SPC vs. WPC Luxury Vinyl Flooring: Learn the Difference
| Fact Checked By: Sonal Agarwal
Published: April 30, 2020 | Updated: October 30, 2020
While searching for the perfect vinyl flooring, you’ve probably come across the terms SPC and WPC. Wanting to learn the differences and compare SPC vs WPC vinyl? You’re in the right place.
Both options are known for being 100% waterproof. SPC is a newer product with a signature rigid core that is virtually indestructible. WPC has been the gold standard for vinyl flooring and features a waterproof core that’s comfortable as well as functional.
In this head-to-head showdown, discover the pros and cons of SPC and WPC, learn how they’re made, and even compare the cost, durability, and comfort.
What is SPC?
Rigid core luxury vinyl flooring, also known as SPC flooring, is the most durable waterproof vinyl flooring option on the market. It has a similar construction to WPC, but it comes with an ultra-tough core, which is where the name “rigid core” comes from.
So what does SPC stand for? As it turns out, it stands for a couple of terms that are used interchangeably: stone plastic composite or stone polymer composite. It refers to the make-up of the core. The SPC core is what makes this flooring so incredibly durable, maintaining its form even over uneven subfloors.
That means you can install SPC rigid core luxury vinyl flooring on any level, over almost any existing (hard surface) subfloor and for any amount of traffic.
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Layers of Rigid Core Luxury Vinyl Flooring
The general wisdom used to be that thicker vinyl flooring was better. But with rigid core vinyl, the thickness of your vinyl really doesn’t matter.
Now, flooring manufacturers have created an ultra-thin, super-durable option. Rigid core luxury vinyl planks and tiles are specially manufactured to be ultra-thin, usually measuring no thicker than 6mm.
Just looking at the flooring, you might think it’s too flimsy or thin to hold up to anything, but just try giving it a bend. It’s really tough to even make it budge.
So what is giving this thin plank such heavy-duty performance? It’s the layered construction. SPC rigid core luxury vinyl flooring is typically composed of four layers, but this can vary between manufacturers.
Let’s find out what you can expect from SPC layers:
Backing Layer: This is the solid foundation of your plank. Often, the backing will also come with a pre attached underlayment.
SPC Core: SPC flooring contains a solid, waterproof core that won’t ripple or swell no matter how much liquid you subject it to. This core is ultra-dense with no foaming agents like you’ll find in traditional WPC flooring. It gives you slightly less softness underfoot, but it makes the flooring extra durable.
Printed Vinyl Layer: This layer features hyper-realistic photo imagery that makes the vinyl look so much like stone and wood.
Wear Layer: The wear layer is like the bodyguard of the plank; it protects your floor from wear and tear. In the case of wear layers, thicker still means better. SPC flooring often comes with thick wear layer options for heavy-duty protection.
Pros of Rigid Core Luxury Vinyl Flooring
- Waterproof: This is what makes both rigid core and WPC vinyl so popular. It’s perfect for business owners, pets and water-prone areas.
- Great for uneven subfloors: Rigid core is designed to be installed over any existing hard surface, including tile, even if it’s imperfect or not completely level.
- Ultra-durable: That SPC core makes this vinyl flooring the most durable vinyl flooring option out there.
- Realistic wood and stone looks: Top-end vinyl floors mimic natural materials better than ever before. SPC vinyl is the cream of the crop, so the visuals are usually incredibly convincing and beautiful.
- Low-maintenance: Keeping your floor looking fabulous is so simple. Occasionally vacuum and mop, and you’re all set.
- Easy installation: Rigid core luxury vinyl tiles and planks are easy to install yourself with most options interlocking and floating over your existing surface.
Cons of Rigid Core Luxury Vinyl Flooring
- Less comfortable than WPC: Manufacturers designed rigid core vinyl to be sturdy, not comfortable. That’s why it’s so popular in commercial environments.
- Colder than WPC: That stone composite core doesn’t hold a lot of heat, so you’re going to have some chilly floors when it’s cold out.
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What is WPC Vinyl Flooring?
WPC vinyl flooring is best known for being 100% waterproof. It is luxury vinyl flooring amped up a notch with a special waterproof core that makes it perfect for any room in the house.
WPC stands for wood-plastic composite, which makes up the waterproof core. The WPC core is enhanced with a foaming agent, making it slightly softer and more comfortable in addition to being completely waterproof.
This flooring is hugely popular amongst homeowners looking for the look of traditional hardwood without the maintenance. It is also one of the most popular flooring options for commercial spaces and businesses. It’s beautiful and low maintenance. Plus, it’s easy to install, making it a dream come true for DIYers.
