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25 Rules to Buying a Hand Knotted Rug

/ oriental / overdyed / related-handknotted-rugs-under-500 / rug care / wool

So you want to buy a hand knotted rug? Hand knotted rugs bring culture, luxury and beauty to your home, but before you buy one, there are few things you need to know:

A Pakistani man hand knotting a rug for RugKnots.com

  • What is a hand knotted rug?
  • How is a hand knotted rug made?
  • How do I clean a hand knotted rug?
  • What style should I choose?

RugKnots is here to answer your questions to make sure you can make an educated purchase on a beautiful, one-of-a-kind, hand knotted rug!


Here are 24 things you absolutely need to know before buying a hand knotted rug:

1. Hand Knotted Rugs are Individually Knotted by a Specialized Weaver

Hand knotted rugs are the cream of the crop when it comes to area rugs and carpets. A skilled weaver individually ties every single knot to create intricate patterns and designs.

[VIDEO] Check Out How A Hand Knotted Rug Is Made!

2. Hand Knotted and Hand Tufted are NOT the Same Thing

Hand tufted rugs are made using a tufting tool to punch the yarn into a fabric backing to hid the glue that is holding the rug together. Anyone remember Lite-Brites? The tufted rug process is very similar.

hand knotted wool rug

Comment below if you had a Lite-Brite!!

A stencil canvas is stretched behind so the design can be traced/punched into the rug. The tufting gun speeds up the process significantly and very little skill is needed to complete a tufted rug, resulting in a significant decrease in quality and price.

3. A Hand Knotted Rug is Woven by Hand on a Specially Designed Loom.

hand knotted rugs

Vertical (warp) threads are tied onto the loom — these threads are what will eventually become the fringe of the rug. The weft then runs horizontally, intertwining with the vertical threads to create the foundation of the rug. The knots are tied to the warp threads, cut and then tied again to secure the knot. An experienced weaver can tie one knot every two seconds!

4. Know What Type of Knot You Are Looking For

There are three main types of knots in a hand knotted rug.

Persian Knot (Senneh Knot)

bokhara rug

The Persian knot is asymmetrical and open to one side. This knot doesn't leave gaps and is less bulky than Turkish knots. Persian knots are used to create more intricate curvilinear or floral patterns. Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, Nepal, Tibet, and China are known for this knot.

Turkish Knot (Ghiordes Knot)

luxury rugs

The Turkish knot is symmetrical and can be identified by two small bumps within one knot on the back of the rug. This looks like a double knot. Turkey, Armenia, Azerbaijan, and northern Iran are known for this type of knot.

Jufti Knot

Jufti knots are known as false knots. Instead of being tied around two warp threads, the weaver ties the knot around four. With this short cut, the weaver spends less time on the rug, resulting in a lower value and quality.

 rug making

5. A Hand Knotted Rugs Can Be Woven Using Wool, Silk, or Wool and Silk

Hand knotted rugs will never be woven from synthetic materials like polypropylene, nylon, acrylic, or polyester.

Silk

Hand knotted area rugs that are woven from silk are stunningly luxurious. With luxury, however, comes a luxurious price tag. Be wary if a silk rugs price seems too good to be true... it is. Some rug dealers will market their rugs as 100% pure silk, but in fact the material is rayon or viscose. Both resemble silk even at the chemical level. Bamboo silk is an excellent alternative to traditional silk.

silk caterpillar
Silk Caterpillar

It's more durable and more environmentally friendly. Both materials are made the same way. But with bamboo silk we can save poor little silk caterpillar lives!

Wool

Sheared from sheep, wool is hypo-allergenic, anti-bacterial and a renewable resource. The sheep are not hurt in the process — they even enjoy the haircut!

Wool and Silk

When an area rug is woven with both wool and silk, usually the bulk of the rug is wool and silk is woven into the intricate design to create sheen.

pink oriental rug

Like this wool and silk hand knotted rug!

5. A Hand Knotted Rug Takes a Considerable Amount of Time to Weave

An average weaver can weave about 10,000 knots in an eight hour day. Depending on the size of the rug and the intricacy of the design, it could take between 30 days and 8 years to weave a carpet. Most company’s rugs will take about 9 months to 1 year to complete. RugKnots can weave and deliver a hand knotted rug within 4 months!

