Posted on: March 9, 2021

Tips for Rug Shoppers from Rug Experts

We frequently hear questions along the lines of: “How can I be sure of the quality of a hand-made carpet? Is this carpet even hand-made?” These are exactly the questions you should be asking, and we have few different things to look out for when shopping for your next carpet! Continue reading to discover how to identify great hand-made carpets.

The top of the carpet should look like the back
Turn your carpet over so that the back is facing upwards. If the rug has a backing, this is your first red flag. Hand-knotted carpets do not utilize any glues or adhesives to hold the piece together, while tufted carpets require all these harsh chemicals, as well as the rubber backing, to be held together. If there is no backing to the carpet, focus your attention on the similarities and differences between the two sides of the carpet. The closer the back looks to the front in terms of design, clarity, and color, the better.

Fold your carpet
Fold a corner on your carpet, does the corner fold like cloth? Or does the carpet bow but stay folded, or does it bounce back flat entirely? Ideally, hand-knotted pieces should fold like cloth, meaning the foundation is the correct density concerning the fibers of the pile in relation to the diameters of the warp and weft. If your carpet folds with a bend or bounces back entirely, this means that the weft is too thick, which causes the foundation to be stiff. Especially with hand-knotted pieces, this is an indicator of low-quality construction and directly relates to the longevity of the carpet.

Smell the pile
While the carpet is facing upwards, get on your hands and knees and smell the pile. What do you smell? If the piece smells like chemicals, glue, or latex, this means the rug was likely not hand-knotted, or if hand-knotted, done so poorly that it would fall apart without these harmful additives. Regions that make much of the tufted carpet supply do not regulate what adhesives go into the fabrication process. These toxic adhesives can be released into the air and can have negative implications for your health.

Look for imperfections
Yes, you read that correctly. When looking at a hand-knotted carpet, look for aesthetic imperfections. Imperfections can vary from the shape of the rug, the scale of the motifs, the binding, or the fringe, and most importantly, knotting. These imperfections give each piece its character, making them one of a kind, and are part of the artistry that goes in to each carpet. If the carpet exhibits stunning regularity, especially in relation to knot size and design clarity, it is a strong hint that the carpet was machine-made. Even in hand-knotted pieces there can be a vast range in terms of value and quality. Some more mass-produced hand-knotted carpets of lesser quality may be intentionally acid-washed or otherwise manipulated after completion to attempt to mimic the natural flaws of a finer piece. Be wary of imposters!

In total, identifying high-quality hand-knotted carpets starts with the foundation. The front of the rug should always look like the back. Avoid choosing a piece with chemical odors because these carpets most likely utilize an adhesive, which can be toxic to your health. Hand-knotted pieces should be pliable and should fold like cloth, meaning the weft is the correct density and diameter. And finally, look for the imperfections in the carpet. Finding these imperfections or small details in the design, weave, and construction and look for what makes that carpet unique. If you are interested in feeling a hand-knotted rug in person, check out any one of our showrooms to see our entire hand-knotted carpet inventory.