If you’ve visited a flooring store or looked around online, you may have seen or heard terms like LVT, LVP, WPC and SPC. Thanks to new technology, the flooring industry is changing at an unprecedented pace. I’m going to discuss these new options and hopefully, at the same time, decode this new flooring lingo.
What is LVT?
Luxury Vinyl Tile (LVT) or Luxury Vinyl Plank (LVP) is part of the Multilayer flooring category. It was first introduced as waterproof glue-down tile or plank. It has since evolved into a floating floor with a locking system applied at the perimeter of the planks.
Since it’s introduction about 7 years ago, LVT flooring has shifted the industry demand for almost 100% waterproof flooring.
Aside from being waterproof and inexpensive, one of the advantages of LVT and LVP is that it’s thin profile enables it to be installed over existing flooring that may be dangerous or costly to remove.
Loose vinyl plank flooring is considered ideal for the DIY installer. However, for kitchens, high traffic settings or areas where a wheelchair will be used, a glued down floor is best to avoid creep and marring from wheels.
Vinyl flooring materials have what is called “drape,” which means they will conform to the surface they are applied to and any irregularities in the subfloor will telegraph through. More floor prep may be required for an LVT floor which will increase the overall cost without adding any value to your home.
If a floor is identified as LVT but it has a rigid substrate, it actually falls under the classification as being either WPC or SPC resilient flooring.
What is WPC?
WPC or Wood Plastic Composite flooring was developed out of a need to reduce LVT telegraphing and floor prep. At its most fundamental, WPC combines the rigidity more common to laminates with the waterproof quality of LVT to create a product that transcends both categories. This flooring is sometimes referred to as rigid LVT or rigid core.
WPC is more durable than LVT and is ideal for residential and light commercial applications.
WPC tends to compete with laminate flooring. The big advantage WPC has over laminate is that it is more suitable for environments that have potential moisture infiltration—typically bathrooms and basements. In addition, WPC products can be installed in large rooms without an expansion gap every 30 feet, which is a requirement for laminate floors.
Rigid core vinyl flooring material construction includes a foaming agent, which creates air pockets in the core that function as a heat and sound insulators for ultimate comfort underfoot and noise mitigation.
The floating, locking system used in WPC flooring means it can be be removed easily – making it ideal for a temporary flooring solution in a commercial/retail environment where exposure to sunlight/heat is not critical, but pricing economics is a factor.
Another benefit I like about rigid vinyl floor products is that you can find accessory parts such as integrate flush floor vent covers and stair nosing created from the same material.
What is SPC
SPC or Stone Plastic Composite (I’ve also seen Solid Polymer Core and Mineral Composite Core) vinyl flooring is considered to be an upgraded version of engineered vinyl flooring. It typically features a core that is comprised of around 60%-85% calcium carbonate (limestone), polyvinyl chloride (PVC) and plasticizers.
Because SPC’s core layer is comprised of limestone, it has a higher density in comparison to WPC, though is thinner overall. Newer stone or mineral core floors being produced with 85% mineral core and 15% non-PVC binders are being marketed as an alternative to ceramic tile citing more comfort underfoot and ease to install with click locking installation system.
SPC can be produced on a single piece of equipment and has a decided price advantage over WPC and performance that beats out traditional LVT. Many manufactures are abandoning offering WPC and choosing to focus on SPC products that look like wood and stone.
Rigid mineral core flooring offers even greater dimensional stability than WPC making it ideal for large spaces with high temperature fluctuations —such as sunrooms and foyers—and areas where cabinets, appliances and islands will be set upon the floor.