Area Rugs | How It's Made

Being familiar with area rug construction also helps you understand and evaluate performance aspects: why certain rugs wear better and longer. Understanding how area rugs are created helps you better determine rug value and keep you inside the borders of your budget.

Machine made

  • less expensive
  • not considered investments
  • more flexibility and variety
  • woven rugs created on automated weaving looms
  • elaborate designs created by placement of different colors of yarn

Man made

  • handmade (also called hand knotted)
  • custom-made
  • one of a kind designs
  • incorporate creative, brilliant uses of color
  • unique details and intricacies in each due to the village, city or country of the creator
  • often created with natural dyes for color longevity
  • considered an investment
  • many become heirlooms
  • ancient and unique process
  •  Elements that tie any handmade rug together


    • technique used in making handmade rugs

    Three major techniques: pile weave, flat weave and hand-tufted

    Pile Weave

    • method of weaving used in most rugs
    • rug is woven by a creation of knots
    • different weaving groups use different types of knots
    • every single knot is tied by hand
    • can consist of 25 to over 1000 knots per square inch
    • skillful weavers tie knots in about ten seconds (meaning it would take a skillful weaver 6,480 hours to weave a 9x12-foot rug with a density of 150 knots per square inch)
    • time reduced with workshops or multiple weavers

    Flat Weave

    • technique of weaving where no knots are used
    • warp strands used as the foundation
    • weft stands are used as the foundation and in the patterns
    • called flat weaves since no knots are used in the weaving process and the surface looks flat

    Hand Tufted

    • created without tying knots into the foundation
    • pile height determined by amount of yarn cut off
    • less time consuming than hand-tying each knot
    • requires a high level of craftsmanship
    • can be made faster than hand-knotted rugs
    • generally less expensive than hand-knotted
    • highly durable and accurate
    • weathers foot traffic for years


    • woven by tying knots on the warp strands
    • two predominant types of knots: asymmetrical and symmetrical

    Asymmetrical (Persian or Senneh) Knot:

    • used in Iran, India, Turkey, Egypt and China
    • to form, yarn is wrapped around one warp strand and then passed under the neighboring warp strand and brought back to the surface
    • creates a finer weave   

    Symmetrical (Turkish or Ghiorde) Knot:

    • used in Turkey, the Caucasus and Iran by Turkish and Kurdish tribes

    Knot Density:

    • refers to the number of knots per square inchor square decimeter in a handmade rug
    • measured in the imperial system in square inches and in the metric system in square decimeters
    • KPSI is sometimes used to indicate value
    • higher the number of knots per square inch, the higher the quality, and price


    • process of changing the natural color of materials such as wool, silk and cotton
    • two types of dyes: natural dyes and synthetic dyes

    Natural Dyes:

    • natural dyes only used until late 19th century
    • include plant dyes, animal dyes and mineral dyes
    • plant dyes come from roots, flowers, leaves, fruit, and the bark of plants
    • woad, a plant from the mustard and indigo family, is used for blue dye
    • yellow is produced from saffron, safflower, sumac, turmeric, onionskin, rhubarb, weld, and fustic
    • Madder, Redwood and Brazilwood has been used since ancient times for reds
    • browns and blacks come from catechu dye, oak bark, oak galls, acorn husks, tea, and walnut husks
    • henna is used for orange
    • for green, indigo that is over-dyed with any variety of a yellow dye is used
    • mineral dyes come from ocher (yellow, brown, red), limestone or lime (white), manganese (black), cinnabar and lead oxide (red), azurite and lapis lazuli (blue), and malachite (green)

    Synthetic Dyes:

    • mid-nineteenth century, when demand for handmade rugs increased in the West, production increased in the East
    • need for easy-to-use and less expensive dyes with a wider range of colors caused development of synthetic dyes in Europe
    • synthetic dyes imported to Persia (Iran), Anatolia (Turkey) and other Eastern countries
    • first synthetic dye, Fuchsine (a magenta aniline), was developed in the 1850s
    • other synthetic aniline dyes followed, later banned by the Persian king
    • Persian weavers discontinued the use of synthetic dyes until the modern synthetic chrome dyes developed between World Wars I and II
    • chrome dyes are colorfast, retain their intensity and are produced in a variety of attractive colors and shades
    • mostly chrome synthetic dyes are used for coloring weaving yarns
    • natural dyes are used in places where they are easily obtainable