FAQ's Oriental Rug & Carpet Repair

Updated: Oct 14

Maybe it's grandma's old hand-me-down Persian rug, tattered and forlorn by time, or a new rug used as a chew toy by a puppy, or recently discovered damage from wool months. At some point, your area rug needs cleaning and repair. Foot traffic is hard on rugs & carpets; here are the top questions our rug repair experts get asked about rug repair. Can rugs be repaired, and how to find a skilled local rug repair service?

Rug damaged by a dog
Oriental rug reweaving

Is My Oriental Rug Worth Repairing?

People often ask us, can you repair my rug? Before we get to this it helps to know the value and if it should repair. We calculate the value of rugs and carpets in three ways.

The first is market comparisons; what do similar rugs sell for in the marketplace? We work with most local retailers and have a quick call to NW Rugs, Kush Carpets, Tufenkian, or even our competitors at Atiyeh Brothers. The point is an area rug value is based on the market's aggregate, and we work in the local Portland rug marketplace and beyond. We know what reasonable rug values are locally and nationally.

The second gauge of value is decorative; A rug may have a value that makes repair illogical, but its esthetic or decorative appeal drives repairs. The retro design movement of 1960-70s drove the value of some rugs higher; it also legitimized repairs on rugs based on a vintage look outside the logic of a simple dollar value.

The third is sentimental; I can't put a price on an emotional attachment to a family rug. Some of the most valuable things we clean aren't dollar value but sentimental ones—some heartwarming and others heartbreaking. I once cleaned a carpet for an elderly Jewish man; he carried it out of Germany. His parents told him it was worth money; he could sell it for cash; obviously, he never did. The rug is one of the few physical tethers to his parents and the family he had left.

Often the value of a rug to its owner is a combination of all three of these, part collectible, part sentimental, and part decorative. Our goal is to get you to consider why you should repair a rug or why you shouldn't repair a rug. Sometimes it's better to put the money you'd spend on repairing a rug near the end of its usefulness towards buying a new rug.

Rug check-in and repair assessment at Renaissance Rug Clearing
An antique rug being assessed for repair

Can My Rug Be Repaired?

The simple answer is Yes, any rug or textile can be repaired or restored if you throw enough money at it. It's possible to spend ten thousand dollars and repair a two thousand dollar rug, but we don't suggest it.

Our goal is not to sell repairs. It's to distill our expertise into digestible information so you can make an educated and informed choice. Think of the Renaissace Rug repair team as rug therapists; how do you feel about your rug? What are your earliest memories of the rug? Where do you see this rug in the future, in your home?

Three Rug Repair Strategies.

The first is conservation. In conservation work, we try to maintain the textiles state as it is now while stopping or slowing further deterioration. Typically you'll hear terms like stabilizing or securing; these methods don't alter the rug as it is now; they seek to stave off further degradation. The pic below is end sewing it prevents the end from unraveling further.

end sewing an antique persian rug
Conservation work on an antique Afshar

This repair is fully reversible and no adhesives or machine work is used in our repairs. While not always possible, Ideally, this type of work shouldn't be visible and adds nothing visually to the textile, it's also fully reversible if need be without damaging the rug.

The second is alteration.

Alteration often changes the look and or the size of a rug. In the case of this Nepalese rug on the right, the client needed a smaller rug so it was cut and a new side cord is being built by hand to maintain the authentic look of the rug Vs. machine sewing and surging.

With traditional oriental rugs when a rug's end and sides are cut down matching intricate designs can be difficult to impossible. Additionally, cutting old rugs destroys their value we often advise against it.

The third is restoration. Restoring a carpet's original look, you will hear terms like reweaving and re-knotting. With restoration, we seek to take the rug back in time to add back what was lost. Restoration is the most expensive repair option; reweaving holes is costly and time-consuming. We do a fair amount of reweaving of old rugs. It's not something we suggest with every rug.

rug reweaving Turkish rug
Reweaving a hole in a Turkish Yatak

How Much Does Hand Rug Repair Cost?

