What Are the Different Rug Construction Types?

While hand knotted rugs are the most prestigious and best known, the majority of rugs in people’s homes are less expensive constructions, like hand tufted or machine-made rugs.  This will help you understand more about the main construction types, including their durability, defining characteristics, and how they’re made.

Hand Knotted

  • Price: $$$$
  • Durability: Longest lasting construction. Good ones can last 10 to 25 years; great ones can last 100+ years.
  • Manufacturing time: 5-12 months
  • Shedding: Minimal
  • Hand-knotting is the most intricate, labor-intensive rug weaving process in use today.  A higher number of knots per square inch typically translates to better quality.  An average weaver can tie about 3,000 knots per day.
  • Process:  Hand knotted rugs are made on a vertical frame called a hand knotting loom. Columns of threads are stretched from the top to the bottom of the loom; these threads form the foundation and the fringe ends of the rug.  Once this has been done, a weaver sits behind the loom and hand ties individual knots onto the vertical strings. Once completed, the rug is then “sheared” to produce a uniform surface, hand washed for luster, and dried.  Some rugs are dried in the sun for authenticity.

Courtesy Safavieh

Courtesy Surya

Courtesy Loloi

  • How to Identify: Individual knots are visible on the back of hand-knotted rugs, making it possible to see the overall pattern and colors used on the rug’s surface. Weaving and knots will be slightly uneven. The fringe of a hand-knotted rug is an extension of the rug’s foundation.
  • Best for living rooms, libraries, and bedrooms.

Hand Tufted

  • Price: $$
  • Durability: 3-6 years for standard rugs; 5-10 years for premium rugs
  • Manufacturing time: 4-6 months
  • Shedding: Sheds initially, subsiding over time.
  • Compared to hand-knotted rugs, tufted rugs are less time consuming to produce, so they are more affordable.  Tufted rugs tend to have a thicker pile height, so they’ll have a more cushiony feel.
  • Process: Hand-tufted rugs are produced by pulling yarns through the rug’s backing material using a tufting gun.  When the rug design is completed, the loops are cut to form a smooth cut-pile surface.  The rug is then removed from the frame and a second fabric is glued to the back to hold the yarns in place.

Courtesy Surya

Courtesy Loloi

  • How to identify: On the back of hand-tufted rugs, you’ll see a canvas backing applied with an adhesive to hold the yarns together.
  • Ideal for family rooms, bedrooms, and living rooms.

Hand Hooked

  • Price: $$
  • Durability: 3-10 years
  • Manufacturing time: 4-6 months
  • Shedding:  Sheds less than hand-tufted rugs, subsiding over time.
  • Compared to hand-knotted rugs, hooked rugs are less time consuming to produce, so they are more affordable.
  • Process: Hooked rugs are made like tufted rugs, but instead of shearing the yarns to create a smooth-cut pile, the loops are left uncut, so the finished product will feel more like embroidery.  After the design is completed, the rug is removed from the frame and a second fabric is glued to the back to hold the yarns in place.

Courtesy Surya

Courtesy Surya

  • How to identify: A canvas backing is applied to hand hooked rugs with an adhesive to hold the yarns together — similar to hand-tufted rugs.   The surface pile of a hand-hooked rug will appear looped (rounded).
  • Ideal for family rooms, bedrooms, and living rooms.

Hand Woven Shag

  • Price: $$
  • Durability: 2-8 years
  • Manufacturing time: 4 to 6 months
    Shedding: wool – moderate for an extended period, subsiding over time; polyester – minimal shedding.
  • Process: Hand-woven shag rugs are made on hand-operated looms with hundreds of plush, twisted and slightly felted yarns. A team of weavers uses a long steel rod to shoot the fibers across vertical strings that run the length of the rug. 

Courtesy Surya

Courtesy Surya

  • How to identify: Unusually deep pile, giving it a shaggy appearance. May or may not have a canvas backing.

