Carpenters are some of the most skilled and valuable craftsmen in the home improvement industry. While all these professionals are skilled in working with wood, most have moved onto specialize in specific areas. A book could be written on all the different areas of expertise, but for the average homeowner, most of these artisans can be loosely grouped into two categories.
The Rough Stuff
Rough carpenters specialize in framing, formwork, installing subfloors, building scaffolding and any other area of construction where a fine touch isn't needed. Some of these craftsmen specialize on just one particular job, such as framers who work exclusively building frames for homes and buildings.
A More Delicate Touch
Finish carpenters specialize in putting the final touch on a job. They often build and install cabinetry, moldings, baseboards, trim, hardwood floors, stairs and any other type of carpentry where more skill and specialty tools are needed.
Other Areas of Expertise
Even more specialized craftsman include acoustical, maintenance, ship and trim carpenters, as well as joisters, joiners, and form builders. Basically, if there's a need out there that needs to be met, there's someone skilled to do the job.
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How Do I Choose the Right Man For the Job?
Because there are so many skill areas to choose from, it can be overwhelming knowing who to call when you're looking for someone to hire. For starters, use common sense. If you need crown molding installed in your home library, don't call a framer. Beyond that, rest easy knowing that most carpenters have a good general knowledge of the craft, even if their careers have led them to focus on one specific area. In that respect, most hires should be able to accomplish almost any job satisfactorily.
What About Quality Control?
There is no school of carpentry, licensing program, or any other official requirement that a person has to meet in order to call himself a carpenter. That being the case, it's always a good idea to ask for references and, when possible, to see examples of their work. Of course, if you're still uneasy making a decision, you might consider calling a general contractor instead. A good contractor will have the know-how to determine exactly what type of carpenter you need, as well as the resources to get you paired up with the right person for your project.