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WPC Flooring: What it Is, Best Brands & More

March 18, 2021

Interested in WPC flooring? Then you’re in the right spot!

WPC is some of the best vinyl flooring around. It’s comfortable, robust, and relatively inexpensive—at least compared to the many types of flooring it can mimic (particularly hardwood). 

But: what is WPC vinyl flooring? Is it a good fake wood flooring option? Is it a brand of flooring? Is it a type of flooring? And why is it always compared to SPC flooring

Have no worries! In this article, we’re going to answer all of your WPC questions. 

We’ll explain what WPC flooring is, how it compares to SPC, and show you why so much of the best vinyl plank flooring on the market is WPC flooring.

Then, we’ll examine some common WPC flooring reviews and share our list of notable WPC vinyl flooring brands and products. By the end, you’ll know why WPC flooring is so popular in the world of vinyl plank flooring!

Table of Contents

What Is WPC? It’s a Type of Luxury Vinyl Flooring

WPC flooring stands for wood-polymer composite. But to understand what that means—and why it’s important—we have to explain a bunch of other things first (we know it’s a hassle, sorry!)

Just remember: WPC isn’t a distinct flooring category like hardwood or tile. Rather, it’s a specific type of rigid-core luxury vinyl flooring (aka LVT or LVP). 

What is Luxury Vinyl (LVT and LVP) Flooring?

Luxury vinyl is a type of PVC flooring (aka vinyl). It’s waterproof, relatively inexpensive, and very durable. It’s made primarily of plastic—or PVC, to be more accurate. 

Luxury vinyl is often designed to mimic the look and feel of hardwood planks. This is generally called LVP (or luxury vinyl plank). 

However, it can also mimic the look and feel of tile. This is called LVT (or luxury vinyl tile). 

Still with us? Great!

Most often, luxury vinyl (LVP and LVT) products are made up of 3 distinct layers:

  • A core layer that provides a foundation for the rest of the floor. This layer can be rigid or flexible, depending on the product.
  • A design layer that mimics the look and texture of wood or tile.
  • A wear layer that protects the floor from fading, scratches, dents, and so on.
Vinyl plank flooring cross section

And Again: LVP and LVT Are Basically the Same

Again, LVP and LVT are essentially the same thing. They’re both luxury vinyl products that can come with a rigid or flexible core. 

The only difference is that LVP comes in planks, while LVT comes in tiles!

To make things even more confusing, though, many people call all luxury vinyl products “LVT”. This is not an accurate descriptor, but it is a common one.

And Rigid-Core Luxury Vinyl Improves Upon Flexible Luxury Vinyl 

Rigid core luxury vinyl flooring (also called engineered vinyl plank or EVP flooring) has a rigid rather than a flexible core—making it more durable and closer to the look and feel of real wood or tile. 

What makes a rigid core rigid? Well, there are 3 main categories of rigid-core luxury vinyl:

  1. Vinyl-only cores.
  2. WPC (wood-polymer composite) cores that mix wood flour and vinyl.
  3. SPC (stone-polymer composite) cores that mix limestone powder and vinyl.

And there you have it! WPC vinyl flooring is a type of rigid-core luxury vinyl!

So, Again: What Is WPC Vinyl Flooring?

Now, let’s ask that question again: what is WPC vinyl flooring? It’s a type of rigid-core LVP or LVT that uses a mix of wood flour (a type of super-fine sawdust) and hardened vinyl to create its core. This makes it springy, comfortable, and incredibly durable!

So whenever you see the phrase “WPC” being mentioned, now you know—it’s referring to the core layer of a rigid luxury vinyl product!

Is There a Difference Between WPC Flooring and LVT/LVP?

Let’s remove any shred of doubt: WPC flooring is a type of rigid-core LVP/LVT. If it seems like we’re hitting you over the head with this point, it’s because so many people get it confused! 

What Are the Advantages of WPC Vinyl Flooring? 

