The Importance of Training in Floor Prep

Importance of Training in Floor Prep Main Image
Photos courtesy of Jeremy Waldorf | Schönox HPS North America, LLC

In a recent post training survey, 95 percent of flooring installers shared that floor prep was “extremely important” for a long-lasting and successful flooring installation. The other five percent said it was “very important.”

Does this statistic surprise you?

In the last month, I’ve been on a training blitz to educate installers on products and systems that flatten, smooth, and correct subfloor problems. A large part of my training is general education on how to get good results preparing substrates. For example, how to use self-leveling tools and determine the correct type of primer.

Installer training is my favorite part of my position with HPS Schönox. I love teaching the things I’ve learned from others through the years and making it fun for everyone involved.

I always like to hear from the men and women in the field about their concerns on the job. However, going into this latest series of events, I wanted to do something different; I wanted to see data and real numbers. Unlike my past training events, I provided a link to an email survey with 10 questions. Some of them asked for feedback on the training itself, but others asked bigger and more important questions.

Twenty completed surveys were returned, which was more than 25 percent. I was very happy to get this kind of participation, and it would help me better understand our business. So, what kind of experience did these men and women have? Fifteen percent of attendees surveyed have been installing for less than two years, 25 percent have been in the field for 10 years or more, and the rest were in between.

This is such an important statistic related to training, because when you think about the dynamics of a flooring contractor or retailer, you realize we often overlook the organic learning process. In a room with 10 flooring installers when we share experiences and solutions, the less-experienced tradespeople can learn from the more-experienced. And believe it or not, it also goes the other way. Twenty-five years ago, I learned from the people at our shop who have been installing carpet and vinyl for decades. They taught me a lot of good tips, but I also learned bad habits and wrong methods. When we have a variety of men and women in a hands-on setting, sharing and learning with each other, we have an amazing opportunity to grow, and make corrections. This is even true of the older crowd.

When I attended the NWFA hands-on training courses, I immediately knew I was surrounded by the best of the best. I was like a sponge, listening and watching, becoming a better installer and professional. I made friends with my “classmates” who were from all over the country.

It’s in those kinds of environments that we share experiences with each other. In my opinion, this is the most-valuable experience you can have in the flooring business.

When I host an installer training on floor preparation, we all understand the goal and the desired result, which is a long-lasting beautiful flooring installation. But a lot of estimators and salespeople don’t have the same background or experiences installers do. They don’t know exactly what it takes to get there. They have callbacks, but they may not be sure why or how they happened. This is the second part of the equation.

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Ensure Proper Usage

“It is important for the sales staff to understand products to ensure they are being used properly.”

Typically, I try to involve the sales staff and estimators in the training. I may hand them a gauge rake to pull self-leveler, or I may hand them a trowel to skim a floor. They often are surprised at how strict the standard is for floor flatness, but also how easily we can achieve these results with the right tools. I always say self-leveling is a very teachable skill to those who want to learn, and it makes you a more valuable tradesperson. But I also want to give those salespeople a new set of eyes to see the job more like an installer would. This means the ones in the field won’t end up with 25 small bags of floor patch, when they really need 10 bags of leveler.

To answer the question above, is it important for the sales staff to understand at least a little bit about floor prep? Eighty-five percent of polled installers strongly agree, and 15 percent agree. Not one response was neutral or disagreed with that statement. Too often, there is a significant disconnect between the office and the field, but the installers truly understand they need more teamwork. I am grateful to be in a position where I bridge the gap and help get the right solutions on the floor.

Continuing Education

“How likely are you to recommend training to another installer?”

Sometimes we get too busy with work and neglect training, even if it’s completely free to attend. But I have always placed a high value on education in the flooring trade. I tell people they can’t afford not to attend continuing education from organizations like the NWFA, and also manufacturers.

Imagine seeing a doctor who hasn’t had updated training or education in 10 years. That’s a crazy idea, yet we have installers out there every day who are looked at as “professionals,” but they are not keeping up with new systems and methods. If you want to excel and do the best for yourself and your business, take every opportunity to learn and be better. No matter what area you live in, manufacturers and trade organizations can help you become the best at what you do.

So to answer the question, is training worth your time? Ninety-five percent of the installers I polled said, “yes, absolutely.” One comment said, “would attend again just for the interaction.”

We learned, we laughed, and it was worth our time…and about the one person who was undecided? Well, you can’t please them all.

Jeremy Waldorf is regional business manager for Schönox HPS North America, LLC in Michigan and Toledo, Ohio. He can be reached at

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