Key Differences Between Handmade and Machine Made Rugs

Rugs play an important role in the living room or any place they are used within the home. Not only do they make the floor comfortable for your feet but they also act as decor. Among the options for color, material, design, and style; many homeowners are faced with the challenge of finally choosing between a handmade and machine made rug.

To give you a better idea of which kind of rug will best suit your needs, I have outlined some of the key differences between handmade and machine-made rugs below. Bear in mind that this is a general overview which outlines the most common differences between the two types of rugs, but it doesn’t account for every rug in existence; many deviations from the norm exist!

Sides and Ends of the Rug

HQL-8010 Rug From Harlequin by Surya Stripes Blue Couch

The sides and ends of a rug present some of the most common differences between handmade and machine-made rugs. Normally, handmade products have a fringe created using the ends of the fibers in the rug and not just an added-on extension as is the case with machine-made variants.

Apart from checking out the fringe, it’s also easy to note that many machine-made rugs have machine stitching on their sides, giving them perfect and regular edges. The sides of handmade rugs are not usually that perfect, and they are also irregular in most cases.

Rug Material

Certain materials are more prevalent in machine-made rugs, while other materials are more common in rugs made by hand. Handmade rugs are made using looms where each knot is tied by hand. This means that wool, silk and many other natural materials are commonly used for this type of rug. Machine made rugs are produced quickly and normally use lighter materials such as polypropylene, nylon, art silk and acrylic, although they can also be made from wool or silk.

Traditional Iranian Weaving Looms

By considering the different materials used, as well as the amount of time and skill it takes to make a rug by hand, it goes without saying that the handmade variety is bound to be more expensive!

Texture and Touch

You can easily tell if a rug was made using a machine or by hand by simply touching it. Machine made rugs are uniformly smooth compared to handmade ones.

Furthermore, you can also tell the difference by pinching the carpet softly. If you place your thumb on the front or back and another finger on the opposite side then pinch the rug softly, a machine made one will compress a great deal while the handmade variant will offer a lot of resistance.

Presence of Knots

Since handmade rugs are made using looms, you will usually find the presence of knots. Each knot in this kind of rug is tied and knotted carefully to keep the rug strong. However, not all handmade rugs are knotted; there are also hand-tufted rugs that use a glue adhesive similar to machine made rugs.

Hand-tufting is less time-consuming and doesn’t require the same level of skill as hand-knotting.

Rug Knot

Machine made rugs have threads that are either glued or looped onto hot plastic which cools and hardens to form joints. This means that such rugs not only lack knots but are also rigid, although they have a uniformity that cannot be seen in handmade rugs.

Back of the Rug

Machines are usually precise in what they do. For this reason, machine-made rugs tend to have fine and consistent backs with a structure that is identical in all parts of the rug.

On the other hand, handmade rugs are manually stitched meaning that their backs have varying tensions based on the amount of force used in tying the knots. You cannot clearly see the front pattern from the back like you can with machine-made rugs.

Choosing whether to invest in a handmade or machine made rug is a personal decision, but you need to have enough information on hand to make the best choice for your home.

Keep these things in mind when searching for your new rug to help you compare the two kinds and select the one you want.


Post contributed by Emily Ford, part-time writer for the Property Institute. Emily Ford resides on the West Coast of Australia(aka Perth!). She is a lover of all things cute & cuddly, a writer for numerous home design publications and a self-confessed Interior Decorating junkie.

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