Recently, I received an e-mail from an installer asking me to list the tools that should be the responsibility of the installer, and a list of those that should be the responsibility of the flooring retailer or contractor. It seemed, at least in his case, that he was required to furnish tools to do all kinds of flooring, although there are some materials that he rarely installs.

At first, I thought that perhaps I should stay away from this issue. It appears to me that to arbitrarily decide whose responsibility it is to furnish certain tools might alienate one group from the other. But while I realize that situations may vary, it is clear that someone needs to address the question.

For too long, the situation has been “does the installer want to work?” or “does the retailer/contractor want to keep the installer?” To me, this represents an unfair position for either party to have to take. So, I suggest we really take a look at who is responsible, and who should be.

In most cases, it would appear that small hand tools, those that would be carried in a toolbox, for floor coverings the installer works with on a regular basis, should be the responsibility of said installer (with some exceptions I will address a little later). “On a regular basis” would mean at least semi-weekly.

Regarding the large tools and equipment that may be required, I feel that, in most cases, they should be the responsibility of the retailer/contractor. Installers who primarily install carpet should provide their own power stretchers, but not the carpet removal equipment. Nor should the installer who works primarily with sheet vinyl or resilient tile have to provide the removal equipment for those jobs.

Material-handling equipment should be the retailer/contractor’s responsibility, as should heaters when they are deemed necessary. I have always advocated the testing of concrete substrates prior to the installation on any floor covering material, and therefore moisture meters should be provided by the retailer/contractor as well.

If all this sounds in any way unfair to either party, so be it. An auto mechanic who works for an automobile dealer or independent garage furnishes only his or her own hand tools, not the bigger tools or equipment. Additionally, the mechanic working for the dealer is required to attend classes featuring the latest innovations and repair techniques, in order to prepare the mechanic for any new problems that he or she may encounter.

The auto shop owners furnish everything but the hand tools. It should be this way in the flooring industry as well. In the event a retailer/contractor wants the installer to install a flooring material that he or she does not normally work with, it should be the retailer/contractor’s responsibility to furnish the tools and equipment necessary for the job. If the retailer/contractor requires the installer to provide all the necessary equipment, then that same retailer/contractor should pay a much higher rate for the installation.

If this article is giving you pause, whether you are an installer or a retailer/contractor, I invite you to share your thoughts with me. Send a list of the tools and equipment that you believe should be the responsibility of each party, and the reasons why. If the response is great enough, the results will be presented later this year.

All of the above is strictly my opinion. I trust that you have one as well, and I look forward to hearing it.