Floor covering installers specialize in the repair, replacement, and installation of various floor coverings, including carpet. They install these materials on walls as well. The process of installing carpet involves a number of sequential steps, beginning with the pre-installation phase. Installers first sweep the floor and make sure it is dry and smooth. They may fill cracks and holes to level the surface. They measure the dimensions of the room and make a sketch of the area to be covered. They then accurately cut the material to fit the floor area.
After installers complete the pre-installation phase, the begin the installation. They use different techniques depending on the area they are covering. For wall-to-wall carpeting, they use a "tackless" strip that is nailed around the room near the wall. They then stretch the carpet out and hook it over the nails. For stairs and confined spaces, installers use a "knee kicker", and in large rooms, they join carpet sections at the seams.
Aspiring carpet installers should have a number of desirable traits. They should have excellent manual dexterity and hand-eye coordination. They need to be physically fit. A good aptitude for solving quick mathematical problems is very helpful.
The union wage for journey-level carpet installers ranges from $16.00 to $22.00 per hour. Apprentices usually earn 25% to 45% of the journey-level wages. Installers usually work 8-hour days, 4 to 5 days per week when work is available. They may earn overtime at time-and-a-half or double their normal wage.
Training and Education
Some carpet installers learn their skills in an informal way by working under the supervision of experienced workers. Most employers prefer to hire installers who have completed formal apprenticeship programs, usually sponsored by local unions and employers. Apprenticeship programs combine on-the-job training with classroom instruction, which is typically held once or twice a week at training centers and covers both carpet and resilient floor covering installation. Graduates of these programs are much more desirable to employers because they are fully trained.
In order to be considered for admission to apprenticeship programs, applicants must be at least 18 years old and hold a high school diploma or equivalent. Sometimes a written test or interview are required. Most programs last about 3 years. With experience, installers may become supervisors or estimators, or they may start their own businesses. Visit this page about trade schools for more information on related careers.
In 2002, carpet installers held about 82,000 jobs. Most worked for flooring contractors or floor covering retailers.
Between 2002 and 2012, employment of carpet installers is expected to increase about as fast as the average. This will be due largely to a continued need to renovate and refurbish existing structures. Carpet will continue to be a popular floor covering, and carpet installers will have good job opportunities.