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How to become a flooring specialist

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Good hand-eye coordination, attention to detail and a good grasp of basic maths are the order of the day for this trade, where a big part of the job is measuring spaces and calculating quantities. Whether you’re dealing in tiles, carpet or hardwood flooring, it helps to have a knack for design and a practical mind...

Flooring as a trade covers a wide array of materials and techniques - everything from budget carpets to luxurious hardwood floors. But whether you’re dealing with carpets, hardwoods, laminates, tiling, vinyl, or specialist materials like Amtico and Karndean, you’ll need to have a certain skillset to succeed.

There are currently an estimated 30,000 floor fitters working in the UK, and that number is expected to remain stable in the next five years. With lots of people looking to improve their homes, now is a great time to embark on a career in flooring.

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A day in the life of a flooring specialist

As a floor fitter, you’ll spend a lot of time on your knees - or at least bending over - so you’ll want to have a good pair of knee pads when you get started.

While fitting flooring may not be as physically demanding as some trades like landscaping or plastering, it’s certainly tougher than sitting at a desk. You’ll be carrying heavy materials, and will have to use tools with care, as you’ll be cutting or sawing more than most other trades.

Flooring in some respects is a simple trade in that the methodology is typically the same:

  • Remove the old flooring
  • Prepare the sub base (may include levelling or priming)
  • Lay the new flooring
  • Finishing (may include shaving doors and/or fitting skirting or beading, fitting door thresholds)

Although some fitters will specialise in one type of flooring material, others will learn about many different flooring types, to expand their skills and widen their customer base.

Even if you decide to only fit hardwood floors, no two domestic jobs will be the same, as every customer is different with slightly different requirements.

If you work on a building site however, you can expect to be repeating the same motions, as you may be fitting the same type of floor across multiple units of the same building.

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Flooring specialist training and experience

There are no formal qualifications needed to practice as a floor fitter, but as with all trades, training and experience will help you greatly.

One popular route is to join a company as a trainee, where you can earn your floor fitting stripes over time. By most estimates, it takes roughly two years to become proficient enough that you can be considered a floor fitter in your own right.

With that being said, there are many courses available that you can undertake (for a fee), that will accelerate your training and give you a decent overview of the different challenges of the trade.

In addition to this, you will need to get a Construction Skills Certification Scheme (CSCS) card to be allowed to work on a commercial construction site.

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Flooring specialist salaries

When starting out, floor layers can typically earn between £17,000 and £20,000 a year, but you can quickly move up to £30,000 once you acquire more experience.

As a senior floor layer you can expect to make upwards of £35,000 per year, but of course these numbers will vary if you go self-employed, as you can set your own rates.

Incomes will also vary widely depending on where you are in the country, and which material you mainly choose to work with.

A career in the trades