A floor layer is a professional construction worker who measures, cuts, and installs flooring materials in homes and businesses. Most floor layers specialize by working with a certain type of product, such as linoleum, hardwood, vinyl, tile, or carpet. The duties of floor layers vary by specialty, though most professionals are required to have a keen eye for detail, understand math and measurements, and possess the ability to create attractive, functional floors.
When a new house or business is erected, professional floor layers acquire and deliver materials to the site. Experts inspect and level the surface on which the new floor covering will go, take precise measurements of room sizes, and carefully cut materials to specifications. A floor layer must be prepared for long hours and frequent lifting, stretching, and bending. The size and shape of rooms, the kind of flooring, and the number of available workers determines how long a job will take, which could be anywhere from a couple of hours to several days.
Depending on the type of flooring material, layers might use a number of different tools and techniques in their work. Carpet layers rely on adhesives, knives, stretching tools, and staples to ensure a proper fit, while tile layers employ specialized cutting tools, grout applicators, and sanders to perform custom jobs. Individuals who specialize in linoleum and laminate floor coverings often install moisture-tight insulation, coat the area with a special glue, lay down flooring material, and use putty knives and levels to remove dents and bubbles. A hardwood floor layer typically uses a number of different carpentry tools and wood glue to fit wooden slats together.
The majority of floor layers are union workers who are employed by construction companies and private contractors. Retail flooring stores that offer installation and repair services commonly hire layers to help home and business owners through the process. Some experienced, successful floor layers choose to open their own businesses, where they perform additional duties such as hiring workers, providing customer service, advertising, and ordering supplies from distributors.
There are generally no strict educational requirements to become a floor layer, though some professionals choose to attend classroom training programs at vocational schools and community colleges. Most workers learn the trade through on-the-job training and assisting experienced floor layers. New workers typically perform duties such as carrying tools and materials to and from a site, cutting pieces according to measurements, laying materials into place, and cleaning up after a job. After a new floor layer has proven his or her competency for the job, he or she may be granted the opportunity to perform more difficult or delicate tasks.