What is WPC Vinyl Flooring? Top 10 Things to Make You a WPC Expert
WPC flooring stands for Wood Plastic Composite. These 100% waterproof engineered luxury vinyl planks and tiles are DIY-friendly, featuring an effortless interlocking system that can be installed over most existing subfloors.
WPC vinyl flooring is extraordinarily durable and known for its gorgeous, realistic aesthetic. Using advanced technologies, manufacturers are able to beautifully mimic the look of natural wood and stone at a lower price point.
There’s a reason WPC vinyl is taking the flooring world by storm! This bad boy is changing the way people buy flooring and it will only continue to grow and increase popularity over the next several years.
There’s a lot to learn, but first, let’s take a look at what other industry experts have to say about WPC vinyl flooring.
“Luxury vinyl tile was already one of the fastest growing floor covering categories. When you add to its benefits waterproof features and ease of installation, WPC products are a homerun for the consumer. We’ve already seen a new generation of products out in the marketplace with enhanced stability, durability and stain and indent resistance. And, there is a laser focus on bringing out realistic visuals. This is just the beginning. I expect suppliers to continue to innovate in the coming years to help fuel the growth of this category.” – Amy Rush-Imber, Editor in Chief, Floor Covering Weekly
WPC Red Wine Challenge
Before we get into the details on WPC vinyl flooring, I want to show you just how legit these floors are. We wanted to put WPC vinyl’s ability to hold up to water damage and stains to the test and soaked that bad boy in red wine for 24 hours. We compared it to laminate and engineered hardwood to see how each floor would hold up.
What Is WPC Flooring?
WPC vinyl plank flooring and WPC vinyl tile flooring are 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 just about any room in the house.
WPC is the best of the best in the vinyl flooring world and 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. And, as a woman, I can admit – that’s not very common!
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Layers of WPC Vinyl Flooring
WPC waterproof flooring is typically comprised of 4 layers.*
*Can vary between manufacturers.
This is the backbone of your plank.
This is the main attraction! WPC flooring contains a solid, waterproof WPC core. It won’t ripple, swell or peel no matter much liquid you subject it to.
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. Often, WPC vinyl flooring is the highest quality vinyl on the market. This means you get the most realistic looks that people will swear are real wood/stone!
Just like with traditional vinyl, the wear layer is like your bodyguard; it helps protect your floor from dents, scratches, etc. The thicker the wear layer, the buffer your bodybuilder, you feel me?
WPC indoor flooring is known for having a buff, beefy wear layers offering more protection. When you look at vinyl flooring, it’s just as (if not more) important to look at wear layer thickness as plank thickness.
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Is WPC the Same as LVT/LVP?
WPC vs LVT / LVP. So.much.lingo.
LVT stands for luxury vinyl tiles and LVP stands for luxury vinyl planks. Sometimes you will find LVT/LVP that are also waterproof/WPC, but not always. They mean two different things.
Typically, all WPC products will be considered luxury vinyl tiles or luxury vinyl planks, but not all luxury vinyl is WPC. Kind of like how all golden retrievers are dogs, but not all dogs are golden retrievers. It’s a specialty in the luxury vinyl market.
It’s worth noting, the term “luxury” is kind of like “organic”. There isn’t an industry standard or definition so you have to be a little wary when you see it. Usually (and, for us, always), a luxury vinyl product includes a thick, durable floor, multiple layers, realistic 3D printing, a tough wear layer, and sometimes, a textured surface. If not, it’s probably more like that junk food that sticks an organic label on the cover to make you think it’s healthy.
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WPC Vinyl Thickness Options
Why does this matter?
Simple: a thicker plank is denser. It’s going to feel sturdier, and more substantial beneath your feet, as well as covering up for a less-than-stellar subfloor. It will also provide more resiliency and durability, making it more comfortable to stand on for extended periods of time, and also more likely to withstand the test of time.
All of our WPC vinyl flooring is relatively thick and definitely dense and durable enough for entire home use. If you’re trying to determine the best quality, you’ll want to look more at the wear layer than plank thickness.
