Getting the C-15 License for flooring offers the opportunity for incredible income potential within the construction industry as the installation of wood floors, carpets, and laminates are critical services and almost always required within a construction project.

Commercial flooring jobs can be incredibly lucrative especially if you offer a one-stop service for clients to choose materials, have their previous floor removed and a new one installed.  

A flooring contractor using a plank and a hammer to place flooring boards evenly. the C-15 license for flooring contractors is essential for anyone looking to build a large scale residential or commercial flooring business

The C-15 license allows flooring contractors to bid on large scale residential and commercial flooring projects

Contractors that hold the C-15 License who are highly skilled, professional and offer excellent customer service can quickly build a business offering a valuable skill set to millions of homeowners and businesses. 

This article will provide you with every single detail you need to know about how to get your C15 license, requirements, the flooring license test, and even how to fill out the application.

What is a C-15 Flooring Contractor?


Duties of a Licensed Flooring Contractor

Flooring Contractors duties and skill sets generally include a wide variety of flooring services such as:

  • Evaluating and Preparing surfaces
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    Performing Calculations
  • Selecting materials and carpeting
  • Testing subfloors for moisture and preparing for subfloor installation
  • Demolition, Selection and Installation of flooring
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    Cutting and laying out wood, laminate, vinyl, linoleum and ruber
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     Staining, Sanding, and Tack Stripping
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    Establishing and maintaining relationships with vendors and suppliers
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    Preparing bids, estimating and accounting
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    Maintaining a safe job site

To obtain the C-15 license, you will be tested on all aspects of flooring so it will be essential to your success to become familiar with all the areas of expertise that fall under the flooring license. 

C-15 license and the General Contractor

Man measuring an area against a wall to install floor panels

Flooring Contractors often work under a General Contractor to complete specific duties within a construction project

A flooring contractor that hold the C-15 license can work in a variety of settings. They could work directly with a homeowner or client. 

They may also be subcontracted by a General Contractor who has placed a bid on a project that includes flooring. The flooring construction portion would be overseen by the General Contractor.

Check out this article for an in-depth look at the General Contractor License

What is the CSLB?

The Contractors State License Board (CSLB) is the governing body for all contractors in the state of California. Their sole responsibility is to protect the consumer public and ensure that anyone charging over $500 for construction services is qualified and registered with the state of California.

The C-15 License is issued to flooring contractors by the CSLB. The CSLB administers applications, exams, and maintains a database of all active and inactive contractor license numbers which are public domain.

How to get the C-15 License

To get a C-15 license in California, you must prove a minimum of 4 years journeyman level experience and pass a two part state exam with the Contractor State License Board. To get an exam date you must meet the the following requirements:

  • Be at least 18 years of age
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    Have a valid Driver's License or USA Issued Identification
  • Have a Social Security or ITIN #
  • Not Currently be on probation or parole

You must also have:

  • 4 Years Journey Level Experience
  • A Qualifying Individual to sign off on your experience
  • A way to prove your experience if the state asks for documentation

What is Journey Level Experience?

wood table with various tools on it. 4 Journey level experience is required for all tradesman looking to get a C-15 license for flooring

Journey level experience is expired gained working un-supervised on a job site. Journeyman level tradesman can perform all duties associated with their trade

Journeyman level experience means that you have worked unsupervised full time for a flooring company, or for a contractor that holds the C-15 License.

  • A journeyman can perform all of the duties associated with his or her trade.

The CSLB will want to see four full-time years over the last ten years. The years do not need to be consecutive, but they do need to be four years in total. 

Signature of a Qualifying Individual

The following people may be used as Qualifying Individuals to sign off on your experience when applying for the C-15 license:

  • Licensed General Contractor
  • C-15 License Holder
  • Fellow Employee (within the last 10 years)
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    Former Supervisor (within the last 10 years)
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    Business Associate
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    Fellow Journeyman
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    Union Representative

Filling out the C-15 License Application

Your Qualifying Individual will also need to provide a brief but detailed description of your knowledge and skillset. The way this description is written will be critical to whether or not your application is accepted. For example:

“Ed is a great guy and has a lot of experience installing carpets…” will not be accepted by the CSLB.

 The CSLB will want to see something more like: Greg has installed, finished and repaired vinyl, wood, linoleum, and resilient tile floors, etc.

Proving your work experience for the C-15 License

You must be prepared to submit documentation supporting the experience you claim to have. The Contractors State License Board gives you a few ways that you can prove your experience.

  • Tax Returns
  • Check Stubs
  • Contracts
  • Material Order Invoices or Receipts
Image of construction workers on a job site cutting wood for a floor installation. Getting a test date for C-15 License may require that you submit documentation proving your flooring experience.

The CSLB may ask for documentation to prove your experience before you can take the flooring license exam

The CSLB  receives thousands of applications per month so there is a good chance they won’t document your experience but if you are one of the applicants that get reviewed you will need to be ready to submit something. 

The CSLB does not accept pictures of projects.

C-15 License Application, Fees, and Criminal History

The time it takes to get your application processed and assigned a test date fluctuates throughout the year. Typically you can expect:

  • 6-8 Week Application Processing Time
  • 3-4 Week wait for an Exam date

I have seen some situations where applicants got their test date sooner and some where they got their test date much later.

The most common reasons your application would get held up are:

  1. Time of year (processing time slows down during the holidays) 
  2. Criminal History 
  3. Proving Experience
  4. Mistakes on your application 

C-15 License Application Costs

The Current CSLB fees are: 

Can you get a Contractors License with a Felony in California?

