Rugs can be handmade or manufactured. To understand both methods requires knowledge and for that you’ve come to the right place. This will help you understand the difference between rug types, why some wear and last longer, and help explain the wide range of prices.
The construction of area rugs is the story of man versus machine. If area rugs are a floor covering possibility for your home, any rug you choose will be constructed by either human hands or factory machines. And while modern technology enables us to mass produce area rugs in a wide spectrum of design, color, and sizes, there are differences between machine made and handmade rugs.
With factory-made rugs, you’ll have flexibility and variety. You can find the same design in different sizes and different colors. Woven rugs are created on automated weaving looms in which multiple colors of yarn are sewn into a backing material. The rugs’ elaborate designs are created by the placement of the different colors of yarn. Handmade rugs are custom made, one-of-a-kind designs that incorporate creative uses of color.
With handmade rugs, even if the overall same pattern is created, there will still be unique details and intricacies due to the village, city, or country of the creator. Plus, handmade rugs are often created with natural dyes that provide longevity of the colors. The three most important things to consider when purchasing a handmade area rug are weave, knot, and dyes.
There are three major techniques to making handmade area rugs: pile weave, flat weave, and hand tufted. Pile weave, or knotted weave, refers to the method of weaving used in most rugs. In this technique, the rug is woven by a creation of knots. A short piece of yarn is tied around two neighboring warp strands creating a knot on the surface. After each row of knots is created, one or more strands of weft are passed through a complete set of warp strands. Then the knots and the weft strands are beaten with a comb securing the knots in place. Every single knot is tied by hand. A rug can consist of 25-1,000 knots per square inch.
Flat weave refers to the technique of weaving where no knots are used in the weave. The weft strands are simply woven through the warp strands. These weavings are called flat weaves since no knots are used in the weaving process and the surface looks flat.
A hand-tufted rug is created without tying knots into the foundation, but rather by pushing wool or acrylic yarn through a primary backing, creating a “tuft”. Then, using a latex glue to hold the tufts in place, a rug maker will apply a secondary foundation, or “scrim”, which is covered by a third and final cloth backing to protect your floor. The final step involves shearing the tops of the looped tufts to create the pile. Hand-tufted rugs can be made faster than hand-knotted rugs, therefore they are generally less expensive than their hand-knotted counterparts.
Most handmade rugs are woven by tying knots on the warp strands. Knot density refers to the number of knots per square decimeter in a handmade rug. Thus, the higher the number of knots per square inch, the higher the quality, and thus the higher the price of the rug. The process of changing the natural color of materials in the rug is called dyeing. Rugs can be dyed by either using natural dyes or synthetic dyes. Today, mostly synthetic dyes are used for coloring weaving yarns. Natural dyes are used in places where they are easily obtainable.