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SPC Flooring: Your Complete Guide

Updated May 10, 2021

SPC flooring: if you’ve been looking into the best vinyl plank flooring brands, you’ve probably come across this term at least once. 

But what is this type of luxury vinyl plank flooring? Is it any good? Are there specific SPC flooring brands you should look into (or avoid)?

Don’t fret—in this article, we’ll go over just about everything you could ever want to know about SPC vinyl plank flooring. 

We’re going to show you what SPC flooring is, talk about its pros and cons (especially compared to other types of rigid core luxury vinyl like WPC), go over common SPC flooring reviews, and take you through our list of top SPC flooring brands.

Finally, we’ll explain how SPC stacks up against other types of fake wood flooring like laminate and tile!

Table of Contents

What Does “SPC” Stand for? 

SPC stands for stone-polymer composite (though it’s sometimes known as stone-plastic composite). Essentially, it’s a type of rigid vinyl plank flooring that uses a mix of stone and plastic in its core/base layer. 

Different brands tend to change up the exact formula, but the general idea is that SPC vinyl plank flooring includes material like powdered limestone in its core for enhanced hardness and durability.

So remember: any time you hear “SPC”, it’s referring to the core of a luxury vinyl floor.

Is SPC the Same as LVP?

SPC is actually a type of LVP, which stands for luxury vinyl plank

And to make things more complicated, you might also see LVP referred to as “LVT”, which stands for luxury vinyl tile. LVT is the exact same thing as LVP, only in the shape (and look) of a tile rather than a plank. You can find SPC cores in luxury vinyl tile (LVT) and luxury vinyl plank (LVP) looks.

Still with us? Good.

You may also see LVP and LVT referred to as PVC flooring. “PVC” just means “vinyl”, so this term is much more generic. All you need to know is that we usually refer to all luxury vinyl products as “vinyl plank” or “LVP” (and this includes LVT).

SPC Flooring Is a Type of Rigid Core LVP/LVT

Again: SPC flooring is a type of rigid-core LVP. Most of the best types of vinyl flooring are rigid-core, but the quality of these products depends on what that rigid core is actually made of.

For example: some rigid-core LVP or LVT products don’t add anything special to their core layers. The core is just a different type of vinyl (looking at you, NuCore flooring). Be wary of these products—they’re usually not very durable. 

Oh, and just so you know: rigid core LVP/LVT is sometimes known as EVP flooring, aka engineered vinyl plank. We know, it’s a lot of acronyms. We’re done now, promise.

How is SPC Vinyl Plank Flooring Made?

Vinyl plank flooring cross section

Generally, vinyl plank flooring (aka LVP or LVT)—including SPC vinyl plank flooring—is made up of 3 layers:

  • A core or base layer that serves as the floor’s foundation. In SPC flooring, this layer is made of a mix of vinyl and stone.
  • A textured design layer that gives the floor its look and feel. 
  • A wear layer that protects the floor from scratches, sun damage, and so on. 

Big Question: What’s the Difference Between SPC and WPC?

You may have read about WPC flooring and wondered how it compared to SPC. Think of them like two sides of the same coin. One of them (SPC) is optimized for durability. The other (WPC) is optimized for comfort.

That doesn’t mean SPC is uncomfortable—far from it! It just means that it’s designed with durability in mind.

The Difference is in The Core Construction

WPC stands for wood-polymer composite. So whereas SPC uses stone powder in its core, WPC uses (you guessed it) wood powder! Don’t worry—there’s no actual wood in the product. It just makes for a bouncier and more comfy core.

SPC Flooring Tends to Be Sold as Fake Wood Flooring (But Other Options Do Exist)

Kids with legos on SPC floor

The majority of SPC flooring is LVP (which again, stands for luxury vinyl plank). And that means it mimics the look and feel of different hardwood species. For example, it allows you to have hickory-style SPC vinyl plank flooring without the actual, you know, disadvantages of hickory flooring.

