Flooring Installers and Tile and Marble Setters

Career, Salary and Education Information

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Top 3 Tile Setter Jobs

  • TILE Installers, TILE Setters and TILE Helpers! PREVAILING WAGES! - Residential Design Services - San Jose, CA

    JOIN OUR TEAM NOW!! Key elements of this position: • Clean and level the surface to be tiled • Measure and cut tile and marble • Arrange

  • TILE SETTER CONTRACTOR - Duracite - Fairfield, CA

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  • TILE SETTER - Mr. Sisso - North Hollywood, CA

    Wage $24.30 per hr. Located in North Hollywood, CA. Send resume to Mr. Sisso at 7324 Atoll Ave., North Hollywood, CA

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What Flooring Installers and Tile and Marble Setters Do[About this section] [To Top]

Flooring installers and tile and marble setters lay and finish carpet, wood, vinyl, and tile.

Duties of Flooring Installers and Tile and Marble Setters

Flooring installers and tile and marble setters typically do the following:

  • Remove existing flooring or wall covering
  • Clean and level the surface to be covered
  • Measure the area and cut flooring material to fit
  • Arrange flooring according to design plans
  • Place flooring, using adhesives, nails, or staples
  • Fill joints with filler compound and remove excess compound
  • Trim excess carpet or linoleum
  • Apply necessary finishes, such as sealants and stains

Nearly every building has a finished floor, and flooring installers and tile and marble setters lay the materials that improve the look and feel of homes, offices, restaurants, and other buildings. Although most of the materials installed by these workers cover only floors, some materials are also installed on walls and countertops or in showers.

A smooth, even base of mortar or plywood is required in order for floors and tile to be installed. The base may be installed by flooring installers and tile and marble setters or by other construction craftworkers. When remodeling, workers may need to remove the old flooring and smooth the surface.

Carpet installers lay lengths of carpet on new floors or over older flooring. They use special tools, including “knee kickers,” to position the carpet and power stretchers to pull the carpet snugly against walls. Carpet seams are joined with special heat-activated tape.

Carpet tile installers lay small, modular pieces of carpet that may be glued into place. Carpet tiles allow for easy replacement and design patterns that are not possible with standard carpet.

Floor sanders and finishers perform the final steps in hardwood floor installation. After carpenters install the hardwood floor, workers use power sanders to smooth it. They apply stains and sealants to preserve the wood.

Floor layers, except carpet, wood, and hard tiles, install a wide variety of resilient flooring materials. Linoleum installers lay the hard, washable floor material of the same name. The linoleum is cut to size and glued into place. Vinyl installers install plastic-based flooring that includes vinyl ester, vinyl sheeting, and luxury vinyl tile. Installers of laminate, manufactured wood, and wood tile floors are included in this category.

Tile and marble setters install ceramic and marble tile. Tile installers, sometimes called tile setters, cut and place tile. To cut tiles, workers use wet saws, tile scribes, or handheld tile cutters to create even edges. They use trowels of different sizes to spread mortar or a sticky paste, called mastic, evenly on the surface to be tiled. To minimize imperfections and keep rows even, they put spacers between tiles. Spacers keep tiles the same distance from each other until the mortar is dry. Tile finishers apply grout between tiles after the tiles are set, using a rubber trowel which is called a float. When the grout dries, they must wipe the tiles for a clean, finished look. Marble setters cut marble to a specified size with a wet saw. After fastening the stone, marble setters polish the marble to a high luster, using hand or power sanders.

Work Environment for Flooring Installers and Tile and Marble Setters[About this section] [To Top]

Flooring installers and tile and marble setters hold about 125,400 jobs. Approximately 41 percent of them are employed in the building finishing contractors industry. About 4 in 10 are self-employed.

Employment in the detailed occupations that make up the occupation of flooring installers and tile and marble setters is distributed as follows:

Tile and marble setters 55,100
Carpet installers 45,300
Floor layers, except carpet, wood, and hard tiles 17,100
Floor sanders and finishers 7,900

Flooring and tile are usually installed after most of the construction has been completed, so the work area is typically clean and uncluttered, although some materials and tasks may be messy.

