After being in business for decades and engaging in thousands of conversations with our clients we’ve found that one of the topics people value most is understanding how the construction of a rug impacts its overall durability and value.The three primary categories of construction are:

1. Hand-knotted
2. Machine-made
3. Hand-tufted

Within each of these categories there can be significant variances. Our next several posts will attempt, as succinctly and clearly as possible, to clarify the differences between these styles of construction.

Hand-tufted rugs are relatively new to the market – having only widely surfaced 25 to 30 years ago. These rugs were created to meet a demand for a low-cost alternative to hand-knotted rugs, that more closely resemble hand-knotted than machine-made. These rugs can be offered for considerably less than a hand-knotted rug because they require far less time and skill to create.

The image above is a wonderful example of a hand-tufted rug from Momeni. You can see that the color and design are well selected. The New Zealand wool used in the production of this line of tufted rugs contributes to the overall quality of the rug.

There is a trade-off, however. While it is difficult to replicate the overall feel of a hand-knotted rug through machine production, the construction of a machine-made rug more closely resembles that of a hand-knotted rug and provides considerably more durability than a hand-tufted rug. A good quality, wool, machine made rug will typically last anywhere from 25-50 years, whereas a wool tufted rug will last 10-20.

Hand-tufted rug production begins with canvas that is stretched taut on a frame. The design of the rug and colors are printed directly onto the canvas. A tufting gun is then used to push the wool through and loop it around the canvas. In most instances the loops are then sheared on the front of the rug to create a loose, rather than a looped pile. Since this process does not secure the wool in place a layer of glue or latex is used to fix the wool and an additional layer of canvas is used to cover the latex. This backing is a clear identifier of a hand-tufted rug.

In general, if a tufted rug is constructed of wool, the wool will typically long outlast the latex. As the latex breaks down you may begin to see a fine powder under the rug. This is a good sign that it is time to start thinking about replacing the rug.

A few additional notes about hand-tufted rugs:
– BUYER BEWARE – since these rugs are technically made “by hand”, they are often advertised as such. It is crucial to know the difference between the terms “hand-knotted” and “hand-made” if you are in the market for a new rug.
– Many of these rugs are made using an uncut loop construction. They are not ideal for households with pets, particularly cats, as the animals can pull sections of the wool out if they catch their claws under the loops.
– Hand-tufted rugs generally shed for the first several months of use. Regular vacuuming will greatly reduce the amount of shedding.
– When washing a hand-tufted rug care should be taken not to over-saturate as this may contribute to a faster deterioration of the latex used to secure the wool.

Do you own a hand-tufted rug? Do you feel hand-tufted is a great inexpensive alternative to decorating your home or do you wish you made the additional investment for a hand-knotted rug?