LVT/SPC/WPC: Which is right for your customer?
The resilient category today looks a lot different than it did just a few years ago. From glue-down LVT to the powerhouse click vinyl— SPC /WPC —it can be difficult to keep pace with the category’s constant evolution. What can be even more difficult is discerning each vinyl construction from its sister sub-segments and parsing out the individual features and benefits that make each tick. However, making these distinctions for the consumer should be high on the list of services flooring dealers offer their customers—a service that can make or break any installation.
To that point, FCNews reached out to several dealers across the country that heavily merchandise the luxury vinyl category and its three main iterations—LVT, SPC and WPC—to share their best sales strategies.
Sterling Carpet & Flooring
- 0.1 Lupe BrookhartSterling Carpet & FlooringAnaheim, Calif.
- 0.2 Bruce OdetteCarpet ExchangeDenver, Colo.
- 0.3 Greg LoefflerPierce FlooringMontana
- 0.4 Jason O’KrentO’Krent FloorsSan Antonio, Texas
- 1 TIPS FROM SUPPLIERS:
- 1.1 WellmadeSteve Wagnerdirector of marketing
- 1.2 MSIAlan Smithbusiness development director
- 1.3 Lions FloorJerry Guopresident
- 1.4 Engineered FloorsAna Torrencehard surface category manager
- 1.5 UnilinFloris Koopmanssales director IP
- 1.6 StantonJohn Rocconisenior director of hard surface
- 1.7 MohawkSeth Arnoldvice president of marketing, hard surface
- 1.8 Shaw IndustriesNatalie Cadypremium brands channel director
- 1.9 Pacific DirectAdrian Van RaaltenVP of sales and marketing
- 1.10 Republic FloorCarol KentisVP of operations
“We stock over 30 different vinyl plank options in SPC and WPC. These are the two cores we are most comfortable selling. I do not feel it is important to merchandise all three types to be successful.
“Most consumers are aware there are different cores in the vinyl plank category. However, they need help distinguishing between them. That’s where our great sales associates step in and guide them through the options. Each construction can offer incredible value to the right project. The important thing is identifying the right core construction for your project.”
SPC vs. WPC
“We like to inform the customer SPCs are much harder than WPCs. It is also important to know SPCs can withstand heat better than a WPC as well. This is important for those with sliders where sun can expose the boards to incredible temperatures. Just like any flooring sale, you must identify the customer’s needs before selecting anything. A lot of SPCs are thinner than any other flooring in someone’s home. They may need plywood or some other type of subfloor work to even out the new material with the existing [material]. A lot of newer WPCs are thicker than some engineered woods. These WPCs might be better for your client based on other existing flooring. It may even save them money in the long run based on what they won’t have to do to the sub floor.
“The great thing about waterproof flooring is you can install it anywhere in the home. An SPC will do well in areas of the home with windows increasing the temperature of those installed boards. You might want to try a WPC in your bedrooms where the core is a bit more tender underfoot.”
“We do merchandise all three [constructions] in our stores. Less than 1% of this category is in the traditional glue-down LVT, so we show very little of this. We feel offering the consumer other options outside SPC is very important. SPC is typically the more commodity products that are price sensitive. WPC is offered as an upgrade.”
The importance of education
“I think there is very little education for the consumers done at the store level on the construction of these products. Consumers are typically introduced to the product at a home center, where the majority of the constructions are SPC. We have spent a tremendous amount of time educating our sales associates on the benefits and features of each and how they will perform differently for the customer.
“If you do not distinguish between the different constructions, you will not be able to give the consumer a reason to upgrade their product. If they are all the same, then it will become only about price. Then it becomes a race to the bottom price.”
SPC vs. WPC vs. LVT
“SPC is a thinner material that offers much less cushion underfoot. WPC has foam injected limestone, which is softer underfoot. Also, it is much quieter to walk on.
“I believe the value in SPC products are the ability to sell them at the most aggressive price points. The value in WPC is the soft walk, combined with the ability to be less rigid on imperfect floors—typically requiring less floor prep. Another big advantage is the different thickness options that will accommodate a variety of transition challenges to other flooring. The beauty of all constructions is that they shine anywhere in the home—on grade, below grade or above grade. Most are rated to work with in-floor radiant heat as well. Another big advantage of the SPC and WPC is they are floating, so this gives you the ability to go over a multitude of surfaces. At the end of the day, all of these constructions are extremely durable and will hold up to a family’s active lifestyle.”
Tips for dealers
“Explain the benefits and features of the different constructions, with the strategy of upgrading them. Asking questions like: ‘Would you prefer to walk on a harder surface or a softer one?’ I don’t know of many people who will say a harder one. Another important attribute is the wear layer. Most home centers are selling products with a much thinner wear layer. It is imperative that you are educating your customer how this will affect the overall performance of the product. These are easy ways to give your customer the opportunity to make a choice that best fits their needs.
“We have all three constructions in our stores. It’s important to match the best construction, benefits and performance with the consumer’s needs—these needs can differ from one client to the next.”
Education is paramount
“Certainly, some consumers have done their homework and understand the differences. However, I believe a much larger percentage remain unaware. I feel it is important to educate the customer on options and to explain the different features and benefits to assist them with making their decisions.
“There is really no area of the home where these products cannot be installed, and many times we see much of the square footage of a home being covered with these products. The highest usage is generally in kitchens.”