Compared to flexible-core luxury vinyl (or rigid-core LVP/T that only uses vinyl), WPC flooring has a ton of advantages. 

Without diving too deep into the science, WPC cores solve many of the disadvantages of vinyl plank flooring—like its synthetic underfoot feel—while retaining all the qualities LVP is loved for.

Living room scene with wood faux wood floors

WPC Flooring is a Very Comfortable Type of LVP

Most budget brands of rigid luxury vinyl—NuCore flooring and LifeProof vinyl flooring for example—use vinyl-only cores.

Again: vinyl-only LVP cores aren’t bad, but they’re not particularly comfortable either. More than anything, they can just feel a little hard underfoot. So while these products can mimic the look and texture of real hardwood, you’ll likely be able to tell the difference just by walking on them. 

Hardwood has a sort of give and spring to it that feels natural; flexible LVP and vinyl-core rigid LVP don’t have that.

That’s one reason WPC flooring is so beloved—its wood-and-vinyl-composite core offers the spring and bounce you’d find in many real types of wood flooring!

It’s Quieter, Too

Because WPC vinyl flooring is softer than vinyl-only LVP, it’s also quieter! The softer a surface, the less sounds “bounce” off of it. Which means that when it comes to quiet flooring, WPC takes the cake.

Plus, It’s More Insulated Against Temperature Changes

Unlike hardwood, very few of the best vinyl plank flooring brands sell products that need to acclimate to their environment before installation.

However, once they’re installed, some LVP products can be chilly. That’s because they’re not particularly insulated—again, vinyl-only LVP is just plastic.

Translation: the wood flour found in WPC flooring’s core doesn’t just give it a softer feel compared to regular LVP/LVT. It also offers better insulation against sound and temperature changes! In other words, it won’t feel freezing underfoot when it’s cold and it doesn’t carry noise as far.

You Can Find WPC Flooring in a Huge Number of Patterns and Styles

Remember: WPC vinyl flooring is just a type of LVP. And you can find LVP in just about any style in the world! 

Want the look of ebony flooring? Ash flooring? Pine flooring? Want to mix them all into funky wood floor patterns like 3D herringbone parquet?

Doesn’t matter. You can find the look of any material in an LVP product—which means you’ll also be able to find it in a WPC flooring product.

WPC Flooring Is Just As Easy to Install as Regular LVP/LVT

WPC flooring reviews confirm that it’s some of the easiest flooring to install. Why? Because all LVP is easy to install! And again, WPC vinyl flooring is just another type of LVP!

Which means, like all LVP, WPC-core vinyl can be installed as glue-down, loose-lay, or click-together flooring. If you’re not familiar with that last one, click-together flooring planks just snap together to create something called a “floating floor”. And what is a floating floor? It’s just a surface that snaps together and doesn’t need to be attached to a subfloor! Simple, right?

There are some disadvantages of floating floors, but they’re very minor—which is why floating setups are so popular with LVP.

Fun fact: you can even turn your WPC into magnetic flooring using magnetic strips and underlayment!

LVP Is Durable—and WPC Flooring Is Even Better

LVP is a durable and scratch-resistant flooring option by nature. Even the most durable wood flooring can’t compete with it!

But: some products are way more durable than others. WPC flooring isn’t the most durable type of luxury vinyl, but it is usually more durable than vinyl-only LVP. 

Just remember: scratch-resistance usually comes down to a vinyl plank’s wear layer rather than its core layer.

Like All Vinyl Flooring, WPC is Waterproof

All vinyl flooring is waterproof vinyl flooring! The only issue you’d ever have to worry about is water seeping between vinyl planks (an issue that can be solved with proper installation).

Either way, if you’re looking for a comfortable, resilient floor, you’d be much better off going with WPC vinyl flooring than water-resistant wood flooring. There’s just no comparing the two!

So if you’re looking for the best wood flooring for dogs (and the “accidents” they can have) or just mudroom flooring that can stand up to water, WPC is a great option.

PS: don’t worry about the “wood flour” thing—all the wood in WPC flooring is mixed with vinyl, meaning there’s nothing that can get wet!

