Floor Layer

Job Duties

Floor layers, sometimes referred to as floor installers, work with sheets of shock-absorbing or sound-deadening, or simply decorative, sheet coverings to floors and cabinets. They use a variety of tools such as rollers, knives, trowels, and sanding machines. Before they begin installation, floor layers inspect the surface and make any corrections so that they begin their work with a smooth, even, level, and clean foundation. They measure the area to be covered and cut pieces of material to match. They may use rubber, vinyl, linoleum, or cork, as well as foundation material such as felt.

After preparing the surface and the sheets of material, they mail or staple a wood underlayment to the surface. They may also use an adhesive to cement the foundation material to the floor. This helps to deaden sound and prevents the top floor covering from wearing at board joints. Finally, they install the top floor covering by joining sections of sheet covering, overlapping adjoining edges and cutting through layers with a knife to create a good fit.

Job Skills

Aspiring floor layers should have a number of desirable traits. They should have excellent manual dexterity and hand-eye coordination. They need to be physically fit. A good aptitude for solving quick mathematical problems is very helpful.


In 2002, floor layers earned a median hourly wage of $16.15. Earnings ranged from the lowest 10%, who earned less than $8.58, to the highest 10%, who earned more than $26.87.

Training and Education

Some floor layers learn their skills in an informal way by working under the supervision of experienced workers. Most employers prefer to hire layers who have completed formal apprenticeship programs, usually sponsored by local unions and employers. Apprenticeship programs combine on-the-job training with classroom instruction, which is typically held once or twice a week at training centers and covers all aspects of the work. Graduates of these programs are much more desirable to employers because they are fully trained.

In order to be considered for admission to apprenticeship programs, applicants must be at least 18 years old and hold a high school diploma or equivalent. Some employers also require a background check and a driver’s license. Sometimes a written test or interview are required. Most programs last about 3 to 4 years. With experience, floor layers may become supervisors or estimators, or they may start their own businesses. In fact, many employees who work for large contractors end up starting their own businesses. Visit this page about trade schools for more information on related careers.


In 2002, floor layers held about 31,000 jobs. Most worked for flooring contractors or floor covering retailers.

Job Outlook

Between 2002 and 2012, employment of floor layers is expected to increase about as fast as the average. There will be a continued need to renovate and refurbish existing structures. Growth in the construction industry will result in employment increases, particularly in residential homes and commercial buildings.