Fixed vs Random Length Wood Flooring Planks
When choosing your dream floor, one of the variations you will have to decide on is whether you would like fixed or random length planks to be installed. Fixed length flooring will come in lengths of around 1800mm and each board will be exactly the same length. Random length flooring comes in a variety of plank sizes usually ranging from 300mm – 1600mm. Many customers order their floor without even checking the length variation, which is dangerous as it can affect the overall appearance of your floor. Random length planks give a more irregular appearance where as fixed lengths give your floor a lot more of a uniformed appearance and some would say more natural. Long fixed lengths should be used in large rooms as they have the ability to retain the size of the room and random lengths usually make a room look slightly cosier due to the shorter planks creating a more cramped appearance.
When it comes to the installation process this may affect your decision of fixed or random lengths. If you are looking to install your floor on top of joists, then you will have to use a product that comes in fixed lengths if your joists are spread far apart. If you use random lengths and receive a vast amount of small planks, then they may not be able to reach from joist to joist. Following on from this point some random length packs can come with many smaller planks and too many small planks can make your floor look unnatural so they are not all used. This leaves you with a lot of wastage as you may end up with a pile of unused short planks. However usually packs will give you a mixture of small and large length packs.
Some fitters may charge more and take longer to install fixed length floor as some boards may need cutting to ensure the product has a staggered effect. However, many manufacturers now add starter planks to their packs to reduce the amount of cutting that needs to take place. As well as fitters charging more, solid fixed lengths are naturally more expensive due to the fact that planks are harder to manufacture. When creating solid random lengths, you can be flexible due to the varied length, however fixed lengths have to all be identical and any off cuts have to be thrown away rather than used for smaller lengths. This is why solid wood flooring will most likely come in random lengths rather than fixed lengths and there will be a lot larger variety of shades to choose from in random lengths. However, engineered fixed lengths are easier to create as the plywood base can be manufactured into fixed length so the only difficult part is manufacturing the solid veneer surface layer, which is a lot easier to create than a large fixed length of solid wood.
Some wood floor owners will order fixed length planks and then cut them to random lengths so it is easier to stagger their floor, however I am unsure why anyone would pay extra for fixed length flooring when it’s going to have the appearance of random lengths. If you are installing the floor yourself and you have little DIY experience, then the only advice I could give you is to make sure you stagger your fixed lengths. When staggering your fixed lengths, it will give a more natural look and if you are unable to stagger your floor then it will have the design and appearance of decking rather than a wood floor.
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