January 11, 2021
EVP flooring: if you’ve been searching for the best vinyl plank flooring for your home, you’ve probably come across this term at least once.
But what exactly is EVP flooring? And how is it different from normal vinyl plank or luxury vinyl tile (LVT)?
We get it—the road to vinyl flooring is paved with confusing acronyms (LVT, SPC, WPC, EVP, etc.) and it’s hard to know what is what.
Luckily, we’re here to help you cut through the fog. Below, we’re going to explain exactly what EVP flooring is, show you how it’s different from other types of vinyl flooring, and give you all the EVP pros and cons you need to know about.
Finally, we’ll wrap up with a helpful EVP flooring FAQ so that you can get right to the fun part: choosing the right flooring to make your space look fantastic!
First of All: What Exactly is EVP Flooring?
EVP stands for Engineered Vinyl Plank. What makes its core “engineered”? It’s solid! Translation: EVP is the same thing as rigid-core vinyl plank flooring.
Why the separate acronym? Marketing. Calling a product “EVP” is another way to set it apart from its (basically identical) rigid-core vinyl plank competitors. Some sellers claim it’s a unique product, but it really isn’t.
The point is, EVP flooring and rigid-core vinyl plank flooring are essentially the exact same thing. Don’t let the marketing fool you!
LVT vs. LVP vs. EVP: What’s the Difference?
As you probably know, LVT (Luxury Vinyl Tile) and LVP (Luxury Vinyl Plank) are functionally identical. They’re both popular, durable hardwood floor alternatives that can look like just about anything. And we usually use the catch-all term “vinyl plank” to describe them both.
But while LVT mimics different types of floor tiles, LVP mimics different types of wood flooring. Aside from their appearance, though, LVT and LVP/vinyl plank are constructed in the exact same way.
EVP is a Subcategory of Vinyl Plank/LVT
Vinyl plank (which includes LVT and LVP) can feature a rigid or flexible core. And as we just said, rigid-core vinyl plank is also called…EVP!
So again, your key takeaway here is that EVP is just another term for rigid-core vinyl plank flooring.
And SPC + WPC are Subcategories of EVP
So: given that EVP is just another way of saying “rigid core vinyl flooring”, you can think of Wood Polymer Composite (WPC) and Stone Polymer Composite (SPC) as subcategories of EVP.
- WPC incorporates fine, filtered sawdust called “wood flour” in its core to increase soundproofing, comfort, and insulation. Generally, WPC is better for domestic use. You don’t need to worry about waterproofing—vinyl encases the sawdust.
- SPC is the same, but the composite contains limestone instead of wood. SPC is thinner and more rigid, making it great for high traffic areas and commercial applications—especially with rolling loads (like an RV on a showroom floor, for example).
EVP Flooring Construction: What’s it Made Of?
All of the best vinyl plank flooring brands have their own special construction methods and features. But in general, rigid-core vinyl plank (aka EVP) products are made up of the same basic layers.
From bottom to top, they are:
- A Core layer. The core is the thickest layer of a vinyl plank. As we mentioned, EVP cores are rigid. And as we also mentioned, they can be made out of a composite (like SPC and WPC) or simply from rigid vinyl.
- A Design layer. A layer of designed, textured vinyl gives EVP its realistic look and feel. These days, design layers are so sophisticated—featuring realistic visuals, embossed texturing, etc.—that they can be hard to tell apart from real wood.
- A Wear layer. The wear layer, made of transparent plastic, gives EVP its heavy-duty protection and longevity. Wear layers are measured in mil, or thousands of an inch.
It’s also worth mentioning that many manufacturers include additional layers, like topcoats for extra UV protection and built-in underlayments for a better underfoot feel.
How Do You Install EVP Flooring?
Pretty much all fake wood flooring can be installed as a glue-down floor or as a floating floor. Some other products like laminate can be stapled, but vinyl is pretty much limited to these two options.
