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Hand Knotted vs Hand Tufted Rugs: How Are They Different?

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Having a handmade piece in your home to brag about is the epitome of elegance. But when you buy online it can be so difficult to tell what's real and what's not.

You're in luck!

I am going to help you distinguish the difference between and hand knotted rug and a hand tufted rug.

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For over 30 years, RugKnots has crafted, imported and delivered the very highest quality rugs from the heart of Pakistan, where skilled artisans have passed down ancient oriental rug hand knotting secrets for generations.

Hand Tufted or Hand Knotted — Which is Best? 

First, let's get this question answered. At RugKnots, we sell both hand knotted and hand tufted rugs. Choosing between the two can be tough and in this blog, I'll explain the differences. 

It all comes down to your purpose and lifestyle. All the rugs we sell are made to the best standard; all of them are high quality and beautiful rugs. 

Do you enjoy buying a new rug every year or two? If you really like buying new rugs, then a hand tufted rug will be for you. They are reasonably priced to allow for changing rugs whenever the mood strikes. Also, hand tufted rugs show their wear and tear sooner, so you'll want to replace them sooner than hand knotted. 

Love quality that lasts? Hand knotted rugs are for you. You can buy a rug once and it won't show it's wear and tear nearly as early or easily. Read on to learn more about hand-knotted rugs in detail. They last so long you can pass them down as family heirlooms! 

So, let's learn about the differences! 

Hand Tufted vs Hand Knotted Rug

What is a hand knotted rug?

hand tufted vs hand knotted

A hand knotted rug is an ancient art form of hand knotting individual pieces of wool or silk yarn onto a loom to create a wool rug.

What is a hand tufted rug?

hand knotted vs hand tufted


A hand tufted rug is the practice using a small tufting gun to punch a design into a canvas.

how long do hand tufted rugs last with tufting design?

The tufting gun is held by the hand of a technician who loads yarn into a magazine and traces a pattern onto a canvas backing. This is done by an unskilled laborer very quickly in a factory.

So, that's how hand knotted and hand tufted rugs are made. Now, let's see if you know how to tell them apart!

How to tell the difference?

what is a hand tufted rug

1.The Fringe

How the fringe looks on a rug is a tell tale sign of how the rug was constructed.

Hand Knotted rug:

what is hand tufted

The fringe of a hand knotted rug is key to the construction of the rug. 

The wool yarn is hand knotted onto the fringe and the pieces at the end are left for decoration.

But, the fringe is key to holding the rug together.

If the fringe is not there, the rug will unravel and you will have nothing but a pile of yarn.

Hand Tufted:

what is hand tufted wool rugs

On a tufted rug, the fringe will be sewn or glued on the the back.

Because the fringe is and essential part to a hand knotted rug, makers of hand tufted rugs are glued or sewn on a fringe to make the rug appear authentic. This makes it very easy to tell the difference between knotted rugs and tufted rugs.

Simply flip the rug over and look to see if you can see stitch marks...


Look and see if there is a strip of canvas that the fringe is attached to.

2.The Back of the Rug

Hand Knotted:

hand tufted vs hand knotted rugs

The back of hand knotted rugs will be an exact mirror image of the top pile of the rug.

You should be able to see each individual knot on hand knotted rugs and be able to count the knots per square inch.

Hand Tufted:

hand tufted

The back of a hand tufted rug will have have a canvas back the is glued to hold the rug together.

Since the rug is not knotted, you will not see or be able to calculate a knot count on hand tufted rugs.

[VIDEO} Mary demonstrates how to tell when a rug is hand knotted or hand tufted!

What determines the price?

In a hand knotted rug, the main determinant of price is Knots Per Square Inch (KPSI).

The higher the knot count, the tighter the knots, the softer the rug, or the longer the rug takes to make... the higher said rug will be in price.

The reason that hand tufted rugs cost less is because they take much less time to make, and tufted rugs do not require a specialized skill set.

However, sometimes you will find hand tufted rugs be be about the same price or even more expensive than a hand knotted rug.


Designer names, of course! Just like that Italian Leather hand bag, you pay top dollar for designer names, no matter what type of rug.


Hand knotted rugs are pricey, there is no denying that fact. However, they tend to hold their value.

hand tufted

This 1stdibs piece is $19,900

hand tufted wool rugs

This Navy Blue and Ivory Peshawar Ziegler RugKnots piece is less than 1/4th the price!

If well taken care of, classic styles of hand knotted rugs will hold their value through the ages. 

Tufted rugs, however, will not hold any value. Tufted rugs are fantastic if you are on a tight budget and can't invest in a hand knotted rug, or if you want to buy multiple rugs to keep up with trends.  


Hand knotted rugs can last forever.Hand tufted rugs shedding from foot traffic.

Wool is one of earth's most durable fibers, and hand knotted is one the most durable ways to make a carpet.

With proper cleaning and care a hand knotted rug has an endless lifetime.

antique oriental hand tufted rug

This is the oldest hand knotted rug in the world. It belonged to a Persian emperor who was buried with the rug. Hand tufted rugs safe with non-toxic fiber.Grave robbers ransacked his grave of jewels and gold but did not bother to drag the rug with them.With the robbery happening in the winter, the rug froze within a thick layer of ice and preserved it for centuries!

Hand tufted rugs, on the other hand, do not have such a lifetime. A tufted rug is made to suit trends and can be changed in and out every few years. 

It's not that wear and tear will degrade the rug, it just was not made to last more than three years.

Environmental Impact

We all know that anything machine made causes detriment to the environment. 

However, this is not where hand tufted rugs cause alarm.

Like Chris points out in his video, hand tufted rugs clog land fills.

[VIDEO] Chris demonstrates all of the problems with hand tufted rugs!

You will never see someone throw a hand knotted rug away. They last lifetimes and even when they faded or become damaged, they still have purpose.

When a hand knotted rug fades, the rug can be sent to be overdyed.

This is the process in which a rug is desaturated of all of its color and is then re-dyed with a new hue.

purple hand tufted rug

If the rug is damaged in any way, the rug is then sent to be used for a patchwork rug. The results are typically similar to this pink patchwork rug:

hooked rugs

In this process, the rug is cut into smaller sections, overdyed, then stitched back together to form a new rug. A lot of patchwork rugs can be multicolored as well.

patchwork rug

Or even a patchwork pillow or pillow case!

Another way to reuse a hand knotted rug is to turn it into furniture!

[VIDEO] Mary Give Creative Ideas for Hand Knotted Rug Recycling!Hand knotted rugs don't shed as easily. In the first few months, you may witness a bit of shedding, but after a while this eventually ceases.

Cleaning is also incredibly easy. Just take it for a professional clean every year or so and that's it!

If you would like to learn about spot treatment, click the banner below to download our Wool Rug Cleaning Guide.

Have it on hand for a moment's notice!

what is hand tufted wool rugs

The guide will teach you how to spot clean any stain, any time.

Our motto: have it for when you need it!

So that's it! Did we forget anything? Let us know in the comments if you have any secret ways of telling the difference between hand knotted rugs and hand tufted rugs!


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