Understanding Timber Flooring Lengths & Shorts

Blog |

3 _92A6357-Edit

When looking to buy timber flooring, some brands can appear cheaper than others - one factor that can greatly affect price (aside from the finish type etc) is the lengths and shorts percentage supplied. Often consumers are unaware of this which can result in them choosing a cheaper product with a lot of shorter lengths.

Shorts (AKA 'nested' lengths)

Shorts, or nested lengths, are a standard occurrence with timber flooring. When you see a timber flooring product that says it comes in 'xyz' lengths, a percentage of that amount is almost always 'shorts' or 'nested'. These terms refer to short boards that are included within the packs of full length boards. These will typically be in the format of 1/3+2/3, ½+½ or 1/3+1/3+1/3 of normal full length boards. These 'shorts' are usually offcuts from when the longer boards are cut to size and are included to minimize the wastage of the timber. A small percentage of shorts is useful for applications such as starting and finishing rows, in doorway thresholds, and in smaller areas such as wardrobes, cupboards and pantries etc.

Suppliers that provide shorter planks and a more nested lengths will usually charge less for their product than those who supply longer planks and less nested lengths, as it costs less to provide shorter planks. Consumers can be caught out when they opt for the cheaper product without realizing that it has such a high percentage of shorts.

At Forte most of our timber flooring range has around 17-25% shorts, although some of our prime grade products do include up to 33% shorts due to that grade being harder to source. Some other suppliers in New Zealand are supplying as much as 50% shorts - with that percentage of shorter lengths it would usually be quite noticeable throughout the floor once installed and is not likely to look as aesthetically pleasing as it would have with more long planks. So, to avoid having an over-abundance of short boards in your floor always check the shorts (aka nested lengths) percentage with your supplier before you buy!


Longer lengths cost more, therefore when comparing two apparently similar products, check the lengths! The most authentic looking timber floors are made up of long length planks*. The width of the plank should be in proportion to the length of the plank - you don't want a long but super-narrow plank or an extremely wide and short plank! A good rule of thumb for an aesthetically pleasing authentic-looking timber flooring plank is for the length to be about ten times the width. For example, a 190mm wide plank looks best at least 1.9m long, a 220mm wide plank at least 2.2m, a 260mm wide plank at least 2.6m and a 340mm wide plank at least 3.4m long. If the product you are looking to buy has a shorter plank than this, we suggest drawing one of your rooms to scale on paper and drawing in the planks to ensure you are happy with the proportion of them.

*Note: With reclaimed timber flooring, lengths can be widely varied as the timber has often been re-purposed from pre-cut pieces of wood. Random lengths are a commonly accepted feature of reclaimed timber flooring.

Visit one of our Showrooms

If you have any queries about our products or need help with your project, we can provide you with expert advice. Visit one of our showrooms or book a consultation with our flooring experts today.