How Are Rugs Made? The Rug Making Process Explained

Purchasing a rug sounds like a relatively simple task, no? However, it can become quite daunting when you’re faced with terms you don’t understand, trying desperately to work out the difference between hand loomed and hand knotted!

Whilst some descriptors are pretty self-explanatory, such as sheepskin and Persian, others are far less obvious, and require further explanation. Fret not however, for we at Rug Traders hold ample experience in sourcing quality rugs straight from the source. Read on to discover how the different types of rug are made, the key benefits of each, and what exactly it is you’re paying for!

How are Rugs Made? The Different Types of Rug

What is a tufted rug?

Close up of our Sheikh Black and Ivory Hand-tufted Rug

To fully understand how rugs are made, you must first consider the different types of rugs available, as each is crafted differently.

The first key categorisation to make is whether your rug is hand-made or machine-made. Machine-made rugs are crafted via a computer-operated power loom, which creates rugs at great speed. These rugs have a life span of typically 20 years.

At Rug Traders, we have a mixture of machine-made and hand-made, combining cultural roots with efficient technology to provide you with a wide range of styles and prices.

Whilst additional rug types exist, the primary handmade rug categories are hand tufted, loomed and knotted. Each vary slightly in terms of both style and substance, and subsequently offer different benefits.

The different rug types also helps to explain their fluctuating cost; as some processes are much more detailed and time-consuming than others, the cost of these is greatly increased.

What is a Tufted Rug?

What is a tufted rug? - Persian

Close up of our Ushak Luxury Traditional Persian Hand Tufted Rug

Tufted rugs are commonly seen as blurring the line between machine and handmade. Whilst tufted rugs are made by hand, this is via a handheld drill gun- a ‘hand tufting gun’. To make a tufted rug, tufts of thread are pushed through a backing which has been imprinted with the rug’s selected design. A latex coating is then applied to the rug’s back to keep the tufts in place.

Similar to hand-knotted rugs (see below), hand-tufted rugs use high quality wool to create durable rugs with elaborate designs. However, as hand tufting is a substantially less skilful process than hand knotting, hand-tufted rugs are much quicker to create; a hand-knotted rug which takes a year to make may take one day tufted. Tufted rugs therefore make an affordable alternative to hand-knotted rugs, with what they lack in originality made up for in cost, whilst still possessing a handmade, authentic appearance.

What is a Hand Loomed Rug?

What is a hand loomed rug

Close up of our Leonard Luxury Hand-Loomed Rug

Hand looming (similar to flat weaving) is a tricky process that takes great time and care to perfect, making hand loomed rugs much higher in quality than many other rugs.

Hand loomed rugs are, unsurprisingly, created via the use of a loom, not so different to a fabric loom. Operated by a human, rather than mechanical, these looms feature levers which pull and push fibres together. They usually take between one and four people to operate, depending on the rug’s size.

Whilst both hand-loomed and flat-weaved rugs are created via a loom, slight differences make these two processes unique. Hand looming places a rod/pipe through the middle of the rug’s warp. This elevates the yarn and creates a pile in the process. Flat-weaves are not elevated, but compacted.

The heightened level of skill needed to create a loomed rug is reflected in the slightly heightened price compared to tufted rugs. However, opposed to hand knotted rugs, which require considerably more expertise, they are still relatively cheap.

What is a Hand Knotted Rug?

What is a hand knotted rug

Close up of our Traditional Regal Aubusson Rug

We’ve well and truly saved the best for last with hand-knotting, which creates some of the highest quality rugs in existence. Crafted via a specially designed loom, on a hand knotted rug each strand is knotted individually. A weaver then inserts these knots into the rug’s foundation, before tying by hand to create the rugs’ pile.

Size-depending, a single hand-knotted rug can take an entire year to make. This pain-staking process provides several benefits, including durability, density, quality and design.

An ancient art, the skill of hand-knotting is passed down through generations, just as any hand-knotted rug you own will be due to their lengthy lifespan. As such, hand-knotted rugs are considerably more expensive, albeit undeniably worth the investment.


Ultimately, each type of rug has its benefits, but it takes a keen-eye and experienced rug trader to find the highest quality rugs, whether handmade or machine made. What’s more, they always have a story to tell, with skills passed between familial generations condensed into a singular piece of art; rug making is a skill, and should be treated with the respect that such commands.

Now that you have a good idea of how rugs are made, see our rug buying guide to determine which style best suits you, or browse our blog for more home décor tips and inspiration!