In early December, a group of flooring industry technical and installation experts and I gathered in Las Vegas at the Carpenters International Training Center to review installation guidelines from carpet, hard surface and stone manufacturers. Why? So INSTALL can ensure that, through their “Train the Trainer” program, they are training their installers compliance with flooring manufacturers’ guidelines.

Representatives from Shaw, Mohawk, Bentley Prince Street, Armstrong, Mannington, Tarkett and others were in attendance.  The program, a truly frontline approach to training, includes the following for each category of certification review:

• Demonstration of the Train-The-Trainer process.

• Presentation of certification standards using existing documents, tests and PowerPoint to educate participants about the INSTALL Resilient Certification Standards.

• Discussion to solicit, interpret and identify suggested additions, subtractions, and alterations to the resilient certification from the subject matter experts as well as Floor Prep, Ceramic/Stone, Hardwood Training and Certifications Review.  Every category of flooring will be included and floor prep materials and adhesives will certainly be an integral part of the program, with representative from those segments of the industry in attendance as well. 

This is a very unique program, which INSTALL conducts every 2-3 years. Every INSTALL trainers from around the country was in attendance. 

The importance of this program has taken on new meaning as the industry works diligently on the new S600 Carpet Installation Standard, which should be completed by the end of 2013.  At that time, installers will be required to receive installation training and instruction to be in compliance with the Standard, which will also tie into the warranties of carpet manufacturers, particularly relative to the installation of commercial carpet.

Only two entities exist at this point to provide training for floor covering installers, INSTALL and CFI. INSTALL focuses on union installers, and CFI for non-union installers of residential and commercial carpet. 

Over the last few years a multitude of new backings, installation systems, methods and concerns have appeared.  Because the INSTALL program trains flooring installers from apprentices to journeyman and requires them to maintain their education, they have to know the latest information. 

Most of the changes have occurred in the commercial market. These include installation systems such as Bentley Prince Street’s Contact Release, which uses no adhesive; Interface’s Tactile installation system; Shaw’s Lock Dots; Mohawk’s pressure sensitive backings; the Velcro installation system; EnviroSTIX system for hard-backed carpet tiles and hard-surface flooring; IOBAC magnetic system and other new installation systems and adhesives to counter moisture and alkalinity problems and improved floor prep materials.  Of primary concern is the increased use of carpet tiles and new backings which consist of recycled content and how that affects the installation and stability of these products. 

Installation has changed so much in just the last 5 years that unless you’re plugged into the industry, you won’t know what’s happening. Even the skepticism withinthe industry concerning new installation technology is amazing.  Ignorance can unfortunately cloud one’s open mindedness and lead to negativity. I have to admit that some of the things we see – and we see most every installation technology there is because almost all of it is shared with us or we have a hand in developing and marketing it – can make you wonder.

That said, the majority of these systems and technology do exactly what they are touted to do; most of which does not involve glue out of a bucket. With the new backings being developed – many using recycled fiber content – other means for fastening them to the floor will be employed.  There are so many of these backings coming so quickly – with more to come – if you don’t stay up on how to install them, you‘ll be lost; you won’t even recognize what they are. 

Because the technology exists today to eliminate every type of installation failure caused by traditional means, the opportunity to prevent installation failures is greater than ever.  But, you still have to have training. The INSTALL program offers that opportunity, and this type of training should be adopted by anyone involved in any aspect of installation.  The information is there to share, and we should all work together to ensure allinstallers know what they’re working with, how to use it, and why and how it will make their life easier and more profitable.

Lew Migliore is president of LGMTCS and Associates in Dalton, GA. He is the author and publisher of “The Commercial Flooring Report” a monthly newsletter dealing with commercial flooring issues and information for commercial flooring contractors, manufacturers, designers, specifiers, and users of commercial flooring products. He is also the originator and instructor of the LGM Carpet Seminar, the industry’s only independent, objective, and impartial seminar on all aspects of carpet.