How to Repair a Carpet With Carpet Patching
DIY carpet repairing made easy with donor patches
When your carpet has small areas that need repairing, the situation might look hopeless at first. Do you need to call in a carpet technician? Possibly, but you might be pleased to hear that you may be able to repair the carpet by yourself. Carpet patching is a simple, economical, and reasonably effective method of giving your carpet new life again by using what's called donor carpeting.
Repairing a Carpet With Donor Patches
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. If you cannot find a new donor piece, you'll need to search around the house for existing carpeting that can be cut out as donor patches.
New Donor Patches
- New remnants are often leftover from the original installation. It pays to thoroughly hunt your house for every possible source of new remnants, as they provide the best donor materials. You may find these lying around in a garage, attic, or basement.
- It may be possible to purchase remnants of the same carpet from a 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 go back to the store where you purchased the carpeting, they may have your order information on file.
Existing Donor Patches
If you cannot source from new 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 enclosed staircases
- Under furniture that you do not expect to move, such as a media cabinet
- Behind or under beds
- Under desks
- Open areas of carpeting that are out of the way
What You'll Need
Equipment / Tools
- Seam roller (preferred) or an old comb
- Carpet knife or utility knife
- Donor carpeting
- Double-sided carpet tape (adhesive, not heat-bond tape)
- Small remnant carpet to fix the donor area (optional)
Assess the Damaged Carpet
Carpet patching works best for small, localized spots that are frayed, worn, scorched, or stained beyond repair. It is most effective for areas that are 1 square foot or less in size and which are not numerous. If you have larger sections or numerous sections, you may want to consider re-carpeting the entire room.
Find the Donor Carpet
Ideally, the donor carpet should be a new version of the same 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 unused remnants of the same carpeting. While many homes do not have extra carpet, then the second option is to look in closets, under staircases, in pantries, or even under beds for the source material.
Mark the 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 number of tufts that will get cut.
Cut Out the Damaged Section
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 the section of carpeting. If any carpet fibers remain attached, cut them rather than pull them away.
Obtain the Donor Carpet
Take the damaged 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 the 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 carpets. Establish the 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 the Carpet Tape
Carpet tape has adhesive on both the top and the bottom. Because it is extremely sticky, carpet tape gives you only one chance to stick it down. 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 square inches or less, cut only two strips: one for each side.
Remove the protective paper from one side of each strip as you apply it to the floor in the patch area. Press firmly down to stick. Place all four strips, then remove the protective paper from the top of all of the strips.
Place Patch Down
Stick your carpet patch in the square where the tape is waiting to receive it. Press it firmly in place.
Blend the Patch With the Rest of the Carpet
Using the carpet roller, comb, or even a dry cloth, rub across the carpeting in all directions to blend the patch with the rest of the carpeting. Pay special attention to the edges. However, do not work the edges too hard or you risk ripping away valuable edge tufts.
Patch the Donor Area (Optional)
If the donor area is not visible, you can leave it unpatched, if you wish. A better method is to patch it, using the above method, with a best-match remnant carpet.
When to Call a Professional
You should call a carpeting technician to repair sections of damaged carpeting that are more than 1-foot square or if the carpeting and/or labor are still under warranty. If the patch area is in a highly prominent area, such as in the middle of a living room or home office floor, you may want to call a professional to ensure the smooth blending of the old carpeting with the new carpeting.