SPC Vinyl: What You Should Know About Rigid Core Flooring
| Fact Checked By:
Ashley De Zeeuw
Published: August 15, 2023 | Updated: August 24, 2023
You’ve probably heard of rigid core luxury vinyl flooring, and how it’s the next best thing since WPC vinyl (wood-plastic composite vinyl). But what makes it so great? And is it the right choice for you?
This guide can help you decide! Here, you’ll learn what rigid core flooring is, the pros and cons, how to install it, and much more.
What is Rigid Core Luxury Vinyl Flooring?
Rigid core luxury vinyl flooring is also known as SPC vinyl flooring. SPC stands for stone-plastic composite. It’s the most durable waterproof vinyl flooring option on the market.
Known for being 100% waterproof with unparalleled durability, these engineered luxury vinyl planks use advanced technology to beautifully mimic natural wood and stone at a lower price point than WPC.
It’s also a more durable alternative to WPC vinyl, making it an ideal choice for high-traffic areas in the home, and areas with pets and kids. After all, it is used in heavy-traffic lobbies, offices, and other commercial spaces.
Like WPC, SPC rigid core vinyl flooring is the top of the line for not just functionality but looks as well. With rigid core vinyl, you’ll see all the hottest wood and stone-look trends and colors in beautiful, convincing planks and tiles.
What Does SPC Stand For?
SPC stands for stone-plastic composite. It describes the ultra-tough core of rigid core flooring. It won’t dent and it maintains its form even on top of uneven subfloors.
That means you can install SPC flooring on any level, over almost any existing hard surface, and for any amount of traffic.
Layers of Rigid Core Luxury Vinyl Flooring
The layered design is what makes rigid core luxury vinyl flooring so durable. It’s typically made of four layers, but this can vary between manufacturers.
- Wear layer: This layer protects your floor from wear and tear. SPC flooring is known for having a thick wear layer that offers more protection. Typically, the thicker the wear layer, the better the protection.
- Printed vinyl layer: This is where you get your gorgeous photo imagery that makes the vinyl look nearly identical to natural materials like stone and wood.
- SPC core: SPC vinyl contains an ultra-dense, durable core. This waterproof core won’t ripple, swell, or peel, no matter how much liquid you subject it to.
- Backing layer: This bottom layer is the support of your plank. It often comes with pre-attached underlayment.
Rigid Core Flooring Thickness
It used to be that the thickness of vinyl plank flooring was a pretty decent indicator of its durability. But that’s no longer the case.
Rigid core vinyl happens to be one of the thinnest and most durable flooring options you can find. It’s specifically manufactured to be ultra-thin, usually measuring no thicker than 6.5mm.
Popular thickness options include:
Rigid Core Flooring Wear Layer
To determine how the vinyl is going to hold up, you need to consider the wear layer.
The wear layer is the top surface that protects against the wear and tear of heavy traffic. While thickness isn’t a big deal for the plank itself, it’s still an important factor for this layer.
The thicker the wear layer (or, the higher the mil), the more resistant your floor will be to traffic.
- 12mil: Although it’s the thinnest option, 12mil is still thick enough for any home and light commercial use.
- 20mil: This is the most common wear layer for commercial environments.
- 22mil: Flooring with this wear layer can hold up in intense commercial environments.
- 30mil: This wear layer can handle even the most extreme traffic.
SPC Vinyl Flooring vs. WPC Vinyl Flooring
So if SPC vinyl and WPC vinyl are both waterproof, what’s the difference? And why would you pick SPC vinyl over WPC?
The difference is all in the waterproof core. Let’s dig into the details so you can decide if SPC is right for you.
About WPC Vinyl Flooring
In WPC flooring, the core is made from a wood-plastic composite. This core contains an added foaming agent to increase resilience and comfort.
About SPC Vinyl Flooring
As you now know, the core for SPC vinyl is a stone-plastic composite. It is unbending, unlike traditional vinyl. The flooring is thinner, less giving underfoot, and ultra-sturdy and durable.
SPC rigid core is less susceptible to dents from heavy furniture compared to WPC wood flooring. That’s what makes it great for commercial environments. No matter how much traffic you see, SPC flooring can take it.
Pros and Cons of Rigid Core Luxury Vinyl Flooring
Not sure if this is the right flooring for you? Check out the pros and cons to help you make your choice.
Pros of SPC Vinyl
- It’s 100% waterproof: You can install it in any high-moisture room – bathrooms, basements, you name it. It’s also perfect for business owners, pets.
- Perfect for imperfect subfloors: Rigid core vinyl flooring is designed to cover imperfect subflooring that might have minor cracks and dips. It’s engineered to be installed over any existing hard surface, including tile.
- Ultra-durable: SPC vinyl flooring is the toughest, most durable vinyl flooring option on the market.
- Realistic wood and stone looks: This flooring can mimic natural materials better than ever before. SPC looks are usually incredibly convincing and beautiful.
- Minimal maintenance: All you need is the occasional vacuum and damp mop to keep your floor looking fabulous.
- No expansion/contraction: One big worry for traditional hardwood flooring is expansion and contraction causing shifting or buckling in the floor. Rigid core does not expand or contract, even when moisture is present.
- Easy, DIY installation: Rigid core luxury vinyl flooring is easy to install yourself with most options interlocking and floating over your existing surface.