That said, you can also get SPC cores in LVT (which, again, stands for luxury vinyl tile)—meaning these products mimic different types of tile like granite or marble.

Are There Other Types of SPC Flooring? Like SPC Sheet Vinyl?

A quick search of SPC flooring might yield results like “SPC sheet vinyl”. However, this is not a thing, at least not currently. To date, SPC only falls under the luxury vinyl category (i.e. LVP and LVT).

How Much Does SPC Flooring Cost?

Quality SPC flooring starts around $3–$6/square foot, though some premium products may cost upwards of $12/sq.ft.

And remember: this doesn’t include the cost to install vinyl plank flooring, which heavily depends on whether you hire a contractor or engage in a little do-it-yourself flooring.

That might seem like a tall figure until you consider the alternative. Wood flooring costs—for solid or engineered products—can easily run you $10 or more per square foot. Plus, the cost to install engineered hardwood floors (which is usually cheaper than the cost to install solid hardwood) starts around $3–$8/sq. ft.

What Looks and Styles Are Available in SPC Vinyl Plank Flooring?

We’ve already touched on this a little, but we really want to hammer down the idea that SPC vinyl plank flooring has an insane amount of style and color options to choose from.

Many of the best vinyl plank flooring brands offer endless wood floor designs. And you can get the look of virtually any type of wood flooring in an SPC flooring option.

And you’re not just limited to different species, either. If you want the look of wide-plank wood flooring in a vinyl plank, it’s totally possible. You can even use SPC vinyl plank to create parquet flooring patterns.

Are There More SPC Flooring Colors and Styles? Of Course!

Some buyers assume that because SPC flooring has “stone” in it, it only comes in stone or natural looks. 

That couldn’t be further from the truth! Again, the “stone” in stone-plastic composite refers to the core layer only. While SPC is generally marketed as a fake wood or fake stone floor, there are plenty of unique designs in virtually any style available.

How Durable Is SPC Vinyl Plank Flooring?

Truth: even the most durable wood flooring may have problems competing with quality SPC vinyl plank flooring. Now, exceptions apply for crummier, budget brands—but in general, this is a seriously durable floor.

Many SPC flooring reviews note that their floors can take a beating without so much as a scratch (which is also why it makes for superb scratch-resistant flooring). 

SPC Is A Lot More Durable Than Standard LVP

The extra durability that SPC provides is a huge leap over LVP cores that are just made of vinyl—like Home Depot’s LifeProof vinyl flooring. One of the biggest complaints that pops up in reviews of these vinyl-only LVP floors is that they dent. This is almost never an issue in SPC flooring reviews.

Even SPC Flooring’s Core Is Waterproof

Virtually all LVP is waterproof but some (cheaper) options have a core that’s susceptible to water damage. 

In addition to its design layer, the core of SPC is waterproof. This means there’s yet another layer of protection in the rare event that the wear layer is punctured. 

This makes it exceptional for use as mudroom flooring—and it goes without saying that even the most water-resistant wood flooring can’t hold a candle to waterproof vinyl flooring in this regard. 

Of course, SPC flooring isn’t the only “super” waterproof LVP. Pergo Extreme, which has a unique (non-SPC) core, is also known for its waterproof qualities—check out some Pergo Extreme reviews for more info on that.

SPC Vinyl Plank Flooring Doesn’t Expand and Contract

The best vinyl plank flooring won’t expand or contract with changes in temperature or humidity. SPC flooring is one of these products. It’s extremely resistant to any kind of movement.

The Best SPC Brands Will Offer a Solid Warranty

The best vinyl plank flooring brands are known for their comprehensive warranties. Quality SPC vinyl plank flooring tends to be sold by these top brands so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that most offer good warranties.

SPC Reviews Confirm It’s Very Stable (As Long as the Subfloor Is Even)

Any list of SPC flooring pros and cons will mention its weird relationship with subflooring (which we’ll talk about more soon). A quick summary before we dive into that: if your subflooring is solid, your SPC will be too!