Tips for dealers
“The biggest value is simply having multiple options, differing price points and unique features and benefits. There often is no single right or wrong answer or construction, but having choices—along with honest education—allows the consumer to feel confident in their final decision.
“Simply provide informed and honest information, discuss the pros and cons, don’t shy away from the potential usage issues of scratching and denting and educate on use, care, and maintenance.”
San Antonio, Texas
“Merchandising is very important for the client to see the differences in person. [We merchandise all three constructions—SPC, WPC, LVT.]”
Education is paramount
“Consumers either have not been educated about the differences or have been sold on inaccurate features/benefits, which we need to clarify for them. I remind our RSAs that the confusing acronyms are opportunities to educate first, sell second.”
Tips for dealers
“The category offers a great solution for the homeowner who wants continuity throughout the home, particularly in second story houses where tile would be too heavy throughout. Try to find the features/benefits that are most important to the client, then present the solution that checks the most boxes. Dent resistance, comfort and repairability/methods are our starting points in making distinctions.”
TIPS FROM SUPPLIERS:
To further help dealers help their customers, we reached out to several suppliers of luxury vinyl to get their best advice on selling the right construction to the right client. Following are their insights.
director of marketing
“I would position SPC as an upgrade to traditional LVT and WPC structures. As the next generation of waterproof flooring, SPC and its closed-cell construction ensures 100% waterproof performance, whether it’s used with a vinyl wear layer or as a base for natural hardwood or bamboo wear layers. With that, SPC remains dimensionally stable in the most demanding environments, including increased moisture and areas where temperature may fluctuate. Furthermore, SPC’s increased density improves overall locking strength and provides exceptional dent resistance—making it an excellent choice for high-traffic consumer installations or rigorous commercial applications.”
business development director
“Waterproof flooring has bred new technologies from the original WPC and then SPC and the newest HRC (Hybrid). Each is a good choice but the likely best choice depends on the consumer’s need. Today, SPC has separated itself as the clear, current leader because it has the highest value—performance balanced against cost—sort of like direct-pressure laminate took over from high-pressure laminate based on its value proposition. Of late, HRC is beginning to gain on both WPC and SPC because of its waterproof performance combined with superior scratch resistance.”
“SPC is a high-quality ecological purchase that is truly worthy. It is waterproof, scratch-resistant, easy to install, low maintenance and environmentally friendly. The core body consists of solid stone plastic material which provides superior stability and long-lasting usage life. The attached foam buffer works as a sound suppressant and is essential for shock absorption. It can be installed on almost all subfloors and can replicate the beauty of hardwood without the detrimental issues that real hardwood may bring. With its wide range of specs and adaptive price points, SPC is truly the perfect choice for all flooring projects.”
hard surface category manager
“This waterproof flooring is the ideal for all families including active families with kids and pets that are looking for a luxurious floor that is easy to maintain. This flooring options is made of an engineered core that is waterproof and dimensionally stable—families do not have to worry about spills. It is fast and easy to install and it is economical. Because the core is so dimensionally stable it is the ideal option for three-season homes that are not acclimated year-round. The variety of sizes and colors and the wood-like aesthetics have contributed to making this type of flooring the most popular in the industry today.”
sales director IP
“Unilin Technologies’ click profiles, such as Uniclic and Unidrop, are optimized for all materials, build-ups and thicknesses to ensure a product has the locking technology that fits best. The Unilin click systems are designed to withstand even the most active households and are being used on different flooring types that fit the need of every room in the house. Our trusted click systems provide an easy-to-install and worry-proof flooring experience. Hybrid cores will further improve the build-up of flooring products by integrating sound improvements and extra ergonomics.”
senior director of hard surface
“SPC has many benefits for both the consumer and the installer, including great dent resistance and excellent dimensional stability. These factors allow Stanton SPC to be installed with longer runs before a transition. For consumers with sunrooms, cabins or beach homes, they will be pleased to know the SPC construction will also withstand very broad temperature ranges.”
vice president of marketing, hard surface
“With so many resilient products in the market, it is easy for a consumer to become overwhelmed. SPC stands out in the market because of its performance attributes. Replacing previous formats, SPC is inherently waterproof but what makes it stand out is the extreme durability. SPC is dent resistant and more dimensionally stable than other products, making it the easy choice for consumers who want a durable floor that will withstand their busy lives.”
premium brands channel director
“WPC is the ideal vinyl floor for customers placing just as much emphasis on comfort and relaxation as they are on durability and performance. Thanks to its thicker foamed core, WPC is excellent at absorbing sound and retaining warmth. And the thicker core is also ideal for lessening joint fatigue, which can be a huge benefit if customers anticipate long-standing periods on their floor.”
Adrian Van Raalten
VP of sales and marketing
“Vinyl flooring has been the strongest segments of the flooring industry over the last four to five years. With so many nice colors and options available, it has been a go-to sale for most flooring stores. We also sell a ton of SPC flooring and have been pleased overall with its allure and performance.”
VP of operations
“SPC is a resilient floor with waterproof properties and ease of installation—in particular due to an attached, thicker underlayment that is mold and mildew resistant. SPC can be installed anywhere inside the home and offers a superior product at an affordable price point. Scratch resistance works for kids and pets and the waterproof properties take it from the laundry room to the bathroom. With a textured vinyl overlay, SPC looks like real wood with cleaner looks with less knots and warm color tones that consumers are now leaning toward.”