What is a floating floor? It’s a surface that clicks together like a jigsaw puzzle and rests (or “floats”) on top of the subfloor, using the friction of its connections to stay in place. This makes it relatively easy and cheap compared to other installation methods.
Fun fact: click-together floating floors are so popular, you can even find snap-together tile flooring these days.
You Can Also Find Peel-and-Stick Vinyl Planks
If you want something even more DIY-friendly, there are also peel-and-stick vinyl planks that install just like those peel-and-stick carpet tiles you see at Home Depot.
Just be warned: peel-and-stick products are usually flexible, so finding them in an EVP version might be a little tougher.
What Are The Pros and Cons of EVP Flooring?
Vinyl plank was created to remedy the disadvantages of hickory flooring, marble flooring, bamboo flooring, and just about everything in between.
And it’s true—vinyl plank does fix the issues with many types of flooring. Plus, rigid products (aka EVP flooring) are great at mimicking the look and feel of different hardwood species.
But unfortunately, there are some downsides as well. And predictably, they mostly come down to the fact that vinyl is not the most eco-friendly flooring choice out there.
That’s why below, we’re going to go through all the advantages and disadvantages of EVP flooring.
The Advantages of EVP Flooring
There’s a reason all the best vinyl plank floor brands sell EVP/rigid core products: they can be absolutely excellent. Here are some reasons why.
EVP Flooring Is Relatively Affordable
On average, most EVP flooring will cost you anywhere between $4 and $6 per square foot. That makes your material costs for EVP pretty affordable as quality products go. And because it’s so durable (which we’ll talk about in a moment), you probably won’t ever have to replace it.
And it’s Affordable to Install, Too
The cost to install vinyl plank flooring ranges between $1.50–$6 per square foot. For reference, the average cost to install engineered hardwood floors ranges between $3 and $8 per square foot. And that’s even cheaper than the cost to install solid hardwood!
The point is, unless you’re comparing vinyl plank vs. laminate, you’re not going to find many floors that are as cheap to install as EVP.
Engineered Vinyl Plank Is Durable
Thanks to its hard plasticate wear layer and topcoat, EVP flooring is more durable than even the most durable wood flooring.
This is especially true when it comes to SPC, since that limestone-infused core is seriously strong. SPC is essentially faux wood flooring that’s more heavy-duty than just about any real wood flooring types on the planet.
Translation: when it comes to scratch-resistant flooring, vinyl is near the very top of the pack.
EVP Flooring is Completely Waterproof
Just about all vinyl plank flooring is entirely waterproof. In fact, the only point where water can drip down to your subfloor is where your vinyl planks connect—but if you install them properly, this won’t ever be an issue.
The point is, you don’t need to worry about buying expensive specialty products like RevWood; you don’t need to spend hours searching for water-resistant wood flooring; you don’t even need to ask your Facebook friends what they’d recommend as the best wood flooring for dogs.
If you buy EVP flooring and install it right, it’ll be completely waterproof. Want mudroom flooring that looks like cork, but with none of the disadvantages of cork flooring? Just put in EVP flooring instead. You could even use it as an outdoor flooring option if you wanted.
EVP Comes In Endless Wood- and Stone-Look Options
Love the look of teak for your home, but turned off by all those teak flooring pros and cons (especially its super-expensive price tag)? Get teak-look vinyl plank.
Want the look of ash flooring in the bedroom? Ebony flooring in the basement? Pine flooring in the bathroom? Slate tile in the laundry room?
It’s all up to you. EVP can mimic any wood floor designs or tile patterns you can imagine.
Rigid Vinyl Can Look—And Feel—Just Like The Real Thing
Many of the best hardwood floor brands also manufacture rigid vinyl, and they know a thing or two about how hardwood is supposed to look.
The result is a product so authentic, even seasoned professionals can have difficulty differentiating EVP flooring from actual wood.
The best manufacturers can also mimic the texture of wood or stone using an innovative technique called EIR (Embossed-in-Register). EIR molds are taken from real wood and stone, and then used as a stamp to texture wear layers. Talk about realism!
