What is SPC Flooring? An Ultimate Guide to Rigid Core Vinyl

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spc flooring

If you are looking at new flooring, you probably have come across the acronym SPC.

If you are wondering what it is, what it means and how it can benefit your floors, you are in the right place.

SPC vinyl flooring is rigid, durable and can withstand a lot of traffic (yes, even from your pets).

However, it isn’t the best solution for a lot of homes. Yours could be different! Follow along as we explore SPC vinyl and find out what it is best suited for.

Along the way we will define SPC, detail its composition, learn about its pros and cons, and much more. Plus, we will look at the top SPC vinyl brands so you know where to turn if you should decide SPC vinyl is right for you.

Best SPC Vinyl Brands

Almost every vinyl plank manufacturer has SPC options. However, not all of them are high quality, durable or worth the cost. These brands below, however, are worth every penny.

What is SPC?

SPC is an acronym that stands for Stone Plastic Composite. It is also sometimes called Stone Polymer Composite.

This is the material that makes up the core layer in Luxury Vinyl Planks (LVP) and Luxury Vinyl Tile (LVT).

The “stone” part is a bit of a misnomer, though it is made of a type of stone. Most SPC cores are made from limestone, recycled plastic and polymer pieces (usually as a polyvinyl chloride), adhesives and stabilizers. The result is a tough, thin and almost unbreakable core material.

When put in the middle of a vinyl plank or tile, it creates a durable piece that can withstand bending, temperature changes, water and high traffic. This makes SPC vinyl one of the best flooring materials for commercial properties.

SPC Flooring Pros and Cons

pros and cons spc flooring

SPC has a lot of great things going for it. However, it also has some things that aren’t favorable. Let’s take a look at the lists and let you decide if these are dealmakers or deal breakers.

Advantages

On the good side of the coin, we have:

  • 100% waterproof. All SPC cored vinyl is 100% waterproof and most brands and style are rated to be installed in wet areas.
  • Highly durable. Even with such a slim profile (about 5 to 6mm) SPC vinyl is extremely durable, rugged and won’t bend or crack.
  • Low maintenance. Once installed your floors can be cleaned with a hard flooring approved vacuum, broom and dustpan or even a wet mop. Your robot cleaners are fine, too.
  • Easy installation. As a floating floor vinyl planks and tiles can click-lock into place without the need for nails or adhesives, making install fast and DIY friendly.
  • Multiple styles. Each brand will have a varying number of styles, colors or patterns to choose from. However, for the most part you will find a style to match any need.

Disadvantages

Things aren’t always great, though. Take a look.

  • Cold under foot. SPC is not a material that retains heat. As such, when the winter comes, the floors can feel a little colder than you may be used to.
  • Not for every budget. While SPC vinyl isn’t the most expensive flooring option out there, it is a little higher priced than most. With a price falling between $4 and $6 per square foot on average, it isn’t made for every budget.
  • Made for commercial application. Even though SPC vinyl is sold for residential use, it is primarily designed and produced for commercial use. Because it is stiffer and more durable, it isn’t as ideal as a home flooring as other options.
  • Not soft. As you can imagine, a stone plastic core makes things pretty hard. When walking on the flooring, there isn’t a lot of give, which can be uncomfortable to some bare feet.

SPC Vinyl Plank or Tile Construction

Like most LVP and LVT, those with an SPC core are primarily made up of 5 layers. Some brands will have 4 layers and a few even have 6. However, for the ones made for home use, you will mostly find 5 layered options. This is how they are constructed.

Underlayment

The underlayment is generally made of cork. It is attached to each plank or tile which removes the need to buy more underlayment for your project.

The cork (or rubber) helps block cold and moisture from underneath while giving the plank a slight cushion when walked on.

Backing Layer

On top of the underlayment is a backing layer. This is a thin paper-like material that the rest of the plank or tile is mounted on. These sheets serve little purpose, but without them, the entire mold would fall apart.

If you purchase  LVP without an underlayment attached, the backing layer is what you will find on the bottom side. Different backing layer materials are also made specifically for different underlayment styles.

Core Layer

This is where the SPC comes in. It is the meat of the LVP or LVT and is the thickest part of the entire plank. As this article has covered, the core layer is made from an SPC or a WPC (wood plastic composite). We will compare SPC and WPC further below.

Vinyl and Image Layer

This is where you will find either 5 or 6 layers in your particular LVP. Some brands have their vinyl layer covered with a separate image layer, while most will print the image directly on the vinyl.

Either way you go, the thin vinyl layer holds the image that you are shopping for. This can be a wood grain pattern, stone-look vinyl, or even a random pattern or color. Higher quality brands use high resolution images. Some even go so far as to use relief embossing to make the planks look and feel like real wood.

