If you are new to rugs, it may be difficult to differentiate between the three types available. With some rug types being far more valuable and desirable than others, it is important to be able to distinguish between them. The three types of rugs are Hand-knotted, Hand-tufted, and Machine-made. Below, we will look at these three varying types of rug, the differences between them, and how you can tell what type of rug you are looking at.
What is a Hand-knotted Rug?
A Hand-knotted rug, also referred to as Oriental rugs
, is a rug that is made by hand on a specialized loom. The process of making a Hand-knotted rug is incredibly taxing. The method itself requires the weaver to insert knots into the rug and tie them each by hand. The entire process is taxing, yet the end result is worth it by far. A thorough amount of care is poured into the weaver’s technique to preserve both the quality and aesthetics of the rugs. Because of this careful construction, Hand-knotted rugs will often last for hundreds of years compared to hand-tufted and machine made rugs. Hand-knotted rugs are considered a work of art— so much thought is put into their design and construction. Since Hand-knotted rugs are not mass produced, each one is unique and a direct reflection of the weaver’s creative design. These rugs are often quite valuable and can be passed down from generation to generation—an heirloom quality that is rarely found in any form of product.
What is Hand-tufted Rug?
A Hand-tufted rug is not fully hand made. Instead, a person wields a mechanized tool that is used to shoot pieces of wool through a canvas backing. This canvas’ backing has an outline drawn upon it that the wielder fills in. This is different than knotted rugs in that strands are not knotted into the wool. While Hand-tufted rugs have a handmade look, they do not retain the pedigree of a Hand-knotted rug. For example, area rugs that are hand knotted may take 6-9 months, but a Hand-tufted area rug may take only a day. The shorter amount of time keeps the price low at the expense of quality. Because of this difference in value, it is important to pay careful attention to the differences between a hand-tufted rug and a hand-knotted rug.
What is a Machine-made Rug?
Machine-made rugs are extremely cheap, low effort rugs. They are forged by large machines called power looms which wrap individual fibers around foundation threats and presses them together. Depending on the quality of fiber use, they will usually only last about 20 years or less. Machine rugs are easily replaceable, and they are made incredibly fast. They are not considered art and usually have no real value.
How can you tell the differences?
The Back of the Rug:
The more detail on the back of the rug, the better the quality. Hand-knotted rugs do not have any type of backing to them. Essentially, a Hand-knotted rug could be flipped over and used without any differences. With Hand-tufted and Machine-made rugs, a latex coating is applied to the back of the rugs to hold their tufts in place. The applied coating is then covered over by another layer of fabric, that usually being a canvas material. Since the difference between the back of these rugs is so glaring, flipping the rug over is by far the easiest way to identify it.
Symmetry and Design:
A Hand-knotted rug will be symmetrical on both the front and the back. A machine made rug will be uniform as well, though it will not have any kind of design on the back of the rug. Hand-knotted rugs are very unique in their design, as each one is hand crafted to be entirely original rather than mass produced. This makes Hand-knotted rugs one of a kind and beautiful works of art.
The ends of the knots on the back of a Hand-knotted rug will be slightly uneven and not completely uniform. For a Machine-made rug, the ends of the knots will be completely even; however, the knots on a Machine-made rug are not really “knots” at all. Instead, power looms are used to secure fibers to the base of the rug by sticking them into the fabric using heat and high pressure. While this process is much quicker than tying individual knots by hand, it is not nearly as durable. The fibers in a Machine-made rug are prone to pulling out over time. In a Hand-knotted rug, the knots holding the rug together are extremely tight and are known to last for centuries without ever coming undone or fraying.
Fringe of the Rug:
In a Machine-made rug, the fringe of the rug is sewn on at the end of the process and serves no function in holding the rug together. When making a Hand-knotted rug, each knot in the rug is secured to a warp thread that naturally forms the fringe of the rug. Unlike Machine-made, the fringe on a Hand-knotted rug essential to the rug’s construction. If the fringe of a rug appears to be sewn on and not a naturally occurring component of the rug’s design, then you are looking at a Machine-made rug.
Strength of the Rug:
The quality of the knots alone makes Hand-knotted rugs far more durable than Machine-made rugs or Hand-tufted rugs. With the latter two, the tufts of the rug are prone to being pulled out from the foundation of the rug. With a Hand-knotted rug, the fibers are held in place with tightly woven knots that do not pull out over time.
Hand-knotted rugs are also made of higher quality materials. Most Hand-knotted rugs are made of either wool or a silk and wool blend, two thoroughly durable materials. Wool specifically has been shown experience up to 10,000 bends before breaking.
Machine-made rugs on the other hand are made using synthetic materials such as nylon or polyester. While these materials are inexpensive, they are little more than plastic and are easily prone to breaking. Materials such as these are shown to only be able to withstand a few hundred bends during testing.
Because of the strength of the rug, the uniqueness of its design, and the quality of the materials used, a Hand-knotted rug is by far the superior choice if you are searching for a beautiful, functional work of art that will last for generations to come.