How get a puckered rug to lie flat


(Reader photo)
March 19

Question: In my dining room, I have a kilim rug that’s about 8 feet by 11 feet. When I had it cleaned, the warp threads shrank, as they often do in handwoven fabrics, and the rug became so rippled it was dangerous to walk on. I tried putting it on my couch, but as I’m allergic to wool, that meant I couldn’t sit there. So I left it flat for a while in a fairly humid environment. It seemed to relax a bit and I put it back in the dining room. But while the central area is now flat, the side edges remain wrinkled. How can I treat them to avoid tripping without also damaging the rug?

— Silver Spring

Answer: Andrew Ayoub, the manager at Ayoub N&H Carpet & Rug in Kensington (240-430-0994; www.furniturerugcleaning.com), suggests turning the rug over if the design looks good on both sides, as kilim rugs often do. If reversing the rug isn’t sufficient, the next step would be to have the rug blocked, a process that involves stretching it slightly and applying a small amount of moisture. His shop charges $1 a square foot for this service — about $90 for a rug the size of yours.

If the wrinkles persist, you can have a strip of vinyl attached to the underside of the curled edges. Because it would be stitched on, the process is reversible and therefore shouldn’t damage your rug. Ayoub N&H Carpet & Rug charges $20 per linear foot for this treatment. So if the curled edges are along the carpet’s narrow width, the cost would be about $320 (for 16 linear feet). If the long edges are wrinkled, it would be $440.

Question: I have a watercolor painting that has what appears to be mold behind the glass. The spots are white on the painting and light brown on the mat, and they vary in size from pinhead to a quarter-inch. Is there a way to remove the spots without damaging the painting? The painting was done by my father in the 1930s. It’s not valuable enough to take to a conservator, so I am hoping to treat it myself.

— Bethesda

Answer: Even though you don’t consider the painting valuable enough for professional conservation, you’d be wise to start by getting advice from just such a person. Most conservators give free estimates. The American Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works has a free “find a conservator” service on its Web site, www.conservation-us.org, that allows you to search for experts close to where you live. For watercolors, you need a “paper conservator.” A “paintings conservator” deals with oil paintings.

Ingrid Rose, a paper conservator in Washington (202-364-0599; miltonrose9@gmail.com), said people shouldn’t be bashful about asking for an estimate even if they assume a work isn’t valuable enough for professional treatment. “I learn from everything that comes through my shop,” she said. “And if I can help educate people about the need for conservation framing and materials, I’ve done my job.”

Rose said the brown spots on the matting are what is known as “foxing,” which can be caused by mold or metallic impurities in the matting. Replacing the matting with new, conservation-rated material would be the easiest solution for that.

The white spots on the watercolor itself are more of a mystery because they indicate that something removed bits of the pigment. (There is no white in watercolors; artists have to be careful to leave the paper showing where they want white areas.) Rose said there could be something in the paper that leached and ate into the pigment. “But I would really need to see it to answer that question.”

Have a problem in your home? Send questions to localliving@washpost.com . Put “How To” in the subject line, tell us where you live and try to include a photo.

The Checklist: Read Jeanne Huber’s month-by-month roundup of home-improvement tasks at washingtonpost.com/home.

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