If we lost you there, read up on what subflooring is and continue on!

SPC Flooring Pros and Cons

Let’s talk about SPC’s pros and cons—specifically in comparison to its cousin, WPC.

One, super-oversimple way of thinking about this debate is that SPC is the Superman to WPC’s Batman. Some will swear, plead, and wage unholy warfare to prove that one is better than the other.

But our (more objective) stance holds that these two floors simply offer different sets of pros and cons!

The Two Types of Flooring Usually Offer the Same Styles

Both types of vinyl plank flooring are known for their excellent designs and ability to mimic all sorts of wood floor patterns. Example: if you love the look of ebony flooring but can’t figure out how to source it ethically, you can find its look in either SPC or WPC options.

But SPC Flooring Isn’t As Forgiving When It Comes to the Subfloor

Both floors could probably contend for the “easiest flooring to install” title, but WPC may have a slight advantage here. Its flexibility is more forgiving when it comes to subfloor defects. SPC flooring planks are so rigid, they’ll make any subfloor issues stand out.

SPC Flooring Doesn’t Ever Contain Formaldehyde

Stone composite can be a more eco-friendly flooring option because some brands of WPC can contain trace amounts of formaldehyde. The chemical is sometimes used to preserve the integrity of the wood composite but is unnecessary in SPC products. 

This shouldn’t ever be an issue if you’re buying quality products, but it is worth mentioning.

And SPC is More Dent-Resistant

Wood-plastic composite is relatively soft; that means it absorbs impacts while stone-plastic composite deflects them. Translation: if you drop a heavy object onto both floors, SPC flooring is more likely to come out undamaged. 

But This Hardness Can Also Be Harder on Your Joints

Unfortunately, this also means that SPC flooring can be a little harder on your joints, because the impact energy of your footsteps is mostly absorbed by you instead of the floor.

Which Means SPC Flooring May Be Less Pet-Friendly

For the same reason, pets may prefer not to nap on SPC because it’s a little harder. So if you were looking for a vinyl alternative to the best wood flooring for dogs, WPC probably has the edge here.

And It’s a Bit Louder, Too

Those same impact-deflecting properties of SPC flooring also deflect soundwaves, making it louder to walk on in comparison. Luckily, there’s an easy fix here: throw down a rug or two—or maybe some peel-and-stick carpet tiles—and you’ll be made in the shade.

Both of These Types of Vinyl Plank Flooring Add Resale Value

Brand matters here, but rigid-core LVP—whatever the type—is more valuable than flexible LVP. Just keep in mind that LVP doesn’t always have a transferable warranty. 

Where Can You Use SPC Vinyl Plank Flooring?

SPC living room

Okay! Now that we’ve gone over those pros and cons, let’s talk about where to put your SPC flooring. Luckily, it doesn’t really have any special restrictions; it can basically go anywhere. However, there are a couple of variables to consider here.

SPC Can Go Anywhere—Depending on Its Wear Layer 

Many of the best vinyl plank flooring brands can go just about anywhere (and we emphasize “just about”). That’s because SPC flooring is strong enough to be installed almost anywhere inside—or—outside of your home. 

But: it doesn’t compare favorably to some other outdoor flooring options because some LVP can fade in direct sunlight. Of course, this all depends on the material’s wear layer. Some brands include UV wear layers—these can be used as outdoor or sunroom flooring. Others should be kept out of direct rays.

Of course, SPC’s pros and cons have nothing at all to do with these wear layer concerns—it’s just a good thing to know when you’re buying floors. In other words, this isn’t a core issue (buh-dum tiss)

Does the Thickness of SPC Flooring Really Matter That Much?

The thickness of an SPC core does determine its potential. Thin cores, such as those found in budget brands like SmartCore Ultra and SmartCore Pro, can still be vulnerable to damage.