EVP Flooring is Ultra-Low Maintenance
All you need is a broom, a damp mop, and some mild soap to keep rigid vinyl plank looking fresh. If you have an aversion to brooms and mops, you can always buy a doormat and adopt a no-shoes policy. Any more that is too much effort for vinyl.
In fact, labor-intensive cleaning methods and harsh cleaning agents will actually damage vinyl floors. So it’s best to keep it simple. You can bleach wooden floors, but you can’t bleach vinyl.
And beware of vacuums with a rotating brush, or “beater bar”; the abrasion can scuff your wear layer.
The Best EVP Flooring Products Come With Attached Cork Underlayments
Many of the best vinyl plank flooring brands will often attach a built-in cork underlayment to their EVP products.
If you’ve checked out the cork flooring Lowes or Home Depot has on offer, you’re probably familiar with the pros and cons of cork flooring. But if not, you should know that cork has a great underfoot feel, dampens sound for a quieter home, and hides minor subfloor imperfections.
And you can get all of those benefits from a top-grade EVP product, too.
EVP Hides Minor Subfloor Imperfections
On the same subject, EVP is great for hiding minor subfloor imperfections.
What is subflooring? Any surface under a floor covering. In most cases, subfloors need to be clean, dry, and flat. EVP’s rigid core and self-leveling underlayments (like cork!) can iron out minor imperfections within the standard 1/8th of an inch.
You Can Install EVP Flooring Right Away
There’s no need to let engineered vinyl planks acclimate to a room’s temperature or humidity. Not only is vinyl plank some of the easiest flooring to install, but you can also install it right away.
Bonus: you also won’t have to worry about your new floors expanding and contracting when the seasons change.
WPC Engineered Planks Are Easy on the Joints
If you’ve spent any time deciding between carpet or hardwood in the bedroom, you’ll know that it’s not always easy to find a balance between comfort and beauty.
Luckily, WPC’s composite core adds an extra soft feel to engineered vinyl, giving you the best of both worlds.
The Disadvantages of EVP Flooring
Of course, with the good comes the bad—here are some of the disadvantages of EVP flooring.
EVP Is Not The Most Eco-Friendly Flooring Option
Few people would classify pizza as healthy, but everybody eats it. Similarly, you’d be hard-pressed to find anyone who would claim vinyl is at the top of the eco-friendly flooring list, yet vinyl is the fastest-growing sector of the flooring market.
And this issue isn’t unique to EVP flooring, either. Eco-friendliness (or lack thereof) is one of the big disadvantages of vinyl plank flooring in general.
So: if environmentally friendly flooring is at the top of your priority list, don’t stress—sustainable wood flooring alternatives abound. It’s just a matter of saving a little more cash and finding a product more aligned with your ethics.
EVP Flooring Can Fade From The Sun
Many floor coverings fall victim to discoloration when exposed to an excess of direct sunlight. Hardwood and laminate get sun-bleached, and cork floors are particularly susceptible to UV rays.
EVP typically comes with a durable, UV-protective topcoat. So sun fading isn’t a huge issue. That said, you can’t refinish EVP. If, over time, your floors develop a patchwork of furniture ghosts, you’ll have to tear them out and start over.
Of course, UV protection varies depending on the product. Our advice is to double-check the manufacturer’s specifications and maybe avoid installing EVP in sunrooms, spaces with floor-to-ceiling windows, or large skylights. For those areas, you might be better off with something like wood-look tile.
You Can’t Refinish Damaged EVP Flooring
EVP is super strong. And some manufacturers even infuse their topcoats with crazy durable materials like cultured diamonds to decrease permeability.
But: if you lose control of your carving knife and damage a plank, you can’t refinish it. You have to replace the plank—which could potentially be a real hassle depending on the type of installation you chose.
This can be a significant disadvantage when you compare vinyl to other types of flooring, since you can refinish bamboo flooring, solid wood flooring, and even some of the best engineered wood flooring.
