Often an area of confusion when purchasing a wood floor for the first time, the difference between Fixed and Random Length floors can trip some people up; in fact, just to confuse the matter even further, there are actually three main options! But not to worry, this short guide should clear everything up…
True Fixed Length Flooring
As the same would suggest, fixed length flooring contains only planks of identical lengths e.g. six planks all 1800mm long. Typically, this will cost a lot more than an equivalent Random Length product as not being able to use any shorter lengths essentially creates extra wastage bumping the manufacturing cost up.
Fixed-length planks can result in brickwork like pattern which is inherently unstable and not recommended by most manufacturers. Therefore these products are actually very rare. So much so that what we define in this blog as ‘Mixed Length’ is actually normally known as Fixed Length. If you are able to find a truly Fixed Length product, note that it can give a very distinctive look, so we would highly recommend seeing a full space fitted this way before purchasing for your own project just to be sure.
Random Length Flooring
Random Length is again a fairly self-explanatory name, with each pack of flooring containing completely random length planks. It’s important to understand that while most manufacturers will give a range e.g. 400mm – 1800mm, the lengths you receive are truly random and can be anywhere in that range.
In our experience, Random Length packs usually have around 60-70% shorter planks e.g. in a 400mm – 1800mm range the majority will be 400mm – 1100mm. However, the manufacturer nor the retailer have any bearing over the lengths and because of this, Random Length flooring is considerably cheaper than fixed length as any and all lengths can be used drastically reducing wastage and in turn, manufacturing cost.
Mixed Length Flooring
The last and most popular option is a combination of the two, combining the long lengths of a Fixed product, with the more natural appearance of Random Length. Typically a mixed pack will contain mostly fixed length planks e.g. five 1800mm lengths and one random cut plank. The addition of a random length plank ensures a completely random pattern. Without it, you can end up with an unnatural brickwork like pattern as we mentioned above. This option is the most popular as you have a large number of long lengths, but also a natural stagger pattern.
The confusion normally occurs here because of the naming convention. Industry-wide, it’s accepted that these products are marked as 15x190x1900mm for example. They are even known as ‘fixed length’ as true fixed length is so uncommon and because for all intents and purposes, these products are fixed length; or at least provide the longer lengths desired from true fixed length products without the instability. Understandably, many confuse these labels and expect the lengths to be 1900mm, when 99% of the time it’s actually as above and they contain one or two split lengths.