SPC vs WPC vs Traditional Vinyl Plank

by | Jul 31, 2021 | DIY Flooring

Planning upgrades to your flooring but aren’t sure what to choose? It’s worth looking at all the different types of vinyl flooring available. Over the years, vinyl flooring has become one of the most popular flooring types because it’s one of the easiest floors to install and maintain that looks just like classic hardwood. Today, vinyl flooring has been made even better with rigid-core options—like WPC and SPC flooring—that offer even more variety, more comfort, and more durability than ever before.

Vinyl Quick Facts

In order to understand the differences between different vinyl flooring options, it helps to have a basic understanding of how vinyl is made. All vinyl is composed of PVC vinyl layers, a realistic 3D photo layer, and an extremely durable protective layer. Whether you’re using traditional vinyl or rigid-core vinyl options like SPC or WPC flooring, here’s what you can expect from all vinyl flooring options:

  • 100% waterproof
  • Durable and highly resistant to scratches, dents, and fading
  • Low maintenance and easy to clean
  • Versatile and can mimic stone or wood looks and texture
  • Long-lasting

Traditional Vinyl Plank vs. SPC vs. WPC—What’s the Difference?

 

The core difference between traditional vinyl plank, WPC flooring, and SPC flooring is—no pun intended—the core. Traditional vinyl plank has a thin, flexible PVC core, but WPC and SPC flooring both have a thick, rigid core made of PVC and other materials. For WPC, this rigid core is made of a wood plastic (or polymer) composite. For SPC, the rigid core is a stone plastic (or polymer) composite.

SPC vs. WPC Vinyl Flooring

Although traditional vinyl plank and the rigid core spin-offs share many of the same characteristics, the rigid core does affect the installation, resistance to temperature changes, and overall durability. The following are key differences between SPC and WPC:

            Price—WPC is typically more expensive than SPC.

            Heat Retention—WPC retains heat better than SPC, which means SPC flooring might be colder to the touch.

            Sound Absorption—WPC’s thicker core absorbs sound better than SPC.

            Stability—SPC is more stable under temperature changes and high heat than WPC.

            Feel—WPC’s thick padding offers a more comfortable, cushioned underfoot than SPC.

            Durability—SPC’s dense core is less likely to dent than WPC.

Overall, SPC is a great, cost-effective option for those who want vinyl flooring that can handle major temperature fluctuations and heavy impacts. On the other hand, if you’re looking for vinyl flooring with better sound absorption and a comfortable, warm underfoot, then WPC might be worth the additional cost.

Let’s take a deeper dive into each vinyl option to see which is right for you.

Traditional Vinyl—Most Budget Friendly

mannington vinyl plank lifestyle

Pros

  • ✅ Comfortable underfoot
  • ✅ Budget friendly

Cons

  • ✖ May require adhesive for installation
  • ✖ Cannot disguise an imperfect subfloor
  • ✖ Does not absorb sound as well as SPC or WPC
  • ✖ Most prone to movement during temperature fluctuation
  • ✖ Softer and more prone to dents than SPC or WPC flooring

Traditional vinyl is the one of the most budget-friendly options you can choose if you want something that’s durable, stylish, and long lasting. That being said, the original Luxury Vinyl flooring has a thin, flexible core, which has some drawbacks compared to the SPC and WPC flooring options that came after it. But first, let’s talk about the pros.

Vinyl Flooring Pros

The flexibility of the traditional luxury vinyl planks make your floor softer, and many styles include cushioning foam to increase comfort. Additionally, traditional vinyl plank might be more cost-effective than other vinyl plank options, averaging $20 to $30 per square meter.

Vinyl Flooring Cons

Traditional vinyl plank more often than not requires an adhesive and is glued to the subfloor. While the installation is still a fairly easy process, it’s not as DIY-friendly as the click-lock or tongue and groove installation of rigid-core vinyl flooring.

Traditional vinyl plank can be installed over most subfloors, but because it’s often thinner and more flexible than other vinyl, imperfections in the subfloor tend to reflect in the surface of your floors.

Lastly, compared to WPC and SPC flooring, traditional vinyl plank flooring is not going to be as effective at absorbing sounds within the room. Traditional vinyl plank is also more prone to expand and buckle under high levels of heat, so this flooring might not be the best option in a room with a large, sunny window.

