Handmade vs. Machine-Made Area Rugs

There are so many factors that go into an area rug. Each of these impact the quality of the rug, the price, and the options you have. One of the major factors is weaving technique, which there are three of. Each of these techniques brings something different to the table and it is important to know this information before making a purchase.

Dover 2

The first technique is machine-made. These rugs tend to have a flatter nap and less color variation than other rugs, but they can still be quite creative and functional. Because they are mass produced, machine-made rugs are less expensive and are not generally considered works of art. You can distinguish a machine made rug by examining the fringe. If it is sewn onto the rug, then the piece is machine-made.

The second technique is hand-tufted, which is in fact not a handmade rug at all. Instead, a mechanized “gun” is used to shoot pieces of wool through a canvas backing. The knots are not tied in but instead painted over with a rubber backing. This rubber backing is the giveaway for a hand-tufted rug because no handmade rug will have a backing to it.

Screen shot 2013-11-22 at 2.03.24 PM

The third technique is handmade or hand-woven and these are made entirely by hand.  These are the most valuable and exquisite rugs. Each one is a unique work of art. When examined closely, they often reveal the personal touches of the artisan who made it. Modern weaving is an ancient art. The warps and wefts are the backbone of the rug. Knots are hand-tied horizontally across the warp threads row by row to create the design. Following each row of knotted threads, a second series of threads, known as weft, interlace with the warp. The color and thickness of the yarn and the knotting style determine the appearance of a rug.

Do's and Don'ts of Rug Buying

Image via scribd.com

On the hunt for a new area rug to liven up your space? Take into consideration the advice of Alix Perrachon, rug expert and author of the new book “The Decorative Carpet,” before making your selection to get the finest quality at a fair price:


  • Find a reputable rug dealer such as Dover Rug & Home that you can trust and that will allow you test out a rug you are considering before purchasing. A reputable dealer will also be able to answer any questions you may have and offer their expertise for selecting the right rug.
  • Know the difference between handmade and hand-knotted rugs, as this is an area where rug quality causes a lot of confusion. A true hand-knotted rug is the highest quality rug that will last a lifetime.
  • Check for repainting on antique rugs, which masks and alters the quality of the rug.


  • It’s tempting to want to score a deal at a “going-out-of-business” sale or traveling auctions, but you’re not likely to find the best quality rugs here, and these businesses can’t provide the kind of customer service a permanent rug showroom can.
  • Donbt pay extra for hand-tufted rugs. They are not the same as hand-knotted.
  • Donbt purchase rugs with bfuzzyb patterns or designs. This is a sign of poor quality.

Contact Dover Rug & Home with your questions about buying a new rug.