How to Select the Right Certification Program

By John T. McGrath Jr.

Simply put, certified floor covering installers are the best installers for the job. However, a certification program without a bona fide training component is an empty vessel. Given there are so many certification options to choose from, it may be difficult to determine the ‘right’ training and certification program, led by the most knowledgeable instructors.

Expert-guided Courses
It’s vital to start with a program coordinated by a leading training organization that is guided by industry leaders, manufacturers and technical experts. With the ability to draw subject matter experts from various corners of the industry who have their finger on the pulse of potential challenges installers may face, these organizations can quickly formulate solutions and review and implement new certification standards. This ensures installers are consistently learning the latest skills, gaining the most relevant product knowledge and becoming more efficient, bringing peace of mind to their customers that each flooring project is installed correctly the first time.

Training Curated for All Skill Levels
The most comprehensive training program offerings address real-world applications for apprentices to experienced installers who may need to hone their skills. It is ideal to look for floor covering programs that re-examine best practices and offer career-long skill building and professional development, no matter where the installer is on their career path.

For instance, there are many new technological improvements in eco-friendly materials and the aesthetics of glue-down installations. To address this, the International Standards and Training Alliance (INSTALL) updated its training and certification standards. Both look closely at specific details, including how to properly prepare the substrate, select the appropriate adhesive for the material and apply the adhesive with the proper trowel notch, as well as addresses the appropriate open time for the adhesive. In addition to being attuned to industry trends, more advanced carpet training and certification standards will push installers to master higher-level skills in seaming and pattern-matching.

Updated Standards that Reflect Trends, Safety
Manufacturers are continuously making strides in product advancement. To keep pace with these progressions, efficiencies are always being made within the floor covering industry. It’s important to look for floor covering installation training programs conducted by leading organizations that are consistently updating and advancing standards and certifications.

For instance, as more commercial projects incorporate luxury vinyl tile (LVT) and luxury vinyl plank (LVP) installations, INSTALL has made improvements to its resilient flooring certification. Recent advancements to the curriculum include instruction on random pattern LVT and LVP installation — an increasingly common design aesthetic in commercial settings.

In order to prevent flooring failures, the substrate must be examined and properly prepared before LVT or LVP patterns are laid, as with any flooring material. All substrate preparation certification courses should address the potential for concrete moisture presence and mitigation since this is an integral concern. Flooring contractors and installers should look for programs that address proper training in recognizing and mitigating sources of moisture. It’s important to have the most up-to-date knowledge to protect the flooring installation’s integrity and occupant health.

Reputable organizations will offer comprehensive courses that also include training in health and safety. Especially essential in healthcare facility renovations, this additional training should include the best methods for protecting installers, patients and staff, keeping them safe during construction and long after. In the wake of Covid-19, it is particularly critical for a floor covering installation curriculum to include necessary instruction on both personal protective equipment and patient protective equipment. The knowledge and compliance of these practices are required to receive certification in many courses.

Curriculum Embraces Product Evolution
Keeping skills relevant with training is imperative and should not be an option. Even seasoned floor covering installers need to enrol in training courses to remain at the top of the industry. Neglecting to stay current on training can result in inefficient, unprepared installers and lead to flooring failures.

Training organizations that partner with flooring manufacturers can adapt their curriculum to ensure the training covers new product evolution, teaching installers about new materials and ideal techniques for installing them. In addition, training organizations that regularly meet with industry leaders to discuss better installation methods and tools will ensure their training is ahead of the curve.

Because floor covering installation requires career-long training, experts agree training updates should be taken yearly. Regular enrolment in training courses guarantees installers are retaining certifications and assures customers their floor covering team is a safe bet.

Theory of Proper Installation Highlighted
North America offers a vast number of training and certification opportunities. Choosing a program can seem overwhelming. Installers should select courses held at state-of-the-art facilities that focus on the theory and practice of proper installation, and that also cover a comprehensive selection of flooring materials. Cutting edge training programs will focus on fundamental and advanced skills, working efficiently and include lessons on safety.

Contractors can help keep their crews and businesses at the forefront of the trade by concentrating on quality floor covering installation training. This reduces the likelihood of costly rework and safety hazards, all while increasing their productivity and quality of work — ensuring beautiful installations that will perform as intended over the long haul.

John T. McGrath Jr. is a director at the International Standards and Training Alliance (INSTALL), an association of installers, contractors and manufacturers who collaborate to improve industry standards and provide professional, reliable flooring installation teams.

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