LVP Flooring (and by extension WPC Flooring) Is Easy to Care For

In terms of maintenance and care, LVP easily outclasses the best hardwood floors, which are notoriously difficult to keep in top shape. 

WPC doesn’t add any special care requirements over standard LVP, so it’s just as easy to care for.

WPC Flooring Costs More Than Regular LVP, But It’s Still Cheaper Than Hardwood

Unfortunately, WPC flooring does tend to cost more than standard vinyl-only LVP—but not by much. You can still find decent options for as low as $4 per square foot.

Compared to the cost of wood flooring, WPC offers a cheaper way to achieve a wood-floor look and feel—with the added benefits of enhanced durability and waterproofing.

And You Can Put WPC Vinyl Flooring Almost Anywhere

The best vinyl plank flooring can go anywhere inside your home (remember: it’s durable and waterproof). WPC vinyl flooring is no different! 

Looking for outdoor flooring options? Depending on its wear layer, WPC might be a candidate. The same goes for sunroom flooring! But again: it entirely depends on the product’s wear layer.

WPC vs. SPC: What’s the Difference?

We’ve established that WPC flooring excels when compared to flexible LVP, vinyl-only LVP, and hardwood. But how does it compare to SPC flooring?

WPC Has a Wood Composite Core…

We’ve already established that WPC vinyl flooring has a core made of vinyl and wood flour. This combo makes the floor tougher against damage, yet softer on your feet and joints.

…While SPC Has a Stone Composite Core

SPC flooring uses limestone powder instead of wood flour in its core. This makes it incredibly durable, but not nearly as soft to walk on. 

Which is Better?

Unfortunately, there’s no clear-cut answer here. It really depends on your needs and preferences. Here’s how they stack up.

WPC Flooring Is More Comfortable

WPC flooring has a soft (but durable) core that absorbs the energy of your footsteps. This makes it more comfortable to walk on (or for pets to sleep on). 

It’s Also Very Quiet

The absorbing powers of WPC flooring also apply to sound. Voices won’t travel quite as far and will echo less than with SPC or standard LVP.

WPC Flooring Is More Forgiving of Subfloor Imperfections

If you’re wondering what subflooring is, don’t worry—it’s what goes under your actual flooring. 

Anyway, stone-composite vinyl flooring is super rigid, so unevenness in the subfloor will be visible through the planks. WPC flooring has more “give” to it, so it’s less likely to show imperfections in the subfloor.

WPC Flooring Also Offers Better Insulation

Your walls and subfloors should take care of insulation duties but WPC flooring provides an ounce of insulation too. Other vinyl plank floors don’t have this quality.

…But SPC Is More Durable Than WPC Flooring

SPC lacks WPC flooring’s softness, but makes up for it with superior durability. Now, this doesn’t mean you’re going to break your joints simply by walking on it—but you will feel it more

SPC Is (Arguably) the Most Durable Type of Vinyl Plank Flooring

Really, it’s incredibly durable. As in, you could drive a car over it. Again, scratching issues come down to the wear layer—but where denting is a concern, SPC is the way to go.

Don’t get us wrong, WPC flooring is still really durable—but SPC is probably the most durable LVP on the market.

So SPC Is Better Than WPC for High Traffic Areas (Like Businesses)

For this reason, SPC is a better option for areas that receive tons of traffic on a daily basis (like commercial property). WPC flooring still supports this, just not as well. 

How Much Does WPC Flooring Cost?

Ok! Now that we’ve gone over the differences between WPC and SPC, let’s talk about prices.

High-quality LVP like WPC vinyl flooring generally costs between $4 and $12 per square foot for materials alone.

If you hire a professional, the cost to install vinyl plank flooring ranges between $1.50 and $6.00 per square foot. But remember, you can also install it yourself and save at least some of that cost.

On the other hand, the best hardwood floor brands tend to start at $5 per square foot (and easily top $10 to $15), and it’s another few dollars per square foot (minimum) to install them. With that in mind, WPC flooring feels like a steal. 