Cons of SPC Vinyl
- Less comfortable underfoot than WPC: Manufacturers designed rigid core to be sturdy, not comfortable. That’s why it’s so popular in commercial environments.
Where Should You Use Rigid Core Luxury Vinyl Flooring?
While rigid core is typically sold as a commercial flooring option, it’s a great choice just about anywhere you need durable, waterproof flooring. Popular applications include:
- Kitchens: If your kitchen sees lots of traffic, consider choosing rigid core vinyl flooring. You can always purchase an anti-fatigue mat to place over the areas you stand the most for added comfort.
- Bathrooms: Because of its waterproof capabilities, rigid core luxury vinyl flooring is a great option for providing a gorgeous, realistic wood or stone look in your bathroom.
- Basements: Many basements are prone to water damage so waterproof rigid core flooring is a great option. Additionally, you typically don’t spend as much time standing in a basement so the lower resiliency isn’t a big drawback.
- Commercial and high-traffic areas: It’s perfect for commercial areas that see a lot of traffic. It’s also extremely popular in grocery stores and other environments where spills happen frequently.
Who Should Choose Rigid Core Luxury Vinyl Flooring?
SPC flooring started primarily as a commercial flooring option. However, it’s quickly becoming a residential staple.
Almost anyone can benefit from rigid core’s waterproof features and durability. Here are a few types of people we highly recommend it to.
- Pet owners: We know pets can completely wreck a floor between accidents, nails, and running, but rigid core flooring is built to handle it. It’s also typically less slippery on those little puppy paws than laminate.
- Homeowners with imperfect subfloors: One of the biggest selling points for SPC rigid core flooring is that you can install it over uneven subfloors. Save money and ditch the leveling company by using rigid core flooring.*
- DIYers: Most likely, you won’t need to rip out your existing subfloor. Just interlock and float your rigid core vinyl over the existing surface.
- Business owners: Rigid core luxury vinyl flooring is designed with business owners and commercial spaces in mind. It is the most durable waterproof vinyl flooring option on the market. Its sharp looks keep your business looking modern and stylish.
*Note: Rigid core can be installed over most uneven subfloors. If the imperfections are extremely large, some leveling may still be necessary.
How to Install Rigid Core Luxury Vinyl Flooring
Rigid core flooring is extremely DIY-friendly. These tiles and planks feature a tongue and groove interlocking installation that allows you to easily click and lock the floor together just like traditional laminate.
Instructions vary from product to product, but here is an example of what a typical installation consists of.
- Ensure your subfloor is clean, level, and free of any major imperfections.
- Place the first plank with the tongue side facing the wall. Press the end seam of the second plank into the end seam of the first plank, and then lock them together by laying the plank down. Continue working left to right.
- Install the first plank in the second row by inserting the tongue into the groove of the plank in the first row. Continue through the process until all planks are installed.
- Protect all exposed edges by installing wall molding and/or transition strips. Make sure that no plank will be secured in any way to the subfloor.
How to Cut Rigid Core Luxury Vinyl Flooring
To cut your rigid core planks for installation, just follow these simple steps:
- Measure and mark the planks where you need to cut.
- Use a minimum 40-tooth blade on a power saw to complete the cut.
How to Clean Rigid Core Luxury Vinyl Flooring
This luxury vinyl flooring is easy to clean and maintain. Just follow these simple steps to keep your floor looking effortlessly beautiful for years to come.
- Sweep or vacuum up any dirt, dust, or grit once a week.
- Clean up spills immediately to prevent damage to the floor.
- For the occasional deep clean, mop with a damp mop and a solution of soap and warm water. Never use a wet mop.
Here are some other helpful maintenance tips to prolong the life of your floor.
- Use felt pads under chairs and furniture legs to prevent scratching of the flooring surface.
- Place doormats at all entrances to prevent tracked-in dirt, rocks, moisture, and other debris.
- Avoid using rubber-backed mats as they can stain the flooring surface over time.
Rigid Core Vinyl Flooring FAQ
Still have questions about rigid core vinyl flooring? We have answers to the most frequently asked questions.
Does rigid core flooring need underlayment?
As is often the case with luxury vinyl flooring, the underlayment may come pre-attached. However, if the flooring you want doesn’t come with pre-attached underlayment, you will need to buy it.
Underlayment is essential for your floor because it provides extra cushion, sound absorption, and thermal insulation, and it prolongs the life of your floor.
Does rigid core flooring need to acclimate?
Typically, you don’t need to acclimate rigid core vinyl flooring before installation. The stone-plastic composite core is dimensionally stable, meaning it doesn’t expand and contract with temperature changes. That means you don’t need to wait for SPC vinyl to get used to the temperature of your space.
However, you should still check the manufacturer’s instructions to ensure acclimation isn’t necessary.
Is SPC flooring toxic?
SPC vinyl flooring is a healthy flooring choice. It’s free of toxic materials and carcinogens like formaldehyde. You can also find low-VOC or VOC-free rigid core flooring that is FloorScore® certified to have high air quality standards. Just look for the FloorScore badge on our products.
Now you have everything you need to know about rigid core flooring. It’s the perfect durable flooring for busy homes and commercial spaces. Plus, it’s stylish and easy to maintain. If this seems like the perfect floor for you, get started with some free samples today!