Intricate Designs or Floor Plans Can Be a DIY Nightmare
If your ideal wood floor patterns look like the Saturday crossword, DIY installation is going to drive you insane. Plus, notching out a maze of corners and undercutting doorways takes patience.
So if you have an intricate floor plan or want parquet flooring, we’d recommend hiring a local installation pro as the path of least resistance.
In Some Cases, EVP Flooring Can Hurt Your Home’s Resale Value
Every year, public image evolves alongside vinyl plank’s quality. And most savvy buyers will recognize the benefits of premium vinyl flooring like EVP.
That said, some buyers might balk at the idea that their gorgeous faux-Brazilian Walnut floors are made of futuristic plastic. Many first-time buyers may have to watch in horror as their teenager rips through the living room on an electric skateboard until they realize the error of their ways.
EVP, Like All Floating Floors, Raises Accessibility Concerns
Damage from rolling loads is one of the often-overlooked disadvantages of floating floors.
Planks can shift, and wheels can potentially wedge into seams. The simplest solution is hiring a local professional installer to glue your new EVP to the subfloor.
Either way, just be aware that if you do choose to install your EVP flooring in a floating configuration, there could be accessibility issues down the road.
Some EVP Flooring Can Emit VOCs
Though vinyl is incredible, budget options aren’t particularly considered low-VOC flooring—and if that’s a priority for you, maybe take a look at non-toxic laminate flooring instead.
If EVP flooring is still at the top of your list, not to worry—some brands like Proximity Mills specialize in low-VOC vinyl flooring (though they’re usually not as air-quality-friendly as, say, hemp flooring).
Pro tip: avoid recycled content. EVP manufacturers can control VOC levels in their vinyl, but it’s often impossible to regulate the VOC content in recycled vinyl sourced from a third party!
EVP Flooring FAQs
Now that we’ve gone through the pros and cons of EVP flooring, let’s address some commonly asked questions about the material.
Is EVP more stable than luxury vinyl plank or tile?
If you’re talking about flexible vinyl plank or LVT, then the answer is yes! EVP has a rigid core construction, which translates to stability.
Will engineered vinyl flooring increase the value of my home?
Generally, yes—but it depends on the buyer. The best EVP flooring brands are renowned for their quality, function, and durability. That said, if a buyer is set on something, they’re set on something. Douglas fir flooring, the best cork flooring, whatever it is—if they want it, that’s that.
What types of rugs should I use on EVP flooring?
Rugs with natural backings are best. Synthetic backings may scuff the wear layer. If the label says “safe for use with hardwoods,” the rug is safe for vinyl too. That being said, we might recommend low-VOC carpet to help mitigate any VOCs from the vinyl itself.
Do all engineered vinyl planks have a stone plastic composite core?
No. SPC (Stone Polymer Composite) does. But WPC (Wood Plastic Composite) does not. And some types of EVP flooring have a rigid vinyl core that contains neither stone nor wood.
Which is better: EVP or LVP flooring?
We see this question all the time, which is why we’ve included it here. But really, it doesn’t make much sense. EVP is just another name for rigid LVP.
Is EVP flooring waterproof?
Yes. All vinyl—essentially space-age plastic—is 100% waterproof.
Do I need a moisture barrier for EVP flooring?
Rarely. If you buy from one of the best vinyl plank flooring brands, your product will most likely come with an attached underlayment. And since EVP flooring is waterproof, you don’t have to worry about moisture seeping up from the subfloor either.
EVP Flooring: Conclusion and Final Thoughts
If your home demands superior durability or the increased comfort and insulation of a rigid core, EVP flooring is a great choice. And that’s all there is to say about that!
So: did we fulfill our promise to tell you everything you need to know about EVP flooring? We hope so!
And whenever you’re ready to start looking for specific floors, click here to find a top-rated flooring store near you!
Plus, for more information, you can check out: