Rigid Core Luxury Vinyl Flooring: SPC vs. WPC
It seems like just yesterday that WPC vinyl was the new talk-of-the-industry flooring product. I mean, to
be honest, it’s only been the “it” thing for the last few years, which is still considered pretty new in
the flooring world.
I’ve spoken before about the technological revolution transcending into flooring. It sounds crazy, right?
Like, flooring doesn’t really seem like something technical, but manufacturing and waterproof properties
really are. And they just continue to expand and evolve.
So what is rigid core luxury vinyl flooring anyway? Let’s take a look.
What is Rigid Core Luxury Vinyl Flooring?
Rigid core luxury vinyl flooring, also known as SPC flooring, is the most durable waterproof vinyl
flooring option on the market.
You know how vinyl has a reputation for being flexible and less sturdy than traditional wood or
laminate? Well, WPC vinyl is pretty darn sturdy, but SPC rigid core luxury vinyl flooring is like
standing on concrete.
This small, thin flooring may seem like it doesn’t have much unf to it, but it is the toughest of the
tough, specially designed to withstand the use and abuse of commercial environments.
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.
What Does SPC Stand For?
SPC is industry lingo for Stone Plastic Composite or Stone Polymer Composite (these terms are used
interchangeably). It describes the ultra-tough core of rigid core luxury vinyl flooring. The stone
plastic composite makes that core layer virtually indestructible, maintaining its form even on top of
What does that mean for you?
I’m glad you asked! It 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.
Layers of Rigid Core Luxury Vinyl Flooring
SPC rigid core luxury vinyl flooring is typically comprised of 4 layers.*
*Can vary between manufacturers.
- Backing Layer: This is the backbone of your plank.
- SPC Core: This is the main attraction! SPC flooring contains a solid, waterproof WPC
core. It won’t ripple, swell or peel no matter 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 resilience underfoot, but it makes the flooring a superhero in the durability
- 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,
rigid core luxury 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!
- Wear Layer: 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 bodyguard. SPC flooring is known for having a buff, beefy wear layer 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.
SPC Rigid Core Luxury Vinyl Flooring vs. WPC Flooring
So if SPC Rigid Core and WPC are both waterproof vinyl flooring options, what’s the difference? And why
would you pick rigid core over WPC?
The meat of both WPC flooring and rigid core flooring is the waterproof core. In WPC flooring, this is
made from wood plastic composite, while with SPC, it is made from stone plastic composite. The stone is
stiffer, sturdier and less resilient.
Imagine WPC flooring as your plush, luxurious home carpet. It’s soft and wonderful, but it’s not as
durable or easy to maintain as a low-pile commercial carpet.
SPC rigid core is this commercial carpet. The planks/tiles are thinner, less giving under foot and
ultra-sturdy and durable.
It’s no surprise then that SPC rigid core luxury vinyl flooring is traditionally used for
high-traffic commercial spaces. It is unbending unlike traditional vinyl and virtually
Structurally, the WPC core contains added foaming agent to increase resilience and comfort. The SPC has
no foam added, giving it a stronger, more robust core.
When it comes to scratches, both SPC and WPC are dependent on the wear layer. You’ll find options from
8MIL all the way to 20MIL+. The thicker the wear layer, the better your floor will hold up.
As far as dents from heavy furniture, SPC rigid core is less susceptible to this than WPC flooring due
to its, well, rigid core. That’s what makes it great for commercial environments. No matter how much
traffic you see, SPC rigid core can take it.
Rigid Core Luxury Vinyl Flooring Thickness Options
This is where things get really different. With rigid core, the thickness of your vinyl really
Everything you’ve ever read about vinyl flooring says “thicker = better”. And that has been true for a
long, long time.
But! Now, the flooring manufacturers have thrown us for a loop creating an ultra-thin, super-durable
option. Rigid core luxury vinyl planks and tiles are specially manufactured to be ultra-thin and
light, usually measuring no thicker than 6mm.
It’s funny because you look at the flooring and it looks thin and flimsy and you think “No way that’s
the most durable vinyl flooring option on the market!” But, it is! Just try giving it a bend. It
doesn’t matter how strong you are; that SPC core is stronger.
Popular rigid core luxury vinyl thickness options include:
Rigid Core Luxury Vinyl Flooring Wear Layer Options
The wear layer is the top surface of your rigid core vinyl flooring. Like I said earlier, 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 are a wide range and great options for every use and
price point. Pretty simply put, thicker = better.
Yes; for wear layers, this is still true.
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.
12MIL: Although it’s the lowest option in rigid core, 12MIL is still pretty thick –
definitely thick enough for any home and for less busy commercial areas.
