The Truth on LVP, WPC, SPC, & More Like These

Waterproof options have flooded the flooring market, and many consumers are confused or misinformed about the products. Most companies and big box stores tout the “waterproof” part of these products, but leave out important information that may influence buyer decisions. Let’s take a minute to break down fact and fiction about waterproof flooring.

Waterproof flooring has 3 main categories; Luxury Vinyl Plank (LVP), Wood Plastic Composite (WPC), and Stone Plastic Composite (SPC).

Luxury Vinyl Plank (LVP)
LVP was the first product introduced under the waterproof category. It has been used commercially for quite a while, then it slowly worked its way into the residential sector. It is made with PVC that has had a picture printed on top which is then coated with a urethane ware layer to protect it.

LVP is generally thin at only a few millimeters thick. In most cases it is best to glue it down. It needs to be installed on a level well prepped floor.

Wood Plastic Composite (WPC)
To reduce the need for floor prep they started coming out with WPC. It is a thicker more rigid product that floats over your floor. It has 4 main layers; underlayment, WPC rigid board, a vinyl design layer, and a protective layer.

Vinyl Design Layer and Protective Layer:
This part is virtually the same as LVP. Its vinyl that’s been printed on, embossed, and given a protective layer that is glued to the WPC board.

WPC Rigid Board:
The WPC board is where these products differ from regular LVP. They make the board by combining wood pulp, plastic, and binders to make a rigid board. This is where the locking mechanism will be cut into.

The underlayment can either be cork or foam and will either be attached to the boards or come in rolls to be rolled over the floor before installation. Its main purpose is to keep the floor from slipping around. It also gives the floor a little cushion.

WPC is a great option if you want LVP but for applicable reasons can’t glue it down, or if you are really concerned about transposing.

Stone, Plastic, Composite (SPC)
The most recent type of waterproof flooring is known as SPC. SPC is very similar to WPC except that rather than using wood in the rigid board, they use stone. This eliminates the need to acclimate the floor. These products are even more rigid then the WPC products.

Pros and Cons
Now that we’ve gone over the basic differences here is a chart to illustrate the differences.

Cons Explained

LVP Cons
Imperfections in the floor underneath will most likely transpose through the vinyl.

There are LVPs that are made to float. Our advice is to glue whenever possible. Floated products are prone to gap as it is very temperamental in direct sun and with drastic temperature change.

Another point to keep in mind with these LVP products is they will compress over time under heavy furniture.

WPC Cons
The wood pulp in the WPC still makes this product vulnerable to direct sun light and temperature change. Another issue with these floors is deflection. Though the floor doesn’t have to be perfectly level for this to go down, any major imperfections can lead to deflection which can sometimes pop the locking mechanism.

The best underlayment is the foam. The reason is these floors are being sold as completely water proof, so you would expect it to last in a flood. However, if the cork gets wet it will swell and in many cases, fall off the bottom. This leads to your floor buckling. Products that use cork are perfectly fine in most cases, but don’t be disappointed if you have a washer leak and the floor doesn’t hold up.

These floors are great for heavily active families. They are reasonably priced and easy to install. They are products that can be put into bathrooms and kitchens to allow for seamless room transitions.They are durable, water resistant, and will last against most wear and tear. They are not indestructible or flood proof, and they will not replace the beauty of a true hardwood or tile floor.