Q: There's a 3-inch scorch mark on my wall-to-wall carpeting where an ember from the fireplace landed. How can I make it go away?
—Dan Largesse, Danbury, Conn.
A: Tom Silva replies: Fortunately, you don't have to buy new carpet or even rearrange the furniture to cover isolated damage from burns, red wine stains, and other blemishes. For the price of a patch kit, some glue, and a star roller—about $30 total—you can make an invisible repair that will last the life of the carpet.
The basic kit, available at flooring distributors and online, includes a hockey-puck-sized carpet cutter and adhesive disks to glue the patch in place. The cutter slices out the damaged section and an identically sized replacement patch. If you don't have any leftover scraps, harvest a patch from the back of a closet, beneath a radiator, or under furniture that's rarely moved.
Patch repairs work best on plush, tufted pile with no patterns that require matching. Follow the steps on the next page, and you'll be done in about half an hour.
Make an imprint
Rub your hand over the carpet surrounding the damaged section, and note which direction makes the carpet fibers stand up. Place the cutter, without blades, over the damaged area, and make three clockwise turns to push aside a ring of carpet fibers and expose the backing. Repeat these steps, including the rubbing, in the area where you'll be extracting the patch.
Get the tool ready
Screw on the cutter blades so that they will slice through the backing when the cutter is turned clockwise. Attach the pivot screw; it should project from the cutter as far as the blades do.
Line up the cutter with the circular impression made in Step 1. Push down until the pivot screw punches through
the backing (you'll hear a pop). Rotate the cutter two or three turns with firm, even pressure. (Avoid making too many turns or you may slice through the padding that supports the patch.) Remove the damaged piece, then use the same method to cut out the replacement patch. Draw an arrow on the back of the patch pointing in the direction you rubbed the fibers to make them stand up.
Stick the disk
Remove the protective backing from
the adhesive disk, and dampen the disk with cool water to temporarily neutralize the glue. The disk is slightly larger than the patch, so open the slit in the disk and slide its edge under the carpet between the backing and the padding, as shown. When the adhesive becomes tacky, in about 3 to 5 minutes, press down on the carpet around the disk's edge.
Install the patch
Pluck out any loose carpet fibers around the edge of the hole and the surrounding carpet. Place a narrow bead of carpet-seam glue along the perimeter of the cutout. Align the arrow on the patch with the direction of the fibers in the rest of the carpet, and stick the patch down firmly onto the disk. You have 15 minutes to make adjustments before the glue sets.
Blend the fibers
Straddle the edge of the patch with a star roller, and press down firmly as you steer it twice around the perimeter of the patch. Next, push the roller over the patch from different directions until the seam disappears. Let the adhesive cure for 24 hours before you vacuum or walk on the patch.