As with all trades and trade skills, there are different levels of expertise and capabilities that everyone can achieve. This could be by choice or not. Resilient flooring installations that require an integral cove are what usually separate the good from the bad and the ugly. Especially when you add in the seamless floor factor and that every seam needs to be welded, both vertical and horizontal. As we all know on the commercial side of the trade, healthcare and medical facilities are booming. It really does not seem to matter what part of the country I’m in. The resilient flooring and flash-cove or self-coving sector is in great demand.
Now this is a great problem to have if you are at that level of skill as you will be a very busy person and in quite the demand. It’s always good to be needed within your realm. On the flip side, no matter where I go, there seems to be a shortage of installers at this skill level. And the future for up-and-coming talent is not as bright as we would all like it to be. It seems that the younger generation is shying away from the trades all together.
When it comes to heat welded floor installations, whether experienced or not, there are a few sides to the story. Some will tell you they only do it periodically and it’s not worth the investment for training and tools to be fully invested. Some will tell you they invested in the training and tools and wish they had more installations to make it worth it. Others will tell you they turned their complete focus towards this sector and have never looked back. This is usually depending on the market place and location and the type of work that is booming in that area. The one common thing that they will all say is that this is a specialty part of the floor covering trade that takes a special hand, eye and skill that not everyone will be able to embrace.
First of all is the training. There is training out there if you can get your hands on it. If you are working out of a union shop, there are apprenticeships that have a very thorough training program and also require the in-field time with journeymen. If you’re in the non-union sector then it is usually a case of getting pulled in under the wing of someone that is willing to share the skills needed to train someone. This is a very long and slow process as the best way to learn is the hands-on training. You can take all the theory training classes you want, but the real training starts in the field. Also, it’s all about the teacher. This is not something that you want to learn from someone that has a short fuse. Time and patience are needed as there will be mistakes. Whether they freehand the installation or they pattern scribe the installation, it is all about practice.
Second is the tools needed. When it comes to heat-welded seamless flooring in combination with flash coving material, it takes different tools. There will be a small investment with these tools when it comes to cove cap cutters, scribes, gouging tools and also welding tips and skiving tools. If you are already in the business of heat welding and seamless floors, then the majority of the expense in welders and such has already been purchased. But again, special tools for dealing with coved welds will need to be purchased.
Last is the mindset. When it comes to the floor covering trade, there are materials that require less skill sets than others. The self-coving or flash coving sector of the trade will take this to the next level. Not to take anything away from the rest of the trade, but it is where it will separate the average from the above average, and that will not only be from training and tools but also mindset. When a well-tuned, highly efficient, fast and productive installer on a flash-cove job is putting down large amounts of yardage and lineal footage of coved material, it is because he has spent the blood, sweat and tears to home in on the mindset that it requires. These installers have not gotten to this point without a loss in material cost due to mishaps, slowed productions while training someone and covering mistakes for apprentices or trainees. No matter what, when you commit to this skill, you’re all in or all out. That includes taking into consideration that most bids on jobs want to pay for a Ford Pinto but get a Lamborghini-quality job. When you are paid hourly, speed does not matter as much, but when you are a self-employed contractor, speed improves profits.
When all is said and done and you are at the quality level that is the hardest to achieve, you will always be in demand. The work rarely diminishes and you will be a highly requested installer. As I mentioned, these installers are far and few between and the up-and-coming talent is quickly becoming rarer and rarer. So, make the commitment, find the market place and take your skills to the next level. You will never be out of demand.