|Handbook Contents...||UMSL Govt. Docs...||UMSL Libraries...||UMSL Home...|
Many buildingsincluding homes, offices, stores, and restaurantshave carpet that was installed by a carpet installer. Before installing the carpet, these craft workers first inspect the surface to be covered to determine its condition and, if necessary, correct any imperfections that could show through the carpet. They must measure the area to be carpeted and plan the layout, keeping in mind expected traffic patterns and placement of seams for best appearance and maximum wear.
When installing wall-to-wall carpet without tacks, installers first fasten a tackless strip to the floor, next to the wall. They then install the padded cushion or underlay. Next, they roll out, measure, mark, and cut the carpet, allowing for 2 to 3 inches of extra carpet for the final fitting. Using a knee kicker, they position the carpet, stretching it to fit evenly on the floor and snugly against each wall and door threshold. They then rough cut the excess. Finally, using a power stretcher, they stretch the carpet, hooking it to the tackless strip to hold it in place. The installer then finishes the edges using a wall trimmer.
Because most carpet comes in 12-foot widths, wall-to-wall installations require installers to tape or sew sections together for large rooms. They join the seams by sewing them with a large needle and special thread or by using heat-taped seamsa special plastic tape made to join seams when activated with heat.
On special upholstery work, such as stairs, carpet may be held in place with staples. Also, in commercial installations, carpet is often glued directly to the floor or to padding which has been glued to the floor.
Carpet installers use handtools such as hammers, drills, staple guns, carpet knives, and rubber mallets. They also may use carpet-laying tools, such as carpet shears, knee kickers pile cutters, heat irons, and power stretchers.
Carpet installers generally work regular daytime hours, but when recarpeting stores or offices, they may work evenings and weekends to avoid disturbing customers or employees. Installers usually work under better conditions than most other construction workers, although, the work is very labor intensive. Because carpets are installed in finished or nearly finished structures, work areas usually are clean, well lighted, safe, and comfortable. Installers kneel, reach, bend, stretch, and frequently lift heavy rolls of carpet. They also may be required to move heavy furniture. Safety regulations may require that they wear knee pads or safety goggles when using certain tools.
Carpet installers held about 66,000 jobs in 1994. Many worked for flooring contractors or floor covering retailers. About two-thirds of all carpet installers are self-employed.
Although installers are employed throughout the Nation, they tend to be concentrated in urban areas where there are high levels of construction activity.
The vast majority of carpet installers learn their trade informally on the job as helpers to experienced installers. Others learn through formal apprenticeship programs, which include on-the-job training as well as related classroom instruction.
Informal training is often sponsored by individual contractors and generally lasts from about 1 1/2 to 2 years. Helpers begin with simple assignments, such as installing stripping and padding, or helping stretch newly installed carpet. With experience, helpers take on more difficult assignments, such as measuring, cutting, and fitting.
Apprenticeship programs and some contractor-sponsored programs provide comprehensive training in all phases of carpet laying. Most apprenticeship programs are union sponsored and consist of weekly classes and on-the-job training that usually last 3 to 4 years.
Persons who wish to begin a career in carpet installation as a helper or apprentice should be 18 years old and have good manual dexterity. Since carpet installers frequently deal directly with customers, they should be courteous and tactful. High school graduation is preferred, though not necessary: courses in general mathematics and shop are helpful. Some employers may require a driver's license and a criminal background check.
Carpet installers may advance to positions as supervisors or installation managers for large installation firms. Some installers become salespersons or estimators. Many installers who begin working for a large contractor or installation firm also eventually go into business for themselves as independent subcontractors.
Employment of carpet installers is expected to grow more slowly than the average for all occupations through the year 2005. Growth will be due primarily to the continued need to renovate and refurbish existing structures, which usually involves laying new carpet. Carpet as a floor covering continues to be popular and its usage is expected to grow in structures such as schools, offices, hospitals, and industrial plants.
Demand for carpet will also be stimulated by new, more durable fibers that are stain and crush resistant and which come in a wider variety of colors. More resilient carpet needs to be replaced less often, but these attractive new products may induce more people to replace their old carpeting, contributing further to the demand for carpet installers.
This occupation is less sensitive to changes in economic conditions than most other construction occupations. Because much of their work involves replacing carpet in existing buildings, renovation work usually allows employment of carpet installers to remain relatively stable even when new construction activity declines. In the many houses built with plywood, rather than hardwood floors, wall-to-wall carpeting is a necessity. Similarly, offices, hotels, and stores often cover concrete floors with wall-to-wall carpet, which must be periodically replaced.
Median weekly earnings of all full-time carpet installers were about $412 in 1994. The middle 50 percent earned between $272 and $613 per week. The top 10 percent earned more than $751 and the lowest 10 percent earned less than $195.
Carpet installers get paid either on an hourly basis or by the number of yards installed. The rates vary widely depending on the geographic location and whether the installer is affiliated with a union. Nonunion carpet installers are usually paid by the number of yards installed. In 1994, they received between $1.50 and $3.00 a yard. According to limited information available, union carpet installers earned between $16 and $25 an hour in 1994, including benefits. Benefits average about $3.50 to $4.00 an hour, most of which is for health insurance. Apprentices and other trainees usually start out earning about half of what an experienced worker earns, though their wage rate increases as they advance through the training program. Some installers belong to the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America or the International Brotherhood of Painters and Allied Trades.
Carpet installers measure, cut, and fit carpet materials. Workers in other occupations involving similar skills but using different materials include carpenters, cement masons, drywall installers, floor layers, lathers, painters and paperhangers, roofers, sheet-metal workers, terrazzo workers, and tilesetters.
For details about apprenticeships or work opportunities, contact local flooring contractors or retailers; locals of the unions previously mentioned; or the nearest office of the State apprenticeship agency or the State employment service.
For general information about the work of carpet installers, contact:
Floor Covering Installation Contractors Association, P.O. Box 948, Dalton, GA 30722-0948.
For information concerning training contact:
United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America, 101 Constitution Ave. NW., Washington, DC 20001.
International Brotherhood of Painters and Allied Trades, 1750 New York Ave. NW., Washington, DC 20006.
New York City District Council of Carpenters Labor Technical College, 395 Hudson St., New York, NY 10014.
|Handbook Contents...||UMSL Govt. Docs...||UMSL Libraries...||UMSL Home...|