Patching small carpet damage - and sourcing the patch

02 Jan 2017 21:43
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Months ago, my camera battery exploded. This one was a cheapie, but it sometimes happens to the best - remember Apple, Sony and the Note 7. (Of course, fake brand name batteries, as opposed to legitimate third parties, would seem riskiest.) So I had to patch a few singed spots in my carpet. The process went roughly as follows:

  • Cut out the bad spots. Very small spots can be "fixed" by just trimming away the bad bits of carpet fiber: their neighbors will spread into their spaces. Reportedly, spots a few tufts wide can have new bits carefully glued onto the carpet backing (which is a mesh onto which the actual loops, strung together in rows but not woven through the backing, are attached by a flexible rubbery compound.) But bigger ones need to be cut out - backing and all, so the patch will lie level. Use a utility knife with a relatively fresh blade. Leave the pad underneath in place. (A "carpet knife" is similar to a utility knife, with a bigger blade that does not retract as easily: more dangerous for small household tasks.) Try to cut around, not through, individual carpet loops. Remove as little material as possible beyond the burned area.
  • Secure adhesive backing. "Carpet tape" is very strong and stiff. A low-melting hot-glue tape like Orcon XU-90 may be toughest and longest-lasting - nothing to "dry out" and ineffectively stiffen. It's normally softened from the back with a special iron, or can be softened from the front with a heat gun set to no more than 350 degrees, preferably blowing through a lifted hole in the carpet, so as not to singe the carpet worse. (Much higher settings can start fires!) Wikihow also mentions melting adhesives with steam created by ironing a moistened pad over the carpet—again, don't overheat and melt the carpet itself! Special patching disks, or possibly regular carpet tape too, can be moistened to temporarily deactivate their adhesive. Whichever you use, cut an oversized patch, stuff it through the hole, position it to extend past each edge, and secure it.
  • Obtain replacement carpet - often from margins in a closet. Ideally you'd have some left over from the carpet's original installation. Or be able to identify it and order a spare - maybe even a sample would do; the largest US manufacturers are Shaw and Mohawk. But often you're at a loss. Use a pliers to pull up an edge under the molding in a closet to reveal a half-inch or so on each side that can be "borrowed"; ideally, from a little-used closet and taking little enough that the gap will not be noticed or likely to lose stuff. (If the donor piece is a smallish one taped to other carpet from behind, you can take more from one side and recenter it, using the technique described for patching to redo its taping to the wider carpet. After you're done scavenging, tip the free edges of the carpet back under the molding with a spatula.
    • Bigger patches can be taken from a closet that is then redone with another kind of carpet, either sort-of-matching or particularly suited to the closet, such as a tight dirt-resistant office style.
  • Trim and add in the replacement carpet. For strength, and to prevent unraveling, cut through the backing—with care to go between, rather than through, individual loops. Then cut clean through with a scissors. Cut through individual pieces of yarn, where necessary, close to the backing rather than leaving loose ends. Note the "grain" of the carpet — the direction that continuous fibers run — and match it if practical. (A long, skinny patch running one direction can come from the side of a closet, which, recall, has two margins of wiggle room, and the other direction, from a side.) Perfection is not needed. A wider area can be built up from a few strips side by side.
  • Replace the donor piece and enjoy! Remember, little imperfections over time are normal - don't obsess over a problem just because you know it's there, but be happy to have a little smudge or tear instead of a smoking hole.

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