How to Repair Carpet

Shag CarpetMinor repairs to a carpet can be done yourself, but for a valuable antique or a major repair, I would say leave it to an experienced pro. It is possible to extend the life of a damaged carpet by repositioning it so that the damaged area is away from foot traffic; if the carpet is too large to be moved, you can instead move furniture around so as to redirect traffic away from the part of the rug that needs repair.

Wall to wall carpet from time to time will need to be refastened along the wall, leaving a gap along the tack strip. This is one repair you can tackle yourself with the proper tools (kneekicker, pry bar and hammer).

Start by pulling away any molding from the baseboard wall, prying it gently back with a putty knife or pry bar. To keep from causing damage to the molding, use a piece of scrap wood to pry against, rather than the baseboard, and take it slow.

Keep track of where each molding section goes by marking a sequential number on it’s back in pencil, with a corresponding number marked on the baseboard where it will not be visible once the molding is reinstalled.
You’ll need the kneekicker for the next step.

Set the tooth depth of the tool, then place it along the wall in the carpet. With one hand holding the tool and the other placed on the carpet, shove your knee against the tool until the carpet is properly attached to the tack strip and no gap exists between the baseboard and carpeting.

Once the carpet is repositioned on the tack strip, you can then reinstall the molding on the baseboard, following the marks you made, using 1 ½ inch finishing nails. You may need to apply wood filler putty to nailholes and apply a little touchup paint, but your carpet should be good to go.

Carpet Patching

If there is a hole worn or ripped through your carpet, and you have spare carpet to match it, you can patch the hole. You’ll need a carpenter’s square, utility knife, latex seam adhesive and 2 ¼ inch wide cloth binding strips; the last two items are available at carpet suppliers or fabric stores).

The first step is to cut out the damaged area. Take your carpenter’s square and use it as a guide to cut out a square area of the carpet around the hole, using a utility knife. Lift away the damaged cutout section (don’t throw it away, you’ll need it for the next step). Be careful not to damage underlayment and carpet pad.

The damaged carpet section now serves as a template to cut a matching piece of carpet for your repair patch. Don’t forget to match the pile direction or any pattern to the old surrounding carpet. You may also need to cut out a new section of carpet padding if that was damaged.

Next, squeeze out a thin bead of latex adhesive along the binding strips. Follow the adhesive manufacturers safety recommendations; wear gloves as a minimum. Spread out the adhesive with a stir stick or disposable paintbrush, along the entire surface of the binding.

Lay the strips of cloth binding around the perimeter of the patch hole, placing it so that half of the strip is tucked under the carpet and half will be under the patch. Then lay the patch in the opening and press it into the adhesive.

Dab away the excess latex adhesive from the carpet using a damp cloth, then place a heavy weight over the patched area, such as a couple of phone books or a table turned upside down, and leave the whole area like that for the amount of cure time recommended by the adhesive manufacturer.

Carpet Stains

Spills and stains should be cleaned up from your carpet as fast as possible; blot them with a clean dry cloth, rather than scrubbing them, which will just rub the stain in deeper. Before using any carpet stain cleaning compound, do a spot test on a less visible section of the carpet to make sure it will not cause damage or discoloration.

For stains with protein in them like blood, milk, ice cream, bodily fluids or waste, treat the carpet with a mixture of a cup white vinegar and 2 cups warm water; let sit 5 minutes, then rinse area with cool water and dab dry. Other stains can be treated with a solution of 1 cup water and 2 tablespoons ammonia.

Superficial discolouring stains or burn marks can sometimes be removed by carefully snipping off the tips of the pile using a pair of curved manicure scissors. Cut off only a small amount at a time. Usually a little variation in height of the carpet’s tuft won’t be noticeable, but cutting away too much will just mean you will end up having to patch the area.

Frayed carpet edges can be mended, if you are good with a needle and have lots of patience. You will need to use a curved upholstery needle and thread matching the color and thickness of the original edging. Begin sewing ¼ inch or so away from the frayed area and sew toward it. Wrap the thread around the frayed area so that it is covered, being careful not to disturb the frayed threads.

Photo by Abbey Lanes, Creative Commons Attribution License