A Carpet Installer's Notebook: Here Comes the Sun
September 27, 2010
To quote the great philosopher and observer of the human condition, George Harrison, “It’s been a long, cold, lonely winter little darling. It seems like years that it’s been here.” (Photo 1)
It didn’t seem like it would ever end, but spring had finally sprung. (Photo 2). Upon the first nice weekend, Gold Finches were changing from their drab winter colors to the bright gold of summer. Janet and I couldn’t resist and the gazebo went up. Even before I was done, Janet had flowers on the table.
By the end of the day, I was firmly ensconced on the deck with an ice cold beer and a nice cigar (Photo 3). I know some of you who know me see a pattern here. Here he goes off on a rant. Not really, well kinda.
I quoted George Harrison, not just because of the weather season that just passed, but also to the state of installation and installer compensation these last 40 some years. As you may or may not know there is movement afoot to create ANSI standards for carpet installation.
Here’s what I found on Wickipedia:
Though ANSI itself does not develop standards, the Institute oversees the development and use of standards by accrediting the procedures of standards developing organizations. ANSI accreditation signifies that the procedures used by standards developing organizations meet the Institute’s requirements for openness, balance, consensus, and due process.
ANSI also designates specific standards as American National Standards, or ANS, when the Institute determines that the standards were developed in an environment that is equitable, accessible and responsive to the requirements of various stakeholders.
Voluntary consensus standards quicken the market acceptance of products while making clear how to improve the safety of those products for the protection of consumers. There are approximately 9,500 American National Standards that carry the ANSI designation.
For example, ANSI standards are why nuts, bolts and screws from different manufacturers are the same size. As well, ANSI standards assure the screw drivers and wrenches used to install them fit.
It all started a couple of years ago with the rewrite of The Carpet and Rug Institute manuals 104 and 105, the installation guidelines for commercial and residential carpet. I managed to flim-flam my way onto the committee.
The idea was to prepare those documents to be the basis for ANSI standards for installation. That process is now underway. Again, I have managed to flim-flam my way onto some of the committees.
Now, why is that important? No, not me flim-flamming my way into the process, but the ANSI standards themselves. Once these are written and have been accepted, carpet manufacturers indicate their willingness to tie their warranties to the use of properly qualified installation. Just like they are doing now by insisting that ANSI-certified cleaners be used to maintain warranties.
So, who’s on these committees, you ask? Carpet manufactures, installers (union, CFI, and independents), manufacturers of installation supplies; adhesives, tackless, tools, pad manufacturers etc. - pretty much anyone who has a stake in the process.
What does this mean for you the carpet installer? For one, you’ll need to prove your skill level. Just like a plumber or electrician you’ll have a code to follow and wages commensurate with your skills. It also means that people will want their carpet installed by you the qualified professional, not the guy that, “Yesterday I couldn’t spell installer now I are one.” Concerned about immigrant installers taking your work? Well, if they are ANSI certified and understand the proper pay scale, it’s harder for them to be taken advantage of pay wise. It should level the playing field. It’s been said, “A rising tide lifts all boats.”
Will this solve the installation problem? I hope so. It seems to me this is the best way to resolve the problem of low pay and young people staying away from this trade in droves. That was one of my back yard rants if you recall.
I have been accused of being a cock-eyed optimist. Not really, I don’t look at a partial glass of beer and say, “The glass is half full, or even the glass is half empty.” I tend to look at it more along the lines of “Hot diggety, I got beer!”
Well, maybe I am being optimistic on the ANSI standards. As I said before, this seems to be the best shot of cleaning up the mess that is the current state of installation. If not, I will be the first one back to bitchin’ and moanin’ about it.
Besides, it’s summer, and Janet’s garden is in full bloom. It’s hard to be pessimistic sitting out here. (Photo 4)