Carpenters and joiners are professionals who work with wood to create anything from fences to floors. One of the mainstays of the construction trade, their skills are also in high demand by property owners looking to restore, renovate or repair. They are members of the largest trade, and about a third of them are self-employed.

What they do

There is a subtle difference between carpenters and joiners. The former usually fit or fix things like floors, stairs, window frames or kitchens, cupboards and shelving; while you’ll mainly find the latter working on building doors, windows and stairs or fitted furniture.

Both trades will also be well-versed in:

  • Reading and interpreting blueprints and drawings
  • Different types of wood and their qualities, including grain, density and flexibility
  • Laying out, measuring, cutting, putting together and joining various items and materials
  • Using a variety of different hand and power tools according to safety instructions and as effectively as possible

As virtually every part of a home’s fabric contains woodwork, you’ll find that many carpenters and joiners are specialists. They may work mainly in finished woodwork, framing, roofing or detailed work such as cabinet making.

What they charge

How long is a piece of wood? Charges will obviously vary from job to job and depending where you are in the UK. You should generally be able to find a good carpenter or joiner for around £20 per hour (labour only) and costs will rise if the job is particularly complex or in a difficult location such as hidden away in the roof space.

It always makes sense to get a fixed quote for the job to ensure costs don’t spiral out of control. Some examples of common domestic carpentry or joinery requirements (including materials) are:

  • Build a garden shed – £100
  • Make a sash window frame – £600
  • Hang a new door and plane to fit – £40 each
  • Fit skirting boards in one room – £200

What to ask

  • What type of carpentry do you specialise in?
  • Are you a member of the IOC, and if so what type of card do you have?
  • Can I see your CSCS card?
  • How long will the job take you?
  • Will you use your own tools or will I have to rent extra ones?

Trades to trust

Most carpenters and joiners who have recently trained will hold a NVQ/SVQ in Wood Occupations between levels 1 and 3.

The Institute of Carpenters (IOC) offers training and awards for carpenters and joiners. Choose a carpenter who is a member and you won’t only be sure of their qualifications, but you will also get the peace of mind that issues such as legal debates will be resolved quickly.

The law

All workers within the construction industry must hold a Construction Skills Certificate Scheme (CSCS) card. To be eligible for the card, the worker must have passed an NVQ or an SVQ, or similar and passed a health and safety assessment. Each card has a grade which is given according to the experience and qualifications of your chosen carpenter or joiner.

Ready to hire?

3 is the magic number

As always, try and get three quotes from three different carpenters or joiners to ensure you pay a fair price for the job.

Certification and references

Don’t be shy about asking for any relevant certification, proof of public liability insurance and references or photos from previous jobs. If the carpenter or joiner is trustworthy and competent, they’ll be pleased (and proud) to show you both.