What’s the Difference Between Handmade and Machine-Made Rugs?

Image Credits: Project by a1000xbetter, photographed by Virtually Here Studios.
When searching for the ideal rug to complement your space, one of the most significant factors to consider is whether a rug is handcrafted or machine-made. Beyond the design and detailing, handmade rugs can differ from their machine-made counterparts in a number of ways. Here’s a quick guide to the major differences between handmade and machine-made rugs, and what to look for as you shop for yours. 
While the materials used can vary considerably, there are some general trends that distinguish handmade from machine-made rugs. Handmade rugs tend to be crafted from natural materials such as wool, silk, and cotton. Rugs that are made by a machine are far more likely to be comprised of synthetic fibers and blends, including materials such as nylon and polypropylene. 
Production Time 
As one might expect, the time involved in crafting a rug by hand is far more extensive than the time involved in machine-making a rug. A standard area rug, for example, may require about a week to be produced by a machine, whereas a handmade rug of the same size might require a few months. It’s worth noting that both industrial manufacturing and hand-weaving methods have evolved over time, so antique and vintage rugs may reflect an especially time-consuming process depending on the time period and region. 
Edge Finishing 
The edges of a rug can reveal a great deal about whether it’s been produced by a machine or is handmade. Generally speaking, a handmade rug will not have visible stitching, whereas a machine-made rug will show signs of serging or binding along the edge. These finishing processes help to protect against unraveling at the edge of the rug.
For rugs with fringe, the addition of this element is typically the final step in the rug-making process. If a rug has been made by hand, the fringe will appear as a continuous extension of the fabric of the rug itself. However, a rug that’s been mechanically produced will show an interruption in the fabric, since the fringe has been added separately. For handmade rugs, it can be especially important to seek a trusted resource for rug restoration if the fringe appears to be loose or if fringe knots have come untied. 
Another clue as to whether a rug has been machine-produced or handmade can be found on the reverse side of the rug. Signs of hand-knotting will be visible and will likely show slight instances of unevenness or irregularities on the back of a handmade rug. On the other hand, the back of a machine-made rug will appear to be perfectly regular and even. As a general rule, the more complex and detailed the reverse of the rug, the higher quality it is. 
While it may sound obvious, one of the primary reasons that interior designers and homeowners who prioritize a high level of quality in their furnishings opt for handmade rugs is their uniqueness. No two rugs that have been made by hand are quite alike, and the focus of these exceptional pieces is the individuation of the craftsmanship. While handcrafted rugs may still vary in terms of quality, this one-of-a-kind element tends to define luxury rugs.
Due to the lower quality of the craftsmanship, machine-made rugs cannot be depended upon for longevity, especially if they are located in a high-traffic area of your home. Wear and tear happen rapidly and will likely necessitate the replacement of the rug within a matter of years. Handmade rugs, on the other hand, are intentionally designed to be lived on and won’t deteriorate from normal use like a machine-made rug. In fact, with the proper care and maintenance, many handmade rugs continue to appreciate in value over time and can retain their quality and luster for over a hundred years.
With the right design and craftsmanship, a rug can be a work of art. At Mehraban, we’re dedicated to sourcing and crafting only the most exceptional handmade rugs. Each piece is curated and cared for with the utmost attention to detail. We also offer custom rugs – all meticulously handmade – to ideally suit your space. 

We invite you to explore our distinctive rug collections, from modernist-influenced designs to Haute Bohemian to lushly overdyed antique and contemporary rugs. Our collections reflect three generations of passion and expertise. Follow our blog to discover the latest insights and inspirations for your home, or get in touch with us for help finding the perfect piece.
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