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Hand-knotted, hand-tufted & machine-made rugs: what’s the difference?

Hand-knotted, hand-tufted & machine-made rugs: what’s the difference?

Of the three, only hand-knotted rugs are “handmade” with a skilled weaver individually tying every single knot to create intricate patterns.

What is a hand-knotted rug?


Hand-knotted rugs are the cream of the crop when it comes to area rugs and carpets. Artisans construct hand-knotted rugs completely by hand, using only individual strands of fabric. They can take up to an entire year to complete depending on the design, size, and skill of the artisan. They truly are ‘handmade’ rugs.

What is a hand-tufted rug?

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Hand-tufted rugs are made using a tufting tool to punch the yarn into a fabric backing to hide the glue that is holding the rug together. In the process, a stencil canvas is stretched behind so the design can be traced/punched into the rug. The tufting gun speeds up the process significantly and very little skill is needed to complete a tufted rug.

What is a machine-made rug?

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Machine made rugs are made by large machines called power looms. A power loom is electrically automated and controlled by computers. Machine made rugs can be made quickly and are manufactured with materials including wool and synthetic fibers such as polypropylene, nylon, polyester, acrylic and art silk.

What’s the difference between hand-knotted, hand-tufted & machine-made rugs?

  1. Hand-knotted rugs are typically made from natural materials such as cotton, silk, wool and jute. Hand-tufted rugs also use natural materials. Both types of rugs commonly use wool. Machine-made rugs predominantly use synthetic materials, such as polyester, nylon, and polypropylene. Every now and then, wool, silk, cotton will be used to produce a machine-made rug, but this doesn’t happen as frequently.

  2. When it comes to appearance, hand-knotted rugs have the most “handmade” and organic appearance. They have slight imperfections and variations that show they have been made by hand. Hand-tufted rugs are all but indistinguishable from their hand-knotted cousins when seen from the front, though there aren’t as many imperfections. Since they’re made with calibrated and programmed machines, every machine-made rug is perfectly uniform. Rough angles and design imperfections are hard to find.

  3. Hand-knotted and hand-tufted tend to be thicker and coarser to the touch. When you squeeze them from the front and look, they are resistant to compression. Machine-made rugs are smoother, and the fibres have good compression.
  4. While a rug’s durability depends on how you care for it and its usage, hand-knotted rugs are by far the most durable, followed by machine-made rugs. Hand-tufted rugs are the least durable. Generally, the greater the knot intensity (number of knots), the more durable the rug will be.
  5. Hand-knotted rugs are most expensive because of the craft and effort that goes into making every rug. The price of a hand-tufted rug is lesser as it requires less time to make. Machine-made rugs are typically the most affordable.

What’s your favourite type of rug? Or would you like to know more about rugs from an expert? Walk into one of our stores for a wide range of hand-knotted, hand-tufted and machine-made rugs, understanding the difference between each and finding one that is perfect for your home or office.

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