Saturday, September 19, 2015

Tufted Rugs, Hand Tufted Rugs

Tufted Rugs, Hand-Tufted Rugs

Unlike a hand-knotted rug, a tufted rug is made without tying knots on vertical foundation threads called warps. Making a tufted rug takes a fraction of the time to make, and this reduces the cost and time of production. Therefore tufted rugs are cheaper than hand knotted rugs.

Some producers, importers, or dealers use the term "Hand Tufted" rugs to make it sound and look fancier and closer to handmade rugs. Clients who do not know the difference between hand made, and tufted rugs, really think hand tufted rugs are hand made or hand woven. While they are not.

The pile of tufted rugs are usually wool. These rugs are made with a tool called a "tufting gun." These guns can be hand mechanical or electrical guns. Loops of wool are pushed through a backing (also called primary backing) that has been imprinted with the overall design. When the rug maker is through with this process, another foundation, called a scrim is applied with latex glue. The quality of latex glues may be good or bad and this will affect the care and maintenance and durability of the tufted rugs. When this latex glue dries, the final protective cloth backing (also called secondary backing) is applied.

The last step is to shear the rug down so that all of the loops on the top of the rug are cut, and this will create the pile.

Depicting design on canvas, the primary backing

Weaving a hand-knotted rug requires skill and often a lot of time and craftsmanship to produce. The quality and value of a hand-knotted carpet is determined by the number of knots per square inch, material used, country of origin, size, age, provenance (who has owned the rug!), condition, etc.

Electric Tufting gun

An Indian weaver using a simple hand tufting gun

A Chinese weaver using an electric tufting gun

A good quality hand-knotted rug, can become a collector's item, and antique by the passage of time; of course this cannot be true for all types of hand knotted rugs, because there is a whole range from poorly made to high end ones. Hand-tufted rugs never quite achieve the heirloom status and they cannot become collectibles or antique.

When it comes to care and maintenance of rugs, it is possible to remove the pet urine stain and smell from a hand knotted or even area rug (machine made). However, due to the fabric backing and latex glue on the back of tufted rugs, it is almost impossible to remove the pet odor smell and stain 100% from such rugs.

Tufted rugs when new, look nice and beautiful, but by passage of time, vacuuming, and foot traffic, the latex glue disintegrates and powdered glue comes out of the rug. Cleaning of any kind, will not stop the white powder and disintegrating latex glue coming off the back of tufted rugs. Almost all types of hand knotted and machine made rugs can be wet washed and submerged. Due to the fabric and latex glue in the back, tufted rugs cannot be fully wet washed and cannot be submerged. And this eliminates the chance of complete pet odor removal as the smell bonds with the latex glue specially if cleaning is not done right after the pet accident happens. 

Buying a tufted rug is not bad, but at least we should know what we're buying and be aware of the care and maintenance limitations! It is cheaper than hand knotted rugs, but not easier to maintain and care for.

Dr. Khosrow Sobhe (Dr. Kay)
Certified Rug Specialist (CRS)
Certified Rug Appraiser (CRA)
Tel. 310-770-9085

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