[VIDEO] We Discuss How Long Our One of a Kind and Knotted Rugs Take to Craft

hand knotted oriental rugs

7. A Hand Knotted Rug is a One-of-A-Kind Piece

RugKnots weavers are specialized artisans who do not use stencils during the weaving process. Cartoons are used as guides and are sketched out before the knotting process begins.custom rugs

All RugKnots rugs are one-of-a-kind — no two are ever the same. Every rug is exceptionally woven and knotted to create a unique work of art for you to display in your home.

8. The Number of Knots Will Determine the Value

The higher the knot count, the higher the value! Many factors go into determining the value of a hand knotted rug:

  • Age
  • Size
  • Design
  • Material

However, because of the time it takes for the artisan to individually wrap every knot and the amount of wool used in the process, knot count per square inch (KSPI) is one of the largest determinants of value. Just like thread count on sheets, hand knotted rugs can start out at 50 KSPI and reach over 1000.

handmade persian rugs types of oriental rugs

9. Fringe Is Back! And It’s Important

Pay close attention to the fringe! Hand tufted rugs are made using a tufting gun, which punches the traced pattern into a canvas. After the design is complete, a fabric backing is glued onto the back to hold the rug together. A decorative fringe is then added to give the appearance of a hand knotted rug.

In a hand knotted rug, the fringe is a key component to holding the rug together.

You will never, never, never, never (did I say never!?) see an authentically hand knotted rug with a glued or sewn on fringe. The fringe is one of the defining characteristics of a hand knotted rug. Here is how to tell the difference:

rug companies knotted versus tufted rugs

-The fringe on the hand knotted rug is a part of the weave of the rug.

 

-The fringe on the tufted the clearly and add on.

-If you look closely, you can see the wrinkled edge of the sewn on fringe.

 

 

If a lemon is green, it’s a lime. If the fringe is glued or sewn on, its tufted!

10. Understanding Types of Dye is Essential.

Most dyes will appear brilliant and true to exactly what you are looking for when you first see them. Despite how they look at first, determining whether they are good or bad lies within whether or not they are colorfast.

THE GOOD- Colorfast dye

Although difficult to determine, you can take a damp cloth and place it over the rug to be left over night. If the dye transfers onto the cloth, the dye is not stable. To do this, ask if you can take the rug out on consignment for at least 24 hours to be sure that your dye is colorfast. If the rug dealer does not allow the consignment OR does not offer a money back guarantee, walk away.

You do not want to be stuck with a bleeding rug and hundreds or even thousands of dollars down the drain. RugKnots  only uses stable dyes and offers a 30-day money back guarantee on all rugs purchases.

In this video, David teaches all you need to know about test rug dye for yourself:

THE BAD- Fugitive dyes

Never purchase a rug that was dyed with fugitive dye. If you spill even the tiniest drop of water on them, the dye will bleed onto everything - carpet below, clothing, and skin. This results from a short cut. The rug was not properly rinsed after the dying process. 

THE UGLY- Ink

If you ever hear of a rug being dyed with ink, run as fast as you can. This is a shady process that unscrupulous rug dealers use to hid imperfections in their rugs. Ink cannot be stabilized and will bleed like nothing you have seen before.

luxury area rugs

***Make sure that when you buy a rug, especially an antique rug, you have the type of dye used written on the invoice! If the dealer insists the dye is stable or that ink was not used on the rug, you must have written documentation to be able to be refunded for the rug***

11. New Zealand Wool is The Best on The Market

Be sure to ask your dealer where the wool from their rugs is sourced. At RugKnots, we use 100% New Zealand wool to provide the highest quality, one-of-a-kind, hand knotted rugs on the market. If you purchase an area rug woven with wool from India, you may end up with a HUGE shedding problem on your hands. Dealers use this wool because it is highly processed, therefore provides cheaper production costs.

12. Finding The Right Dealer is EVERYTHING

The wrong dealer could seriously cost you — we're talking money, time, energy! When buying in-store make sure you are going in educated. With synthetic rugs flooding the market, there are not many brick and mortar hand knotted rug dealers out there. If you think that something is up, politely decline their offer and find another dealer. 

Do NOT be afraid to buy a hand knotted rug online! Reputable online dealers offer a money back guarantee return policy and will never hesitate to answer your questions.

