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Depending on the size of the area to be repaired, there are several application methods that can be used for this step:
Applying the Dye
Most carpet color is composed of a combination of the three primary colors - red, yellow, and blue. A carpet that has one of the primary colors as its dominant color will still contain some of the others (e.g. a blue carpet will contain some degree of red and yellow). Therefore, when you observe a discoloration that needs to be dyed back to the original color, you must determine what color or colors are missing. For example, if you observe a slightly yellow discoloration on a medium-blue carpet, which colors are missing?
Obviously, blue will be the most dominant color missing, and the technician would want to replace that color first. However, there still would be some degree of red that would most likely need to be replaced. So, the general rule is, replace the most dominant missing color first when performing color repair.
There are two other considerations for the repair technician to be aware of when applying dye to the carpet fiber: The carpet in the area of repair should be thoroughly dried between applications of each color and, if the dye does not readily adhere to the fiber, the pH level of the fiber should be lowered to around 2 pH and the temperature of the dye bath should be raised to at least 150ºF (66ºC). Dye-adherence problems are most commonly found in stain-resistant carpet products and severely sun-faded areas.
Adjusting the Color
As dyes are applied to the color-repair area, sometimes they are applied too heavily or in uneven concentrations. There are several methods that can be used to adjust color during the repair:
Color-stripping agent. There are many quality products on the market that will serve to remove excess color with little effort.
Alkaline cleaner. A good-quality protein spotter that contains some ammonia generally works best for this step. It is best to apply the spotter to a dry towel and then agitate the area to be lightened. A light rinse with pH adjuster is necessary before continuing with dye correction.
Bleach. It is important to apply the bleach only to the area that you want to lighten, so a controlled application is critical. Use a small cotton swab or a pipette. As you apply the bleach to the affected area, make sure that you closely observe when the dark areas lighten sufficiently. When you observe that the excess color has been removed, liberally apply bleach neutralizer and extract the excess before continuing with the color repair.
Blend the color. The color repair technician may find it necessary to blend the repaired area and the surrounding original color by over-dyeing. This is a similar principle used by professionals that repair automobile paint surfaces when removing small scratches and dents. There are four situations that can occur when blending is necessary.
1. The repaired area is brighter than the original color of the carpet. Under this situation, a toning color must be applied to the carpet in the area of the color repair. Grey is the best color used for toning.
2. The repaired area is slightly darker than the original color of the carpet. Sometimes after correctly blending the missing primary colors to the original discoloration, the repaired area looks slightly darker than the rest of the carpet. Under this situation, a shading color must be used to apply to the surrounding pile areas only. Black is the best color used for shading.
3. The repaired area is not necessarily brighter or darker but is just slightly off color. Under this situation the repair technician can either continue applying the primary colors to adjust the repaired area or select a color that is similar to the original color of the carpet and apply a very light solution to the repaired area and surrounding areas (only enough to blend the color and diminish color differences).
4. As you perfect your skills as a color repair technician, you may develop a tendency to become "over critical" of your work. Most people who learn this valuable skill acquire the ability to see and detect imperfections that the average person does not see. You will find that, as you perform color repairs on carpet, there can be a tendency to become frustrated because there are still imperfections that you can see. It seems as though no matter what you try, you are not happy with what you see. Then the unexpected happens: The customer walks up to see what you have done and raves about how good it looks!
Now that you have the necessary knowledge to perfect your spot-dye skills, we will explore the concept of total room dyeing in the next issue.