WPC Vinyl Flooring—Ultimate in Durability and Comfort

oak steel laminate flooring

Pros

  • ✅ Easy to install
  • ✅ Disguises imperfect subfloor
  • ✅ Comfortable underfoot
  • ✅ Excellent sound absorption
  • ✅ Resistant to temperature fluctuations (though not as well as SPC)
  • ✅ Retains warmth

Cons

  • ✖ More expensive than other vinyl flooring options
  • ✖ More prone to dents than SPC flooring

WPC vinyl flooring has a rigid core with a wood plastic composition. The recycled wood pulp and plastic composites in the core of WPC lend additional strength and stability to your floors while an added foaming agent increases durability and comfort.

WPC Flooring Pros

If you’re looking to save money with a DIY installation, then WPC—or any rigid-core vinyl flooring— is the way to go. It uses a tongue and groove system to lock the planks into place, no glues or adhesives required! WPC is categorized as a “floating floor” because the planks “float” over your subfloor instead of being glued to it. This type of installation makes replacing or changing your floors so much easier.

The WPC’s floating installation can also help disguise an imperfect subfloor. In fact, WPC has a huge advantage in this area—the thick, stable core of the planks means they can be installed over uneven subfloors with ease. Some people have even installed it directly over existing hardwood or tile (though we still recommend removing your old flooring first).

Even compared to traditional vinyl, WPC has the most comfortable underfoot. The wood plastic composition also contains a foaming agent that adds padding and comfort to your walkways. This same foaming agent helps with sound absorption as well.

Though it has more give underfoot than other vinyl plank options, WPC’s rigid core is still more stable than traditional vinyl plank under changing temperatures, making it less susceptible to expansion and contraction. Plus, the flooring retains heat better than other vinyl plank options, so your floors won’t be as cold in the winter.

WPC Flooring Cons

Pretty much the only downside of WPC flooring could be the cost. It averages $35 to $60 per square foot while regular vinyl costs $20 to $30 per square meter. Compared to other vinyl options, WPC vinyl flooring is also more likely to dent.

SPC Vinyl Flooring—Best Durability on a Budget

vinyl plank lifestyle

Pros

  • ✅ Easy to install
  • ✅ Disguises imperfect subfloor
  • ✅ Absorbs sound better than traditional vinyl plank (though not as well as WPC)
  • ✅ Highly resistant to temperature changes
  • ✅ Budget friendly

Cons

  • ✖ Surface has hard underfoot
  • ✖ Does not retain heat well

Ready to take your flooring to the next level in both beauty and durability? Then SPC flooring should be an option at the top of your list! Considered the most durable flooring option on the market today, SPC has options to fit any design aesthetic while keeping durability at the forefront.

SPC Flooring Pros

We’re starting to sound like a broken record here, but it’s important you note that SPC is just as easy to install as other rigid-core vinyl plank options! Your floating floor will be easy to click into place during your DIY installation (or you can hire someone if you prefer.)

The durable core and attached core backing of SPC allows it to be installed effortlessly over nearly any surface. You can install it over uneven subfloors with little preparation and some people have even installed it directly over their old flooring (though we recommend removing your olds floors first.)

SPC flooring is going to be better at absorbing sound than traditional vinyl plank flooring (though WPC absorbs sound better). SPC uses stone plastic composite to make an extremely rigid core, making it virtually indestructible and the hardest to dent of all the other vinyl flooring options. Plus, the limestone composite core makes SPC incredibly stable under temperature changes and resistant shrinkage and buckling.

SPC one of the more budget friendly vinyl plank options, averaging $30 to $50 per square meter.

WPC Flooring Cons

With the extreme durability of SPC comes one drawback—you sacrifice a little comfort. SPC is much harder than other flooring. The floor might also be a bit colder because the stone core doesn’t retain heat as well as other vinyl flooring options.

What Will You Choose?

Now that you know a little more about all the vinyl flooring types, we hope your new flooring choice is easier to make. Not quite sure vinyl (or its subtypes) is right? Check out our ultimate flooring guide to explore the details of other great and affordable options! You can also reach out to an interior designer today to see which option is best for your project.

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