20MIL: This is the most common wear layer for commercial environments.
22MIL: The best of the best. 22MIL is as scratch-resistant as vinyl flooring gets,
specially designed to hold up in the most intense commercial environments.
Pros of Rigid Core Luxury Vinyl Flooring
- It’s 100% waterproof: I mean, this is the trademark of both rigid core and WPC vinyl. It’s
perfect for business owners, pets and water-prone areas.
- Perfect for imperfect subfloors: This is the other trademark of rigid core luxury vinyl
flooring. All WPC vinyl is great for uneven subfloors, but rigid core is specially designed for
these types of situations, engineered to be installed over any existing hard surface, including
- Ultra-durable: SPC vinyl flooring is the toughest, most durable vinyl flooring option on
- Realistic wood and stone looks: Seriously, vinyl is changing. Rapidly. The top-end vinyl
floors mimic natural materials better than ever before. SPC vinyl is the best of the best, which
means the looks are usually incredibly convincing and beautiful.
- Zero maintenance: All you need is the occasional vacuum and damp mop to keep your floor
- Kiss the phthalates goodbye: Many of our SPC flooring options are phthalate-free. Just
check the product highlights to be sure.
- No expansion/contraction: One big worry for traditional wood 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 tiles and planks are easy to install
yourself with most options interlocking and floating over your existing surface.
- Sound absorbent: The SPC core of rigid core luxury vinyl flooring helps absorb sound,
making it great for second story businesses.
- Extra warmth:Rigid core is known for providing extra warmth, especially compared to cold
Cons of Rigid Core Luxury Vinyl Flooring
- Less comfortable underfoot than WPC: Manufacturers designed rigid core to be sturdy, not
comfortable. That’s why it’s so popular in commercial environments.
- Price: SPC flooring comes with a lot of bells and whistles and the price can reflect that.
Although, as more and more companies develop their own rigid core lines, we are starting to see
prices drop and become more affordable. Also, it’s still less expensive than solid hardwood with
way less maintenance.
Where Should You Use Rigid Core Luxury Vinyl Flooring?
While rigid core is typically sold as a commercial flooring option, it’s really a great choice just about
anywhere you need durable, waterproof flooring. Popular applications include:
- Commercial & high-traffic areas: Particularly, commercial kitchens and bathrooms that see a
lot of traffic and need a waterproof floor. It’s also extremely popular in grocery stores and other
environments where spills happen frequently.
- Kitchens: If you’re like me and your kitchen sees lots of traffic, you might consider going
the SPC rigid core route. 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: Basements are prone to flood and 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.
Who Should Choose Rigid Core Luxury Vinyl Flooring?
Just kidding. Well, probably not. Chances are if you’ve made it this far and you’re still interested in
what rigid core has to offer, it’s probably a great fit for you.
Almost anyone can benefit from rigid core’s waterproof features and durability. Here are a few types of
people we highly recommend it to.
*Note: Rigid core can be installed over most uneven subfloors.
- Business owners: Like I’ve mentioned, 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. And, its sharp looks keep your business looking modern and stylish.
- Pet owners: We know pets can completely wreck a floor between accidents, nails and running,
but rigid core is built to handle it. It’s also less slippery on those little puppy paws than
- 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 your existing surface.
If the imperfections are extremely
large, some leveling may still be necessary.
Rigid Core Luxury Vinyl Flooring Colors
You can find rigid core luxury vinyl flooring in just about every popular wood and stone color and
look. You’ll see lots of trending grays as well as blonde, honey and espresso wood looks.
Rigid Core Luxury Vinyl Flooring Installation
Good news! Just about every rigid core luxury vinyl flooring option 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
- Complete any necessary floor prep.
- Place your 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.
- 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.
- 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
Another bonus about rigid core? Cutting the planks is super easy – you don’t even need any fancy tools. In
order to cut your rigid core planks for installation, just follow these simple steps:
- Mark the measurement then use a utility knife and straight edge to score the plank..
- Turn the plank over and bend it back along the cut. Use your utility knife to cut the back in the
- Voila! You’re done! Seriously.
Rigid Core Luxury Vinyl Flooring Reviews
Curious about what others think of rigid core vinyl flooring? Check out a couple rigid core luxury vinyl
COREtec Pro Plus Rigid Core Vinyl Planks
“We turned out basement into a family room. We were worried about potential flooding and our uneven
concrete, but the experts at FlooringInc assured me rigid core was perfect for this. The floor
looks amazing and it seems really durable!”
New Standard 2 Rigid Core Planks
““Absolutely gorgeous! We went with Tarboro and have been very pleased with our friend’s compliments
as they see our new floor. Ready to entertain for the holidays so our family can see it too.”