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What are the differences between handmade rugs vs machine rugs?

Perhaps you have heard of these two types of rugs – handmade rugs vs machine rugs. But to an untrained eye, the difference is not always readily identifiable. However, if you are looking to buy Oriental carpets or Persian rugs, knowing how to tell one from the other can help you choose the best rug to buy.

The information below will help you better understand how to differentiate handmade rugs vs machine made rugs.

Handmade Rugs

Typically more valuable and more expensive, handmade rugs have elaborate designs that are literally made by hand on a specially designed loom. The size of the loom used depends on how big the rug is, and the weaving is done from the bottom up. There are three types of handmade rugs:

  • Hand- knotted piled rugs- The weaver uses a wooden/ metal loom and the knots are tied by hand to the warps, which results into the pile of the rug. These rugs can be made of wool, cotton, silk or hemp, and are usually more durable than other types of rugs.
  • Hand woven Flatweave – These rugs are woven on a loom the same as above but with a flatweave technique by hand such as Soumak, Dhurrie, Kilim and other braided rugs.
  • Hand tufted – A hand held drill gun is used to make hand tufted rugs. They are much easier and faster to make, making them cheaper as well. However, to most purists they would not be classified as handmade.

Machine made rugs

Machine made rugs are faster to produce than their handmade counterpart. Newer designs feature contemporary patterns and pastel or neon hues. Because they have no real craftsmanship, they typically also have no value to rug collectors. There are five types of machine made rugs:

  • Tufted – This is the most common and least costly method of making machine made rugs and uses a computer-generated loom. Yarn is stitched through a pre- constructed backing to make a loop or tuft, which are held in place by using a coating of latex at the back.
  • Woven – Rugs that are velvet- woven using a single solid color, while those that are Wilton- woven have more intricate designs with up to six different colors. Axminster- woven ones are even more elaborate with more colors used.
  • Knitted – Knitted machine made rugs use several sets of needles to make loops that are stitched together then attached to the backing of the rug.
  • Flocked – These look similar to velvet-woven rugs, with their dense- cut pile that use an adhesive coating to attach to the backing.
  • Needle- punched – This process is similar to hand- hooked rugs, with the fibers stitched into the backing using hooked needles.

Below are some distinguishing factors that might help you differentiate between handmade rugs vs machine made rugs::

  • Back of the rug
    An easy way to tell if the rug is handmade is by checking the backside:
    HANDMADE: The back will look different from one weaving area to the other. Because most handmade rugs are made from a much better quality wool than machine made carpets the back will look different accordingly.
    MACHINE MADE: The stitching will be even and uniform.
  • Fringe
    HANDMADE: The rug’s fringe is part of its foundation.
    MACHINE MADE: The fringe is sewn to the rug’s backing as an extension.
  • Knots 
    HANDMADE: Oriental rugs can use either have Persian or Turkish knots, and sometimes Jufti or Tibetan knots. Each one will give the rug a different texture. Read more about the different types of carpet knots.
    MACHINE MADE: There are no knots.
  • Material
    HANDMADE: Organic wool is used in handmade rugs, which is cleaned and is resilient and shiny. In some cases these are dyed using natural dyes.
    MACHINE MADE: Common materials used are polypropylene, polyester, acrylic, art silk, nylon and other synthetic fibres.
  • Touch
    HANDMADE: When you pinch the rug, you will see it will have more body and substance.
    MACHINE MADE: When you pinch the rug, you will feel it compress and you can often feel the other side.

One of the biggest differences is the character that a handmade rug has compared to a machine made rug, which has a very mechanical look.


If you are looking for handmade rugs, Sharafi & Co has the expertise and experience to help you choose the best investment for your home.