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The Main Difference Between Handmade and Machine-made Rugs

To an untrained or uneducated eye, it is often difficult to figure out the difference between hand made, hand knotted, and machine made rugs. This blog post will help you understand the differences and ultimately give you the advantage of making an informed purchasing decision when shopping for a Karastan Rug.

Hand-knotted Rugs

Hand-knotted rugs are made on a specially designed loom and are knotted by hand. The making of hand knotted rugs is a very ancient art that deserves a lot of admiration, respect and appreciation! The size of the loom generally depends on the size of the rug and the weaving is done from the bottom to the top.

Next, the rug weaver inserts the “knots” into the foundation of the Karastan rug and they are tied by hand, this makes up the “pile” of the rug. This is a very tedious and time consuming operation.

Generally, the length of time to create a hand knotted Karastan rug depends on the size and complex intricacy of the pattern. It is not unheard of for a  fine and premium quality 12’ x 15’ rug to take over a year to produce! Hopefully you can appreciate why the cost of these rugs is much greater.

Hand knotted rugs can generally be made of:

  • Wool
  • Cotton
  • Silk
  • Jute
  • And other natural materials

Silk is sometimes used in wool rugs for the outlines or highlights of the pattern to enhance the design. Hand knotted and hand woven rugs can last many generations if they are of great quality and properly maintained.

Also called Oriental rugs, hand knotted and hand woven rugs are often collectibles. The quality of these rugs depends on numerous factors, such as the knot count, dyes used and quality of the yarns. Hand knotted rugs are typically more costly, but the life span of these rugs is greater and therefore usually a better value for your money.

Flat Weave or Hand-woven Karastan Rugs

Flat weave is another category of hand made rugs. These Karastan rugs are hand woven in a flat weave pattern and there is no pile. There is virtually no height to the rug. Soumak, Dhurrie, kilim and braided are all types of flat weave rugs. With a flat weave, we usually suggest a rug pad under it to help it stay in place and provide a little more cushion to the Karastan rug.

Machine-made Karastan Rugs

Machine made rugs are made by large machines called power looms. A power loom is electrically automated and controlled by computers. Machine made rugs can be made right away and are manufactured with materials including wool and synthetic fibers such as polypropylene, nylon, polyester, acrylic and art silk.

Machine made rugs can offer a lower price alternative to hand knotted rugs. Machine made rugs usually have a life span of about 20 years or less, depending on the quality and fiber used.

Although there are certain brands, such as Karastan rugs, that have a very loyal following. Karastan brand is made in the US, they have been making rugs for decades, and their rugs are of superior design and quality.

Hand Crafted Rugs or Hand Tufted Karastan Rugs

Hand tufted rugs are another type of rug that is considered hand made or hand-crafted. This particular type of rug is made using a modified hand held drill gun that inserts the pile into a cloth foundation which creates a loop pile. If the loop pile is sheared, it then becomes a cut pile. The loop pile rug, if not sheared, is called a “Hand-Hooked” rug.

Some designs have both loop and cut pile combined to produce a dimensional effect to the pattern. A latex coating is then applied to the back of the rug to hold the “tufts” in place. A canvas type fabric is then applied over the latex coating to finish the back of the rug.

These rugs have a hand made look but they cost much less because using the gun speeds up the process significantly. For example, a good quality 8′ x 10′ hand knotted rug might take anywhere from 7 to 14 months, depending on the quality. While the same size rug made in a hand-tufted method might take one day.

Although Hand Tufted rugs can be just as beautiful as hand knotted rugs, they usually are not of value to a rug collector or someone who is looking to buy an Oriental rug as an investment.

A latex coating is then applied to the back of the rug to hold the “tufts” in place. A canvas type fabric is then applied over the latex coating to finish the back of the rug.

These Karastan Rugs have a hand made look but they cost much less because using a gun speeds up the process dramatically. For example a good quality 8′ x 10′ hand knotted rug might take about 10 to 14 months, while the same size rug made in a hand-tufted method might take one day.

Although Hand Tufted rugs can be just as gorgeous as hand knotted rugs, they usually are not of value to a rug collector or someone who is looking to buy an Oriental rug as an investment.

Look at the Back of the Rug

One of the best ways to tell the difference between hand knotted and machine made area rugs is to look at the back of the rug. In hand knotted rugs the weaving and the knots will be slightly uneven and not perfectly uniform.

On the other hand, a machine made rug will look very uniform and perfectly even. The more detail in the design when looking from the back, the better the quality of the rug.

Look at the Fringes of the Rug

Alternatively, another way to determine if a rug is hand knotted or machine made is to look at the fringes.  The fringe of a hand knotted rug is an extension of the Karastan Area Rug foundation.

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