An Essential Rug Repair Guide for Fine Rug Owners

This is the era of DIY, and the internet can make it seem as if any type of project, repair or restoration can be done by even the most inexperienced. However, that is not true of all things, and fine rug repairs and restorations are definitely among them. Though most rug owners will be able to learn how to handle things like spot cleaning and stain prevention, true rug repair and restoration is best left to experts.

In this guide, we’ll look at what it takes to do the most common repairs, and you will quickly see why it is a wise idea to hire a professional rather than attempt them yourself. At Smart Choice Rug Care, we offer comprehensive rug repair and restorations for times when you need experienced professionals to help you save and restore your beautiful rugs.

Rug Repair Types

It can be confusing to speak with an expert in rug repairs and restorations without first knowing what you are asking them for, and the most common types of repairs include:

Time is of the Essence with Rug Repairs

Regardless of the type of repairs or restorations needed, it is usually a case of “the sooner the better”. The longer you delay in getting essential repairs, the worse the damage. So, even if you see only hints of fringe loss or thinning, contact the team at Smart Choice immediately and get the essential repairs done.

To help you identify the issues with your fine rugs, we are going to look at the most common repairs listed above and how rug experts will make the repairs.

Fringe Repairs

Whether or not you appreciate fringe on a rug, you should know that it is often part of that rug’s foundation. Rugs are woven on the warp. These are the threads that are strung on the loom and through which the weaver will work the pattern using hand-knotting, hand-tufting, hand-hooking or flat weaving. They use weft threads to hold knots in place. The fringes of the rug are the warp threads that remain when the rug is cut from the loom.

Clearly, any issues with the fringe mean that the rug’s foundation could be compromised, and it is imperative to get rug repairs done immediately. It does not matter if the fringe is short or worn away or it is long and abundant, it is essential to the life of the rug.

Professional rug cleaners are not big fans of fringe because it catches so much dirt and debris and is often quite filthy. And as experts typically agree, fringe actually has little to no impact on the overall value of any rug. Why? Because it is typically viewed more as a byproduct than intentional element of design. Do keep in mind, though, that untied, torn, worn away and damaged knots can actually cause unraveling, which DOES have an effect on the rug’s value.
The repairs most often done include:
  • Re-fringing/ Re-inserting fringe – Done by hand, this is a costly repair that is highly recommended for fine rugs. As it sounds, it replaces takes the existing warp threads (those that run the entire length of the rug and are the foundation of the rug) and re-works the rows to ensure every knot is stable and fringe secure. It means working new threads into the existing knots, and often shortens the rug slightly, but is a fully restorative solution.
  • Replacement of worn fringe – Than can be done by hand or machine and uses a pre-fabricated fringe. It is not the best way to preserve the value or integrity of the rug. However, some experts can use an array of hand stitching to stop the area from unraveling and then add the replacement fringe.
  • Binding and rebuilding fringes – Sometimes, the damage has gone beyond the types of repairs already mentioned. For example, a rug may have become un-knotted as well as losing the fringe. This may mean that binding it with hand or machine techniques becomes necessary for halting damage. This type of edge or end repair will halt any further loss of fringe and/or warp threads.
The ends of the rug, i.e. the fringe areas, are different from the longer edges. These may also need repairs or restoration, and it is helpful to understand the options.

Reweaving Repairs

As noted, rugs can be hand-tied, hand-tufted, hand-woven and so on. Almost any may face wear that causes them to lose knots or tufts at any point. There are different repairs needed depending on just where the damage appeared.

Side and Edge Repairs

Not all rugs have fringe. Some are finished with heavy stitching on all four sides. If a rug begins to unravel at the edge or sides, the fringe ends have to be repaired or restored first, and then the edges are fixed using the methods below:
  • Overcast Stitching – This is the most common method used for side and edge repairs (including fringe repairs). It can be called a “lock stitch” because when it is done properly it halts any unraveling along the ends or edges. The threads are woven between weft threads along the edges and is ideal for hand-woven rugs. Quite often, further repairs may be built on this stitching, i.e. attaching replacement fringe, and so on.
  • Hem Stitching – This is used along the ends of the warp threads to prevent further knot loss. It secures the end of the rug and blocks knots from working themselves free in the future.
  • Re-Wrapping – It is, as it sounds, a stitch commonly used along the edge of a rug to form a sort of wrapping. In most hand-made rugs, the weft threads are wrapped around a cord that runs the entire length of the rug. Re-wrapping is used when a section has become raveled or exposed and threatens the rug’s stability.
Usually, a strong material like wool or silk is applied by hand, with a stitch that is dense, tight and even. Not only does it give the edge a finished appearance but inhibits any further unravelling. With finer rugs, the materials used will be matched to any existing threads or dyed to ensure an even finish.
  • Selvedge Repairs – The selvedge is another name for the long edges of a rug, and doing them when new and/or small is best. If ignored, selvedge repairs will lead to much more damage and a re-wrapping or re-binding of the entire edge. Most rugs feature a single-edge selvedge though there are decorative double or triple ended sides.
  • Binding Selvages – Not all rugs are originally finished with a heavy selvedge or wrapped edge. Should a side repair require extensive work, a binding of the entire selvedge (long edge) may be necessary. This is often done by hand using a combination of overcast or wrapping stitches.
  • Fix Selvage Wear – Side repairs can mean fixing selvage wear that is a combination of issues. The edge itself may have worn and unravelled, and this may have exposed the body of the rug (warp and weft) to damage. At such times, reweaving may (see the next section – Foundation Repairs) be needed along with binding or rewrapping of selvedge.
  • Repair Flatweaves – Rugs without pile are known as flatweaves. They are made of tens of thousands of hand-tied knots. When repairing their ends and edges, it often means taking steps to prevent knot loss and further damage to warp or weft threads. Essentially, it will use a mixture of methods, including binding selvages, replacing fringe and more.
Though unraveling along the ends and edges is problematic, it is quite common. The team at Smart Choice can use the best techniques for your particular rug, preserving its beauty and value. However, some of the more severe damages occur in what is known as the “field” or body of the rug. This is often when foundation or pile repairs are put to use.

