Rug Construction Types: Everything You Need to Know
Many of the things you look for in a rug start with the weave. A luxurious look, a sumptuous feel, a long life, it’s all in the rug construction or the way a rug is woven together.
Hand tufting is quick, easy, and creates a beautiful, low-cost rug. Yarn shoots through a design that’s punched out on a canvas backing. A latex coating is glued to that backing to hold the fibers together. Those yarn fibers get trimmed down for an even pile, giving a hand-tufted rug its soft, smooth surface.
The speedy process makes the rug fibers more likely to pull free, so vacuum gently without a beater bar. The rug’s latex may begin to peel apart over time, but you can combat any extra shedding by vacuuming weekly.
To minimize shedding, slide a rug pad beneath your hand-tufted rug to give it some grip. The stability will help the weave to hold its own in a high-traffic area, like a living room. The comfy-cozy texture of a hand-tufted rug also makes the perfect landing pad in a bedroom. Learn more in our Guide to Hand-Tufted Rugs.
The cost of a hand-knotted rug reflects the meticulous level of craftsmanship put into it. A weaver fastens every single knot to an individual yarn, so each rug is unique in appearance. One by one, knot by knot, a hand-knotted rug springs to life on the loom.
Hand-knotting gives your rug its own strength, softness, and aesthetic. The more knots your rug has per square inch, the deeper its pile and the more elaborate the design. Lots of closely woven knots appear elegant, while fewer knots create a rougher, chunkier texture. The tighter the weave, the less likely the fibers are to fray.
A hand-knotted weave allows the design to come through on both sides of the rug, making it reversible. You can simply flip the rug back and forth rather than repeatedly vacuum one side. For the most longevity, these rugs do best in a low-traffic area like a dining room. Learn more in our Hand-Knotted Rug Guide.
A hand-hooked weave offers an organic look and feel, using a hooking needle to loop yarn through a canvas frame. Rather than shear off the shag for an even pile, the rug remains nubby. This gives it less of a woolly density compared to tufted or knotted rugs, so use it in a more low profile area.
This desert-inspired construction produces lightweight rugs that won’t trap as much heat. The Eastern influences don’t stop there. Vibrant colors and storied patterns weave traditional cultural values into hand-hooked rugs.
To keep your hand-hooked rug looking oh-so-luxurious, be sure to rotate it once a year. This quick refresh allows loops to bounce back, which prevents the rug from being crushed by heavy foot traffic and furniture. Learn more in our Guide to Hand-Hooked Rugs.
Flatweaves are the ideal rug construction for the busy family. Even in spill-prone, high-traffic homes, a flatweave’s short strands are quick to clean. These rugs are woven on a loom, so there’s no backing. Because flatweaves lack depth, stains won’t sink down and cling to their fibers.
These rugs are sturdy enough for your kitchen or playroom, and flat enough for an office or entryway. The construction is straightforward: warp over weft. This simply means the vertical yarns are woven through horizontal ones. This makes flatweave designs reversible, so you can flip the rug when it starts to show signs of wear.
Between Indian dhurries and Turkish kilims, flatweave rugs are richly stylized. The quick construction of the flatweave’s staple geometric pattern makes it a super affordable option.
Quality doesn’t always come from the finest wool or the most exotic jungle plants. In fact, some of the strongest and most affordable rugs are often woven from synthetic fibers. This type of rug construction involves a power loom, which takes “fake fibers” like nylon and polyester and uses heat to press them around a rug backing.
Machine-spun rugs are close to perfection — perfectly even piles, with patterns and fringe all symmetrically aligned. The machine-woven process is rougher on the rug, so these fibers have a shorter lifespan. However, their factory-made resilience gives them a strong defense against stains.
Remember: it’s not just what your rug is made of — it’s how the rug was made. For everything you need to know before shopping for an area rug, consider the look and lifespan of each rug type. Check out our Complete Rug Buying Guide for more details.