That said, quality SPC will have a core that’s thick enough to thrive in high-traffic areas.

SPC Vinyl Plank Flooring Is Easy to Install

Most LVP—including SPC—is often sold as glue-down, loose-lay, or click-together flooring (aka floating flooring). 

What is a floating floor? Easy: it’s a floor where the individual planks attach to each other and “float”, above the subfloor.

We mention this because some people think the disadvantages of floating floors are bad enough to avoid this setup entirely—and products that use it. Really, the disadvantages are minimal—but even if you decide not to float your SPC flooring, the glue-down method is still super straightforward.

Does SPC Flooring Need Underlayment?

SPC brands sometimes claim their product doesn’t need an underlayment. However, even if it’s not required by the manufacturer, placing underlayment beneath vinyl plank flooring is likely to extend its lifespan.

If you’re trying to shave a few dollars off the total cost of your flooring, underlayment might be expendable in the right situation. Our advice: go with whatever the manufacturer recommends. It’ll usually help you stay within warranty, too.

Can You Cut SPC Vinyl Flooring?

It may be necessary to cut pieces of any flooring in order to finish a trim or place it on steps. Among the pros and cons of SPC flooring are two points:

  • It’s so durable that you may need to use expensive, high-powered tools to cut through it.
  • Cutting it cleanly may require the skills of a professional.

What’s the Best Way to Maintain SPC?

Another huge perk of LVP products is that they have no special care requirements. If you need to mop your SPC vinyl plank flooring, there’s no reason not to.

SPC Flooring Reviews Agree It’s Easy to Clean

In fact, SPC flooring reviews seem to be largely unanimous on this point: it is easy to clean. And you don’t want to use any floor cleansers here either—just warm, soapy water.

Cleaning even the best hardwood floors can be a pain because hardwood is vulnerable to water.

Can You Repair SPC?

And here’s one downside to LVP. If it does get damaged, your only option is to replace it. It can’t be repaired or refinished. 

Obviously, this isn’t fun, especially when you consider the cost to refinish hardwood flooring is usually cheaper than buying and installing all-new LVP. 

What Are the Best SPC Vinyl Plank Flooring Brands?

We’ve established that SPC flooring is pretty darn good in general, but are there any brands that stand out? You bet!

Proximity Mills (All Products)

Currently, Proximity Mills only sells SPC flooring. If you’re not familiar with the brand, don’t worry, it’s actually pretty new. Don’t let that discourage you though. Reviews of Proximity Mills LVP are, in short, fantastic. 

All Proximity Mills floors are FloorScore-certified as low- or zero-VOC. And it comes in at a cheaper price point—with an equal or better wear layer—than the following two options.

Mohawk’s SolidTech Plus

Mohawk is an established name in flooring, and their SolidTech Plus line shows why. The SPC core is dense and the wear layer is supposedly one of the best in the LVP market.

Shaw’s Floorte Pro

Shaw makes many different LVP lines but their most prominent SPC line is Floorté Pro. Like SolidTech Plus, Floorte Pro is a high-caliber brand that combines a dense core with a quality wear layer. 

Be warned: Shaw also (indirectly) makes SmartCore flooring—a more, ahem, *budget* brand—for Lowes.

Is SPC Flooring Toxic? No More Than Any Other LVP!

There are a few general vinyl plank flooring disadvantages that SPC shares, but the biggest is that it’s particularly not environmentally-friendly flooring.

All vinyl flooring is made of plastic—and aside from a few options like Proximity Mills, the vast majority of it can’t be recycled. 

And Low-VOC SPC Options Do Exist

Low-VOC flooring is becoming a priority in the flooring industry as the harmful effects of volatile organic chemicals are increasingly understood. Fortunately, you can find SPC flooring among low-VOC vinyl flooring collections.