Installing flooring, tile, and marble is physically demanding, with workers spending much of their time reaching, bending, and kneeling. As a result, workers typically wear kneepads for protection. Workers also wear safety goggles when using grinders, saws, and sanders. In enclosed areas with poor access to ventilation, workers often use dust masks or respirator systems to prevent the inhalation of dust. Dust is generated from cutting tiles and from sanding adhesives and mortars.

Flooring Installer and Tile and Marble Setter Work Schedules

Most flooring installers and tile and marble setters work full time. In commercial settings, installers may work evenings and weekends, often for higher wages, to avoid disturbing regular business operations.

About 4 in 10 flooring installers and tile and marble setters are self-employed. Self-employed workers may have the ability to set their own schedules.

How to Become a Flooring Installer or Tile and Marble Setter[About this section] [To Top]

Get the education you need: Find schools for Flooring Installers and Tile and Marble Setters near you!

Although some flooring installers and tile and marble setters learn their trade through an apprenticeship, most learn on the job, sometimes starting as a helper.

Flooring Installer and Tile and Marble Setter Education

There are no specific education requirements for someone to become a flooring installer or tile and marble setter. A high school diploma or equivalent is preferred for those entering an apprenticeship program.

High school art, math, and vocational courses are considered helpful for flooring installers and tile and marble setters.

Flooring Installer and Tile and Marble Setter Training

Most contractors have their own training programs for flooring installers and tile and marble setters. New workers typically learn by working with experienced installers. Although workers may enter training directly, many start out as helpers.

New workers usually start by performing simple tasks, such as moving materials. As they gain experience, they are given more complex tasks, such as cutting carpet. Some tile installer helpers become tile finishers before becoming tile installers.

Some flooring installers and tile and marble setters learn their trade through a 2- to 4-year apprenticeship. For each year of the program, apprentices must complete at least 144 hours of related technical training and 2,000 hours of paid on-the-job training. Some of these programs now include online training. Many new workers begin with 12 weeks of preapprenticeship instruction at a training center to learn construction basics. This instruction may include mathematics, building code requirements, safety and first-aid practices, and blueprint reading.

Several groups, including unions and contractor associations, sponsor apprenticeship programs. The basic qualifications for entering an apprenticeship program are as follows:

  • Minimum age of 18
  • High school education or equivalent
  • Physically able to perform the work

After completing an apprenticeship program, flooring installers and tile and marble setters are considered to be journey workers and may perform duties on their own.

Some flooring manufacturers offer product-specific training for their products. In addition, some installers attend conferences that offer training sessions in various flooring materials.

Flooring Installer and Tile and Marble Setter Certification

The Ceramic Tile Education Foundation (CTEF) offers the Certified Tile Installer (CTI) certification for workers with 2 or more years of experience. Applicants are required to complete a written test and a hands-on performance evaluation.

Several groups, including the Ceramic Tile Education Foundation, the International Masonry Institute (IMI), the International Union of Bricklayers & Allied Craftworkers (IUBAC), the National Tile Contractors Association (NTCA), the Tile Contractors’ Association of America (TCAA), and the Tile Council of North America (TCNA) have created the Advanced Certifications for Tile Installers (ACT) program. Certification requirements include passing both an exam and a field test. Workers must also have either completed a qualified apprenticeship program or earned the CTI certification to qualify for testing. The program offers certifications in five specific areas of tile installation:

  • Large-format tile and substrate preparation
  • Membranes
  • Mortar (mud) floors
  • Mortar (mud) walls
  • Shower receptors

The National Wood Flooring Association (NWFA) has a voluntary certification for floor sanders and finishers. Sanders and finishers must have 2 years of experience and must have completed NWFA-approved training. Applicants are also required to complete written and performance tests.

The International Certified Floorcovering Installers Association (CFI) offers certification for flooring and tile installers. Installers need 2 years of experience before they can take the written test and a hands-on performance evaluation.

The International Standards & Training Alliance (INSTALL) offers a comprehensive flooring certification program for flooring and tile installers. INSTALL certification requires 4 years of classroom and hands-on training, and covers all major types of flooring.

Important Qualities for Flooring Installers and Tile and Marble Setters

Color vision. Flooring installers and tile and marble setters often need to determine small color variations. Because tile patterns may include many different colors, workers must be able to distinguish among colors and among patterns for the best looking finish.

Customer-service skills. Flooring installers and tile and marble setters commonly work in customers’ homes. Therefore, workers must be courteous and considerate of a customer’s property while completing tasks.

Detail oriented. Flooring installers and tile and marble setters need to plan and lay out materials. Some carpet patterns can be highly detailed and artistic, so workers must ensure that the patterns are properly and accurately aligned.

Math skills. Flooring installers and tile and marble setters use measurement-related math skills on every job. Besides measuring the area to be covered, workers must calculate the number of carpet tiles needed to cover that area.

Physical stamina. Flooring installers and tile and marble setters must have the endurance to stand or kneel for many hours. Workers need to spread adhesives quickly and place tile on floors before the adhesives harden.

Physical strength. Flooring installers and tile and marble setters need to lift and carry heavy materials. Workers must be strong enough to lift, carry, and set heavy pieces of marble into position.

Flooring Installer and Tile and Marble Setter Salaries[About this section] [More salary/earnings info] [To Top]

The median annual wage for flooring installers and tile and marble setters is $38,230. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $22,310, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $72,530.

Median annual wages for flooring installers and tile and marble setters are as follows:

Tile and marble setters $39,400
Carpet installers 37,220
Floor layers, except carpet, wood, and hard tiles 37,030
Floor sanders and finishers 36,930

The starting pay for apprentices usually is about 50 percent of what fully trained flooring installers and tile and marble setters make. Apprentices receive pay increases as they gain experience.

Some flooring installers and tile and marble setters are paid per square yard of material installed. The rates vary by industry and type of flooring.

Most flooring installers and tile and marble setters work full time. In commercial settings, installers may work evenings and weekends, often for higher wages, to avoid disturbing regular business operations.

About 4 in 10 flooring installers and tile and marble setters are self-employed. Self-employed workers may have the ability to set their own schedule.

Job Outlook for Flooring Installers and Tile and Marble Setters[About this section] [To Top]

Employment of flooring installers and tile and marble setters is projected to grow 5 percent through 2024, about as fast as the average for all occupations.

Employment growth of specific types of flooring and tile and marble installers is expected to vary (see table below). The majority of flooring and tile and marble installation work is expected to be in remodeling and replacement. Population and business growth, coupled with the popularity of some new resilient floor material, will be the major source of demand for workers. Although carpet is still the dominant flooring, other products are growing in popularity, which is why the employment of the other flooring installer occupations are projected to grow faster than carpet installers. Tile and marble will continue to be commonly installed in bathrooms, shopping malls, and restaurants, as well as in other commercial and government buildings.

Flooring Installers and Tile and Marble Setters Job Prospects

Overall job prospects should be good over the coming decade as high turnover and new building construction will create job opportunities for flooring installers and tile and marble setters. Experienced workers with a good employment history who are able to install multiple types of floors will have the best employment opportunities.

As with many other types of construction occupations, employment of these workers is sensitive to the fluctuations of the economy. On the one hand, workers may experience periods of unemployment when the overall level of construction falls. On the other hand, shortages of workers may occur in some areas during peak periods of building activity.

Employment projections data for Flooring Installers and Tile and Marble Setters, 2014-24
Occupational Title Employment, 2014 Projected Employment, 2024 Change, 2014-24
Percent Numeric
Carpet, floor, and tile installers and finishers 125,400 131,300 5 5,900
  Carpet installers 45,300 45,100 -1 -200
  Floor layers, except carpet, wood, and hard tiles 17,100 19,200 12 2,100
  Floor sanders and finishers 7,900 8,400 6 500
  Tile and marble setters 55,100 58,700 6 3,500


*Some content used by permission of the Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor.

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