Layers of WPC Flooring
WPC waterproof flooring is typically composed of four layers, but that can vary between manufacturers. In general, here’s what you can expect to find:
Backing layer: This is the bottom layer of your plank. It provides a sturdy base, and sometimes comes with an attached underlayment for added convenience.
WPC core: This is where the magic happens. WPC flooring contains a solid, waterproof WPC core. No matter how much water it encounters, it won’t swell, stain, or warp.
Printed vinyl layer: This layer features the gorgeous photo imagery of wood or stone that makes vinyl so popular as an alternative to natural materials.
Wear layer: This layer protects your floor’s surface from the wear and tear of everyday life. The thicker the wear layer, the better that protection!
Pros of WPC Vinyl Flooring
- Completely waterproof: From both the top and bottom, WPC vinyl is designed to withstand moisture and prevent water damage to your floor.
- Comfort: It’s true, you could just get a wood or stone look tile or SPC plank and it would also be waterproof. But those options are hard. Standing on a hard floor all day isn’t great for your joints or feet. WPC is more resilient and much more comfortable.
- Style: Vinyl is at the top of every trend right now. Luxury vinyl can come in those highly sought-after wood-look and stone-look styles that people can’t stop talking about.
- DIY installation: If you like doing things on your own, you will love how easy it is to install WPC flooring. Many come with interlocking tongue-and-groove systems that can float over your existing floor.
- Low-maintenance: With the occasional sweep and mop, you can easily keep your floor looking good as new.
Cons of WPC Vinyl Flooring
- More likely to dent: Compared to SPC rigid core vinyl, WPC isn’t quite as durable. That slightly softer core is more comfortable, but it’s also more likely to dent if you drop something heavy.
- Slightly less affordable: The cost of WPC is just a bit higher than SPC. However, as more and more companies develop their own WPC lines, we are starting to see WPC flooring prices drop and become more affordable. Also, it’s still less expensive than solid hardwood with way less maintenance.
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What is the difference between SPC and WPC?
So what is the difference between SPC Rigid Core and WPC waterproof vinyl? The answer to that lies in their different cores.
The waterproof core is the star of the show for both WPC flooring and rigid core flooring. A WPC core is made from wood plastic composite. The core contains an added foaming agent to increase resilience and comfort.
Meanwhile an SPC core is made from stone plastic composite. The stone is stiffer, sturdier and less resilient. The SPC has no foaming agent added, giving it a stronger, more robust core.
Because SPC is so durable, unbending, and virtually indestructible it’s often used for high-traffic commercial spaces. That rigid core also makes it less susceptible to dents, and that’s always a plus in areas with lots of heavy furniture or traffic.
If you were to compare these different options to different kinds of carpet, WPC flooring is like a plush, luxurious home carpet, while SPC rigid core is more like a commercial carpet. One is more comfortable, the other is more durable, and they both do their jobs really well.
So now that you know the basics of SPC and WPC, and you learned the differences between their core layers, it’s time for the moment you’ve been waiting for – the ultimate comparison of SPC and WPC vinyl.
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SPC vs WPC Flooring: The Showdown
WPC can be somewhat pricey when compared to other flooring options, but it also comes with a lot of benefits, like 100% water resistance. SPC vinyl is typically cheaper than WPC, plus it comes with those same features. That’s why rigid core SPC appeals to business owners so much!
SPC gets its extra durability from the rigid stone composite core, but that also makes it inflexible and cold. Since WPC has a core with more give, it’s more comfortable under your feet, and it retains some warmth, which is especially important in your home.
WPC is ideal for basements, bathrooms, kitchens, and all grade levels of the home. WPC is often considered a better option for residential use since it’s softer underfoot. SPC vinyl works in those areas, as well as in commercial spaces where there’s a ton of foot traffic.
While both SPC and WPC vinyl are incredibly durable, SPC edges out the competition. With that stone-plastic composite core, even the heaviest traffic or furniture won’t put a dent in the surface.
“100% waterproof” means exactly that – SPC and WPC are both completely moisture-resistant. Thanks to their advanced cores and layered construction, no water is going to damage these planks, from the top or the bottom.
It’s easy to install SPC and WPC on your own, because they both feature a convenient, interlocking tongue-and-groove system. Just click them together and you’re done!
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Which is Better: SPC Vinyl or WPC Vinyl?
In the end, there’s no way to say that either SPC or WPC flooring is better than the other. It all depends on where you plan to install it, and what you want out of your flooring.
Looking for something durable and more comfortable underfoot? Then WPC is right for you. Maybe you need flooring that can hold up to high traffic in a commercial space. If that’s the case, you need SPC vinyl.
Both options have a lot to love, and now that you know the differences, you’re certain to be happy with your choice. So, are you ready to shop?