Wear Layer

Finally, the very top of the plank is covered in a thin, clear wear layer. This is the protective layer that helps prevent scratches, gouges and keeps the image layer below looking good.

Different wear layer thicknesses will add or detract from the overall durability, but with SPC vinyl you will usually find the wear layer to be a hefty 8 to 12mil.

Best SPC Flooring Brand Reviews

best spc flooring

Here you will find a detailed review for each of the best SPC vinyl brands. Each brand has their own options and styles, so it is important to know what you are getting before you pull out that credit card.

1. Mohawk SPC Rigid Core Vinyl

Mohawk is a premium brand flooring company that prides themselves on offering durable, resilient flooring at affordable prices. Their rigid core line of waterproof LVP is a testament to that fact.

With Mohawk you get functionality, durability and eye-catching style all in one. They currently offer several lines from wood-look to stone-look LVT and LVP. The SPC cores are commercial grade, as with most SPC options, but will look great and function well in high-traffic homes as well.

The SolidTech Plus line offers the highest scratch resistance in its class and all options come with the All Pet Warranty Plus, giving you up to 25 years of scratch resistant warranty.

While the prices are slightly above average, the planks aren’t as costly as some of the other brands on this list, making Mohawk a viable and affordable solution.

2. InHaus LVP/LVT with SPC Core

When dealing with rigid core vinyl a lot of lower quality and even mid-range companies will use PVC to strengthen their planks. InHaus, a German manufacturer has 100% PVC-free vinyl.

Their waterproof tiles are a true aesthetic that meets demand as well as style options. While their line up is smaller than most, you get enough options to match almost every décor imaginable, as long as you are flexible on the colors.

If safety and durability are your concern, their Moto line offers a lot of resistances, including scratch, dent, stain, slip and even fire. There isn’t much out there that can hurt a Moto LVP and high traffic area, pet claws and heavy furniture are no match.

Of course, you are going to pay for the resilience, as InHaus has some of the highest prices out there. However, they also offer a lifetime warranty on most styles, which is unmatched anywhere else.

3. COREtec Luxury Vinyl with SPC

For those in need of a more affordable option, COREtec is a top-tier, mid-range supplier of quality LVP. While the planks are waterproof and scratch resistant, they are thinner and less resistant than other brands.

However for nominal residential use, you probably won’t notice. They also offer more colors and styles than almost everyone else and bring you affordable choices across the entire country. You won’t have to worry if your chosen color and style are in stock and can find them at most home improvement stores, or through specific dealers online.

Where COREtec falls short in added resistance to dents and gouges, they make up for it in price and installation ease. All SPC planks are cork backed, removing the need to purchase an additional underlayment, saving you even more.

4. Shaw Flooring Premium SPC Vinyl

In a word, Shaw flooring is priceless. Not only are they a leading premium flooring company, but they have the style, color and options to back it up. You will pay a little more for any type of Shaw flooring, but it is always worth it.

With an industry leading warranty (second only to InHaus), their SPC vinyl options will leave you breathless.

Hand scraped planks give a look and feel of realism seldom matched in the vinyl industry and you can bet that they won’t scratch, dent, ding or fall apart any time soon, if ever.

If you want the best of the best, shop Shaw’s Floorte Pro line or their DuraTru line. These options give you enough style, durability and sensibility to make every step comfortable, classy and luxurious.

5. Phenix Luxury Vinyl Waterproof SPC

If selection is the name of the game, Phenix as you covered. With 8 different line ups of rigid core vinyl, they lead the way in selection and choice. No matter what look or design you are after, odds are, Phenix has it.

They also have a highly durable plank and tile that will stand up to anything your home can throw at it. Providing a click-lock system and no need for underlayments, their floating floor options with SPC will get the job done and look great doing it.

Heavy furniture and high traffic areas are a known weak spot. While most normal use is tolerated and will last for years, dents from heavy appliances and furniture and commercial building-like traffic can cause loss of luster or shine on the flooring over time.

However, their floors are 100% cork backed and 100% waterproof, even below grade, which makes them ideal for wet area installation. They are also one of the only brands to offer full radiant heat application on all of their LVP.

SPC Vs. WPC

As we mentioned above, vinyl comes in two core forms, SPC and WPC. The wood plastic core is mainly found in residential installs because it is softer under foot. However, there are more differences (and commonalities) than just that. Let’s take a closer look.

Wood Plastic Composite (WPC) doesn’t use limestone in its construction, and instead uses a paper and wood pulp mixed with a foam additive. This gives the tile strength while still being cushioning when walked on.

SPC is best used in high traffic, commercial areas. In a residential setting it can also be used in entry ways, hallways and in rooms with heavy furniture. WPC is more likely to show signs of scuffing and dents from heavy objects long before SPC would.

