Machine Made Versus Handknotted Area Rugs    

When shopping for a new area rug, it’s always important to carefully consider all of the various factors to ensure that you choose one that fits both your needs and your personal sense of style. In this sense, one of the most important decisions is whether to choose a more affordable machine-made rug or go all out on a beautiful hand-knotted rug.

While the differences between machine-made and hand-knotted rugs may not immediately be apparent to the untrained eye, the fact is that how the rug is made will go a long way towards determining its overall quality and appearance as well as how long it lasts. Therefore, it is important to look more closely at the differences between the two in order to allow you to make a better, more informed decision about your purchase.


Hand-knotted rugs are woven on a special loom, and each knot is carefully tied by hand. On the other hand, machine-made rugs are made using a power loom. These differences mean that the knots on the backside of a hand-knotted rug may look slightly uneven, whereas machine-made rugs are fully uniform. However, tying the knots by hand tends to result in a much tighter weave. In turn, this allows hand-knotted rugs to remain durable without the need for backing. This isn’t necessarily true for machine-woven rugs, which tend to have a latex backing applied to hold the knots in place.

In addition to the backing, you can also tell the difference between the two by looking at the fringe of the rug. In machine-made rugs, the fringe is only there for decoration and is sewn onto the rug after it’s made. However, the fringe is an integral part of a hand-knotted rug as it is made of the warp threads that the individual knots are tied onto.

Although you can easily find machine-made rugs that are designed to mimic the overall look and patterns of hand-knotted rugs, the fact remains that these designs are mass produced. Even if a weaver uses the same pattern for all of their hand-knotted rugs, each and every rug will still be slightly different and have its own unique characteristics. In this sense, a hand-knotted rug is truly a one-of-a-kind work of art and something that you’re guaranteed not to find in any other home.


While it is possible to find machine-woven rugs that are made out of wool, silk and other higher quality natural materials, the vast majority of them are made out of acrylic, nylon, polypropylene or other synthetic materials. In comparison, hand-knotted rugs are always made out of high-quality natural materials, and you can easily find hand-knotted rugs made from silk, cotton, jute, plant silk, etc.

Quality, Strength and Durability

Machine-made rugs are popular due to the fact that they’re generally inexpensive and easy to replace. However, this doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re always poor quality, and in fact, a good machine-woven rug can easily last 20 years or more. This may sound impressive, but it’s nothing compared to how long a high-quality hand-knotted silk or wool rug can last. In this case, your new hand-knotted area rug could last for well over 100 years as long as it’s taken care of properly.

Care Instructions

One major advantage that machine-made rugs have is that many of them can simply be tossed in the washing machine whenever they need cleaning. This most definitely isn’t the case with a hand-knotted rug as they should only ever be cleaned by hand. Still, the reason for this difference has more to do with the materials used in the construction of the rug than anything else.

The truth is that synthetic fabrics have been specially designed to better withstand the wear and tear they’ll experience in a washing machine. You’re probably already aware of the potential damage that a washing machine can do to wool clothing, and wool rugs can easily suffer the same sort of fate and thus should only ever be washed by hand. This means that machine-made rugs are often the better option for homes with pets or young children or any other situation where the rug will require more frequent cleanings.

As you can see, hand-knotted rugs tend to be more beautiful and more durable than their machine-woven counterparts. However, this doesn’t necessarily mean that hand-knotted rugs are the best choice for every person or every situation. In this sense, it really comes down to deciding is more important—affordability and convenience or style and durability.