Contract Flooring Journal (CFJ) the latest news for flooring contractors

Home> F Ball <Manufacturers benefit when installers have widespread access to high quality training

Manufacturers benefit when installers have widespread access to high quality training

F Ball & Co sales director, Darren Kenyon, says there’s a need to rethink what training means for the flooring industry and explains why he thinks the onus is on manufacturers to ensure sufficient provisions are available.

FOR many in the flooring industry, the idea of training may feel like something that’s a feature of the start of their career. Some might find the idea of attending a training course akin to being put into special measures, something of a negative reflection on their skills, rather than an aspiration to add to their knowledge and capabilities.

In fact, changes affecting the industry and the need to work to increasingly high standards to retain a competitive edge require flooring professionals to regularly update their knowledge and acquire new skills throughout their working life. Perhaps then, the use of the word ‘training’ needs rethinking.

Training for apprentices
Flooring contractors naturally need the skills and knowledge to meet customer expectations from the very start of their careers. Basic training should cover subfloor preparation, including instructions on how to avoid common causes of floor failure, chief of which is still unmanaged subfloor moisture.

It should also involve the identification of different subfloor types and how they should be prepared, the application of a floor levelling compound to create a smooth base ready for the receipt of new floorcoverings, and selecting adhesives based on compatibility with different floorcoverings.

Having a good knowledge of the range of new products available will help contractors choose the optimum product for a particular job and avoid compromising the finished appearance of an installation.

For example, the use of a heavy-duty levelling compound will be required to prevent the possibility of floor failure in areas that are expected to be subject to heavy loads and high foot traffic. A suitably moisture-resistant adhesive will be necessary to install vinyl floorcoverings in damp and humid environments.

Advancements in technology
The need to continuously improve and develop their knowledge throughout their careers has become increasingly important as advances in technology have accelerated the development of subfloor preparation products and adhesives with properties and applications to help meet ever-more exacting demands.

Combinations of new, fast-drying levelling compounds, waterproof surface membranes and adhesives, for example, mean that contractors can now install floorcoverings in as little as one day whereas it would have once taken up to three days.

Armed with knowledge of these fast-track products, contractors are better equipped to deal with increasingly demanding time constraints.

Similarly, advancements in adhesive technology have enabled the creation of adhesives with previously impossible combinations of properties, helping flooring contractors to work to ever higher standards with greater ease and efficiency.

Until recently, contractors requiring a temperature-tolerant or moisture-resistant adhesive would have had to forgo the benefits of pressure sensitive adhesive. However, advancements in hybrid polymer adhesives have enabled the development of high performance vinyl adhesives that combine both pressure-sensitive and temperature tolerant characteristics, as well as being resistant to moisture.

Changes affecting the industry
Contractors also need to keep abreast of wider changes affecting the flooring industry too. For instance, calcium sulphate screeds are increasingly common in new builds and require specific treatment to ensure against floor failure.

In such cases, traditional cement-based levelling compounds will not be suitable, and the use of a compatible calcium sulphate-based levelling compound is recommended. Regular refresher training will keep contractors abreast of such developments and corresponding products and techniques to address this.

Often, industry changes that place new demands on flooring contractors are consumer driven. The rise in popularity of luxury vinyl tiles (LVTs), alongside the decline of carpet, for example, necessitates a shift in skillsets, with contractors requiring specialist knowledge to meet high expectations of finished results when installing LVTs.

In another change, the recent move to standards-based apprenticeships has also brought new training requirements. One hour of ‘off-the-job’ training must be completed for every four hours spent working by flooring apprentices, which more companies are giving opportunities to as a way to tackle their skills shortages.

Accessing training
Fortunately, there are several ways flooring contractors can access excellent training at little or no cost. Flooring industry training centres, such as Flooring Industry Training Association (FITA) training centre in Loughborough, offer a wide range of courses, covering everything from subfloor preparation to estimating costs and quoting.

These are subsidised by flooring industry manufacturers, including F Ball, and thanks to the apprenticeships levy, which came into effect in 2017, many flooring companies enrolling apprentices on training courses such as these can claim back up to 95% of the cost.

Additionally, some manufacturers of subfloor preparation products and adhesives (and some floorcovering manufacturers) offer training courses on how to use their products at no cost to contractors.

As a market leader in flooring preparation products and adhesives, F. Ball believes it has a responsibility to promote industry standards and best practice and, by extension, the positive reputation of the flooring industry. This is why flooring contractors of all skill levels have been able to attend training courses at F. Ball’s purpose-built training centre at its Staffordshire headquarters for free.

Inspiring excellence
Experience shows that people get the most from practical instruction, and they are sometimes deterred by the thought that training will involve sitting in a classroom all day. This entails a greater emphasis on allowing participants to put theory into practice and providing the chance to use products in a controlled environment under the guidance of industry experts.

This is why, along with its aim of helping flooring professionals keep up-to-date with the latest advancements in product technology and stand out from the competition amid increasing customer expectations, F Ball has recently redesigned and reconfigured its onsite training and demonstration facility and restyled course content to offer a more dynamic, hands-on learning experience.

To reflect its goal of inspiring the highest standards of flooring installation, and get away from the notion that training is solely for people starting out on their careers in the flooring industry, the new state-of-the-art training facility has been relaunched as the ‘F Ball Centre of Excellence’.

Training programmes, which run year-round, are led by experts from within the company and cover subfloor preparation, moisture management and control and adhesive selection, including specialist courses for both apprentices and experienced professionals.

Use what’s available
Given its importance in meeting present customer expectations, as well as maintaining a competitive advantage in the future, flooring contractors need to take advantage of the training provisions available to them and remain hungry to acquire new skills and abilities. It is rare that a fitter attends a training course and doesn’t go away with some skill or knowledge that they didn’t have before.

The role of training in addressing one of the biggest challenges facing the industry – the deficit of skilled installers – means it is also in the interests of manufacturers to ensure that there is widespread access to high quality training. We also find that training courses are an invaluable opportunity to get feedback from customers and learn about the daily challenges they face, which they are looking to the next generation of flooring installation products, as well as expert advice and instruction, to overcome.

In order to make good the promise of helping flooring contractors meet the ever-changing demands of the market, training providers should regularly evaluate and refresh content to keep up with industry changes, as well as tailoring content to flooring professionals at different stages in their careers.

Please click to view more articles about

Stay Connected




Popular articles