That being said, here are the available WPC vinyl thickness options:
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WPC Vinyl Wear Layer Thickness Options
The wear layer is the top surface of your WPC vinyl flooring. The wear layer is like the bodyguard for your floor. If your options were a scrawny little thing, or a big, bulky, tough and ready-for-battle bodyguard, obviously you’d want the latter.
While no bodyguard (wear layer) is perfect, there is a wide range and great options for every use and price point. Pretty simply put, thicker = better. The thicker the wear layer (or, the higher the MIL number), the more resistant your floor will be to scratching and scarring. Which wear layer do you need? Well, let’s take a look at our options.
- 8MIL. This is really all you need for a residential space. In fact, in the vinyl world, an 8MIL wear layer is considered pretty darn good. It just happens to be the lowest we offer in the fancy stuff. Yes, WPC is fancy.
- 12MIL. If you have a super crazy home with a ton of traffic going on, the 12MIL will give your WPC vinyl floor a little extra security. It’s almost like insurance for your floor.
- 20MIL. The best of the best. 20MIL wear layers will keep even the busiest commercial space lookin’ good.
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Pros of WPC Vinyl Flooring
- It’s 100% waterproof. I mean, this is the trademark of WPC vinyl. The only other floor that can claim to be 100% waterproof is glazed manmade tile.
- Perfect for imperfect subfloors. Little known fact: because WPC vinyl is so thick and durable, it can hide an imperfect subfloor. I know, I know, you don’t care what the subfloor looks like. But do you care about dropping a bunch of extra money leveling it beforehand? With WPC vinyl, oftentimes, you won’t have to.
- Realistic wood and stone looks. Seriously, vinyl is changing. Rapidly. The top-end vinyl floors are able to more realistically mimic natural materials better than ever before. WPC vinyl is the best of the best, which means the looks are usually incredibly convincing and beautiful.
- More resilient than tile. It’s true, you could just get a wood or stone look tile and it would also be waterproof. But tile is hard. Standing on a tile floor all day isn’t great for your joints or feet. Vinyl is more resilient and much more comfortable.
- Zero maintenance. All you need is the occasional vacuum and damp mop to keep your WPC looking fabulous.
- Kiss the phthalates goodbye. So long, farewell, auf Wiedersehen, goodbye. Many of our WPC flooring options are phthalate-free.
Cons of WPC Vinyl Flooring
- Price. This is probably the only downside to WPC vinyl flooring. It comes with a lot of bells and whistles and the price can reflect that. Although, 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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Where Should You Use WPC Vinyl Flooring?
A better question would be where shouldn’t you use WPC vinyl flooring. Honestly, you can use WPC for any indoor application. So you wouldn’t want to use it to floor your entire backyard, but it’s great for any room in the house or business.
Because it’s waterproof and super durable, there are a few locations that are especially popular.
- Kitchen. The warm wood look is so popular in kitchens right now, but if you’ve ever had solid hardwood floors, you know they don’t hold up to the kitchen. At least not a kitchen that you actually use. WPC vinyl is the perfect alternative. You can also go for a stone look and it’s a little easier on your feet and joints than traditional tile.
- Bathroom. Yes! You can have the look of wood floor in your bathroom and you don’t have to worry about flooding. WPC vinyl is easily as good a choice as ceramic tile in any bathroom.
- Basement. Basements can be prone to flooding so flooring can be tricky. Luckily, WPC vinyl gives you an option for a gorgeous wood or stone look floor in your basement without the worry of damage during a flood.
- Commercial space. WPC vinyl is one of the most durable flooring options on the market. It can hold up to the high traffic of commercial spaces, piece of cake.
- Anywhere! There really isn’t a bad spot for WPC vinyl floors. We just recommend you keep ’em inside.
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Who Should Choose WPC Vinyl Flooring?
Okay, cool. But is WPC right for you?
While anyone can benefit from WPC vinyl, there are a few types of people we’d really recommend it to.
- Parents. Your kids are going to spill things. And if they don’t, like WHO ARE THEY? WPC vinyl is great for parents who want their home to look beautiful and not worry about the kiddos ruining their floors.
- Pet owners. Arguably the best pet-friendly option on the market, WPC vinyl won’t cause your pups to slip and slide the way laminate can. It’s 100% waterproof so accidents are easy to clean and it still looks as gorgeous as hardwood.