Remember the vinyl plank vs. laminate debate we mentioned a bit ago? This is one area where laminate clearly wins. Of course, neither option is as healthy as sustainable wood flooring, but that’s neither here nor there.

How Does SPC Compare to Other Fake Wood Floors?

SPC flooring is only one type of flooring among many hardwood floor alternatives. We’re not going to look at every hardwood substitute (sorry, concrete flooring that looks like wood) but this section is a good starting point for seeing how the material compares to other floors.

Laminate Is (Vaguely) Similar

Non-toxic laminate flooring is very similar to low-VOC LVP except that there are only a handful of waterproof options available, like Mohawk’s RevWood. Laminate is similar to vinyl flooring in that it’s a high-performance composite floor (that generally mimics wood). But it’s made of more organic materials. 

If you want an in-depth comparison, check out our linoleum vs. laminate vs. vinyl guide (you can also read our comparisons of laminate vs. hardwood floors and carpet vs. laminate, if you’re interested). 

Bamboo Flooring: A Natural Option

The best bamboo flooring is relatively environmentally friendly and offers many of the same benefits as hardwood. Among engineered bamboo flooring pros and cons, however, is an aversion to water—an area in which SPC flooring excels.

Of course, unlike vinyl plank, you can refinish bamboo flooring. And if you’re interested, you can compare bamboo flooring vs. laminate here. 

Tile Flooring: Traditional, but Still Relevant

Real tile—whether it’s made of ceramic or stone—is always a timeless choice. And these days, products like snap-together tile flooring have made real tile almost as easy to install as SPC and other vinyl products. Plus, and there are many porcelain wood-look tile options out there.

If you compare tile vs. laminate, you’ll find that only tile is as waterproof as SPC vinyl plank flooring. And while the tile vs. wood floor debate continues to rage on, dividing homes and upending lives (we exaggerate), LVP products like SPC flooring can give you the best of both worlds. 

Cork: Not Water-Friendly, But Natural

Many disadvantages of cork flooring have to do with its kryptonite: water. So when it comes to durability, SPC already has one advantage. However, the pros and cons of cork flooring include a noticeably greener production process. It’s no hemp flooring, but it’s certainly less damaging to the environment than LVP.

Just remember to avoid big box store options like the cork flooring Lowes sells! The best cork flooring—which you’ll only get at real flooring stores—is of noticeably better quality.

Recap: What Are the SPC Flooring Pros and Cons to Remember?

We’ve already covered a lot about SPC, but here’s the abridged version of all the SPC flooring pros and cons you need to know.

Pros of SPC Flooring

SPC vinyl plank flooring is:

  • Much cheaper than buying hardwood floors.
  • Significantly more durable than regular LVP.
  • Significantly more durable than WPC flooring.
  • Waterproof.
  • Available in a huge variety of designs and patterns.
  • Easy to DIY.

Cons of SPC Flooring

From SPC flooring reviews, we’ve learned that it is:

  • Not usually environmentally friendly.
  • Harsher on your (and pets’) joints.
  • Difficult to cut.

Conclusion: Is SPC Flooring Good? No—It’s Fantastic.

There’s no denying that SPC vinyl plank flooring is way better than vinyl-core LVP. Plus, it’s stronger than WPC, and more durable too. The only unique downer is that, because of its enhanced durability (aka hardness), it’s a little tougher on joints and pets. 

That said, SPC flooring is clearly a solid substitute for hardwood floors! So if we’ve convinced you, head to a top-rated flooring store near you for some expert help. Unlike box stores, local retailers carry all the best vinyl plank flooring brands and actually know a thing or two about them.

Either way, best of luck on your flooring journey—and for more info on all things floors, check out:

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About The Author

Christian Southards

Take any subject and there’s a good chance Christian has written about it. From marketing and international relations to wildlife (hobby!) and sports, Christian writes, edits, or helps publish just about everything that’s resigned to written form. His love for home design and remodeling began with his first job working for his uncle’s property management business.

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