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How To Tell The Difference Between Handmade & Machine-Made Rugs

One of the most common questions that rug specialists often get asked is: “How can you tell the difference between a handmade/hand-knotted rug and a machine-made rug”? While it may not be easy to distinguish between the two with just a casual glance, especially to an untrained eye, a closer look will reveal a few very prominent differences between the two.

Check the Underside of the Rug

One of the best ways to tell the difference between handmade and machine-made rugs is by checking the underside or the back of the rug. If the weaving and the knots are not perfectly uniform, you know it is a handmade rug. In addition, you can actually distinguish the individual knots when you look at the back of the rug.

This is because, in making handmade rugs, weavers manually insert the knots into the foundation of the rug and tie each knot by hand. Not surprisingly, because it is a fully manual process, this results in the unevenness that you can see on the underside of the rug.

Machine-made rugs, on the other hand, are manufactured by large, heavy-duty power looms and because the process is entirely automated the resultant rug will have a smooth and even underside. In a machine-made rug, the back of the rug will typically be very uniform and perfectly even.

You cannot see individual knots at the back of a machine-made rug because there aren’t any. The pile is held together by an overstitch construction and this smooth overstitch pattern is what you can see on the entire back of a machine-made rug.

Check the Fringe

In authentic Persian rugs, the fringe is part of the body of the rug itself. It it formed during the weaving process and looks like an extension of the rug body. In machine-made rugs the fringe is not created during the manufacturing process. It is in fact rather sewn onto the rug after the rug is completed. Take a closer look at the part where the fringe is attached to the body of the rug. If you can see that it has been sewn to the rug then you know the rug is not genuine.

Look for Colour Variations

Handmade rugs are more likely to have slightly variations in colour. This is because the process is entirely manual including the dying process. Using wool that has been dyed in different batches will often result in slight colour variations. With machine-made rugs, the materials used are typically dyed in a single batch and the colours will be uniform throughout.

If you’ve got a rug that needs cleaning, or would like some advice about your rug, you can contact us over the phone on 01269 842497 or send us an email to

Source: A Comprehensive Guide to Oriental & Specialty Rug Cleaning by Ellen Amirkhan & Aaron Groseclose

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