[VIDEO] RugKnots Premier Return Policy

RugKnots will even goes as far as sending you pictures and videos of the rug you are interested in.

shop our collection

13. What is the Difference Between a Persian Rug and an Oriental Rug?

Persian rugs are any hand knotted rug that is made in Iran, which is modern day Persia. Rugs that are hand knotted in other countries in or near:

  • India
  • China
  • Pakistan
  • Afghanistan
  • Egypt

oriental rugs

Are considered oriental rugs.

Persia once made the best rugs.

Now, with advanced trading and globalization, every country makes all qualities of rugs, good and bad.

With Persian vs Oriental rugs, one is not better than the other. They are just simply different.

14. Beware of the Old Bait and Switch

This is one of the oldest tricks in the book.

In store, the rug dealers may have samples on display. Great! You can view what you are buying — see it, touch it and imagine it in your home but

If after you purchase the rug, the dealer pulls out an already sealed and packed rug to take home, ask questions. You need to see the actual physical rug before you take it home, or before you even swipe your card, to be sure it is the same style and quality you just agreed to buy.

15. A Hand Knotted Rug Can be an Investment Piece

Yes, you read that right! Quality hand knotted rugs hold their value EXTREMELY well.

bokhara rug company

Like this $36,000 Vintage Persian rug from 1stdibs.com!

With love and care, you will be able to not only pass your wool rugs down to your grandchildren, but, be able to invest in an art piece that has proven investment potential.

16. Due to Their Investment Potential, Hand Knotted Rugs Demand a Higher Price

Would you ever go to Target looking for an investment? Of course not! Big box stores sell mass produced merchandise meant for limited use and only aesthetically pleasing for a short time. You know, before they fall apart, those products were never meant to last.

Hand knotted rugs are meant to last centuries. Due to the time it takes to produce every tiny knot by hand, the price of a hand knotted rug is higher than a synthetic rug. Hand knotted rugs combine form and function perfectly to create a useful work of art.

Read more about why hand knotted wool rugs are more expensive than synthetic rugs and here to learn how much you should be paying per square foot.

17. Do You Want to Go Custom or in Stock?

If you need a rug that does not come in common dimensions, a custom made area rug may be the way to go. Nothing compliments a space better than a well styled, well fitted rug.

Do not fall into the spell of using a rug that is too small because you can’t find one large enough.This will only dwarf the room making your décor look out of place and un-styled.

quality area rugs

The best way to figure out the right size area rug you need is to outline the space with masking tape. When you use a measuring tape to figure out the rug size, you lose perspective of how the rug will look in your room as you are reading the tape measure.

After you do this, if you cannot find just the right pattern or design, a custom rug may be for you. A custom rug may take up to 2 years to complete, but at RugKnots, we can get your custom rug in your home within 4 months. If you would like more information on custom rugs, click here!

[VIDEO] Learn out RugKnots Custom Rugs for Your Unique Sense of Style

18. Maybe You Want to Go Antique?

A hand knotted antique rug can add endless charm and intrigue to your space. However, the inspiration of long lost times comes with a not so inspiring price tag, but because of their rarity, antique rug prices tend to run higher than new hand knotted rugs.

authentic persian rugs

This Antique Persian rug from 1stdibs.com starts at $14,200!

antique rugs

This antique hand knotted rug from RugKnots costs less than half the 1stdibs rug!

It's a complex subject deciding whether a rug is antique or just old. Your best bet would be to find a trustworthy rug specialist from a friend, a collector or an appraiser who does not sell rugs him/herself. But if you want to try your hand the following points may be helpful:

  1. The range of colors in vegetable dyes is limited.
    1. Look up the time period you rug is supposedly from.
    2. There is a limited range of dyes used in any specific time period.
  2. The pile of an antique rug has a smooth gradation of color from the base of the knot.
    1. If the color changes half way up the pile it is clearly delineated
    2. The rug is probably new and has been chemically surface washed to fade the colors
    3. It is similar to lines of demarcation in peroxide blonde hair
  3. The knots on the back of an old, well-used rug will be slightly flat.
    1. These knots could be compared with the rounded knots of a new hand knotted rug.
  4. Research to see if the design, pattern, or color was discontinued at a certain point. If so, the rug will be inherently more valuable

Another option for the antique rug lovers out there is a vintage/antique over dyed rug. The over dye process is done to help a faded vintage/antique rug realize its new found glory. The process is simple and environmentally friendly.

