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Several months ago we posted the first in our series on rug construction – Hand-tufted rugs. Today we’ll focus on machine-made construction.

    The Reverse side of a machine-made rug

    The Reverse side of a machine-made rug

A machine-made rug has several identifiable characteristics that distinguish it from a hand-knotted or hand-tufted rug. Like a hand-knotted rug the rug design will be visible from the back of the rug. However, unlike most hand-knotted rugs the design will be perfect with no odd knots, snags or bulges and will typically be characterized by clearly visible white threads that run throughout the length of the rug, giving the design a somewhat faded appearance (Image A). In some instances machine made rug manufactures have taken great care to conceal these threads to make it more difficult to determine if the rug is hand-knotted or machine made.

The next step is to look to the fringe of the rug. Fringe on a hand-knotted carpet is part of the structure of the rug, extending from the warp. On a machine made rug the fringe will be sewn to the body of the carpet (images B and C).

Fringe sewn to body of a machine made carpet

Fringe sewn to body of a machine made carpet

You can also find machine made rugs in a variety of man-made materials such as polypropylene, viscose, or in some cases recycled materials. The materials used will have a considerable impact on the cost. If a rug is made exclusively of a synthetic material it is almost guaranteed that it is not a hand knotted rug.

Finally, on a machine made rug the binding will typically be machine surged, will stick out and be highly visible (Image A). There are some exceptions to this rule. One of our favorite machine-made collections is the Persian Garden collection from Momeni, which has a hand-surged binding contributing to a more hand-made look.  On a hand knotted carpet the binding is always carefully wrapped around the selvage of the rug to keep the sides secure.

Reverse side of a hand-knotted carpet. Note imperfections in knotting, clarity of the rug design, and fringe as part of the rug construction.

Reverse side of a hand-knotted carpet. Note imperfections in knotting, clarity of the rug design, and fringe as part of the rug construction.

Due to the rapid production time of a machine made rug, the cost is often a fraction of what you would pay for a comparably sized hand-knotted rug. A machine made rug produced from good quality wool can last for decades, but will not hold value the way hand-knotted rugs often will.

There is certainly a place for machine made carpets – providing a cost effective way to integrate beautiful and functional additions to your home – but it is important to be an informed consumer.

Still not sure if your rug is machine-made or hand knotted? Bring your rug by the shop anytime during normal business hours for a free verbal assessment! We hope to see you soon.