Many people ask us what difference it makes whether a rug is handmade or machine made. The answer is that a good quality handmade rug will look beautiful for generations. We often see rugs that are in the third or fourth generation in a family and are still in use, still beautiful, and worth more today than ever.
In general a Handmade Rug will outlast a machine made rug by many decades. This is because a handmade rug is constructed very differently than a machine made rug. The fringe in a handmade rug is actually the warp threads of the rug, running through the rug from end to end. The pile is tied into the warp threads using one of two traditional knots, the Persian knot or the Turkish knot. Neither knot is superior, though you will occasionally see the Turkish knot referred to as "double-knotted". A weft thread is then woven in between each row of knots to secure them even more tightly into the rug. All this is compacted tightly to form a very dense and strong structure that can withstand many years of hard use.
Machine Made Rugs: In a machine made rug, the pile is constructed by pushing a "V" shaped piece of yarn into a foundation, instead of an actual knot. The warp and weft threads are more loosely woven together. Once a machine made rug gets damaged, there is very little that can be done to repair the rug. Even the best machine made rugs will generally only last about 20 years in use before they begin to fail. Once a machine made rug begins coming apart, there is little that can be done to repair it. Handmade rugs on the other hand can be professionally repaired and remain in use for many years. Machine made rugs often come with 100% wool piles, but are often made of synthetic materials.
Hand-Tufted Rugs: Lately we have seen a vast number of "hand-tufted" rugs sold in many department and furnishing stores. These rugs have the "V" shaped tuft either pulled through the warp threads by hand, or shot into a plastic grid with a tufting gun. A layer of glue is spread over this to hold it all together, and then a cloth backing is put on to cover this ugly construction. This technique saves the manufacturer time, but creates a rug that will not hold up well over time. In the trade we call these rugs "glue-backs".
Dr. Khosrow Sobhe (Dr. Kay)Certified Rug Specialist (CRS)