Check out this video to learn more about the process...

over dyed rugs

This antique pink over dyed rug is to dye for!

19. Choose the Right Size and Style for Your Home.

This is another place where that money back guarantee will come in handy. You can see the rug in your home and decide whether or not it fits your style. Consider the style and feel of your space. If you have a modern and contemporary style, a rug with clean straight lines may suit you.

kilim rugs

This modern Kilim Dhurrie rug works perfectly in a modern or contemporary room!

If you have more eclectic taste, perhaps a patchwork rug would suit your unique space.

multicolored patchwork rug

Like this multi colored over dyed patchwork rug!

purple patchwork

…or this purple over dyed patchwork rug!

Or you could mix things up! We are obsessed with the juxtaposition of modern and antique coming together to create a unique style!

contemporary rugs

This Ziegler rug creates the perfect balance in this modern living room!

For an old world feel that displays your hand knotted piece of art, you can hang your wool rug on the wall like a tapestry! This is an exotic style popular in Iran and all over the Middle East

hand tufted vs hand knotted

Wool is one of nature’s best noise insulators! This hand knotted rug not only adds flair, but is adding to the acoustic sound quality of this music room

20. Do Hand Knotted Rugs Shed?

Because wool is a natural fiber, it is prone to shedding. After the first few weeks in your home the shedding will decrease and your rug will stop shedding completely.

If you see an abnormal amount of shedding on a day to day basis, check with your dealer. Your rug may have been woven with a lesser quality wool.

21. They Crease and That’s a Good Sign!

You know how your wool or cotton trousers or blouses get creased? Wool rugs do the same. Wool rugs will not wrinkle, but they will crease if they are folded in the same position for too long.

To remove the crease, simply fold in the opposite direction until the rug straightens out.

color reformed rugs

Creasing is a good sign because you know that your hand knotted rug is not blended with any other synthetic materials that would prevent creasing.

Synthetic rugs cannot be folded, only rolled into logs. This is because they a have a hard plastic backing that cannot be folded.

Have you ever tried to fold a Tupperware container?

Not so easy!

Hand knotted wool rugs are made from natural materials through and through and can be folded for easy storage and shipping.

22. Hand Knotted Rugs Need to be Rotated

Especially if your rug is placed in a high sun or high traffic area. To make sure the rug stays even throughout its long lifetime, simply rotate the rug every few months to keep it looking bright and fresh!

23. So There May be an Odor…

Trust us, it will go away. Wool contains lanolin, which has natural anti-bacterial properties — meaning bacteria cannot grow on top to create a foul smelling odor.

When you first get your rug home it may smell like the ware house it was stored in. Don't panic. Your rug will warm up to your home in no time and with a little love and care, it will smell fresh and clean. 

If you ordered your rug online and it arrived in a plastic shipping bag, give the rug a few days to filter the plastic odor and absorb your homes aroma. But, if you notice an odor after a spill or stain, you need to take your rug for a professional clean.

24. Cleaning is Seriously Not That Bad!

We promise!

how to clean a wool rug

Wool has a natural hydrophobic (water resistant) exterior but a hydrophilic (water absorbing) interior. This means that if water based stains are cleaned within 15 minutes, it will come right off without a problem. But, if water sets in, the rug may develop on odor.

This is why it is essential to have your wool hand knotted rug professionally cleaned once a year. A professional rug cleaner will be able to tell right away the quality and type of the material and dye and will be able to assess the situation appropriately. Check out our post on how to find a professional rug cleaner near you.

For subtle stains, first soak up the stain with a dry paper towel. Then simply apply a cloth dampened with:

  • 8 parts water
  • 1 part white vinegar
  • A small quirt of a clear mild dish soap solution

Dab in the solution, never rub. Wool rugs contain tiny pockets that hide dust and dirt exceptionally well. You will want to vacuum your wool rug one every 1-3 weeks.

wool rugs

To vacuum, use the bristle end of vacuum and never use a beater bar. The beater bar is too powerful and may cause your rug to shed. Read more about cleaning your hand knotted wool rug here.