When walking on the two tiles or planks, though, SPC is rigid, it has virtually no give and remains stiff, even when mounted on uneven flooring. WPC has more give and is less rigid. It can still be mounted on uneven flooring, though it will show more, especially as the planks age.

SPC is also more expensive than the WPC versions. Mainly due to the longevity ans also as a profit aspect. Since SPC is marketed more towards commercial properties, the installations are larger and more expensive, giving SPC vinyl more of a profit margin.

Both types, though, are extremely water resistant, with most options being 100% waterproof. In many cases you can install each in basements and below grade situations (check with the manufacturer, first, though).

Each of the two core types are also simple to install. As a DIY project LVP and LVT, regardless of core construction, are quick and easy to install with little effort or specialty tools needed.

SPC Flooring Prices

spc flooring prices

The cost of an LVP floor will depend on several factors. The most obvious of which is the size of the project. Measured in square feet, LVP with the SPC core comes in boxes of between 4 and 30 square feet each. You will need multiple boxes to do an entire room, and even more to cover your entire home.

If you purchase high quality vinyl, you won’t have to worry about extra materials such as underlayment or molding separators. Most high quality LVP can install over a large space without thresholds, dividers or bracers.

The second biggest cost will be in the installation itself. Professional installation, according to Home Advisor, should run you an average of $1881, though prices are reported as low as $800 and as high as $3000.

The trick is to find a well qualified contractor that won’t try to cut corners or over charge you for the job at hand. Using our free Professional Contractor Finder, you can get leads and contact information for highly qualified and well reviewed contractors in your immediate area.

With SPC you can expect to pay anywhere from $2.50 per square foot to over $8. The difference will come in with the various brands, plank or tile width and length and the style you choose to purchase.

The best way to get a floor you love and save money in the process, is to find the best brand offering the highest quality style you can afford and performing the installation yourself. Saving on the labor fees will cut your install costs at least in half.

Frequently Asked Questions

faqs spc flooring

Now, we will answer some commonly asked questions about LVP/LVT and those with SPC cores in particular. If you have more questions, feel free to use the comment section below the article.

Q. Can SPC vinyl install with radiant floor heating?

  1. Not all vinyl can install over radiant floor heating, though it is possible. You will need to check with the product itself, or contact the manufacturer to find out for sure. Most of the brands and styles that can install with radiant floor heating will be clearly labeled on the website or LVP packaging.

Q. I have an uneven floor, is SPC or WPC better suited for install?

  1. As a floating floor solution, LVP and LVT can be installed over almost any surface. However for uneven floors SPC is usually a better option. Because it is more durable and rigid, it will hide the uneven floor underneath a lot better. However, if the floor is really bad, the uneven spots can make the tiles pop up when you walk on them, posing a hazard and an unsightly floor appearance.

Q. Can I install SPC vinyl over other types of flooring?

  1. You can install SPC vinyl over almost every other floor surface. This will include concrete, tile, stone, marble, and wood. Any sheet laminate or vinyl can also be covered. As long as the flooring underneath isn’t also a floating floor, you won’t have any issues. Other LVP or LVT flooring, carpeting and laminate planks should be removed before the new flooring is installed.

Q. How can I tell if the LVP or LVT I have is SPC or WPC core?

  1. The easiest way to tell, if you can’t read the label, or are buying second hand, is to bend the plank. WPC will have a decent amount of flex and give and when it does break it will peel apart from the cracked area. SPC will be tough to bend at all, and if it does break it will be more of a clean snap than a slow tear.

Q. Will SPC vinyl increase my home’s resale value?

  1. Unfortunately, no. Vinyl, laminate, faux wood and other flooring types will not increase resale value of a home. Currently the only option that will for sure is hardwood flooring. Even engineered hardwood isn’t likely to increase the value of the home.

Conclusion

Stone plastic composite is a core type for vinyl usually found in luxury vinyl plank and luxury vinyl tile. SPC is a rigid, highly durable core that makes the planks extremely wear, scratch and dent resistant. It will even hold up to heavy furniture and pets well.

The flooring core isn’t for everyone, though and is more designed for commercial applications. However, if you have a high traffic home, pets that like to scratch the floors and heavy furniture, SPC can be a viable option.

Hopefully, with the help of this article, you have figured out what SPC is all about, how it is made and what its intended uses are. If you are looking for a new flooring solution and feel that SPC vinyl is right for you, the best LVP brands are waiting to help  you with your purchase.

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AUTHOR

Nora has more than 5 years experience in the floor covering industry, acquiring vast knowledge about installation and material selection. She now enjoys working as a writer and an interior decorator. Her work has been featured in The Spruce, Homes & Gardens, Southern Living and Real Homes. See full biography here.

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