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Thursday, March 25, 2010

Hand Made vs Machine Made Rugs

Hand knotted Rug in Ikat style design

How to tell the difference between a hand made and a machine made rug

To an untrained eye it may be difficult to tell the difference between hand knotted, hand made and machine made rugs. This guide will help you understand the differences.

Hand Knotted Rugs

Parts of a hand knotted rug

Hand knotted rugs are made on a specially designed loom and are knotted by hand. The rug weaver inserts the "knots" into the foundation of the rug and they are tied by hand, this makes up the "pile" of the rug. (Click here to read our post about the knot count of hand knotted rugs.) 

Hand knotted rugs can be made of wool, cotton, silk, jute and other natural materials. Silk is sometimes used in wool rugs for the outlines or highlights of the pattern to enhance the design. Hand knotted and hand woven rugs can last many generations if they are of good quality and properly maintained.

Flat Weave or Hand Woven Rugs

Flat Weave Rugs have no pile

There is also a category of hand made rugs called "flat weave." These rugs are hand woven in a flat weave pattern and there is no pile.

A typical small rug loom for hand knotted or flat woven rugs

Machine Made Rugs

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, acrylic and art silk. Machine made rugs can offer a lower price alternative to hand knotted rugs. Machine made rugs usually have a life span of about 20 years. There are exceptions if the rug is high quality and well maintained, it can hold up for much longer. Machine made rugs are generally not of any value to a collector.

Back of a machine made rug. Note the uniformity of the stitching which is done by a machine

Hand Crafted Rugs or Hand Tufted Rugs

Hand tufted rugs are another type of rug that is considered hand made or hand-crafted. This particular type of rug is made using a modified hand held drill gun that inserts the pile into a cloth foundation which creates a loop pile. If the loop pile is sheared, it then becomes a cut pile. The loop pile rug, if not sheared, is called a "Hand-Hooked" rug. Some designs have both loop and cut pile combined to create a dimensional effect to the pattern. A latex coating is then applied to the back of the rug to hold the "tufts" in place. A canvas type fabric is then applied over the latex coating to finish the back of the rug. 

These rugs have a hand made look but they cost much less because using the gun speeds up the process dramatically. For example a good quality 8' x 10' hand knotted rug might take about 10 to 14 months, while the same size rug made in a hand-tufted method might take one day. 

Although Hand Tufted rugs can be just as beautiful as hand knotted rugs, they typically are not of value to a rug collector or someone who is looking to buy an Oriental rug as an investment. 

Back of a Hand Tufted Rug

Look at the Back of the Rug 

One of the best ways to tell the difference between hand knotted and machine made rugs is to look at the back of the rug. In hand knotted rugs the weaving and the knots will be slightly uneven and not perfectly uniform. On the other hand, a machine made rug will look very uniform and perfectly even. The more detail in the design when looking from the back, the better the quality of the rug. 

Back of a Hand Knotted Rug. Note the fringe is part of the rug.

Back of a Machine Made Rug. Note that the fringe is sewn on.

Look at the Fringes of the rug 

Another way to determine if a rug is hand knotted or machine made is to look at the fringes. As you can see from the picture above, the fringe of a Machine made rug is sewn on and is attached as a finishing touch. 

The fringe of a hand knotted rug is an extension of the rug foundation, as in the picture below.

The foundation of a Hand Knotted rug becomes the fringes.

We hope this has been helpful! Come by our showroom and we will be happy to help you find the perfect rug for your home or office!

Mark Gonsenhauser's Rug and Carpet Superstore

4153 Virginia Beach Blvd.
Virginia Beach, VA 23452
Cleaning Dept: 757-333-1010
Store: 757-486-6600

Website: http://www.igotyourrug.com/

Proudly providing you with Hand knotted, Hand crafted and Machine made rugs for the Hampton Roads cities of Virginia Beach, Norfolk, Chesapeake, Portsmouth, Suffolk, Hampton, Newport News. 


  1. great information very professional web site and accurate photos and info...

  2. I purchased a rug 13 yrs ago at auction that is 9 x 12 Wool and Rayon, banded around it , with a tag that says The Treasure Chest Mutual, Inc. SEAL OF QUALITY, Famous Hand Hooked Rugs,PRODUCERS FOR OVER A QUARTER CENTURY, Made and Distributed by the Native People of the Blue Ridge Mountains of Western North Carolina, Contents: Rayon & Wool, Pattern #803 Size 9 x 12 ,The Treasure Chest Rugs Are Made Of Fine Materials by Skilled Workers, Care Of Your Hooked Rug, Clip off all loose ends as they appear. DO NOT PULL. After use loose ends will not continue to appear. Return to the Treasure Chest for cleaning, at cleaners cost, or send to reliable cleaners. Dry Clean , DO NOT WASH. THE TREASURE CHEST MUTUAL, INC. 45 Broadway Asheville, N.C. P,O, box 7377.

    Now I need help here because the dry cleaners here where I live sends all their stuff to a place in Madison called Zooroofies and they won't touch this unless I insure it for 5 grand ? Any type of repair is $500 and just to clean it is the same. This is the information I have gathered from an auctioneer in Asheville. The Treasure Chest Mutual,Inc and the Log Cabin was owned by two brothers Hugh and Edwin Brown in 1926 then they merged into a business with a Lashley and called themselves and their business The Three Mountaineers. So help me, what is this rug really worth ? Why is this not considered a hand hooked rug ? Here is the website address for you to look at



    Only information on the world wide we on the rug I have is written by a college student !

  3. It sounds like it is hand made. I would make sure it is covered under your home owners insurance. Without seeing it in person there is no way to answer your questions.

  4. SO I am currently in Afghanistan, in the army, and have the oppertunity to buy a rug for my wife. Obviously I want an authentic one. I looked at some today and still had a hard time figuring out if they are hand made or machine. Any more advice? Some were obvious and some looked handmade but the fringe looked added.


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