What You Need To Know About WPC Flooring

So what in the world is WPC and why should you care? WPC stands for wood - plastic - composite. It is a combination of wood fiber or wood filler and a plastic of some sort whether it be polyethylene, polypropylene, or polyvinyl chloride (PVC). WPC was introduced in the 1990's in the form of exterior decking. It quickly gained popularity because of its resistance to weather, decay, and rot. It took the flooring industry over a decade to jump on-board. One of the pioneers of the category was US Floors which introduced Coretec Plus in 2012. Since then a plethora of manufacturers have taken the concept and run with it. From embossed in register textures to a closed-cell foam attached pad, the selection is mind blowing. This is definitely not Grandma's vinyl flooring.

The Anatomy of WPC Flooring

  • Extruded Rigid Core - this provides WPC flooring with its dimensional stability. Now to completely confuse you, some manufacturers have eliminated any wood fibers in their core to increase its resistance to moisture and environmental factors, but we still refer to it as WPC.
  • Vinyl Top Layer - this layer consists of virgin vinyl as opposed to recycled plastic that may contain petroleum and other volatile chemicals.
  • Decorative Print Film - this layer provides the wood or tile look that makes waterproof flooring a compelling choice for any home.
  • Wear Layer - this is the actual surface that is walked on. It can range from a 6 mil layer to a 22-25 mil wear layer. Most are coated with a ceramic bead finish that provides an extremely durable surface.
  • Attached acoustic pad - more and more manufacturers are attaching a closed-cell foam pad to the bottom of the rigid core. This eliminates the need for a separate underlayment. Unlike a cork backing, the closed-cell foam has no air pockets to transmit sound therefore increasing the acoustic properties of the flooring.

So why should you care about WPC flooring? Well for those active households waterproof flooring is a great cost effective solution that can stand up to the daily abuse you can dish out. And for those less active homes, just the piece of mind that your flooring can withstand an ice maker failure or a dishwasher mishap is priceless. Now I don't want to be one of those that completely over-sells a product. With that said, there are some considerations to keep in mind. First, WPC flooring will scratch. As with any surface finish it is not impervious to the rock in the shoe or exposed nail in the chair leg. WPC flooring can also be affected by extreme temperatures. While the core is dimensionally stable under normal conditions, the extreme heat coming through a glass sliding door can cause extreme expansion. This could potentially compromise the locking system. For those whom this is a consideration, we have a solution for you. It is called SPC flooring. But that is a story for another day.

WPC flooring is also very easy to care for. A dust mop and hardwood floor cleaner is all you need. Avoid products like Mop-N-Glow that apply a wax or polish. Never ever use a steam mop. Remember those issues with heat I mentioned? Well steam mops force extreme heat into every little nook and cranny of your new WPC floor and will most definitely damage it over time.

One of the biggest concerns I hear from customers is the chemical off-gassing of vinyl flooring. Early in the evolution of vinyl flooring, phthalates were used in the plastic compounds to give it flexibility. Phthalates were used in everything from PVC pipes to surgical tubing used for IV bags. The health effects have become more apparent especially in young children. In 2015 Consumer Reports tested 17 different vinyl samples with both wipe tests and airbourne tests. The results found phthalates, but at very low levels. Their recommendation is to clean the floor often especially if you have a crawling child.
While the danger of phthalates lies more in ingestion, formaldehyde is the airbourne culprit. Formaldehyde in general is/ was used in the adhesives that hold flooring products together. As a society we tend to spend a majority of our time indoors. Therefore it has become more incumbent upon the flooring industry to produce products that have a neutral or positive effect on our indoor air quality. The Resilient Floor Covering Institute (RFCI) developed the FloorScore certification that tests formaldehyde and other volatile organic compound levels in floor coverings. For now the certification is voluntary, but more and more manufacturers are having their products tested and certified.

Now that you probably know more than you ever wanted to know about waterproof flooring, come check out our selection of WPC flooring. Most of the products we represent have the FloorScore certification so you can be sure that you have a floor that not only looks fantastic but is also safe for your family.

Learn more about phthalates here: PHTHALATES
Learn more about formaldehyde here: FORMALDEHYDE