Having a criminal record in no way stops you from getting a C-15 License. I have personally helped guys with all types of criminal records obtain multiple licenses. The key is to be honest on the application, even if the felony or misdemeanor happened years ago and even if it was expunged.

BE 100% HONEST ON THE APPLICATION, because they will see everything anyway when you do fingerprinting. The CSLB handles criminal records on a case by case basis. Remember, their responsibility is to protect the public. In my experience, they primarily concerned with criminal charges associated with: Fraud, Forgery and Embezzlement. 

C-15 Contractors License Test

Contractor licenses are broken down into 4 categories:

1) A-General Engineering

2) B-General Building

3) C-Specialty classes

4) D-Limited Specialty classes

Each category of license apart from the D-Limited Specialty license class requires that you pass a TRADE exam in addition to the California LAW examination which is the same for all licenses. The exam will consist of:

The Flooring and Floor Covering (C-15 license) Examination is divided into seven key sections:

1.    Planning and Estimation (26%)

  • Evaluating plans and specifications
  • Evaluating material characteristics
  • Performing job-related calculations
  • Evaluating job site readiness
  • Material acclimation

2.    Subfloor Evaluation and Preparation (17%)

  • Removing existing flooring
  • Evaluating and preparing the subfloor for installation
  • Testing subfloor for moisture
  • Installing under layments

3.    Carpet Installation (14%)

  • Installing tack strip, cushions, and trim
  • Cutting and laying out carpet
  • Seaming and sealing carpet
  • Installing carpet
  • Installing and replacing moldings, etc.

4.    Resilient Goods and Rubber Flooring Installation (12%)

  • Cutting and/or laying out sheet goods for installation
  • Using adhesives
  • Preparing subfloor for installation
  • Rolling and sealing sheet goods
  • Installing laminate, trim, and transitions

5.    Laminate Flooring Installation (8%)

  • Cutting and laying out laminates
  • Installing laminate, trim, and transitions

6. Wood Flooring Installation (10%)

  • Performing moisture tests
  • Cutting and laying out wood
  • Installing wood flooring and trim
  • Filling and sanding wood
  • Finishing wood

7. Safety (13%)

  • Applying personal safety procedures
  • Applying job safety procedures
  • Operating tools and equipment safely
  • Safe handling and disposal of products


CSLB Test Locations

  • Berkeley
  • Fresno
  • Norwalk
  • San Jose
  • Oxnard
  • Sacramento
  • San Bernardino
  • San Diego
Logo for the Contractors State License Board. Illustration of a paint brush, saw and cement truck. CSLB is the governing agency for contractors in the state of california and issues the C-15 license to flooring contractors

Currently, the CSLB testing locations are in Berkeley, Fresno, Norwalk, Oxnard, Sacramento, San Bernardino, San Diego and San Jose.

California Contractor License Exam Prep

Some things to remember:

  • The questions you will see on the exam may use outdated terms
  • Processes may be completely different from how things are done on the job site
  • You will see questions about things you may have never done before
  • Questions will be presented to you as if you are running a large scale construction business with several employees and jobs happening all at once. 
  • Know all aspects of your trade

Study guides and Practice tests

Be as prepared as you possibly can. Studying just 10 mintues a day consistently can dramatically increase your chances of passing the test on your first try. Learn more about the Flooring License Test

Flooring Apprenticeships

Construction workers laying wood floor panels down

Contractor installing wooden laminate flooring with insulation and soundproofing sheets. Man laying laminate flooring. Man laying laminate flooring. Step by Step.

If you don’t have the 4 years required journeyman level experience to obtain a C-15 License you have come to the right place. Choosing a career in the construction industry can be incredibly rewarding financially.

The construction industry is a trillion-dollar industry, and a highly skilled tradesman are always in demand. Whether you are brand new to the industry, have dabbled over the years or are coming back and want to brush up your skills, there is a myriad of resources available to help you learn the basics or get up to speed.

Generally someone looking to become a Glass Contractor would want to look into an apprenticeship  or certification program. For a detailed explanation on this process, check out my article: Apprentice vs Journeyman.

Blueprint Reading Course

Reading construction blueprints is a critical skill for flooring contractors. The ability to quickly interpret designs and make cost calculations will greatly assist you going forward. 

Blueprint Reading Skills are also critical to pass the General Contractor exam. Check out this Blue Print Reading Course for a basic introduction to the concepts you will want to know about.

a featured image for a blog post about blueprint reading, which is a valuable skill for anyone looking to get the C-15 license

Click here to learn more about blueprint reading!

EPA Certification

Understanding how to safely contain lead-based paint when altering structures built before 1978 is required by the Environmental Protection Agency. The most profitable glazing contractors are ones that position themselves as the experts and are the most knowledgable and helpful to their clients. 

logo of the environmental protection agency

Environmental Protection Agency

Becoming EPA Certified can help you expand your business and can be completed in a one day 8 hour course. Staying EPA compliant is not only important to the survival of your business but also the safety of your customers.  For a complete guide on how to get the EPA Certification, check out this article.

Conclusion

Getting the C-15 License can be a huge step up in your career if you are looking to open your company or take on larger clients! The key is to take action and follow these steps from beginning to end. If you have found this article helpful feel free to drop a comment below and be sure to check back for updates!

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