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Becoming a Wood Floor Layer: An Overview of Wood Floor Laying

Onsrud Model 24210 Inverted Pin RouterWood floor layers specialize in installing wood flooring. The tools they use include: pneumatic nail guns, pallets, hammers, routers, and powers saws. Laying wood floors is usually a straightforward process that involves the following tasks:

Removing accumulations from base floors prior to laying floorboards.

Installing a new base floor if an old one is warped or uneven.

Installing a thin layer of padding over base flooring.

Measuring and marking floorboards using tape measures and chalk lines.

Cutting floor panels to fit a room floor plan.

Installing flooring and ensuring no gaps exist between floorboards.

Performing floor finishing in the absence of official floor finishers.

For projects that require intricate inlay, floor layers may use a CNC router to cut the inlay, and then install it using special hammers and glues.

Required knowledge

The tasks performed by floor layers require them to possess five types of knowledge:

Construction knowledge of floor laying materials, installation methods, finishing methods, and floor care.

Mathematical knowledge of geometry, calculus, statistics, algebra, and arithmetic.

Mechanical knowledge of new and used woodworking machines, including their maintenance procedures and how to repair them.

Production/processing knowledge of raw wood stock, methods of floor laying, quality control, and cost management.

Design knowledge of floor laying, particularly for producing and/or interpreting blueprints, technical drawings, and floor plans.

Required skills and abilities

The tasks performed by floor layers require them to possess the following skills and abilities:

Flexibility for standing, bending, reaching, and twisting during the floor installation process.

Near vision for seeing the fine details of floorboards, such as chips, splintering, or wood grain patterns.

Manual dexterity for grasping tools and floorboards.

Critical thinking for prioritizing floor laying tasks and delegating them to the right workers.

Arm and hand steadiness for installing flooring and using sensitive measuring and marking tools.

Interpersonal skills for communicating with team members and effectively resolving conflicts.

Job statistics

As of 2008, there are 21,000 floor layers employed in the U.S., with little to no job fluctuation expected between 2008 and 2018. As of 2009, the median annual salary for floor layers is $36,060 ($17.34/hr.). According to a national job survey, 90% of floor layers have a high school diploma or the equivalent; 6% do not have a high school diploma or the equivalent; and 5% have some college. In the U.S., most floor layers are either self-employed or employed in the construction industry.

To learn more about becoming a wood floor layer, contacting a vocational school that offers courses in wood floor laying or shadowing floor layers from a woodworking company are good options. Floor layers can also receive training through private apprenticeship programs.

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