Woven, knotted, tufted - what’s the difference?

In a hand-knotted rug, colored yarns are wrapped by hand onto individual warp threads. They are secured by one or more rows of weft. The long pile yarns, which create the design, are sheared to uniform length. Persian and oriental rugs are hand-knotted. All hand-knotted carpets may be generically referred to as “oriental” rugs, regardless of design, because the technique of hand-knotted originated in Asia.

The type of structure familiar to most people is the flat-weave. In a flat-woven rug, colored weft yarns are woven through the warps to create the design. These rugs have no pile. Remember those potholder looms you had as a child? Those potholders were flatweaves. Flatweaves are available at all price points in many different materials - wool, cotton, hemp, etc. Kilims, dhurries, and tapestries are flat-woven.

Tufted or “hand-tufted” rugs are increasingly common. A tufting gun, which works like an oversized needle, is used to punch the yarns through a pre-woven grid foundation. When the rug is finished the back is given a coat of latex to secure the yarns, then covered with cloth or canvas. This is a much faster, less labor-intensive process which does not require any particular skill. These rugs may appear like hand-knotted rugs from the pile side, but are much less durable than hand-knotted rugs.

Another type of rug is the machine-made, in which rugs are woven on mechanical looms. Many of these are made from synthetic yarns such as olefin or nylon. There are some better-quality machine-made rugs that are serviceable in certain applications. Again, they may appear similar to genuine hand-knotted rugs on the pile side, but are not as durable, nor are they unique as they are mass produced.

Many thanks to Guildcraft for this informative article.
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