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Carpet, Floor, or Tile Installer/Finisher

Job Outlook: 11% (Much faster than average)

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What Flooring Installers and Tile and Stone Setters Do About this section

Tile and stone setters
Some tile and stone setters create intricate designs.

Flooring installers and tile and stone setters lay and finish carpet, wood, vinyl, and other materials, such as ceramic, glass, marble, and granite.

Duties

Flooring installers and tile and stone setters typically do the following:

  • Remove existing materials from floors, walls, or other surfaces
  • Clean and level the surface to be covered
  • Measure the area and cut material to fit
  • Arrange materials according to design plans
  • Place materials and secure with adhesives, nails, or staples
  • Fill joints with filler compound and remove excess compound
  • Trim excess carpet or linoleum
  • Apply finishes, such as sealants and stains

Flooring installers and tile and stone setters lay the materials that improve the look and feel of homes, offices, restaurants, and other buildings. Many of these workers install materials on floors. However, they also work on walls, ceilings, countertops, and showers.

Installing floors and tiles requires a smooth, even base of mortar or plywood. Flooring installers and tile and stone setters or other construction craftworkers lay this base. On remodeling jobs, workers may need to remove old flooring and smooth the surface before laying the base.

The following are examples of types of flooring installers and tile and stone setters:

Carpet installers lay carpet on new floors or over existing flooring. They use special tools, including “knee kickers” to position the carpet and power stretchers to pull the carpet snugly against walls. They also join carpet edges and seam edges by sewing or by using tape with glue and a heated carpet iron.

Carpet tile installers lay modular pieces of carpet that may be glued into place. Installing carpet tiles may be an option where standard carpet is impractical, such as in designing a pattern over an area.

Floor sanders and finishers scrape and smooth wood floors, often using power sanders. They then apply stains and sealants to preserve the wood. (For information on workers who install wood floors, see the profile on carpenters.)

Floor layers, except carpet, wood, and hard tiles, install a variety of resilient flooring materials. Linoleum installers lay washable flooring material of the same name, cutting the linoleum to size and gluing it into place. Vinyl installers lay plastic-based flooring that includes vinyl ester, vinyl sheeting, and vinyl tile. Installers of laminate, manufactured wood, and wood tile floors are included in this category.

Tile and stone setters install pieces of ceramic, marble, granite, glass, or other materials. Tile installers, sometimes called tile setters, cut tiles using wet saws, tile scribes, or handheld tile cutters. They then use trowels of different sizes to spread mortar or a sticky paste, called mastic, evenly on the work surface before placing the tiles. Tile finishers apply grout between tiles after the tiles are set by using a rubber trowel, called a float, and then wipe the tiles clean after the grout dries. Stone setters may cut marble, granite, or other stone to a specified size with a wet saw. They use special adhesives to fasten the stone to the desired surface; in remodeling projects, they may first need to smooth the underlying surface after removing old materials.

Work Environment About this section

Tile and marble setters
Carpet installers spend a lot of time kneeling when stretching carpet.

Flooring installers and tile and marble setters held about 123,400 jobs in 2019. Employment in the detailed occupations that make up flooring installers and tile and marble setters was distributed as follows:

Tile and stone setters 57,000
Carpet installers 36,500
Floor layers, except carpet, wood, and hard tiles 22,900
Floor sanders and finishers 7,000

The largest employers of flooring installers and tile and marble setters were as follows:

Self-employed workers 28%
Home furnishings stores 8
Manufacturing 4
Construction of buildings 4

Installing flooring, tile, and stone is physically demanding, requiring workers to spend much of their time reaching, bending, and kneeling. Workers typically wear kneepads while kneeling; safety goggles when using grinders, saws, and sanders; and dust masks or respirator systems to prevent inhaling work-generated dust in enclosed areas with poor ventilation.

Injuries and Illnesses

Carpet installers and floor sanders and finishers have some of the highest rates of injuries and illnesses of all occupations.

Work Schedules

Most flooring installers and tile and stone setters work full time, although schedules may vary. In commercial settings, they may need to work evenings and weekends to avoid disturbing regular business operations.

How to Become a Flooring Installer or Tile and Stone Setter About this section

Tile and stone setters
Most flooring installers and tile and stone setters learn on the job working with experienced installers.

Flooring installers and tile and stone setters typically need no formal educational credential. They learn their trade on the job, sometimes starting as a helper. Some learn through an apprenticeship.

Education

There are typically no formal education requirements for becoming a flooring installer or tile and stone setter, although candidates entering an apprenticeship program may need a high school diploma or equivalent.

Certain high school courses, such as art and math, may be helpful for flooring installers and tile and stone setters.

Training

Flooring installers and tile and stone setters typically learn on the job, working with experienced installers or starting as helpers.

New workers usually do simple tasks, such as moving materials. As they gain experience, they take on more complex tasks, such as cutting carpet. Some helpers work as tile finishers before becoming tile installers.

Some flooring installers and tile and stone setters learn their trade through a 2- to 4-year apprenticeship. For each year of a typical program, apprentices must complete a predetermined number of hours of technical instruction and paid on-the-job training. Technical instruction in the apprenticeship may include mathematics, building code requirements, safety and first-aid practices, and blueprint reading. After completing an apprenticeship program, flooring installers and tile and stone setters are considered journey workers and may perform duties on their own.

Certification

Several organizations offer certification for floor and tile installers. Although certification is not required, it demonstrates that a flooring installer and tile and stone setter has a specific mastery of skills to do a job.

The Ceramic Tile Education Foundation (CTEF) offers the Certified Tile Installer (CTI) designation for workers with 2 or more years of experience as a tile installer. Applicants must pass a written test and a hands-on performance evaluation.

