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Rigid core luxury vinyl flooring, also known as SPC flooring, is the most durable waterproof vinyl flooring option on the market. It has a similar construction to WPC, but it comes with an ultra-tough core, which is where the name “rigid core” comes from.
SPC stands for Stone Polymer Composite, referring to the core composed of limestone and plastic stabilizers. The results of combining these elements in the structure of flooring planks is a thin yet very dense core making it extremely resilient and 100% waterproof.So what does SPC stand for? As it turns out, it stands for a couple of terms that are used interchangeably: stone plastic composite or stone polymer composite. It refers to the make-up of the core. The SPC core is what makes this flooring so incredibly durable, maintaining its form even over uneven subfloors.
That means you can install SPC rigid core luxury vinyl flooring on any level, over almost any existing (hard surface) subfloor and for any amount of traffic.
spc flooring meaning
While searching for the perfect vinyl flooring, you’ve probably come across the terms SPC and WPC. Wanting to learn the differences and compare SPC vs WPC vinyl? You’re in the right place.
Both options are known for being 100% waterproof. SPC vinyl is a newer product with a signature rigid core that is virtually indestructible. WPC vinyl has been the gold standard for vinyl flooring and features a waterproof core that’s comfortable as well as functional.
Backing Layer: This is the solid foundation of your plank. Often, the backing will also come with a pre attached underlayment.
SPC Core: SPC flooring contains a solid, waterproof core that won’t ripple or swell no matter how much liquid you subject it to. This core is ultra-dense with no foaming agents like you’ll find in traditional WPC flooring. It gives you slightly less softness underfoot, but it makes the flooring extra durable.
Printed Vinyl Layer: This layer features hyper-realistic photo imagery that makes the vinyl look so much like stone and wood.
Wear Layer: The wear layer is like the bodyguard of the plank; it protects your floor from wear and tear. In the case of wear layers, thicker still means better. SPC flooring often comes with thick wear layer options for heavy-duty protection.
How Is SPC Flooring Made?
To go the extra mile in understanding SPC flooring, let’s take a look at how it’s made. SPC is manufactured through the following six primary processes.
To begin, a combination of raw materials is placed into a mixing machine. Once inside, the raw materials are heated up to 125 – 130 degrees Celsius in order to remove any water vapor inside the material. Once complete, the material is then cooled inside the mixing machine to prevent the occurrence of early plasticization or processing auxiliary decomposition.
Moving from the mixing machine, the raw material then goes through an extrusion process. Here, temperature control is crucial in order for the material to plasticize correctly. The material is ran through five zones, with the first two being the hottest (around 200 degrees Celsius) and slowly declining throughout the remaining three zones.
Once the material is fully plasticized into a mold, it is then time for the material to begin a process known as calendering. Here, a series of heated rollers are used to compound the mold into a continuous sheet. By manipulating the rolls, the width and thickness of the sheet can be controlled with precise accuracy and consistency. Once the desired thickness is reached, it is then embossed under heat and pressure. Engraved rollers apply the textured design onto the face of the product which can be a light “tick” or a “deep” emboss. Once the texture is applied, the scratch and scuff Top Coat will be applied and sent to the drawer.
The drawing machine, used with frequency control, is connected with a motor directly, which is a perfect match to the production line speed and is used to deliver the material to the cutter.
Here, the material is crosscut to meet the correct guideline standard. The cutter is signaled by a sensitive and accurate photoelectric switch to ensure clean and equal cuts.
Automatic Plate-Lifting Machine
Once the material has been cut, the automatic plate-lifting machine will lift and stack the final product into the packing area for pick-up.
One of the biggest advantages of SPC is that it is commonly installed with a click style system that is significantly faster to install than traditional tiles – making it a DIY homeowner favourite. No glue or nails are required to install, simply cut to size and click in place. Although it lacks some durability compared to traditional tiles, the speed of install drives down the labour cost so significantly that it makes a great flooring option.
Waterproof: This is what makes both rigid core and WPC vinyl so popular. It’s perfect for business owners, pets and water-prone areas.
