How to Repair Damaged Carpet

supplies for cutting a carpet patch
  • 1-2 hours
  • Beginner
  • 60-120
What You'll Need
Scissors or nail clippers
Carpet adhesive or double-sided tape
Carpet patch
Hair dryer
Spray bottle
Utility knife

When you've invested energy and money into your home, you want to make sure it stays in great condition for as long as possible That's why one of the most disheartening things that can happen is to get a stain or a burn on your carpet. However, just because your carpet has had an accident doesn't mean you need to replace it. You may be able to fix up or patch up the damaged section.

Repair Surface Stains or Burns

Repairing a minor burn or stain may be as simple as trimming the ends of the damaged carpet fibers. Using a sharp pair of scissors (like manicure scissors) or even a nail clipper, carefully trim the stained ends. Don't cut too much or too deep into the carpet or it will look like it got a bad haircut.

If the mark is deeper, you might need to borrow some carpet fibers. Remove the damaged fibers all the way down to the to the carpet backing, then cut some replacement carpet fibers from an out-of-the-way area, like in the back of a closet. Using a tooth pick, work carefully and slowly and put a drop of a clear waterproof adhesive on the base of each fiber, then attach it to the carpet backing. This process is slow and demanding - you don't want to get glue on any other fibers or you'll end up with a bunch of glued together carpet lumps - but it can save your carpet.

Resurrect Crushed Carpet

If your carpet has just been crushed under the weight of furniture, you can probably bring it back to life with a spray bottle of water and a hair dryer. Simply dampen (don't soak) the crushed fibers, and while drying them with the hair dryer, brush them up with your hand.

Replace a Damaged Section

If you have a stain that is deep into the fibers or covers a larger area, you're going to need to replace the damaged section. Hopefully you still have some remnants of carpet that you saved when it was originally installed, but if you don't, you can still get a replacement section from the back of that closet.

Remember, all carpet has a grain or texture as a result of the way it's manufactured. Brush it one way the fibers stand up, and brush it the other the fibers seem to lay down. You want to make sure that any replacement piece you use is positioned so the grain is running the same way as the rest of the carpet. Also, experts suggest that replacement pieces are less noticeable if they are cut in the shape of a triangle or a circle. Squares and rectangles somehow catch the eye.

Cut Your Replacement Piece

When it comes to actually cutting out the stained section, you have a couple of choices. You might use the lid from a can as a template. Nail the lid to the floor and using a sharp utility knife, cut around the edges of the lid. Use the same lid as a template to cut your replacement piece, and you will have a very close match.

A more accurate method is to lay your replacement piece right over the stained area (be sure the grain is running the right way), and then cut through both layers of carpet at the same time. This way, your replacement piece will exactly match the shape of the damaged section you're taking out.

Fasten the Replacement Piece

Double-sided carpet tape is the easiest method for fastening the patch in place. Stick the tape on the floor first, making sure it gets right to the edge of the hole, then peel the top section of the tape and put the patch into the hole. Carpet tape will hold the patch, but over time, it will dry and lose it stickiness. Plus, it won't stand up well to any moisture from cleaning your carpets.

An alternative method to fasten your patch is to use clear waterproof adhesive or clear silicon caulk. Either of these will stand up better over time and they won't be damaged by carpet cleaning liquids. Put the adhesive around the edges of the patch and press it into the hole. Here again, be sure you don't get any on the undamaged carpet fibers.

Brush the carpet fibers of the patch and the undamaged carpet together with your hand to remove the visible line where the patch meets the carpet. Put some weight on the patch (books make a good choice) and leave it for 24 hours.

Additional Information

When you cut out the damaged piece of carpet, save the piece of underlay that comes out. You will need to put it back into the hole to make sure the height of the patch is the same as the original carpet. If the underlay itself was damaged, you can use a piece of material like burlap as a substitute.

The shorter the pile of the carpet, the harder it is to make a patch invisible. Unfortunately, patching a carpet is unlikely to make it look as good as it did originally, but it will still look a lot better than a big stain or burn.

Murray Anderson is an experienced freelance writer with articles published in both the United States and Canada. He has written on a wide range of topics, but specializes in home maintenance and how to's.