Hand-tufted rugs can be a fitting alternative to their hand-knotted counterparts. Where as hand-knotted rugs are almost entirely made by hand a hand-tufted rug often has only a few steps done by hand. This makes for a much quicker production but still allows for a hand finished product.

A large canvas is stretched on a loom and the desired pattern is traced by hand directly on the canvas. With the use of a tufting gun, either manual or automatic, the pile is tufted into the canvas by pushing the material through the canvas with a needle creating a loop. That loop is then cut to create the pile. The material used, the density of the tufts and the detail of the pattern are all factors in quality and price.

A tufted rug

A look at hand tufting. The needle of the tufting gun pushes the material through and the loop that remains is typically cut to create a 'cut-pile' though it can be left as is making a 'loop-pile'. The glue is applied to the backing followed by a second canvas to secure the tuft.

Tufting Into Canvas

The pattern is traced on the canvas and tufting is underway. The colors are done one at a time across the whole rug quickening the production time.


A hand operated tufting gun.

Tufting Gun

Many tufted rugs now are tufted using a mechanical tufting gun shortening the production time even more. The gun creates the tuft and cuts the pile in one motion and produces an even pile length and density.


Once complete the rug is lightly washed and once dry it is glued on the back and a second canvas is glued on holding the tufts in place. The ends are then sewn by hand or surged by machine and the proper identification is given.

Hand-tufted rugs typically enjoy a lifespan between 5-15 yrs, many of the less expensive tufted rugs begin to deteriorate after a year or two; be aware when buying rugs that are very inexpensive as these are able to hit low price points by using materials or methods that aren’t going to produce longevity. Over time the glue will oxidize and turn into a powder, this is not considered a defect as this will happen regardless. This process is accelerated if the rug is over saturated or the backing is bent or folded rather than rolled. The climate of the rugs final destination will also play a roll, for example in Minnesota where the winters become so dry the glues used to secure the backing dry out faster. The images below show the difference between a new tufted rug and one that is at the end of it’s life. The corners coming unattached and the backing beginning to separate are tell tale signs.

Tufted backing

Here is shown the canvas backing that is glued onto the rug.

Backing aged

Once the backing begins to come undone the glues are starting to oxidize. Once this happens a fine powder is left under the rug. This is not considered a defect and will happen with all tufted rugs with time.


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