Great for uneven subfloors: Rigid core is designed to be installed over any existing hard surface, including tile, even if it’s imperfect or not completely level.
Ultra-durable: That SPC core makes this vinyl flooring the most durable vinyl flooring option out there.
Realistic wood and stone looks: Top-end vinyl floors mimic natural materials better than ever before. SPC vinyl is the cream of the crop, so the visuals are usually incredibly convincing and beautiful.
Low-maintenance: Keeping your floor looking fabulous is so simple. Occasionally vacuum and mop, and you’re all set.
Easy installation: Rigid core luxury vinyl tiles and planks are easy to install yourself with most options interlocking and floating over your existing surface.
best place to use SPC flooring
SPC is a great cost-effective choice for main floors of residential homes with normal wear in kitchens, living spaces or bathrooms. It is also excellent for basements where you’ll benefit from waterproofing, secondary vacation homes or rental homes as it is very low maintenance, can take a beating and is cost-effective to change out to maintain a modern look.
The thicker the plank, the more stable and comfortable it is to walk on. With this comes an increase in price but also length of warranty. As the thickness increases, the more forgiving it is when installed on slightly uneven surfaces – although we always recommend laying SPC on as flat of a surface as possible free of debris. The SPC floors we carry range from 3mm to 7mm.
Two types of rigid core luxury vinyl are Stone Plastic Composite (SPC) and Wood Plastic Composite (WPC). When it comes to SPC vs. WPC flooring, it is important to note that while both share a variety of traits, there are differences between the two that should be considered when deciding which will work best for your space or interior design project.
SPC, which stands for Stone Plastic (or Polymer) Composite, features a core that is typically comprised of around 60% calcium carbonate (limestone), polyvinyl chloride and plasticizers.
WPC, on the other hand, stands for Wood Plastic (or Polymer) Composite. Its core typically consists of polyvinyl chloride, calcium carbonate, plasticizers, a foaming agent, and wood-like or wood materials such as wood flour. Manufacturers of WPC, which was originally named for the wood materials it was comprised of, are increasingly replacing the various wood materials with wood-like plasticizers.
There is not much difference between SPC and WPC in terms of what designs each one offers. With today’s digital printing technologies, SPC and WPC tiles and planks that resemble wood, stone, ceramic, marble, and unique finishes are easy to produce both visually and texturally.
Aside from design options, recent advancements have been made regarding different formatting options. Both SPC and WPC flooring can be made in a variety of formats including wider or longer planks and wider tiles. Multi-lengths and widths of either packaged in the same carton are also becoming a popular option.
Similar to dryback luxury vinyl flooring (which is the traditional type of luxury vinyl that requires an adhesive to install), SPC and WPC flooring are comprised of multiple layers of backing that are fused together. However, unlike dryback flooring, both flooring options feature a rigid core and are a harder product all around.
Because SPC’s core layer is comprised of limestone, it has a higher density in comparison to WPC, though is thinner overall. This makes it more durable compared to WPC. Its high density offers better resistance from scratches or dents from heavy items or furniture being placed on top of it and makes it less susceptible to expansion in cases of extreme temperature change.
Rigid core products including WPC and SPC were originally created for commercial markets because of their durability. However, homeowners have started using rigid core as well because of its ease of installation, design options and durability. It is important to note that some SPC and WPC products vary from commercial to light commercial use, so it is best to always consult your manufacturer to know which warranty applies.
Another highlight for both SPC and WPC, aside from their easy-to-install click locking system, is that they do not require extensive subfloor prep prior to installation. Though installing over a flat surface is always a good practice to be in, floor imperfections like cracks or divots are more easily hidden with SPC or WPC flooring due to their rigid core composition.
SPC and WPC flooring are similar in price, though SPC is typically slightly more affordable. When it comes to installation costs, both are comparable overall since neither requires the use of an adhesive and both are easily installed with their click locking system. In the end, this helps to reduce installation time and costs.
In terms of which product is better overall, there isn’t one clear winner. WPC and SPC have many similarities, as well as a few keys differences. WPC may be more comfortable and quieter underfoot, but SPC has a higher density. Choosing the right product really depends on what your flooring needs are for a particular project or space.
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