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By Alan Fletcher - Carpet Expert & Consumer Advocate
Finding a qualified carpet installer can be quite difficult. Especially when you consider that some carpet installation jobs are much more difficult than others and require a more experienced installer to do the job right.
For example, installing a heavy and expensive carpet in a custom home requires much more expertise than does installing a light-weight apartment-grade carpet in a rental unit.
Homeowners deserve their carpet to be installed correctly and hiring an installer with minimum of 5 years experience is where I would draw the line with a simple installation job. So, if you plan to buy a more expensive carpet or your job is more difficult or tricky, then you should hire an installer with a more years of experience.
How Much Experience is Enough?
I was trained up by three master craftsmen to install various types of flooring including carpet, vinyl, hardwoods, ceramic tile and more. I remember how I felt after having just 5 years of experience as an installer... I often questioned my own capabilities, especially when I was sent out to do a big job or to install an expensive or high-grade product. I feared making a costly mistake, or not installing it properly, or afraid the job would end up looking bad. It was only after 10 years in the business that I felt totally capable of doing most any installation. If in doubt, I would always seek the advice of someone more experienced than me.
There are so many things that can go wrong when installing flooring and the installer is always held financially responsible if the job is not done properly. But after installing floors for about 10 years I felt much more confident and not as nervous about making costly mistakes, but as they say a little fear helps keep you on your toes! Remember to measure twice, cut once...
It takes a lot more time, knowledge and expertise to properly install a high-quality carpet than an apartment-grade carpet. I believe that it takes at about 10 years before most carpet or flooring installers can truly begin to master their trade.
In fact, it's an ongoing learning adventure since new products and installation methods are constantly changing. Follow my recommendations below to help you determine if the installer you plan to hire is qualified enough to install the carpet or flooring product you plan to purchase!
What type of installation experience do they have?
This is an important factor you need to consider when looking for a qualified flooring installer. Here is what I mean:
There are four basic levels of experience with carpet installers.
1. Property Management
The experience of this type of carpet installer is obtained from installing lower grades of carpet in unoccupied apartments and rental property. They have limited experience with installing carpet on stairs, and limited experience with difficult or tricky installations. They generally use lower quality installation products (glues, seam tape, tack-less strips, transition metals) in order to save money.
Property owners and managers often do not thoroughly inspect the quality of work performed by installers doing apartment work. Many have become carpet installers as a result of being hired as a carpet layers helper and few are formally trained or have completed an apprentice program. This is not to say that you should not hire them, but you need to be aware that many may lack the experience to perform all types of carpet installations. Installers who do apartment work are generally paid the least amount per yard.
2. New Home Construction
Installers with the bulk of their trade experience from new construction will have increased knowledge of installing different types of stairs. (carpet can be very difficult to install on some types of stairs) They will have more experience with various styles of low to medium grades of carpet, but not much experience with higher-quality carpet.
Installers always have to satisfy the builder and the new homeowners with their performance, which makes them pay closer attention to detail. Homebuilders usually pay flooring installers less than the standard going "residential" rate, but the trade-off is that there is a greater volume of work available.
3. Custom Homes and Residential Remodels
By far, installers with experience derived from installing carpet and flooring in "Custom Homes or Residential Remodels" have the widest degree of knowledge and expertise. They are qualified to perform the most difficult installation jobs using all types, styles and grade levels.
Most of these installers have had some type of formal training or were trained by someone who was a master craftsman.
You can expect to pay more to hire this type of carpet installer, but the quality of work you receive will be well worth it. It is often difficult to find flooring installers with this amount of experience because they rarely need to advertise to get work. Their good reputation keeps a steady flow of work coming their way.
4. Commercial Flooring Installation Crews.
Commercial flooring installers are a different breed of installer. These installers are trained to do huge jobs in supermarkets, theaters, museums, hospitals, airports, offices and retail stores. They are usually a part of a large crew designed to install a large amount of flooring material in a short amount of time. They often travel all around the country to install flooring for specific corporate entities such as Costco, Wal-Mart or McDonalds who prefer to use the same installation crew for all their locations. They work hard and fast, and are paid well.
Looking for a Qualified Installer? Who To Call
Some cities have a Carpet Layer's Union that you could call. Union members are paid "by the hour" instead of "by the square yard" or by the square foot. Still, they may be able to give you some names and phone numbers of local carpet layers you can call. Tjhis is a good option in larger cities.
Hiring a Certified Carpet installer is a good way to go and there is a website that you can visit that have lists of Certified installers. Click here and enter your zip code to Locate a CFI Certified Flooring Installer near you.
You can also call the CFI main office for a recommendation at (816) 231-4646
Who To Call to Verify References and Credentials Before You Hire
In many states, Carpet and Flooring Installers are required to have a Contractor's License, Surety Bond and Business Liability Insurance. These are safeguards designed to help protect the homeowner from issues such as; shoddy workmanship, unfinished work, jobsite injuries, accidents, negligence or oversight to name a few.
I have a created a useful web page where homeowners can learn more about State Requirements for Installers and how to verify any installer you might consider hiring. This page also includes information homeowners need to know about Worker's Compensation Insurance Coverage.
What is the cause of your Carpet Wrinkles? If you have wrinkles or waves in your carpet, find out who or what may be responsible and what you can do to fix the problem.
Next see my Top 10 Questions you need to ask every Carpet Installer!
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