Waste factors in floor manufacturing

The amount of wood wasted from rough to finished flooring may surprise you. January 24, 2001

We purchased a moulder and have just run our first flooring job. We made the floor of three random widths. We assumed we would get a decent yield with this flexibility. Much to our surprise, we had 32% waste from rough to finished flooring! Could someone provide a reality check on typical waste factors?

Forum Responses
We can run plank flooring cheaper than the strip. Most of the time our lumber is made up of 5.5"-wide boards, so we end up running 4.75" to 5" flooring. When you move to the 3 to 3.5" width, the waste really builds up.

I have seen 35% waste factor when producing 2.75"-wide clear strips from mill run lumber. I don't have info on the log quality, so there is some missing info from this figure.

I custom run a lot of lumber into flooring. We usually rip to three sizes, sometimes four, to minimize waste. We have found 35% waste to be typical with random width lumber. Sometimes it is less and sometimes more. I've always heard 30% on strip flooring. We vary the three sizes based on the widths of the lumber we are using at the time. No two bundles of lumber are the same!

The companies I work with find something to do with the edging strips in order to capture cost. Everything from dowels to kiln sticks are made from them.

Most companies that are making strip flooring average around 28% to 32% loss when you include the edging stick and the dust/shavings from the molder and the gang rip.

To minimize waste, you can look at optimization programs. Many of the flooring companies that I work with will rip 6 or 8 different widths. They use 3 or 4 for flooring and the others for their common profiles. This makes a big difference in yield.

Dave Rankin, forum technical advisor

We produce flooring from 3.5" to 7"-wide and use a 30% waste factor for all of our costing. Some days you win and others you lose, but this has been the most accurate average. We mill both hardwoods and softwoods.