Hand Tufted Area Rugs


Hand tufted rugs are generally made from wool, but other fibers can also be tufted using this process. Synthetics such as nylon or acrylic are sometimes tufted, and silk or viscose are also woven into hand tufted rugs. The later are generally blended with wool to provide a “softer hand” or a lustrous effect.

Hand tufted rugs are generally considered a more affordable option to their hand knotted cousins, but don’t have the same durability that a hand knotted rug has. Hand tufted rugs will often be passed down from generation to generation, where as a hand tufted rug will need to be replaced much sooner.

hand tufting diagram

the Graphic Above depicts the yarn trail in a hand tufted rug - a manual tufting tool is shown in the image.

Hand Knotted Knot Graphic

The Graphic above depicts the yarn in a hand knotted rug and how it differs from hand tufted.

Having said that, hand tufted rugs produced by a reputable mill should provide you with very adequate service for your home. It’s also safe to say that there is more design selection with hand tufted rugs. Hand knotted rugs tend toward the more traditional designs, although there are now more producers that are producing contemporary styles.

Perhaps the greatest beneficial feature of hand tufted rugs is the speed at which they can be produced, especially when compared to a hand knotted rug. Also, the process does not require the same level of skill that hand knotting does.

Hand tufted rugs are made by injecting the yarn through a backing material with a special pneumatic tufting gun. This process also affords the maker several options that can be implemented very quickly, such as longer pile in certain areas of the rug, or looped pile instead of cut pile, again in certain areas of the rug. The operator can quickly change yarn and use a variety of needles to get the effect wanted and make very intricate designs quickly.

The 3:29 minute Video Below demonstrates Well the various construction options possible with a tufting gun

The basic flow of the Hand Tufted Rug manufacturing process:

  • First the rug motif has to be designed and the colors chosen.
  • Next the design stencil is made to the scale of the rug. So if you have the same design for several different sizes of rugs you will need to have a different stencil for each size.
  • A backing material is stretched out over a rack, or frame and the stencil is laid over the frame. Dye is forced through the stencil to imprint the design on the backing material. Now tufting can begin.
  • But before the tufting can begin, the tufting gun is loaded with the appropriate yarn and proper needle.
  • The tufter now fills in the various areas with the appropriate yarn according to the specifications of the designer. You can see from the videos that the tufting gun is suspended from a cable, so the operator simply has to guide the gun where they want it to go.
  • Once the tufting is done, which is of course the main step in the making of a hand tufted rug. The tufter will often clean up the pile on the front of the design.
  • The rug is now ready to be sealed. A scrim is laid over the back of the rug and latex is applied to seal the tufts.
  • Finally a cotton canvas backing is placed over the latex to finish the rug.

This Short Video Below Demonstrates The Complete Manufacturing Process Outlined Above

(The video is just over 3 minutes long. It starts at the halfway point because of duplicate content)

The latex is necessary to seal the tufts especially if the pile is a cut pile. That means the pile forms a “U” shape and if not properly sealed could be easily pulled out. For this reason most manufacturers don’t recommend the use of a beater bar on your vacuum when cleaning your new rug.

I hope you can see from the enlarged graphic below an idea of what a tuft looks like. The tuft forms a "U" shape around the scrim. It is the underside of this "U" that needs to be sealed/anchored with the latex.

Enlarged Tufts Detailing Tufting

Occasionally the border is hand surged with wool. My experience with this way of finishing the border for rugs in heavy traffic areas is not so good. The wool along the border tends to wear out before the rest of the rug.