Is WPC Flooring Eco-Friendly?

Unfortunately, it’s hard to sell any type of vinyl as an eco-friendly flooring option. Vinyl is plastic, and plastic isn’t biodegradable. Plus, the vast majority of vinyl products aren’t recyclable.

If you prefer greener materials, sustainable wood flooring and hemp flooring are good places to start. And if you don’t mind SPC vinyl plank, some brands like Proximity Mills do make recyclable products. 

Low-VOC Flooring Is Slightly Better for the Environment (and You)

Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are harmful chemicals emitted by most plastics and adhesives, and sadly common in many types of flooring. 

That said, there have been strides in the world of low-VOC flooring recently. More than a few of the best WPC flooring brands now sell low-VOC vinyl flooring, which we think is wonderful. So while most vinyl isn’t exactly environmentally-friendly flooring, it’s better than it was just a couple of years ago.

What Looks and Styles Can You Find WPC Flooring In?

You can buy WPC flooring in just about any style or color under the sun!

Most WPC Flooring Looks Like Real Hardwood

Vinyl plank options

You can get vinyl flooring that mimics any hardwood out there (at a relatively modest price point). Some brands even offer the look of obscure hardwood species like Douglas fir flooring.

The world is your oyster! You could even get the look of bleached wooden floors if you wanted. 

But it Can Also Mimic Tile

Similarly, you can get the look of nearly any types of tile in a vinyl product. And again: if it exists as a vinyl product, it almost certainly exists as a WPC-core vinyl product.

WPC Flooring Can Mimic Wood Floor Designs Too

You can also find a huge variety of wood floor designs in WPC flooring catalogs. For instance, you can find WPC that looks like wide-plank wood flooring or even parquet flooring!

Does Core Thickness Matter with WPC Flooring?

Core thickness absolutely matters, but it’s not as simple as “the thicker the core, the stronger the product.” Thin-core WPC flooring can be stronger than thick-core WPC—if it’s made with better materials.

That said, the best vinyl plank floor brands usually sell products that have strong materials and a thick core.

And Does Wear Layer Thickness Matter with WPC Flooring?

Of course! Wear layer thickness is important in any luxury vinyl product, regardless of whether it has a WPC, SPC, or pure-vinyl core. 

However: not all wear layers are created equal. Some brands offer “super thick” wear layers that don’t offer much protection at all. 

Think of it this way. There are four primary types of wear layers when it comes to luxury vinyl products, each with an increasing degree of protection:

  • Vinyl-only is the weakest of the four and doesn’t include any additives that protect it from common types of damage. 
  • Polyurethane-based wear layers are notably stronger and have better scratch and dent resistance.
  • Some brands add super-hard crystals like aluminum oxide to their polyurethane wear layers for further protection.
  • Polyurethane with ceramic bead technology creates a ball-bearing-like protective layer, which deflects impact and “scratching” forces. 

Of course, there are also many other wear layer types. If you’re unsure if the product you’re looking at has a good wear layer, remember this: the best products explain what goes into their wear layers and why.

WPC Flooring Reviews: Notable WPC Brands

There are dozens of LVP/LVT flooring brands that offer WPC-core products. We’re not going to cover them all, but here are a few of the biggest names!

Floorté by Shaw

Shaw is the world’s second-largest flooring brand—and its top WPC line, Floorté, shows why. 

The line starts at about $6 per square foot, which isn’t the cheapest option. But according to many WPC flooring reviews, it’s worth the investment. 

CORETec

CORETec is actually the inventor of WPC flooring. Ironically, it’s now owned by Shaw.

CORETec costs a little more than Floorté at $6–$12 (or more) per square foot—but it also offers a more extensive range of styles.

Adura Max by Mannington

Adura Max costs between $4 and $6 per square foot (on average) and offers a wide variety of stone, tile, and hardwood looks. 

It heavily caters to the commercial market, but there are plenty of residential options too.

