We are often asked about the differences in the way area rugs are manufactured.
There are basically three kinds of area rugs.
You’ll always know how to distinguish a hand-tufted area rug because it will have a cloth like muslin backing. A hand-tufted rug is made a lot like a latch hook rug. Each yarn is punched in one by one with a tufting gun. Generally the patterns are mass-produced in your standard sizes 3’6" x 5’6", 5' x 8', 8' x 11', and 9’6" x 13’6".
The cost of hand-tufted area rugs is impacted by the type of wool they are using, and how many tufts per inch. The more tufts per inch and the denser the pile the higher the cost. This also impacts the memory the rug will have, meaning it won’t crush the pile, so it will wear longer. A good factor to keep in mind is that hand-made rugs weither it be hand-tufted or hand-knotted rugs will never be perfectly square as they are created by hand.
With a hand-tufted area rug, glue is used on the back of the rug to hold the wool pile in place then it is covered with a muslin backing. So you will get some shedding, but how much depends on how dense (tufts per inch) the rug is, and what type of wool has been used. Because the tufting process does not produce the fringe that is more common with hand-woven rugs (where the fringe is the end of the warp strings that run from one end of the rug to the other), separate fringe (usually woven as a tape) is often glued or sewn to the ends of a tufted rug.
The hand tufted area rug will not wear quite as long as a hand-knotted rug because in many cases the wool is often a cheaper grade and the glue used tends to be an inexpensive latex glue which becomes brittle and deteriorates over time. With years of experience The Rug Goddess knows the best manufacturers that use the better glues, wools, and materials for longer wearing hand-tufted area rugs.
A hand-tufted rug has resale value equivalent to a machine-made wool rugs of the same size. But there are really nice hand-tufted wool rugs out there. You just need to know what questions to ask and what to look for when selecting a hand-tufted rug. Some types of hand-tufted rugs you’ll notice have beveling or carving within pile, this adds dimension and richness which is all a part of the manufacturing process. In most cases this is done manually by people on their hands and knees. It’s a great look, but the price will higher.
In short, first you should run your hand across the pile to test the shedding, remember the softer and denser the pile is, the better the area rug. If you can bend the rug and see the backing, clearly this is probably a rug you would want to pass on! All hand-tufted area rugs will shed some at first it's just the nature of the hand-tufted industry, but this will reside as wear and vacuuming occur.
We know it can be overwhelming when picking an area rug, but don't worry, the Rug Goddess and her area rug consultants are here to help.