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The Ultimate Guide to Hand-Tufted Area Rugs (2023 Update)

Updated: Jun 23, 2023

Are you having a headache finding the perfect rug for your home?

Choosing an area rug can be a great challenge, and it is considered one of the most difficult purchases for your home since they come in different materials, styles, and constructions.

Buying the right one can greatly enhance your space's atmosphere and reflect your personality and taste.

Keep on reading and you will find out if a hand tufted rug is the right choice for you.


Table of Contents


What are Hand-Tufted Rugs?

There are two main methods of making area rugs, handmade and machine-made.

Both hand tufted and hand knotted rugs belong to the handmade category.

A hand knotted rug is produced by the weaver tying thousands of individual knots by hand. It is time-consuming and labor-intensive. Requires the weaver to be very patient and well-skilled. The smaller the knots, the finer the details.

Depending on the pattern and design's complexity, it can take months or even years to create one piece of hand knotted rug, but its details are exceptional.

On the other hand, hand tufted rugs are not made by tying individual knots, making them less labor-intensive and hence shorten the production time. A canvas sheet with the design outline drawn on it will be stretched on a frame during production. The experienced weavers will then use a handheld tool called a tufting gun to punch wool strands into the canvas carefully. Then filling the pattern with the appropriate color one line after another.

It is a skill that is easy to learn but difficult to master.

Hand tufted rugs or carpets are so common nowadays that they can be easily found in five stars hotels' lobbies, ballrooms, guestrooms, high-end retail stores, restaurants, convention centers, residentials, etc.

The reason why hand tufted rugs are so popular is that they are less expensive and take far less time to make than hand-knotted, but still have excellent quality and imitate the look of a hand-knotted carpet pretty well.

Some might argue that hand tufted rugs are not handmade because machines (tufting guns) were used during the making.

That is partially true.

It is like when someone is trying to make clothes at home using a sewing machine, it is not correct to say the clothes themselves are machine-made.

This might not be the best example, but you get the idea.

10 Benefits of Choosing Hand-Tufted carpets

  • Fast Production Time

  • Inexpensive (compared to hand knotted)

  • Unlimited Choice of Colors

  • No Shape and Size Restrictions

  • No Design Restrictions

  • Long Durability

  • A large Variety of Materials Can be Used

  • Large Variety of Constructions to Choose From

  • Rug Thickness is Customizable

  • No Pad is Required

How are Hand Tufted carpets Exactly Made?

  • The desired pattern is stenciled on a canvas.

  • Dying the yarns in the proper colors.

  • Push the strands of yarn into the rug's backing using a tufting gun.

  • Applying latex to the back of the rug.

  • Custom carving on the rug if needed.

Want to see tufting in action?

Tim Eads from has this excellent video showing how tufting gun works.

How to Choose The Right Hand Tufted Rug?

It is important first to understand what materials, constructions, and designs can be done on hand tufted carpets.

What Type of Materials Can Be Used?

Wool - It is the most commonly used fiber on all area rugs, including hand tufted. One of the highest grades of wool comes from New Zealand. This natural fiber is known for its strength, durability, and softness. According to Wools of New Zealand, they listed the benefits of wool and how wool is "planet" and "people" friendly. It is also resistant to dirt and stains.

Silk - silk has been known to be a luxurious material for so many years. It is soft and smooth to the touch, and also has a sheen effect. This natural fiber is harvested from insect larvae such as silkworms. It takes many larvae to make a sufficient amount of silk enough to make a rug, making this material so expensive. A rug made in pure silk can cost 5-6 times more than one made in all wool.

Viscose - It is also known as "rayon" or "artificial silk." This man-made fiber mimics the look of real silk, even having a nice sheen but at a much lower cost. It is not as durable as wool, and it is not recommended to use it in high-traffic areas. It can be combined with wool in a rug to make it more attractive.

Other less common materials such as cotton, bamboo silk, polyester, and jute can also be found in area rugs, but I will not go more in-depth in this post.

What Kind of Designs Can Be Made?

The designs that can be made on hand tufted rugs are countless, from solid colors, stripes, contemporary, vintage, abstract, and even painting. Anything you can think of can be done on hand tufted carpets.

When choosing the right design, a useful rule of thumb is that if your space has bold, subtle colors for the walls and furniture, match them with an eye-catching carpet.

On the other hand, these subtle, tonal rugs with simple patterns are most suited to rooms already full of colors.

What Kind of Constructions/Techniques To Choose From?

  • Cut Pile - It is the most common construction used on rugs where the top end of the fiber is cut, resulting in an upright pile. Cut pile carpets can be made in different pile heights or thicknesses.

Cut Pile Rug
Regular Cut Pile

  • Loop Pile - The fiber is tufted from top to bottom without cutting the top part of the loop like in a cut pile. It is durable and easy to clean, making loop piles widely used in high traffic areas.