Several groups, including the Ceramic Tile Education Foundation, the International Masonry Institute (IMI), the International Union of Bricklayers & Allied Craftworkers (IUBAC), the National Tile Contractors Association (NTCA), the Tile Contractors’ Association of America (TCAA), and the Tile Council of North America (TCNA) have created the Advanced Certifications for Tile Installers (ACT) program. To qualify for the program, applicants must have either completed a qualified apprenticeship program or earned the CTI certification. Requirements for certification include passing both an exam and a field test.

The National Wood Flooring Association (NWFA) offers optional certification for floor sanders and finishers. Sanders and finishers must have 2 years of experience and must have completed NWFA-approved training. Applicants are required to complete written and performance tests.

The International Certified Floorcovering Installers Association (CFI) offers certification for flooring and tile installers. Installers need 2 years of experience before they can take the written test and performance evaluation.

The International Standards & Training Alliance (INSTALL) offers a comprehensive flooring certification program for flooring and tile installers. INSTALL certification requires both classroom and hands-on training and covers all major types of flooring.

Important Qualities

Color vision. Flooring installers and tile and stone setters often determine small color variations and must be able to distinguish among colors in patterns for the best looking finish.

Customer-service skills. Flooring installers and tile and stone setters must be courteous with and considerate of customers, especially while completing tasks in customers’ homes.

Detail oriented. Flooring installers and tile and stone setters need to be thorough and exacting to ensure that tile, wood, and carpet patterns are properly aligned.

Math skills. Flooring installers and tile and stone setters use math to measure an area to be covered and to calculate the amount of material needed to cover it.

Physical stamina. Flooring installers and tile and stone setters must be able to stand or kneel for many hours in order to spread adhesive quickly and place tiles before the adhesive hardens.

Physical strength. Flooring installers and tile and stone setters must be able to lift, carry, and set heavy pieces of flooring material into position.

Pay About this section

Flooring Installers and Tile and Stone Setters

Median annual wages, May 2019

Construction trades workers

$46,340

Flooring installers and tile and marble setters

$42,050

Total, all occupations

$39,810

 

The median annual wage for flooring installers and tile and stone setters was $42,050 in May 2019. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $25,780, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $74,630.

Median annual wages for flooring installers and tile and stone setters in May 2019 were as follows:

Floor layers, except carpet, wood, and hard tiles $44,240
Tile and stone setters 43,050
Carpet installers 40,090
Floor sanders and finishers 39,610

In May 2019, the median annual wages for flooring installers and tile and marble setters in the top industries in which they worked were as follows:

Construction of buildings $44,240
Home furnishings stores 41,050
Manufacturing 36,390

Most flooring installers and tile and stone setters work full time, although schedules may vary. In commercial settings, they may need to work evenings and weekends to avoid disturbing regular business operations.

Job Outlook About this section

Flooring Installers and Tile and Stone Setters

Percent change in employment, projected 2019-29

Total, all occupations

4%

Construction trades workers

3%

Carpet, floor, and tile installers and finishers

3%

 

Employment of flooring installers and tile and stone setters is projected to grow 3 percent from 2019 to 2029, about as fast as the average for all occupations.

The construction of new housing units will be the primary source of flooring and tile and stone installation work over the projections decade. More flooring installers and tile and stone setters will be needed for remodeling and replacement projects in existing homes. Although carpet is still the dominant flooring, other products, including resilient flooring such as vinyl, are growing in popularity.

Tile and stone will continue to be commonly installed in bathrooms, shopping malls, and restaurants, as well as in other commercial and government buildings.

Job Prospects

About 10,700 openings for flooring installers and tile and stone setters are projected each year, on average, over the decade.

Many of those openings are expected to result from the need to replace workers who transfer to different occupations or exit the labor force, such as to retire.

As with many other types of construction occupations, employment of these workers is sensitive to fluctuations of the economy. On the one hand, workers may experience periods of unemployment when the overall level of construction falls. On the other hand, additional workers may be needed in some areas during peak periods of building activity.

Employment projections data for flooring installers and tile and stone setters, 2019-29
Occupational Title SOC Code Employment, 2019 Projected Employment, 2029 Change, 2019-29 Employment by Industry
Percent Numeric

SOURCE: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Employment Projections program

Carpet, floor, and tile installers and finishers

47-2040 123,400 127,500 3 4,100 Get data

Carpet installers

47-2041 36,500 33,300 -9 -3,200 Get data

Floor layers, except carpet, wood, and hard tiles

47-2042 22,900 25,200 10 2,300 Get data

Floor sanders and finishers

47-2043 7,000 7,100 2 200 Get data

Tile and stone setters

47-2044 57,000 61,900 9 4,900 Get data

Contacts for More Information About this section

For details about apprenticeships, training, or other work opportunities in this trade, contact the offices of the state employment service, the state apprenticeship agency, local contractors or firms that employ flooring installers and tile and stone setters, or local union–management apprenticeship committees. Apprenticeship information is available from the U.S. Department of Labor's Apprenticeship program online or by phone at 877-872-5627. Visit Apprenticeship.gov to search for apprenticeship opportunities.

For more information about flooring installers and tile and stone setters, visit

Ceramic Tile Education Foundation

International Masonry Institute

International Union of Bricklayers & Allied Craftworkers

Tile Contractors’ Association of America

The Tile Council of North America, Inc.

Home Builders Institute

For more information about training and certification of flooring installers and tile and stone setters, visit

International Certified Floorcovering Installers Association

Finishing Trades Institute International

International Standards & Training Alliance (INSTALL)

National Tile Contractors Association

National Wood Flooring Association

O*NET

Carpet Installers

Floor Layers, Except Carpet, Wood, and Hard Tiles

Floor Sanders and Finishers

Tile and Marble Setters

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