2005 Guide to Home Repair: Carpet

In 1999, Chris Howell brought home a puppy for his daughter. The Howells had recently moved into a home with new wall-to-wall carpeting, and the puppy left stains in the middle of the living room.

Out, Out Darn Spot: Chris Howell, Color Your Carpet

Howell hired several carpet cleaners, but the stains survived. He was told there was nothing he could do.

He did some research and discovered a company called Color Your Carpet, which claimed to be able to remove stains and dye to match a carpet's original color family. "I called the president and I said, 'Look, I need this service, and if it works I'll buy a franchise,' " Howell says.

The company president visited from Florida, and Howell opened his franchise in 2000. He has since worked on carpets in the White House, the Maryland Senate Chamber, and the National Gallery of Art.

Color Your Carpet can dye faded wall-to-wall carpet back to its original color or completely change the color. By bleaching and re-dyeing stained areas, its stainexperts can also do spotrepairs.

Howell says the dye is odorless and guaranteed to last the life of the carpet, and you can walk on it less than a minute after it's applied. Most work costs between $1 and $1.50 a square foot, with a minimum charge of $150.

Howell developed an airbrush technique offered only at his franchise to restore color to patterned rugs, including Orientals, or dye designs into rugs and carpets. (Rug dealers recommend consulting an expert before doing anything permanent to a valuable rug.) Prices for this service vary.

Howell can add borders, logos, and other patterns. One customer ordered a rug dyed to look like a football field.

Homeowner advice: Spot cleaners can remove a carpet's dye along with the stain. Instead, mix eight ounces of warm water with one teaspoon of white vinegar and one or two drops of uncolored dish soap. Gently rub the solution into the stain with your fingers and then blot with a clean towel to dry. Don't use on Oriental and Persian rugs, though; water can cause the dye to bleed.

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