General Flooring Knowledge, Luxury Vinyl Flooring

All About Luxury Vinyl Flooring

Luxury Vinyl Plank and Tile: SPC and WPC

You will come across these terms a lot, if you haven’t already. But, what do they mean?

The meat of both WPC flooring and SPC 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 typically used for high-traffic commercial spaces. It is unbending and virtually indestructible. Structurally, the WPC core contains an added foaming agent to increase resilience and comfort. The SPC has no foam added, giving it a stronger, more robust core.

As far as dents from heavy furniture, SPC rigid core is less susceptible to this than WPC flooring due to its more rigid core. That’s what makes it great for commercial environments. No matter how much traffic you see, SPC rigid core can take it.

All luxury vinyl contains a wear layer. The wear layer is built into the vinyl and plays an important role in the durability of the vinyl floors. The wear layer lies between the printed design and urethane finish. This layer is a key factor of how well your floors will hold up over time. If the wear layer breaks down, the printed design will damage and fade. This coating helps keep the original appearance of the floor for a long time, without the need for polishing or buffing.

The thickness of the wear-layer varies, and is generally measured in mils (thousandths of an inch) or millimeters (thousandths of a metre). A thicker layer is more resistant to scratching and denting. Better quality flooring tends to have the highest wear layers but is more expensive. Building professionals tend to stick with a minimum of 12 mil for residential and 20 – 28 mil for commercial. You should look for vinyl planks with a wear layer of at least 12 mil. If you have an active family or an assemblage of pets, consider buying 20 mil or higher.

Let’s take a closer look at each of them.

Construction of WPC Flooring

  1. Wear Layer – The wear layer is the top coating on the vinyl floor that is transparent. This adds scratch and stain resistance to the vinyl plank.
  2. Vinyl Top Coat – Each WPC vinyl floor has a thin layer of vinyl adhered to the core.
  3. Decorative Print– The decorative print layer is the design of the flooring.
  4. WPC Core – The WPC core is made by combining wood pulp, plasticizers and foaming agents to create a sturdy, waterproof core that is stable, yet comfortable under foot.
  5. Attached Underlayment – WPC vinyl floors may or may not come with attached underlayment. These are usually included to help with sound reduction and add softness to the floor.

Benefits of WPC Flooring

  • Waterproof: WPC vinyl is 100% waterproof. There will be no swelling of planks or damage if exposed to spills and moisture. There is also limited movement with temperature changes.
  • Appearance: WPC vinyl can be found in a multitude of looks, textures and styles.
  • DIY Installation: WPC vinyl features an easy click lock installation method that is DIY friendly. No adhesives or glues are needed for a floating floor!
  • Comfort:WPC has a stable core giving it a rigid, yet soft feel under foot. WPC also tends to be thicker, which will add to a feeling of comfort.
  • Application: WPC flooring can be installed below, on or above grade. The floating installation makes it easy to install over other floors, such as hardwood or tile.
  • Affordability: Although WPC vinyl is engineered, it is still very budget friendly. Depending on the brand and features, you can find WPC vinyl within a variety of budgets.
  • Easy Maintenance and Cleaning: The easy maintenance is one of the best perks of WPC vinyl flooring. Cleaning and maintaining a WPC vinyl flooring only takes regular sweeping, occasional mopping and spot cleaning.

 Construction of SPC Flooring

  1. Wear Layer – The wear layer is the top coating on the vinyl floor that is transparent. This adds scratch and stain resistance to the vinyl plank.
  2. Vinyl Top Coat – Each SPC vinyl floor will have a thin layer of vinyl attached to it. This layer is waterproof and will contain the pattern, texture and look of the floor.
  3. Decorative Print– The decorative print layer is the design of the flooring.
  4. SPC Core – The SPC core is made by combining limestone powder and stabilizers to create a dimensionally stable and waterproof core.
  5. Attached Underlayment – SPC vinyl floors may or may not come with attached underlayment. These are usually included to help with sound reduction and add softness to the floor.

Benefits of SPC Flooring

  • Waterproof: This is one of the biggest factors in choosing SPC vinyl. It is 100% waterproof, which means it can be installed in kitchens, bathrooms, laundry rooms and restaurants without worry.
  • Stability in Temperature Fluctuations: With the stone construction, SPC vinyl is more stable in environments with temperature changes, such as cabins, homes with AC units and homes with humidity fluctuations.
  • Appearance: SPC vinyl flooring can have a variety of looks, textures and styles.
  • DIY Installation: SPC vinyl flooring is a click-lock installation system. It is installed similarly to a regular vinyl and laminate with a tongue and groove installation. No glues or extra tools are required. This is a floor for the everyday DIYer.
  • Comfort:The SPC vinyl floor is going to feel sturdier and more cushioned under foot than traditional vinyl due to the dense core and thickness of the plank. A thicker plank will give you more comfort. Also, some SPC vinyl will have attached underlayment that adds to the softness under foot. If it does not have attached underlayment, you can opt for an LVT specific underlayment to install over the subfloor.
  • Sound: With the dense core, this plank tends to have a quieter sound. You will not hear a hollow sound when you walk on it.
  • Affordability: SPC vinyl plank flooring is very budget friendly. Depending on the brand and features, you can find SPC vinyl in a variety of price ranges.
  • Easy Maintenance and Cleaning: An SPC vinyl will have the same cleaning and maintenance needs as a regular vinyl. These planks are designed to be easily cleaned with regular sweeping and mopping.

 Commercial or Residential

An important consideration is the rating – is it rated for residential or commercial traffic? Both have the same maintenance requirements, but planks appropriate for business settings can hold up to excessive use. However, they tend to be a bit more costly.

It’s helpful to compare the commercial warranty with the residential. An extended industrial warranty usually signifies a thicker wear layer. Flooring manufacturers tend to err on the side of caution with commercial customers. By underrating the vinyl plank’s life expectancy, companies avoid costly warranty claims. In contrast, residential flooring is expected to withstand less abuse over a longer period. If the plank in your home needs to hold up to rolling loads, exposure to grease or extreme use, you should consider the commercial grade rating as a better indicator of how long your vinyl planks will last.

Other Considerations

When shopping for vinyl plank, look at the warranty, core construction, wear layer, and attached underlayment before making a final decision. If your flooring doesn’t include it, you can add an underlayment during installation. However, never add a second layer of padding. If you do, your planks will eventually shift, and the warranty will not cover this.

If durability is your primary concern, look for vinyl planks with the highest wear layer thickness. Your retailer should provide you with documentation detailing these features. Don’t be fooled into thinking that more expensive flooring is always the better choice. While that is sometimes the case, often you are paying for the name, not necessarily the quality.

 

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2 thoughts on “All About Luxury Vinyl Flooring

  1. Suzanne says:

    Would vinyl be a good choice for a cottage with radiant heating??

    1. Andrew says:

      In general, the answer is yes. However, every manufacturer has its own requirements for installing their products over radiant heat. Make sure you ask about each specific product you are interested in.

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