- Business owners. Have you ever looked down at the floor in your doctor’s office, restaurant or even grocery store? You’ll see gorgeous wood-look flooring that somehow looks fantastic no matter what’s gone on there recently. Chances are it’s WPC vinyl. We have some in our office and we find that business owners absolutely love it.
- Everyone! There’s no wrong person when it comes to WPC vinyl!
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Why WPC and Not Laminate or Regular Vinyl?
The answer is pretty simple. WPC vinyl is 100% waterproof. Traditional vinyl and laminate floors are not.
Additionally, the thicker planks lend themselves to uneven subfloors, giving you less prep work before your wpc flooring installation. These thick planks also tend to be more durable and provide thicker wear layers which prevent your floor from dents and scratches.
WPC is like the best of the best in the vinyl world. Of course, many people are fine with traditional, water-resistant vinyl. But if you need that extra protection, nothing will do it quite like WPC.
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Popular WPC Manufacturers
Okay, so how do you find this magical flooring? There are a few brands known for their WPC vinyl flooring lines.
As the world of WPC flooring took off, we saw a need to take the best of the best and make it…even better! Our TritonCORE WPC flooring has it all with sharp, trendy colors, free 3 day shipping and a FloorScore certification to ensure clean air quality.
Here are a few things that make TritonCORE stand above the rest:
- Attached cork underlayment. For those of you not savvy on the flooring lingo, underlayment is an optional layer you can put between the subfloor and your floor. It usually helps with sound and temperature transmission, as well as overall comfort. Well, cork is the best of the best when it comes to underlayment and TritonCORE provides this as a standard. This ends up saving you money down the road because you don’t have to purchase a separate underlayment.
- High-density WPC core. All WPC vinyl floors have a waterproof core, but TritonCORE just takes it a step further with a custom high-density WPC that provides extra thickness and stability.
- Valinge 5G interlocking system. This easy, single-action, drop-in interlocking system offers the most DIY-friendly installation on the market.
- Best value. TritonCORE gives you all the bells and whistles at the lowest price. Win, win.
- Lifetime warranty. Enough said.
Okay so COREtec may not be quite as traditionally well known as Shaw and Mohawk, but when it comes to WPC vinyl flooring, COREtec is pretty much the main event. It’s like…if you were comparing restaurants, COREtec would be Chipotle and Shaw and Mohawk would be more like Qdoba and Cafe Rio. Each of them awesome in their own right, but COREtec is the staple and industry leader of its kind.
USFloors essentially created the concept of WPC flooring. For years, they had a patent on it and no other brands could compete. It’s only once the patent expired that other brands were able to step up to the playing field.
So when people talk about how WPC is the future of flooring, USFloors and COREtec are to thank! They have completely revolutionized the flooring industry.
Shaw’s Floorte line is perfect for anyone looking for WPC vinyl on more of a budget. It is the only WPC vinyl flooring on the market (that we’re aware of) that you can get at the same price as traditional vinyl and laminate.
These planks still offer a realistic wood look while maintaining the 100% waterproof capabilities that WPC vinyl is known for. They are, however, a little thinner and more limited in their warranty.
Mohawk offers an in-between option. Their prices are typically somewhere between Floorte and COREtec. Additionally, their warranty also falls in the in-between with a 35 year home warranty, which, if you ask me, is pretty darn good.
You can find some really unique looks in Mohawk’s WPC vinyl line that will make you forget all about solid hardwood. Seriously, they’re gorgeous!
Now, this could change any day as technology advances, but as of right now, all of our WPC vinyl floors come as interlocking floating floors. What does that mean for you? Well, those are the easiest kind to install!
So think about it – you don’t have to worry about unevenness in your subfloor* and you can easily install the flooring yourself. All the sudden the higher price point of WPC vinyl flooring is starting to seem more reasonable when you realize how much money you’re saving!
*Note: WPC vinyl can make up for a slightly uneven subfloor with normal cracks and wavering. However, if your floor is totally unlevel, not even magical WPC vinyl can fix that for you. In that case, you need to get someone out to moderately level your subfloor.
Ready to get started with WPC vinyl flooring?