Career and Job Search Guide

Carpet, Floor, and Tile Installers and Finishers

Floor coverings, such as carpet and tile, decorate, and are feature of a building. Floor installers lay carpet, tiles, and other floor coverings in a variety of buildings. Some tile installers place tile on ceilings or walls.

Carpet installers must examine the surface they are covering for problems before installing carpet. After examining the surface, if no problems exist, they measure the surface and make necessary preparations for layout.

Carpet specialists laying carpet without tacks begin by placing a special strip on the wall, install the underlay on the floor, and then measure the carpet, leaving 2-3 inches of added carpet. They then use a knee kicker to evenly fit the carpet on the floor, and then they remove the extra carpet. To finish installing the carpet, they use a power stretcher to stretch and attach the carpet to the tackless strip and remove excess carpet from the edges with a wall trimmer.

Since carpet is manufactured in 12 foot widths, installers laying carpet wall to wall in big rooms connect sections of carpet together. To join carpet sections, installers use seems constructed of plastic tape which connect when heat is applied, known as heat taped seams. Carpenters performing special upholstery jobs, like carpet installation on stairs, usually use staples. Carpenters usually use glue when laying carpet at commercial buildings.

Carpet installers utilize the following tools: rubber mallets, carpet shears, knee kickers, power stretchers, heat irons, wall trimmers, hammers, carpet knives, staple guns, and drills.

Floor installers and floor layers install rubber, cork, vinyl, linoleum, and laminate floor coverings. Prior to installation, floor installers examine the floor's surface to determine whether it is suitable to install new coverings. Then, floor installers measure and cut coverings. Installers usually use an adhesive to connect linoleum or vinyl coverings to a floor. Floor layers install a polyethylene film between laminate coverings and the floor to capture moisture. Installers usually do not use an underlayer while installing rubber or cork floor coverings.

Floor sanders and finishers coat floors with polyurethane and use floor sanding machines to finish hardwood floor surfaces. They then conduct a visual inspection and conduct further work if necessary. To finish, floor sanders apply sealant to the floor.

Tile installers, marble setters, and tilesetters install marble and tiles to numerous surfaces. Marble and tile are very popular since these materials are durable and resistant to water damage.

Before installation, tilesetters measure and organize tiles. They then use tile cutting machines to cut tile so uncovered areas can be covered. Tilesetters also use trowels to spread tiles with adhesive and then use rubber mallets to ensure tiles are firmly set. They also use spacers to make sure tiles are evenly spaced.

To install tile to surfaces without solid surfaces, tilesetters attach a tile backer board to the surface to be tiled. After the board has been installed, they place mortar on the board and begin installing tile. Hard backer boards are also used in areas exposed to water, showers being an example.

After the cement has settled, tilesetters place grout, a type of cement, in the joints. They use a tool called a grout float to insert and remove extra grout. They also wipe the surface where grout was applied with a sponge prior to the grout settling.

Marble setters cut and then apply marble coverings to floors or walls. Using a wet saw, marble setters measure and cut marble. After the marble has been set in place, marble setters use power tools to polish the finished project.

Work environment. Floor covering installers usually work inside during regular working hours, but when assigned to complete a project in a busy store, they usually work nights and weekends, so customers are not bothered. Another advantage enjoyed by floor covering installers is they are usually the last group of professionals to complete their work during a construction project, so they usually work in a clean environment. However, installing floor coverings is exhausting work. Floor covering installers can experience knee and back problems. Carpet installers often lift and carry heavy carpet rolls, so installers should be in shape to avoid fatigue. Floor covering installers must wear the appropriate safety equipment while performing their jobs as well taking precautions when using adhesives that release potentially harmful fumes.

Floor covering installers can get injured from ladder accidents and lacerations from using knifes, but working as a floor covering installer is relatively safe compared to other construction jobs.