Since their introduction after WWII, when other flooring materials became too expensive, vinyl flooring has steadily grown in popularity to become one of the most-used materials in homes. Due to their low price and realistic imitation of hardwood and stone, vinyl is found everywhere.
But the success of vinyl as a flooring material of choice also creates problems. Homeowners looking to install a vinyl floor in their homes are presented with such a wide variety of vinyl flooring that it is hard to decide which option is best for their homes, says Real Property Group.
Two of the latest additions to this already crowded family of vinyl floorings are Stone Plastic Composite (SPC) and Wood Plastic Composite (WPC). Beyond the fact that SPC has stone composite and WPC has wood composite, what are the main differences between the two?
Similarities between SPC and WPC
Before we explain the differences between SPC and WPC, let’s first look at their similarities.
Both SPC and WPC are rigid core luxury vinyl flooring. Rigid core flooring has a structure that gives them additional rigidity. The material is more durable. The rigid core luxury vinyl is installed via a click-locking system; it uses a glueless format.
SPC and WPC have four layers, a top wear layer, a decorative layer, an inner core, and a back layer. The wear layer on top comes in different thicknesses; 6, 8, 12, 20, and 30 mils. The two products are highly scratch-resistant and waterproof.
The wear layer of both SPC and WPC is made from vinyl. They use a thicker, denser, and more rigid material than in traditional click-lock vinyl, which allows them to hide up to ¼” of imperfection in a subfloor without it reflecting on the surface.
In terms of design and appearance, there is little to choose between SPC and WPC. Both can look like wood, stone, ceramic, marble, or any other kind of finish. The two are available in a range of interesting textures.
Both SPC and WPC are available in different formatting options. SPC and WPC can be manufactured in the following formats: wider or longer planks, wider tiles, and multi-lengths/widths in one carton.
Differences between SPC and WPC
The key differences between the SPC and WPC can be found in their core layers and locking mechanisms.
The core layer
WPC has a core made of vinyl and wood plastic (or polymer) composite, with microscopic air bubbles injected into the material to give it the ability to breathe and move. This cushion of air makes WPC flooring more comfortable underneath the foot. WPC is warmer and less rigid than SPC.
SPC also has a top layer of vinyl, but the microscopic pores in its core are filled with limestone composites. This makes SPC more rigid flooring than WPC. The drawback of having limestone composite inside the flooring is that it makes it cold and hard. At the same time, however, SPC's rigidity and other qualities make it the ideal flooring to install a radiant heat system under.
WPC has a unique click-lock mechanism that makes it waterproof, unlike traditional click-lock flooring. There is no fear of water penetrating the surface. But WPC only has top-down waterproofing. If moisture is in the subfloor beneath the flooring, the polymer core inside WPC can pull that water into the flooring and trap it. If water gets into WPC flooring, it will not escape because of the floor’s click-lock. When this happens, WPC floors can breed mold underneath them.
SPC does a better job of handling water than WPC. It is waterproof in the truest sense because it has bottom-up and top-down waterproofing. Water will not find its way into the flooring from its surface or the subfloor beneath it.
WPC gives under the weight of heavy household items. Due to air bubbles – highly compressible – inside the core of WPC flooring, these floors tend to dent when heavy objects are placed on them. In terms of the rate of wear, WPC wears out faster than SPC simply because it has a less rigid structure.
SPC is more durable; it does not dent in the same way as WPC does. This is because the limestone composites that fill the spaces inside its core do not compress or give way under heavy weight. Even when the wear layer thickness on SPC and WPC are the same, SPC floors are more resistant to wear from foot traffic because they are more rigid.
WPC and SPC are two of the best options for vinyl flooring available today. Each has its pros and cons, and the right product for your home depends on what you value more between comfort and durability. But overall, SPC is the newer, more durable, and less expensive option. It is also the better choice for basements.