How to Repair a Carpet With Carpet Patching

Repairing Carpet
Repairing Carpet. Getty / wakila

When your carpet has small areas that need repairing, you might be pleased to hear that patching is a simple, economical and reasonably effective method of giving your carpet new life again.

Before You Begin

Carpet patching works wonders for small, localized spots that are frayed, worn, scorched or stained beyond repair. It is most effective on areas that are 1 sq. ft. or less in size, and which are not numerous.

If you have larger sections and/or numerous sections, you may want to consider re-carpeting the entire room. The reason: patches will reasonably blend in with the rest of the carpeting, but they will never be completely invisible.

Tools and Materials

  • Donor carpeting (discussed in detail below)
  • Seam roller (preferred) or an old comb
  • Double-sided carpet tape (adhesive, not head-bond tape)
  • Carpet knife or utility knife
  • Small remnant carpet to fix donor area

Instructions for Installation

Carpet patching is a simple system of carefully cutting out the damaged area and replacing it with a patch of donor carpet of the same size. Because the donor area is filled in either with remnant carpet or left unrepaired, carpet patching is considered an overall improvement, but not a perfect fix, for your carpeting as a whole.

Identify Donor Carpet

Donor carpet should be the same exact type of carpeting as the damaged area.

Patches made with anything other than this–even patches that are close in color or pile–will be glaringly obvious. First, try sourcing from remnants:

  • Remnants left over from the original installation. You may find these laying around in a garage, attic or basement.
  • Remnants that you purchase from a carpet store. For this, you would need to have information about the brand and style of your current carpet in order to match it. Visually matching is not dependable.

    If you cannot source from remnants, you will need to cut out small pieces of your existing carpet from hidden areas in the house. In order of preference, ideas include:

    • Clothing or linen closets
    • Water heater or furnace closets
    • Under staircases
    • Under furniture that you do not expect to move, such as a media cabinet
    • Under beds

    Cut Out Damaged Section

    Use an awl or capped pen to establish a square around the damaged area. Press the instrument into the carpet between the tufts and drag it. This separates the tufts and minimizes the amount of tufts that will get cut.

    Use your carpet or utility knife to cut the carpet along the lines of the square. Try your best to cut only the backing of the carpet, avoiding tufts. Carefully remove. If any carpet fibers remain attached, cut them rather than pull them.  

    Obtain Donor Carpet

    Take the piece that you cut out over to your donor carpet area. Lay the piece on top of the donor carpet. Use the top piece as a template and draw around it with the awl or pen.

    Similar to the previous step, cut out the donor carpet, making sure that you cut backing without cutting tufts.

    Decide on Nap Direction and Test Donor Piece

    Carpeting is milled so that its nap runs in one direction.

    Run your hand across the carpet in several different directions to see which way the carpet nap naturally lies (this does not apply to low pile carpets like berber or trackless). Establish direction on the donor piece as well. Set the donor piece in the correct direction next to the area that you will fix and make sure that it does not move.

    Apply Tape

    Carpet tape has adhesive on both top and bottom. Because it is extremely sticky, you only get one chance to stick it on the carpet. If you stick it on the wrong area, it is best to rip off the tape, discard it and begin with a fresh piece.

    With the protective paper still in place, cut four strips of carpet tape to cover the perimeter of the patch area. If the patch area is 4 sq. in. or less, cut only two strips–one for each side.

    Remove protective paper from one side of each strip as you apply it to the bottom of the carpet patch area, sticking it to the floor.

    Place all four strips, then remove the protective paper from the top of all strips. Press down to stick.

    Smooth Out and Blend In

    Using the carpet roller, comb, or even a dry cloth, rub across the carpeting in all directions to blend in the patch with the rest of the carpeting. Pay special attention to the edges.

    Patch Donor Area or Leave As-Is

    If the donor area is not visible, you can leave it unpatched. A better method is to patch it, using the above method, with a best-match remnant carpet.