Foundation Repairs

Whether from heavy traffic, furniture being placed in one spot and never moved, or other issues, field repair also usually means foundation repairs. The foundation is, essentially, the warp and weft threads. The warp threads are like the skeleton of any rug, and should anything damage or harm them, it requires specific treatments. Pile repairs are usually incorporated into foundation repairs because the pile of any rug is the density of the fibers used. Most hand-knotted rugs or handwoven rugs have shorter pile, or very little density.

These include:

  • Re-Knotting – This is always a preferable foundation fix because it usually means that the warp threads are in place and strong enough to hold the repair and it is simply a matter of re-knotting pile stitches. Re-knotting pile will require matching of materials and creating identical knots to recreate the pattern and density of the rug. Some trimming may be required to match the new materials to the original.
  • Reweaving Holes – Whether it is unraveling, burns, wear, insects or anything else that creates a hole, it takes an expert to know how to restore the rug to its original look and condition. The area of unraveling has to be inspected for damage and some knots and threads may need to be removed so replacement warp or weft threads may be added.
Careful matching of materials, colors, patterns and re-piling or flat weaving techniques are used to restore the rug to its original appearance. This may require foundation implants and re-weaving of individual knots to restore the pattern, stability and good looks of the rug.
  • Rug Tear Repair – Identical to hole repair, repairing torn areas of a rug requires consideration of the foundation (warp and weft), the pile and the proper replacement materials. Patching works only if the foundation is strong enough to hold the new threads. It may require more of the foundation to be exposed in order to make the strongest repair possible.

Rug reconstructing” may be a service required, and it includes a combination of the steps we have already looked at in previous sections in addition to some foundation repair, pile repairs and reweaving.

As one expert noted, “It takes skill and the right materials… is done entirely by hand. Progress is slow”. New warp and weft threads may be sewn in place, matching yarns are used to create new knots and the pile is matched by careful trimming, blocking and finishing.

And whether your rug needs pile repairs, fringe repairs, foundation repairs, flat weaving done, or a combination of them, it is best to work with experts like the team at Smart Choice.

Color Repairs

And what if there is something wrong with the color of the rug? Color restoration is always an option, but it is a very specialized service. The team at Smart Choice has expertise in this delicate area, and some of the more common repairs they offer include:
  • Re-dyeing – This is work done carefully, by hand, by a dye master using authentic materials and colors. It can fix faded or discolored carpets and is an ideal choice when a rug has only minimal color loss or bleed. Color restoration can also be done on larger areas with specialty gear, and even to entire rugs.
  • Rug Sheering – A common fix for faded and discolored carpets is to do a light sheering procedure. This is done by hand and removes uneven pile, fuzz, and areas of discoloration to give even a worn out rug a new and brighter finish. Rug shearing is also used with blocking and stretching (below).
Rugs also face potential harm from insects, in addition to basic wear and tear. You will want to know how to address those issues, too.

Bug Damage Repairs

The moth proofing process may be as simple as regular vacuuming and cleaning. However, even with regular care and cleaning, it may not be enough to prevent bug or moth damage to a rug. This is because moth larvae have a short life cycle and may do damage long before you know there is a risk.

The team at Smart Choice offers moth proofing services that include specialty cleansing and treatments designed to kill moth larvae and carpet beetles. Once damage is done, it often means foundation repairs, re-knotting pile, and more. The good news is that you can schedule regular cleanings and inspections, pre-empting bugs from damaging your rugs. If they do some damages, the sooner you act, the better the outcomes.

Other Repairs

Lastly, there is the issue of the rug that warps or wrinkles due to any number of reasons. It could be from improper cleaning techniques, exposure to humidity or water, and even regular use. Should you face such problems, the best remedies include professional:
  • Rug Blocking & Stretching – This is done using a combination of tools and techniques. The pile is brushed smooth and the rug is rolled tightly to begin straightening the threads. It is then blocked using a specialized machine that irons and flattens it slowly and without harming the foundation or the pile.
  • Rug Resizing – A rug that is wrinkled or damaged can also be resized. This may be done by hand or machine and result in a single smaller or even two separate rugs. It is a way to salvage damaged rugs and calls for expertise and skill. You can also find experts who may increase the size of a rug by copying the pattern and creating borders that are a perfect match.
The team at Smart Choice Rug Care can provide any of the repairs or restorative methods described in this guide, and more. Whether it is cleaning and maintenance or any kind of repair, the team is ready to ensure even the finest rugs look their best, retain their value, and remain in the best shape possible. The sooner you get in touch, the faster your rugs can be in the best condition possible.