Carpet Fitter

The Job and What's Involved

Carpet fitters lay new carpets at a variety of locations. Every job is different, depending on the size and shape of each room and the type of carpet to be fitted.

Carpet fitters working in private homes usually start by collecting carpet from the suppliers. At this stage they may have to cut the carpet into the required sizes and label the pieces. Those fitting carpets in larger commercial premises and building sites may have materials delivered directly to them on site.

Before starting a job, carpet fitters may draw up a plan that makes the most efficient use of materials, and make sure that any necessary cuts work with the pattern and design of the carpet. Fitters working on larger projects, usually in commercial premises and building sites, often work to computer-generated floor plans.

There is a wide variety of carpet types and materials, so carpet fitters use a range of different techniques. At the customers' premise they may:

  • Remove furniture and sometimes doors to clear the working space.
  • Remove the old carpet and clean the floor.
  • Make sure that the floor surface is smooth, and if not carry out remedial work.
  • Install gripper (a spiked edging that secures the carpet) around the edge of the room.
  • Cut the underlay (where required) to the correct shape, and fit it inside the gripper.
  • Lay the carpet on top, sewing or taping any joins, and making sure that the pile and pattern match.
  • Stretch and flatten the carpet, pushing it on to the gripper.
  • Cut the carpet to fit the edges of the room.

When they have finished fitting the carpet, fitters clear away any scraps of carpet and underlay, and vacuum. They may also put furniture back in place and re-hang any doors as required.

Fitters need to be correctly equipped with the materials needed for the job, including underlay, gripper, tape, glue and protective spray. They also use a variety of tools, including stretchers, staple-guns and a specialist tucking knife or tool.

Carpet fitters are likely to do several jobs in a day. They may work alone, with another person or in a small team.

Working hours vary. Most carpet fitters work 39 hours a week, Monday to Friday, but there may be early starts and late finishes. Some jobs involve working at times to suit the customer, including evenings, weekends and possibly overnight. Overtime may be available.

Carpet fitters work mainly in houses or business premises, which are generally clean and well lit. They also spend some time travelling to carpet shops and warehouses. A driving licence may be useful.

The job is physically demanding as it involves lots of kneeling, bending and crouching, carrying of heavy materials and moving of furniture. The working environment can be dusty and chemical sprays may be used, so this may not be a suitable job for people with dust allergies or breathing difficulties.

Starting salaries may be around £10,000 to £12,500 a year.

Getting Started with this Career Choice

There are opportunities for qualified carpet fitters throughout the UK, with shortages of skilled domestic carpet fitters in many areas. Most are self-employed and complete jobs on a contract basis or work on a regular basis for a number of carpet shops. They may also be employed by department stores, specialist flooring firms, interior designers, carpet showrooms and carpet manufacturers.

Vacancies for qualified carpet fitters are usually advertised in local Jobcentre Plus offices and the local press, and by specialist recruitment agencies. It may be possible to find work by approaching local carpet companies directly. Trade magazines such as Carpet & Flooring Review and The Stocklists also carry job advertisements.

Education and Training

There are no formal entry requirements, but it may be useful to have qualifications such as GCSE's/S grades (A-E/1-5), particularly in English, maths and design and technology.

Most young people enter by joining a company as a trainee.

Apprenticeships are available in floor laying.

Apprenticeships and Advanced Apprenticeships provide structured training with an employer. As an apprentice you must be paid at least £95 per week; you may well be paid more. A recent survey found that the average wage for apprentices was £170 a week. Your pay will depend on the sector in which you work, your age, the area where you live and the stage at which you have arrived in the Apprenticeship.

Entry to Employment (e2e) can help to prepare those who are not yet ready for an Apprenticeship. In addition, Young Apprenticeships may be available for 14- to 16-year-olds. More information is available from a Connexions personal adviser or at www.apprenticeships.org.uk.

There are different arrangements for Apprenticeships in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

For further information visit My World of Work www.myworldofwork.co.uk/modernapprenticeships, Careers Wales www.careerswales.com; and for Northern Ireland contact www.careersserviceni.com.

A Few More Exams You Might Need

Training takes place on the job, under the supervision of experienced carpet fitters. It is likely to take two years or more to become fully proficient.

Carpet fitters working on construction sites need to have a Construction Skills Certification Scheme (CSCS) card. This demonstrates that the card holder has been trained in health and safety, and is competent in a particular occupation, or is working towards being competent.

Some companies send their carpet fitters on short courses, such as those offered by the Flooring Industry Training Association and the UK Flooring Academy. Courses cover topics such as carpet types, floor preparation, cutting and seaming techniques, estimating and planning, and health and safety.

Trainees and apprentices can work towards NVQ/SVQ Levels 1, 2 and 3 in Floorcovering.

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You may use life saving skills as part of your day-to-day work.

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Skills and Personal Qualities Needed

A carpet fitter should:

  • Be practical, with good hand-to-eye co-ordination.
  • Have good numerical skills to work out measurements, quantities and costs.
  • Be physically fit, active and reasonably strong.
  • Be confident, polite and pleasant when dealing with customers.
  • Be safety conscious.
  • Have the ability to work quickly and accurately.
  • Be able to work well as part of a team.

Your Long Term Prospects

Experienced carpet fitters can improve their prospects by gaining an NVQ/SVQ Level 3 in Floorcovering, which is useful for supervisory posts. A fitter with NVQ Level 3 might, for example, supervise a team of fitters on a large job, such as laying carpet in a hotel. It is also possible to move into an estimating or planning role.

Carpet fitters often branch out into other areas of flooring such as vinyl or laminate flooring.

Many qualified fitters move into self-employment, working as freelance carpet fitters, and some eventually set up their own carpet shop or fitting business.

Get Further Information

CITB-ConstructionSkills,
Bircham Newton, King's Lynn, Norfolk, PE31 6RH
Tel: 01485 577577
Websites: www.citb-constructionskills.co.uk and www.bconstructive.co.uk

The Flooring Industry Training Association (FITA),
4C St Mary's Place, The Lace Market, Nottingham NG1 1PH
Tel: 0115 950 6836
Website: www.fita.co.uk

National Institute of Carpet and Floorlayers (NICF),
4D St Mary's Place, The Lace Market,
Nottingham NG1 1PH
Tel: 0115 958 3077
Website: www.nicfltd.org.uk

Skillfast-UK, Richmond House,
Lawnswood Business Park, Leeds LS16 6RD
Tel: Tel: 0113 239 9600
Website: www.skillfast-uk.org

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