By Robert Blochinger

In the flooring industry, the correct installation of products is critical for performance and appearance. The word “workmanship” is used in all floorcovering product installations; however, the word “craftsmanship” is usually associated with the description of the finished appearance of hard surface products like wood, tile, or marble, especially in the area of patterns and designs.

Another way to explain the difference is this: Workmanship is the “how” of performing a task, and craftsmanship is “why” it is done a specific way.

Workmanship

Before a completed project is labeled with the word craftsmanship, the workmanship is reviewed. Workmanship is labeled as poor, bad, good, satisfactory, expert, or excellent, along with a number of other adjectives.

patio workmanship

Exterior patio with tile surface damaged by high-psi pressure cleaning that caused efflorescence of concrete and setting materials.

LVT workmanship

LVT plank separation, caused by installation errors, allows soil and dry wall dust to enter.

 

tile

VCT adhesive oozes through seams where soil attaches, exacerbated by poor cleaning techniques.

With all projects, part of the workmanship is one’s personal presentation, appearance, and attitude; maintaining safe jobsite conditions; and housekeeping. Workmanship considers questions such as:

  • Are all materials, equipment, and tools in a specific area so as not to create hazards? Are they handy to reach for use during installation?
  • Is the work area kept clean, and is the jobsite cleaned daily to the condition it was found in at the beginning of the day?
  • Has the product to be installed been checked for visual defects?
  • Has the substrate been visually reviewed, physically inspected, and tested for acceptable conditions for the floorcovering to be installed?
  • Are the correct sundry materials being used: tack strip, adhesives, cement, floor patching materials, transition height materials, hand trowel notch for a given adhesive and product, underlayments as required for sound and crack suppression, etc.?
  • Is the proper tool and notch size being utilized? (E.g., using a skill saw when a table saw is required, using a 2-inch level when a 6-inch level is required)
  • Are you using the power stretcher, or the mini stretcher and knee kicker? Do you know when to use each tool?
  • Does tape quality match carpet construction? (E.g., seaming iron 4-inch or 6-inch tape)
  • Is carpet dry laid in place for correct pattern match?
  • Are the product acclimation guidelines being followed?
grout

This tile’s grout is actually white.

 

Workmanship may also include an examination of speed, unlike craftsmanship which requires continuous patience in performance. Some might even define craftsmanship as “workmanship with passion for the trade.”

Craftsmanship

Craftsmanship, unlike workmanship, is rarely explained with an adjective that describes the quality of work. It is commonly understood that, when it is time to discuss and review craftsmanship, the workmanship is always of “superior” quality because craftsmanship is the result of superior workmanship. Superior workmanship is the result of keeping areas clean, using correct tools and quality sundry products, maintaining personal training and ongoing education in the trade, and, finally, taking pride in what is being done.

floor

Poor cleaning techniques, combined with oozing adhesive from concrete moisture emission through seams, ruined this flooring in under a year.

Training is the building block of good workmanship; pride in accomplishment produces the passion of the trade that produces craftsmanship. Normal workmanship can produce future jobs within the trade; however, high-level craftsmanship will ensure repeat business.


Bob Blochinger started out in the flooring industry as a water and fire damage cleaner and restorer. After opening his own installation business, he worked to become an IICRC certified flooring inspector in eight separate disciplines. Blochinger currently works as a full-time inspector in addition to owning his own Certified Firm.