Do I Need a Joiner or a Carpenter

Wednesday 6 April 2016

The difference between carpentry and joinery isn't something many people think about until they find themselves planning home improvements. At which point, most people realise that they're not 100% sure of the difference between the two trades. If you ask around, someone you know will likely say that one uses nails and the other doesn't but this isn't the case at all.


Carpenters and joiners both start out learning the same set of basic skills as a foundation to everything they do. This common skillset does provide a certain amount of overlap between the two specialties and this is likely where a lot of the confusion comes from. But after learning the basic skills, a focus will develop towards one specialty or the other.


Yes. Because of the competitive nature of being self-employed a lot of carpenters or joiners will pick up jobs that are better suited to the other trade. If you’re lucky then this won’t have any effect on you or your project, but it could lead to errors and faults that wouldn’t have occurred had the right specialist been employed.


Firstly, forget anything anyone has said about the use of nails. Carpenters and joiners will both use nails when the job requires it. While a traditional joiner may use nails sparingly, this has nothing to do with the difference between the two roles. Differentiating between a joiner and a carpenter (and which is needed for your project) is actually very simple. At the heart of it, joiners design and make products in a workshop and carpenters assemble and fit those goods out on site. So if you want a staircase made you want a joiner, but if you want a staircase fitted you want a carpenter.


The stairs were used to illustrate the difference between the two trades but if we’re being realistic about the situation it’s easy to see that most people will need to draw on both skillsets for different aspects of their project. When choosing a contractor, make sure you enquire about the work they specialise in and ask what experience they have of working on projects similar to yours. A professional tradesman who’s proud of their work won’t have an issue with you asking these questions.

Of course, the fewer contractors you employ, and therefore have to coordinate, the simpler your life will be. At Thomas Joinery Limited we have staff trained in carpentry and joinery, meaning we are able to professionally fit all of the products we manufacture. We try and take pictures of all of the jobs we fit and are always happy for prospective clients to look at these and see how our products look when installed by our fitters.