What does it mean to be a flooring installation professional? It’s a high level of engagement and qualification within the industry. The process is never-ending and professionals practice their trade daily. Through their interaction within the industry, quality flooring installers stay at the forefront, learning as much as they can about new materials, tools and techniques. The best installers are the ones who have taken the time to gain comprehensive knowledge and experience.

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Staying current on certifications is a great way to demonstrate professionalism and knowledge. Products and tools change continuously and the need to maintain professionalism within the industry is paramount. In a trade profession, certification defines the professional from the do-it-yourselfers. Certification makes it easier for a customer to decide whether to rely on your expertise or not.

Experience alone doesn’t make a qualified installer. It certainly helps to have experience, but not all experience is “good” experience. Some installers are fortunate enough to be taught by skilled predecessors and become skilled installers themselves. Others aren’t so lucky and end up learning bad habits and leave customers with subpar results. The old excuses of “I was taught this way” or “This is the way I’ve always done it” are often warning signs for installation mistakes. The chain of incorrect installations can grow as these poorly taught installers share techniques with fellow installers.

Here is where certification comes into play. It provides a measurement for competency and quality, it defines the professional and it gives customers a piece of mind regarding the quality of the tradespeople they’ve hired.

I recommend the following to become a “professional” installer:

  • Review the manufacturer’s product, technical guides and instructions thoroughly for the products you install. Start with the product you use the most and work down the line.
  • Become certified from a reliable organization within your industry. For laminate flooring, the North American Laminate Flooring Association (NALFA) offers installer and inspector certification courses across the country. Visit nalfa.com for more information.
  • Attend training seminars offered at tradeshows by reputable sources and/or training offered by manufacturers.
  • Get experience.

Taking the time to commit to becoming a professional is good for the industry, your career and the customer. Set yourself apart by taking these few—and important— steps.