on the floor and not floating, but we recommend checking the manufacturer’s instructions before installing since not every product is the same.

      I hope this helps! Please reach out if you have any more questions.

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