A flooring and tile setter lays the materials that improve the look and feel of homes or businesses. They install material such as carpet, vinyl, tile, and wood on floors, countertops, showers, and walls. This job is physically demanding and you can expect to kneel and bend often on-the-job.
Watch a video to learn what a flooring and tile setter does:
How to Become a Flooring and Tile Setter
Some flooring and tile setters start their career with an apprenticeship program. Others start as helpers and learn on-the-job. For those seeking this career choice, it is helpful to take courses in math, art, and vocational classes while in high school.
Most contractors have their own training programs and have helpers train under experienced workers. For those entering an apprenticeship program, you can expect that program to last 2-4 years. For each year of the program, you must have 144 hours of related technical training and 2,000 hours of paid on-the-job training. There may also be online training available.
Many new workers start with 12 weeks of pre-apprenticeship instruction to learn construction basics. This consists of learning building code requirements, mathematics, blueprint reading, safety, and first-aid practices. Some groups, such as contractor and union associations sponsor apprenticeship programs. To enter these programs you must be at least 18 years old, have a high school diploma or equivalent, and be physically able to do the job. Flooring manufacturers sometimes offer product-specific training and some installers may attend relevant conferences in different flooring materials. There are several certifications available for those wishing to have an advantage by proving competency and experience.
Job Description of a Flooring and Tile Setter
Flooring and tile setters have a variety of job requirements and so the tasks may differ. However, they typically remove existing wall or floor coverings and clean and level the surface to prepare for covering. Flooring and tile setters must measure the area to be covered and cut the materials they are using to ensure a proper fit. They may need to use adhesives, nails, or staples for the task and fill joints with filler compound and remove excess compound.
Flooring and tile setters must also trim excess linoleum or carpet for the job and apply necessary finishes such as sealants or stains. Many work normal hours but those working a commercial job may need to work some nights and weekends.
Floor and Tile Setter Career Video Transcript
To create a floor that’s both beautiful and durable takes a strong back and a skillful eye. Flooring installers and tile and marble setters tackle the job—laying and finishing carpet, wood, vinyl, and tile. Work starts by removing old flooring then cleaning and leveling the surface. These workers measure the area to be covered, and cut flooring material or tile to fit. Relying on design plans—or their knowledge of attractive patterns and colors— they place tile and flooring and affix it in position.
Each type of flooring requires its own skills and tools to install: Carpet installers use “knee kickers” to position carpet, and power stretchers to pull it snugly against walls. Floor sanders and finishers power sand hardwood floors, then apply stains and sealants to preserve the wood. Floor layers install durable linoleum, vinyl and other materials. Tile and marble setters use special cutting devices to size ceramic and marble tile, then install it and finish the floor surface.
The work of installing flooring comes with challenging physical demands; workers spend much of their time reaching, bending, and kneeling, and wear protective equipment when needed. Most schedules are full time, and self-employment is common. Most flooring installers and tile and marble setters learn on the job starting as helpers, though some enter the field through a 2-4 year apprenticeship.
Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Flooring Installers and Tile and Marble Setters.
National Center for O*NET Development. 47-2042.00. O*NET OnLine.
The career video is in the public domain from the U. S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration.