Floor Laying and Other Floor Work, NEC

SIC 1752

Companies in this industry

Industry report:

This category includes special trade contractors primarily engaged in the installation of asphalt tile, carpeting, linoleum, and resilient flooring. The industry also includes special trade contractors engaged in laying, scraping, and finishing parquet and other hardwood flooring. Establishments primarily engaged in installing stone and ceramic floor tile are classified in SIC 174: Masonry, Stonework, Tile Setting, and Plastering; those installing or finishing concrete floors are classified in SIC 1771: Concrete Work; and those installing artificial turf are classified in SIC 1799: Special Trade Contractors, Not Elsewhere Classified.

The U.S. floor-laying industry is characterized by a large number of special trade contractors who perform work for a general contractor or an architect. According to the latest industry statistics, roughly 21,897 of these establishments operating in the United States in 2009. Carpet installers may also install other types of flooring, such as tile and/or vinyl and linoleum.

Much of the floor-laying industry works in the residential repair and remodeling (R&R) market. Renovation and repair had increased dramatically in the mid-1990s, reaching an all-time high of $69.5 billion in total revenue in 1995. However, new installations became the basis for industry growth in the late 1990s and early 2000s. Fueled by lower interest rates, the residential construction industry continued to boom well into the early 2000s, despite a weak economy. According to the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), new housing starts reached a 25-year high of more than 1.8 million in 2003. The health of the floor-laying industry is closely tied to that of the housing and construction industry. Consequently, when housing starts increase, as they did in the early 2000s, floor layers report an increase in work.

Of all floor coverings, carpet continued to be the most popular product for residential and commercial buildings. Carpet industry shipments reached 1.88 billion square yards in 2001, compared to 97 million square yards shipped in 1950. In the late 1990s and early 2000s, carpet accounted for the majority of the residential and commercial flooring market. Wall to wall carpet is also used in houses built with plywood rather than hardwood floors, as well as to cover concrete floors. As new fibers are developed, particularly those that are stain and crush resistant with added durability and a wider range of colors, the demand for carpet was expected to continue to grow. In the late 1990s, however, hardwood floors began to experience a resurgence in popularity and use. Laminate flooring, which looks and feels like hardwood but is typically less expensive and resists scratching, also gained popularity. Vinyl and linoleum manufacturers continued to improve their products as well, and a glossed finished was introduced for vinyls, requiring less maintenance to retain the original appearance. Most are available without patterns, although they may have a fleck or pebble-grain design, but more have stylish patterns to compete with the commercial carpet market.

In 2005, carpet industry shipments from mills reached 2.05 billion square yards (18.5 billion square feet) for $13.9 billion. The United States is the global carpet supplier of an estimated 45 percent of the domestic flooring market, and dominated the domestic market with 70 percent of sales. Solid wood flooring increased 41 percent between 2002 and 2007, while engineered wood flooring climbed 100 percent during the same period, spurred by residential building and the remodeling sector.

Despite the increase in U.S. production, consumption, and international trade of wood flooring between 2002 and 2007, the industry was losing its market share to increased imports. For example, the value of U.S. imported wood flooring climbed from one-third to nearly one-half during that time. According to a 2008 report from the U.S. International Trade Commission, "Factors contributing to the rise in imports included shifting U.S. market preferences and reportedly, the increased market power of wholesale distributors and large retailers whose greater logistical capabilities make them more able to source imported products." Another contributing factor was cost, especially for materials and labor.

Current Conditions

The economic recession that hit the United States during the final years of the 2000s negatively affected this industry. The housing bubble burst in the late 2000s, and new housing starts, which had hit a record high of nearly 2.1 million units in 2005, unceremoniously dropped to just 554,000 units by 2009. Demand within the home improvement market as well as nonresidential construction also fell off. In 2009, the carpet industry reported its fourth consecutive year of declining sales, and, similarly, tile sales fell for three straight years.

According to industry statistics, there were 21,897 floor laying firms, down from 27,251 firms in 2008. These establishments employed 86,587 workers in 2009, down from 100,864 in 2008. Finally, industry revenues totaled $9.01 billion in 2009, down from $11.16 in 2008. Firms within the floor laying and floor work, not elsewhere categorized, sector made up nearly two-thirds of all firms and industry revenues with 54,216 workers and $5.6 billion in sales (62.1 percent and 62.2 percent, respectively). Carpet remained the leader of all floor coverings, accounting for 17 percent of all firms (3,720 establishments) and 16.6 percent of industry revenues ($1.5 billion). The industry's 2,814 wood floor installation and refinishing contributed $1.03 billion to total industry revenues and employed 11,24 workers. Resilient floor laying establishments had a value of $66 million, and linoleum installation was valued at $21.2 million.

Carpet sales in 2009 fell to 11.19 billion square feet. In addition to weak demand in the late 2000s, the hardwood floor industry was feeling the effects of a flood of imports of hardwood flooring from China. According to a report by Catalina Research Inc., the quantity of multilayered flooring coming into the United States from China grew by 76 percent between 2007 and 2009. Multilayered flooring imports in 2009 were valued at $119.7 million. In November, the International Trade Commission (ITC) opened an antidumping investigation and, in December 2010, found preliminary evidence that China's low pricing of multilayered flooring placed U.S. suppliers at an unfair disadvantage. The ITC therefore extended its investigation into 2011.

Although the U.S. economy began to recover in 2010, construction-related opportunities remained volatile throughout the year. Carpet sales were expected to end the year generally flat with the previous year's results. Nonetheless, on the longer term, wood flooring was expected to continuous to grow in popularity, although carpeting would still remain a viable industry as many multi-unit housing, commercial, and retail sites preferred carpeting for its noise-dampening abilities.

Workforce

The rate of employment for carpet layers generally remains stable, since so much of their work involves replacing carpet. Carpet and other flooring installers may belong to either the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America or the International Brotherhood of Painters and Allied Trades. By 2008, carpet, flooring, and tile installers numbered 160,500. Approximately 51,100 of those workers were employed in carpet installation, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Floor layers, except for carpet, wood, and hard tiles, accounted for 21,200 workers in 2008, while floor sanders and finishers numbered 12,200. While some flooring installers worked for flooring contractors or floor covering retailers, about 35 percent were self-employed in 2008. Employment in this industry was expected to grow relative to the overall economy due to the continued need to renovate and refurbish existing structures and a growing demand for carpet in new industrial plants, schools, hospitals, and other commercial buildings. Although carpet laying jobs were not expected to see much if any growth, jobs related to wood floor laying were expected to see growth as wood floors increased in popularity. However, no job sector was expected to increases until growth returned to the residential housing market as well as other nonresidential building segments.

Industry Leaders

The industry was highly fragmented and made up of many small firms that served local areas. However, some firms stood out Industry leaders in the late 2000s. Examples of some of the top floor layers include included Continental Flooring Company, in Scottsdale, Arizona, which sold flooring primarily to government agencies; Evergreen, Colorado-based Kalman Floor Company; Great Floors, LLC, in Coeur D Alene, Idaho, with revenues of $83.3 million and 450 employees; and Legacy Commercial Flooring, Ltd., of Columbus, Ohio, with revenues of $48.7 million and 251 employees.

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