SmartCore Ultra

SmartCore Ultra is a popular WPC flooring line sold exclusively by Lowes and manufactured by CORETec (no joke, it’s a small world). 

In our SmartCore flooring review, we found it to be more of a budget option though—at least compared to the brands above. SmartCore’s wear layer isn’t as durable—and according to more than a few WPC flooring reviews, it’s prone to scratching.

How Does WPC Flooring Compare to Other Faux Wood Floors?

WPC-core luxury is just one of many hardwood floor alternatives. So how does it stack up against these non-vinyl options?

WPC Vinyl Flooring vs. Laminate

Non-toxic laminate flooring uses a high-density fiberboard core coated with photo and protective layers that are similar to vinyl’s design and wear layers. 

In previous decades, the vinyl plank vs. laminate debate often came down to one key difference: LVP is waterproof and laminate wasn’t

However, the rise of waterproof laminate brands like RevWood has changed this narrative, with LVP trying to catch up to laminate’s more natural feel (LVP is kind of hard). In fact, if you compare laminate vs. hardwood flooring, you’ll notice they feel similar.

This is where WPC flooring shines: since it’s softer, it does a better job of simulating the “give” that natural wood has compared to normal LVP or something like concrete, which has zero give (that reminds us, concrete flooring that looks like wood is another hardwood alternative).

WPC Vinyl Flooring vs. Tile

Wood-look tile is another faux wood floor option that tends to be inexpensive and isn’t too hard to install, especially if you’re working with snap-together tile flooring.

The many different types of floor tiles on the market offer just as many style options as WPC flooring—but again: you’ll find that tile doesn’t mimic the feel of wood as well as WPC vinyl flooring does. 

If you check out our tile vs. wood floors guide, you’ll see that tile tends to be more rigid and cold—the same is true when you compare tile vs. WPC vinyl floors.

WPC Vinyl Flooring vs. Bamboo

The best bamboo flooring is a natural faux wood floor option. The pros and cons of bamboo flooring include a vulnerability to water, but also repairability (you can refinish bamboo flooring)—plus sustainable sourcing.

LVP, and by extension WPC flooring, isn’t eco-friendly or repairable. But there are more design options to choose from, and it’s often easier to install.

WPC vs. Cork

The pros and cons of cork flooring also include sustainable sourcing, a modest price tag, vulnerability to water, and adequate durability. The last two are the most important because these are areas where LVP excels. 

Cork isn’t ideal for heavy use and it has special care requirements: it’s not waterproof and it needs to be resealed every so often to maintain its integrity.

Don’t let the disadvantages of cork flooring fool you into thinking it’s a poor choice, though (unless we’re talking about Lowes’ cork flooring). The best cork flooring is greener than LVP, and offers superior insulation and softness compared to WPC flooring.

WPC vs. Engineered Hardwood

What is engineered hardwood? It’s real wood flooring. It’s just made of two different types of wood.

In fact, most engineered wood disadvantages are the same as real hardwood’s. However, the best engineered wood flooring is often thought of as a substitute for solid hardwood so we’re lumping it in here too.

Like WPC flooring, many of the best engineered wood flooring brands offer a huge variety of options. WPC is much less expensive, though, and its installation costs don’t even touch the cost to install engineered hardwood floors.

Unlike WPC vinyl flooring, though, engineered wood isn’t waterproof and isn’t as scratch-resistant. But, in terms of authenticity, engineered wood is obviously the winner since it’s, you know, still real hardwood.

Conclusion: Is WPC Flooring Good? WPC Flooring Reviews Say it’s Great!

All in all, WPC vinyl flooring is a fantastic substitute for hardwood. It’s cheaper, waterproof, and incredibly comfortable. Nearly all of the best vinyl plank flooring brands make it and—unless you go with SPC—it’s hard to find a more durable product.

So where do you go from here? Find a top-rated flooring store near you for some expert help! Or, if you’re not quite ready, check out the articles below for more flooring ideas.

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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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