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Keeping your eye on the ball

John talks about the importance of continual learning and development in order for flooring contractors to remain competitive and how to access the best free training available.

WITH the pace of change affecting the flooring industry, including advancements in product technology enabling projects to be completed to ever more exacting timescales, flooring contractors who fail to keep abreast of developments risk their work falling below customer expectations. This requires flooring professionals to continually update their knowledge and acquire new skills throughout their working life in order to retain a competitive edge.
Training, therefore, needs to be a regular and ongoing feature of every flooring career.

Basic training should cover subfloor preparation, including 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. It should also include instruction on how to avoid common causes of floor failure, chief of which is still unmanaged subfloor moisture.

Advancements in technology
As well as gaining a good grounding in subfloor preparation and floorcovering installation, flooring professionals should strive to continuously improve and develop their knowledge throughout their careers. This has become particularly necessary as advances in technology have accelerated the development of subfloor preparation products and adhesives with advanced properties and widening applications.

For example, combinations of new, fast-drying levelling compounds, waterproof surface membranes and adhesives mean 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 new fast-track products, contractors are better equipped to deal with increasingly demanding time constraints.

Similarly, advancements in adhesive technology have enabled F Ball to create adhesives with previously impossible combinations of properties, such as temperature tolerance together with pressure sensitive characteristics.

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

For example, particular vinyl adhesives offer resistance to moisture for installing resilient floorcoverings in damp and humid environments, and there are levelling compounds that are designed especially to withstand heavy loads and high foot traffic.

Changes affecting the industry
Contractors need to stay aware 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. Calcium sulphate-based smoothing compounds offer optimum compatibility with this type of subfloor.

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 is no shortage of excellent training available to flooring contractors 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 training courses, covering everything from subfloor preparation to estimating costs and quoting. 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.

F Ball has recently redesigned and reconfigured the training and demonstration facility at its Staffordshire headquarters, and restyled course content to offer a more dynamic, hands-on learning experience.

Centre of Excellence
Accordingly, the new state-of-the-art training facility has been relaunched as the ‘F Ball Centre of Excellence’ to reflect its aim to help flooring professionals keep up to date with the latest advancements in product technology and stand out from the competition amidst increasing customer expectations. As such, evidence of completing a course at the F. Ball Centre of Excellence is proof of having received the most advanced training and a commitment to delivering the highest flooring standards.

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

Free to attend
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 any skill level can take part in training courses at the F Ball Centre of Excellence for free.

For more information about the F Ball Centre of Excellence and to book a place on a course, visit www.f-ball.com/training or telephone 01538 361633.

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