Loop Pile Rug
Regular Loop Pile

  • Cut and loop pile mixed - A combination of cut and loop piles can be used on a hand tufted rug. Bring a distinctive look to your design.

Cut and Loop Pile Rug
Combination of Cut and Loop Piles

  • Tip shearing - Also known as "random shear." The top part of a loop pile rug is randomly sheared to create a cut-and-loop texture effect.

Tip Sheared Rug
Tip Sheared Rug

  • Carving and Embossing - The weaver uses a pair of electric scissors to trim the outline of the patterns, making the overall design stands out.

Embossed Pattern Rug
Embossed Pattern
Carved Rug
Carved Lines

  • Shaggy - It is made in high and long cut piles to create a shaggy look. This ultra-plush rug is so soft to step on but also difficult to clean and maintain.

Shaggy Rug
Shaggy Rug
Shaggy Rug
Shaggy Rug

Are Hand Tufted Rugs Good in Quality, and How Long Do They Last?

Hand Tufted rugs are excellent in terms of quality. The carpets that are made in wool are very durable. Wool is a kind of natural fiber widely used in the carpet industry for so many years. It is proven to be incredibly long-lasting, has a soft and plush feeling, and provides excellent texture retention. Hand tufted wool rugs can last 10-15 years with proper maintenance and care.

Why Is It Better to Buy a Custom Area Rug?

There are two main advantages of customizing your own area rug over a premade one.

Size and Shapes - Customize the size and shape of the carpet to fit your space the most. You can have irregular shapes for your room layout, not just stick with the rectangular, square, or circle premade rugs you usually find in ordinary furniture shops.

DO NOT try to buy a premade rug from a furniture shop and cut it at home. That won't work.

Colors and Designs - Have you ever had an experience of trying to find a rug for your home, and you have shopped for a long time, hoping someday to see a close match to what you are expecting?

A custom rug lets you get the perfect design in your desired colors without compromise. This will save you tremendous time. You will probably pay a little bit more, but you can get EXACTLY what you want.

But What Happens if I Know Nothing About Rug Design?

The great news is that at J & P Carpets, we will guide you from start to finish in making your perfect rug. From artwork development, making samples, and final production to shipping.

You only need to provide your design intent and the color tones you like. Then our professional design team will take care of the rest.

Contact us for more details.

How Long Does it Take to Make a Custom Hand Tufted Area Rug?

The time required to tuft a rug depends on the number of colors used and the complexity of the design. An average time to make a custom area rug from start to finish in a size of 4m x 5m (20 square meters or 200 square feet), made in all wool and having a design similar to the one below, takes about 3-4 weeks.

How Much Does a Custom Hand Tufted Rug Cost?

The price of a rug depends on several factors.
  • The Complexity of the Design

  • The Material(s) Used

  • The Number of Colors Used

  • The Thickness of the Rug

  • The Size of the Rug

Generally speaking, for a custom hand tufted rug, the price starts from around @USD 8.00/SF.

Cleaning and Care Tips for Hand Tufted Rugs

Vacuum Clean - Vacuum clean is an effective and the easiest way to clean a hand tufted rug. A wool rug can be vacuumed once a week or two to remove the dirt and dust accumulated inside the carpet. We recommend vacuum light color rugs slightly more often than darker, patterned ones. Avoid using a vacuum with a rotary brush nozzle on long pile rugs, as there might be a chance of damaging the yarns. Spot Clean - We do not recommend using carpet cleaning products from markets as they might contain harmful chemicals that permanently damage the rug's colors and yarns. Timing is critical when removing wet stains and liquid spills. Blot the stain with paper towels or a cleaning cloth until the liquid dries up. Do not scrub the rug or wet the carpet too much, as this will damage the piles and colors. Professional Clean - It is always a good idea to ask for a professional carpet cleaning company to clean your hand tufted rug once a year to maintain the rug's best condition.

Common Issues on Hand Tufted Wool Rugs:

Fluffing - It is normal for a brand-new wool hand tufted rug to shed excessive fibers. No special attention is needed; just normal and regular vacuuming will do the job. The fluffing gradually stops after about a month of using the rug. Sprouting - A sprouting on a rug means a single thread sticks out higher and longer than others. This is a natural occurrence on the tufted carpet. Use scissors and gently cut away the thread's excess part to the same height as the rest of the pile. DO NOT pull the sprout, as this will permanently damage the carpet.

3 Buying Tips for Hand tufted Rugs

  • Wool has many different grades; low-grade wool contains more contaminants than natural fiber. Some carpet makers will mix low-quality wool with other synthetic yarns during production to decrease the cost of the rug.

  • Latex or the adhesive used at the back of the rug also has different grades Low-quality latex might contain volatile chemicals that are harmful to humans and pets.

  • Bear in mind natural silk is a costly material, be careful when the rug is labeled "Made in Silk" but selling at a very low price. The kind of silk used in the carpet is probably viscose or other artificial materials.

In the rug industry, you get what you are paying for. Just beware when the price of the rug is too good to be true.

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