Jul 17, 2018
By Colleen Gass Jul 17, 2018

Karastan rugs are celebrated for their quality construction and hand-knotted rug look. Style: Briarcliff

If you’re just starting your search for an area rug, what a great adventure you’re about to have! Finding your perfect rug is like a magic carpet ride into a world of captivating colors and patterns, venerable weaves, luxuriant textures and styles that are seemingly endless. First stop on this adventure is learning how rugs are made.

Area Rug Construction

Construction is one of the most important considerations when picking out a rug because how a rug is made determines how it will look, feel and perform over time. Do you want an investment piece or heirloom to pass down or simply a beautiful rug that lends coziness, comfort and style to a room? And how much do you want to spend? Questions like these serve as a guide to whether handmade or machine construction better fits your needs.

Handmade vs Machine-made Area Rugs

The differences between these construction types is self-explanatory yet the distinctions are worth noting.

Handmade area rugs – Crafted by artisans deftly skilled in weaving, handmade rugs use labor-intensive techniques dating back centuries. Generally, they are made with natural fibers such as wool, silk or cotton. The category is further divided into hand woven or hand knotted construction. Hand woven rugs are made on a loom with natural fiber yarn passed back and forth on a shuttle across the warp strings. The warp strings are what hold the yarn in place and form the end fringes. In hand knotting, the weaver ties individual strands of yarn to the warp. It’s a time-consuming process with knots measured in the hundreds per square inch!

Tufted carpet pile. Image courtesy of The Carpet and Rug Institute, Inc.

A variation on the hand knotted technique is “hand tufted.” Hand tufting in done with a single-needle tool or hook that pulls loops of yarn through the rug’s canvas backing. The process moves quickly and results in a rounded, or looped, yarn that can be left uncut or cut (tufted). If uncut, the style is a “hand-looped” rug. Hand-tufted rugs take far less time to make and, as expected, cost less.

Because of the care that goes into a handmade rug, you can expect it to last more than 20 years with little change in appearance.

Looped Carpet Pile

Machine-made area rugs – The vast majority of area rugs you’ll see when shopping are mass produced quickly and efficiently on industrial looms. Made of either natural and synthetic fibers, machine-made rugs offer the widest choice in colors, patterns, styles and sizes at every price point. You’ll find designs at the Rug.Shop ranging from floral and geometric to hot trends such as distressed area rugs and printed rugs.

Machine-made rugs simulate the look and feel of handmade rugs yet are able to withstand high traffic areas like hallways and entryways. With a lifespan around 20 years or less, machine made rugs are not considered collector quality, although brands such as Karastan have marvelously devoted fans who love their hand-knotted look. Another advantage is that machine-made rugs tend to not shed, and most are resistant to moisture and mildew.

Now you know about area rug construction but it’s not yet time to step off our magic carpet. There’s more to learn. Sit tight!