Power Loomed/Machine-Made

  • Price: $$
  • Durability: 2-6 years
  • Manufacturing time: 2-3 months
  • Shedding: Minimal shedding. Since most rugs of this type are made from synthetic fibers, the pile will crush with heavy traffic.
  • Usually the most affordable rug construction.   Typically made out of synthetic materials like polyester, polypropylene, and nylon, which are great for high-traffic areas.
  • Process: Produced by large machines with hundreds of spindles of fiber that are mechanically woven into a thin mesh backing.  A computer dictates the pattern, so the chances for error are minimal.
  • How to identify: As with hand-knotted rugs, the rug pattern and colors are visible on the back of these rugs. However, a coarse latex backing is used to secure the fibers in place. The back of a machine-made rug will look very uniform and even (in contrast to the back of a hand-knotted rug, which will have slightly uneven knots).
  • Ideal in high-traffic areas like entryways, family rooms, kid bedrooms.

Courtesy Surya

Flat Weave

  • Price: $$
  • Durability: 3-10 years
  • Manufacturing time: 4-6 months
  • Shedding: Moderate, subsiding over time.
  • Often referred to as dhurries or kilims, flatweave rugs are woven on a loom rather than knotted. They are typically constructed from wool, cotton or synthetic materials. In most cases, the pattern on the front of the rug can be viewed clearly from both sides, making these rugs reversible.
  • Process: The material used to make flat-weave rugs is braided onto a loom to create the structure of the rug.  No base material is used , so these rugs are thinner (hence the name “flat weave”).

Courtesy Surya

Courtesy Surya

  • Tip: Flat weave rugs are reversible, so you can extend their life by flipping the rug.
  • Ideal for high-traffic rooms like kitchens, playrooms, and entryways.

Natural Fiber

  • Price: $
  • Durability: 2-6 years
  • Manufacturing time: 4-5 months
  • Shedding: Minimal
  • Static resistant, naturally insulating, eco-friendly/biodegradable.
  • Process: While not a true construction, natural (plant-based) fiber rugs possess their own unique characteristics. They are constructed of tightly woven fibers such as bamboo, cotton, jute, linen, seagrass and sisal to create a casual and relaxed look and feel. The fibers are often bleached or dyed to increase design options and aesthetic appeal. It is important to keep in mind that, as with other rugs, placing natural fiber rugs in direct sunlight several hours a day can result in the fading of dyed materials and gradual darkening of undyed fibers.

Courtesy Surya

Hair-on-hide

  • Price: $$
  • Durability: 5-10 years
  • Manufacturing time: 3-6 months
  • Shedding: Minimal
  • Process: Hair-on-hide rugs are handcrafted of natural hides to create a myriad of designs. They may be dyed, or left with their natural colors. Due to the innate differences among hides, variations in dye lot, color and pattern can be expected. Brands and other markings add character to hide rugs—making each a one-of-a-kind piece to create a truly authentic look.

Courtesy Surya

  • How to identify:  These rugs typically have a felted backing.

Indoor/outdoor

  • Price: $
  • Durability: 1-5 years outdoor; 2-8 years indoor.   Leaving the rug in direct sunlight or standing water will significantly limit its life.
  • Manufacturing time: 3-4 months
  • Shedding: None
  • Great durability and toughness.
  • Process: Indoor/outdoor rugs are made of synthetic fibers (including olefin, polyester, polypropylene and PVC) that have been infused with UV inhibitors to minimize fading. These rugs are mold- and mildew-resistant and can withstand up to 500 hours of direct sunlight.
  • Indoor/outdoor rugs can be hand-hooked  or machine-made and typically have a latex, rubber or  vinyl backing, which enables them to withstand the elements
  • Ideal for patios, outdoor dining areas

Courtesy Dash & Albert

Information courtesy Dash & Albert, Loloi, Safavieh, Surya Rugs.

To shop our entire selection of rugs, click here.

 

 

 

 

Like this post? Sign up for our email list to get news and special offers!

0 replies

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *