Floor Layer

The Job and What's Involved

Floor layers work with many different flooring materials. The materials most commonly laid are textile carpets, waterproof vinyls and timber flooring.

It is important to find the right material for the job. Floor layers might put hard-wearing carpet in an office entrance, tough rubber covering in an industrial area, or use coverings that someone else has chosen. Materials are also available in different qualities, thicknesses, colours and patterns.

The first task is to prepare the surface. This may involve removing existing coverings and laying levelling compounds, or it may just be making sure a brand new floor is clean, smooth and dry. The chosen floor covering material is then secured into position and is cut using specialist scissors or knives. In the case of timber flooring, it is cut with saws.

Floor layers may have to move furniture and fittings. They usually follow a plan, diagram or written instructions to lay the covering correctly.

Planning the size of floor covering for a project can be complicated. Floor layers need to measure the area carefully to avoid wasting expensive materials and also to provide a balanced appearance. Tiles must be laid in straight lines with no gaps.

Floor layers can specialise in one area, such as carpet laying, or work with a wider range of materials and on different projects.

The usual working week is 37.5 hours, Monday to Friday, but times may vary to make the most of daylight hours or to avoid disrupting business, and floor layers may have to work at weekends or in the evenings. Self-employed floor layers are likely to work additional hours, especially when first becoming established.

Floor layers usually work indoors in homes, offices, shops, hospitals and other buildings, which may be under construction or already occupied. A lot of time is spent bending, kneeling or crouching, and the work can involve carrying heavy or awkward materials. A floor layer may need to wear a mask or breathing apparatus for protection against the fumes given off by adhesives and solvents.

The work can involve a great deal of travelling - sometimes long distances - particularly when working on industrial or construction projects. Floor layers who work closer to home have to travel between houses or business premises for work. They might also need to work away from home for short or long periods.

Starting salaries may be around £12,500 a year.

Getting Started with this Career Choice

There are currently around 44,000 people employed in the floor laying industry. Floor layers usually work for flooring contractors, who provide services to the construction industry. Flooring contractors are usually small, family businesses, but there are some larger firms employing greater numbers of staff.

There are also opportunities with manufacturers of flooring materials.

Vacancies may be advertised in Jobcentre Plus offices or in local newspapers.

Education and Training

It is possible to find work as a trainee floor layer straight from school. Young people can train through an Apprenticeship for which it is useful to have some GCSE's/S grades (A-E/1-5), or a vocational qualification. Maths, design and technology and English are important subjects. Applicants usually have to do a selection test to start a construction Apprenticeship.

Apprenticeships and Advanced Apprenticeships provide structured training with an employer. As an apprentice you must be paid at least £95 per week; you may well be paid more. A recent survey found that the average wage for apprentices was £170 a week. Your pay will depend on the sector in which you work, your age, the area where you live and the stage at which you have arrived in the Apprenticeship.

Entry to Employment (e2e) can help to prepare those who are not yet ready for an Apprenticeship. In addition, Young Apprenticeships may be available for 14- to 16-year-olds. More information is available from a Connexions personal adviser or at www.apprenticeships.org.uk.

There are different arrangements for Apprenticeships in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

For further information visit My World of Work www.myworldofwork.co.uk/modernapprenticeships, Careers Wales www.careerswales.com; and for Northern Ireland contact www.careersserviceni.com.

A Few More Exams You Might Need

Most training is on the job under the supervision of an experienced floor layer. There may be opportunities to go to college or a training centre to gain qualifications such as NVQ's/SVQ's Levels 1, 2 and 3 in Floor Covering.

Apprenticeships offer a structured training programme usually leading to an NVQ/SVQ Level 2.

The Flooring Industry Training Association (FITA) have training centres in Loughborough, Leicestershire and Nelson, Lancashire, and run short courses in fitting natural floor coverings, domestic and commercial vinyls and laminate flooring.

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Skills and Personal Qualities Needed

Floor layers need:

  • Good hand skills for cutting and laying coverings.
  • A careful, methodical and accurate approach.
  • The ability to carry out the various tasks in the correct order.
  • An aptitude for numbers - important for measuring and calculating quantities of materials.
  • Appreciation of design, for matching patterns.
  • Safety awareness when working with fumes, sharp knives and machinery.
  • To be able to work as part of a team, as well as on their own.
  • Tact, flexibility and a pleasant manner, particularly when working in homes or offices.
  • Physical fitness for lifting and carrying.

Your Long Term Prospects

Floor layers can progress to supervisory levels or contract management positions. They can also move into more specialised areas of work, such as estimating.

With experience, it is possible to become self-employed, and this may provide opportunities to work with carpet and flooring material retailers.

There may also be opportunities to work abroad on contract.

Get Further Information

The Contract Flooring Association (CFA),
4c St Mary's Place, The Lace Market,
Nottingham NG1 1PH
Tel: 0115 941 1126
Website: www.cfa.org.uk

CITB-ConstructionSkills, Bircham Newton,
King's Lynn, Norfolk PE31 6RH
Tel: 01485 577 577
Websites: www.bconstructive.co.uk and

CITB-ConstructionSkills Education Unit,
4 Edison Street, Hillington, Glasgow G52 4XN
Tel: 0141 810 3044
Website: www.citb-constructionskills.co.uk

Construction Confederation,
55 Tufton Street, Westminster, London SW1P 3QL
Tel: 0870 8989 090
Website: www.thecc.org.uk

The Flooring Industry Training Association (FITA),
4c St Mary's Place, The Lace Market,
Nottingham NG1 1PH
Tel: 0115 941 1126
Website: www.fita.co.uk

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