25. Where do I buy? How to get a deal?

We recently came across an article on Houzz asking readers if hand knotted rugs are a rip off. Unfortunately, nobody had an answer! Well in this post, we're going to address all questions you may have on hand knotted rugs.

1.Why is there such a price difference?

The answer is simple, really. From the factory where it is made, to the supplier, to the seller, the rug can pass through 5-10 different hands.

Your best bet at getting a great deal without sacrificing quality is a factory direct shop. The rug world (much like the professional world) is a lot about who you know. RugKnots works factory direct — meaning we do not pay a middle man, which means that you don't pay a middle man! Depending on the connection, the seller could have paid the middle man a lot, a little, or like RugKnots, nothing at all.

2.Fake Sales

hand knotted oriental rugs for sale

Well yeah, unfortunately, you've seen this everywhere. The piece is marked up, then marked down. This is something that rug dealers do but let us explain something to you...

RugKnots shows you the price of the rug before, then the price of the rug after. This is NOT the fake sale price. The larger number is what you would pay retail, the smaller number is what we are offering. Why? Because we don't have to pay the middle man, pay rent, or upkeep on a showroom!

3.Sales People convince you it will go up in value.

investing in hand knotted rugs

Honestly, the sales people aren't wrong. A hand knotted rug is considered art. If the piece is good quality and appealing to many, the price may go up. Value is not guaranteed to go up, but it is possible that if you invest in a good quality, nice design, you could see your piece triple in value over 10-15 years. That is, if you keep the rug in excellent condition. If the rug obtains tears, stains, or the fringe starts pulling out, your rug will decrease in value. It is just like art in that way.

4.Craigslist and Ebay Myth

persian rugs to buy online

So yes, there are people on Craigslist and Ebay who are moving and are looking to just "dump" their rugs for a fraction of the price, but rug dealers know that people think this! Sellers know that if buyers think they are getting a steal, they'll buy. Now that buyers know that before and after prices are not real, sellers have resorted to creating stories like...

"My House is Foreclosed on and I need to sell this rug!!"

"I am retiring and just want to get rid of it!"

"I inherited this thing and I don't want it!"

Although there are some genuine people on there, be careful.

5.Bloomingdales, Macys, Safavieh, Ethan Allen...

big box

So these are trusted brands that you know you will get amazing quality at an excellent price, right?  Wrong. Mega retailers are the WORST place to find deals. Not only are you not getting a deal, but you are getting ripped off. These companies attach a celebrity or designer name to a piece, then mark it up because of the perceived value of the designer name.

5.Return Policy

rugknots service

Houzzers were dead right with this one. If there is not a return policy, do not purchase the rug. Rugs can look completely different online and lit up in a showroom than they do in your home. Even if you see it and touch it in person, you cant judge it until you see it in your home.

Did we answer all your questions?

If not, leave your question below in the comments section and we will get back to you as soon as possible!

If we did, great!

We would still love to hear from you in the comments below!

Check us out on Facebook, Pinterest, and Houzz, for all you hand knotted and oriental rug needs!

shop our collection

 

25 Rules To Buying A Handknotted Wool Rug


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4 comments


  • Amazing clarity I got thru this information..feel more confident to buy another one..

    Dr Asha Kapadia on

  • Hi there, thank you so much for this education!! Simply amazing. I was wondering though. What about overstock. There is a rug on there (her at oriental indo hand knotted rug) and says its 200kpsi, and “This rug was created in the Varanasi region of India. All washing, spinning and dyeing of the wool are by a village family at their home. Weavers of the Mahal design use the asymmetrical or Persian knot, giving their rugs exceptional softness and flexibility. Natural dyes are used to give the rugs their rich colors”. The rug is on sale for 900 dollars. I’m just not sure. It has all the positive things you listed except the type if wool. I have never ordered from overstock and know nothing about the brand. Could you please help?

    Louis on

  • @Norashikin, Thanks for your comments! We’re actually a family owned business and hand knot our rugs in Pakistan.

    Rugknots Oriental Rugs on

  • Thank you for the very informative article! There are many hand knotted rugs that have already been made by skilled knotters in the villages of Turkey, Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, etc. Do you buy from them directly? My husband and I are avid hand-knotted rug collectors and we buy from these knotters directly when we travel.

    Norashikin on

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