What Is Wood Plastic Composite or WPC Waterproof Flooring?
Wood Plastic Composite flooring also known as WPC is a new product in the flooring market that has characteristics that make it a great hard-surface option for residential and light commercial applications. WPC is a laminate product that provides greater durability, a beautiful sheen and is waterproof to spills and moisture. Here is a short guide to help you choose between WPC and other materials like hardwood, laminate, tile or carpet.
#1: How Is WPC Constructed?
WPC is laminated using wood and plastic layers and adhesives that are pressed together in the factory. The top and bottom layers are plastic that provide water protection, and the interior layers alternate between wood and plastic in some cases. Some so-called “WPC” products are now being brought to market that are 100% plastic with a wood look.
#2: How Does WPC Compare on Price??
WPC flooring prices usually fall somewhere in between laminate on the low end and engineered hardwood and hardwood on the upper end. Generally speaking WPC flooring is about 30-40% of the cost of hardwood. The installation costs are much lower than hardwood and basically comparable to installation of laminate materials.
Laminate and WPC can often be installed by Do-It-Yourself or "DIY" inclined homeowners. Hardwood and Engineered hardwood tend to require a contractor's experience for successful installation.
#3: How Does WPC Compare to the Other Flooring Products?
If you have entered a retail store like Rite-Aid or Walgreen in the last few years, you have likely walked on WPC. The feel of WPC is solid ,with it's snap together construction. Laminate “style” manufactured plank floors, including WPC, are often referred to as “floating” floors because they are not commonly glued down to the substrate. Standard laminate flooring requires “expansion gaps” around the perimeter to make up for environmental factors like air temperature and moisture. Since WPC is a waterproof floating floor material, expansion gaps are not required making the job of installation much easier and more efficient.
Unlike laminate, underlayment and/or vapor barrier are not always required for WPC. It is optional to have a water barrier installed under WPC because of its waterproof nature. Underlayment can be used with WPC to get the “soft” feel consumers commonly associate with laminate, but it is seldom “required” for warranty.
WPC is very durable and most brands can stand up to light or even heavy commercial use (see individual brand's use recommendations for commercial vs residential installations.). Hardwood is not suitable for most commercial use simply based on price. Many laminates are not rated for commercial use, only for residential. Commercial flooring is usually WPC, wood look tile, tile or carpet, with WPC rapidly gaining market share for commercial applications and rental properties.
WPC also offers new design options for areas previously reserved for tile or even linoleum, like bathrooms, laundry rooms and kid's rooms where moisture or spills are more likely to occur. The waterproof, durable nature of WPC is bringing the “wood look” into these rooms for the first time and consumers are very impressed with the performance they are getting from WPC in their homes.
- Matthew Carroll