Rug Repair

Rugs are both functional and aesthetic. They need periodic cleaning and occasional repair. Here’s how it’s done. This Fix-It Guide on rug repair tells how a rug works, what often goes wrong, how to identify a rug problem, and what parts and tools you will need to fix a rug. It then gives simple step-by-step instructions for how to repair a cut in a rug, how to sew a frayed rug edge, how to repair a braided rug, and how to trim and bind a jute rug. See carpet repair for whole room or whole house carpet problems.

How Does a Rug Work?

A rug is a piece of thick heavy fabric, usually with a nap or pile, that is used as floor covering. Purists say that anything over 6 feet by 9 feet is a carpet (see the Carpet Repair Fix-It Guide). However, most decorators say that the primary difference between a rug and a carpet is that carpet is attached to the subfloor while a rug typically is not. Rugs vary from spot or area rugs to room-size rugs. They include rag rugs, braided rugs, woven rugs, jute rugs, oriental rugs, and others.

What Can Go Wrong with a Rug?

The edges of rugs fray. Braided rugs come unbraided. Some rugs need binding. Rugs get spilled on and burned. You can do minor repairs to a rug, but if the rug is valuable or the repair is major, look into professional help available through better rug dealers.

Fix-It Tip

An oriental rug is hand-made in Islamic countries (Turkey, Iran, Egypt) or in the Far East (India, China). If it looks like an oriental rug design but is machine-made or made elsewhere, it’s an oriental-design rug.

How Can I Identify a Rug Problem?

  • If there is a cut or tear in the rug, patch the back side with tape (see below) or sew it together.
  • If the edges of a rug fray, you can sew the edge (see below).
  • If a braided rug is coming un-braided, you can re-braid and rebind it (see below).
  • If a jute rug begins to fray at the edges, you can trim and bind the edge (see below).

Fix-It Tip

A braided rug is made of three strips of fabric that are braided together. The braid is then coiled and stitched to itself using linen thread.

What Do I Need for Rug Repair?

You can find rug repair materials and tools at fabric stores and sewing centers as well as the sewing department of larger household stores. In addition, some specialized rug shops carry tools and materials for repairing rugs. Here’s a starting list:

  • Rug Repair

    Push the fabric back through the cut to the top layer of the rug.

    Adhesive (duct) tape

  • Curved upholstery needle
  • Heavy-duty thread
  • Linen thread or monofilament (for braided rugs)
  • Cotton binding tape
  • Putty knife
  • Quality fabric scissors

What Are the Steps to Rug Repair?

Repair a cut in a rug:

  1. Turn the rug over and use a putty knife to push fabric back through the tear.
  2. With your hands, work the two edges together.

     Rug Repair

    Seal the cut with tape.two edges of the tear together.

  3. Seal the tear with tape.

Sew a frayed edge of a rug:

  1. Beginning about 1/4 inch from the damage, sew over the edge with an upholstery needle and heavy-duty thread of a matching color.
  2. Continue wrapping the thread around the frayed area until all the frayed area is covered.

Repair a braided rug:

  1. Remove damaged stitches holding the coil together and unwind the rug as needed.
  2. Remove any worn or damaged material and reattach as a continuous braid.
  3. Recoil the braid.
  4. Use an upholstery needle and linen thread to resew the coil with small, tight stitches.
  5. Reinforce the outer edges by attaching a strip of cotton binding tape to the perimeter using small, tight stitches.

Trim and bind a jute rug:

  1. Use heavy-duty shears to trim the frayed edge of the rug.
  2. Cut a strip of cotton binding tape 2 inches longer than the raw edge of the rug.
  3. Evenly fold the binding over the rug’s edge and secure it in place with cross-stitches (see the Sewing section of the Tools Fix-It Guide) through the binding and rug.
  4. Fold the opposite end of the binding under the rug and secure it with cross-stitches.

Fix-It Tip

You can clean your own rugs using household carpet and rug cleaner. However, if you are unsure of the material or outcome, consider having a commercial rug cleaner do the job.