Rug repair costs vary by the type of rug, type of repair, how much repair, how coarse or fine the weave, and materials needed, such as wool, silk, and viscose. In some cases, we need to spin and dye repair materials and ply or un-ply yarns to suit. Repair is often a complex set of factors. Since rugs come in many different weave qualities and structural styles, it's impossible to give a specific price.

Photo can helps get us in a to-start conversation about repair options and price range. Let me give you an example of how that conversation can change really fast; In one case, a dog chewed a five-inch hole in a rug and we quote based on photos. Once we got the rug to our shop, we found the rug was rotten and that five-inch repair was, in reality, a 2'x3' rotten area in the rug. Substantially more expensive repair than the five-inch repair we could see in the photos. It's always best for us to see the rug in person to lay our hands on it for an accurate repair cost.

Does My Rug Need To Be Cleaned Before Repair?

Yes, rugs need to be cleaned before repair. Embedded,

dirty rug dry soil removal
Dry soil from a rug

sandy, clay-like soils make it harder to sew into a rug. These sols are deeply embedded in the foundation of a rug as this pic shows.

Have you had a carpet cleaned and marveled at how bright the colors are after cleaning? That's because soil hides and obscures color. When we do a repair that requires yarn, we want to match the color to clean wool, not wool tinted by soils.

Hygiene. Rug resides on floors with foot traffic; they absorb soils, dander, hair, and lint, pets have accidents, and things get tracked across rugs. Oriental rug hide soil that's part of their charm they didn't look dirty but this soil was deeply embedded in the rug's foundation. Rugs can bring in moth and moth eggs. My repair personnel works for hours with hands and elbows resting on rugs and sometimes rugs in their laps.

rug cleaning service PDX
A dirty rug being cleaned

Another cleaner just cleaned my rug

Sometimes that's acceptable, and others, it's not. All cleaning isn't equal; having a carpet cleaner steam clean or shampoo your oriental rug at home doesn't get it clean. We require your rug to be adequately dusted and washed; we need to put the rug through a proper wash process to get embedded soils out.

Cleaning isn't negotiable; it's also out of my own hands. I have given sole discretion and authority to my repair staff on this matter.

Finding a Rug Repair Specialist

Seeking a qualified rug repair company isn't always easy. Not all rug cleaners are trained in hand repair of oriental rugs, and not all rug repair companies do authentic hand repair. A Google search for rug repair near me or rug repair companies pull up local companies that offer repair, but that doesn't always mean they know how to fix rugs by hand properly. Terms like rug serging and binding, rug repair glue, carpet adhesives, or companies with carpet fabrication departments.

That doesn't mean a company doesn't offer authentic hand repair, much like rug cleaning; it's best to visit a rug repair shop and ask lots of questions.

Make sure the rug cleaner rug repair people understand oriental rugs

We see it all the time carpet cleaners branch out and offer area rug and oriental rug cleaning as a side service, but they lack fundamental knowledge about woven rugs. These cleaners might even do a great cleaning with oriental rugs, but they

inappropriate rug repair, damages rug values
Handwoven rug machine work

lack an understanding of handwoven rugs' age, origins, values, and proper repair techniques.

Machine repair methods are often applied to handwoven rugs; cutting, glues, and adhesives are used with disastrously bad results. These cost-cutting machine methods destroy their value and ruin the aesthetics of handwoven carpets and often result in faster deterioration. The rug's owner often doesn't clearly understand the repairs until it's too late, as was the case of this Persian Sarouk rug. The ends cut, adhesives, machine serged, and a cotton fringe is sewn over the top a rug like this loses half or more of its value.

Hand rug repair is a skill that takes decades to master. It's not something learned in a class; rug restoration is a skill set entirely different from cleaning that takes decades to master.

Hand rug repair experts in Turkey
Rug Repair ATC Turkey

This picture is of a restoration workshop in Turkey; all of these workers began apprenticing in rug repair between 12-16 years of age. Good quality well, thought hand rug repair isn't a side hustle job, It's a highly skilled and specialized trade.

Does your fine oriental rug need this level of highly skilled hand repair? Maybe not, but the reality is that this level of repair isn't on the table for discussion in most cleaning companies; repair work is, at best basic and, in some cases, destructive.