Handmade Versus Machine-Made Rugs

Handmade Versus Machine-Made Rugs

Posted by Kolina Cicero on

Like all valuable art, a handmade rug is a one-of-a-kind statement piece that speaks to your style and can be passed down through the family for years to come. Each stitch in a handmade rug is done by the hand of a hard-working craftsperson whose story is woven into the piece itself. It’s a story and a statement. And, of course, it comes with a cost.

It takes hundreds, sometimes thousands, of hours to create these masterpieces. On top of that, they require high-quality materials that will withstand the stitching process (and years and years of foot traffic). The cost of vintage handmade rugs – those made in Iran and Pakistan are the ones we gravitate to the most – are high because they are costly to make. But take it from us, the cost of a handmade rug will pay for itself over and over again in comparison to the much cheaper machine-made rugs that are designed to take on a vintage, handmade aesthetic.

Machine-made rugs, while seemingly easy on the pocketbook at first, need to be replaced after just a few years. With good care, a handmade vintage rug will not need to be replaced. These rugs are built to last for generations; they are not only an art piece for your home, but an heirloom to be passed down.

Here are five reasons to opt for a handmade vintage rug instead of a machine-made rug:

High-Quality Materials

Because the process of knotting and weaving a rug by hand is strenuous on the fibers, the materials used need to be high-quality and durable. Most vintage rugs are either 100% wool or a combination of wool and cotton, and these natural fibers not only withstand the weaving process, but also wick away stains and dirt.

Machine-made rugs are made from synthetic materials like polyester, acrylic, and nylon. These plastic-based materials don’t have the longevity of natural fibers and quickly reveal this after some time on your floors.

This runner's high-quality materials will help it withstand a lot of foot traffic.

Easy to Clean

Natural fibers wick away stains and dirt, so typically the only thing you’ll need to do to keep your handmade rug clean is vacuuming it once a week. Because wool wicks away liquid, you can address a spill quickly by sopping it up with a towel, and can spot clean it with some mild soap and water. Smaller rugs can even be soaked in a tub, then sun-dried outside. A machine-made rug, meanwhile, will have the plastic backing, making this simple process impossible. (Watch for our forthcoming post about how to clean a handmade rug!)

Machine-made rugs don’t naturally repel dirt and stains like handmade rugs, and sometimes it’s more costly to clean a machine-made rug than it would be to replace it, which is not exactly eco-conscious.

The malleability of these rugs make them easy to clean. [Rug link]

Rich Colors

Vintage rugs are made with hand-dyed wool, which is great for two reasons: One, the colors are richer than a machine can produce; and two, the colors will never be an exact match, rendering these art pieces truly one-of-a-kind. Because of these rich colors, if you get a stubborn stain that you just cannot get out, you can rest assured that it will likely blend in with the ever-changing colors of a hand-woven rug. With hand-dyed wool, there’s always a variation of colors, meaning they never completely match, adding to their specialness.

This beauty is from our Designer's Collection

Vintage = Sustainable

It’s an unfortunate reality that landfills are being filled with synthetic rugs that have worn out, been stained, or simply tossed because replacing them is cheaper than cleaning and repairing them. Vintage handmade rugs, on the other hand, don’t get thrown away. They are passed down (or sold) for generations, often outlasting the person who so strategically purchased them in the first place.

Handmade vintage rugs are also made of more eco-friendly materials. Think about it this way: the synthetic materials that make up machine-made rugs are mostly made from petroleum, whereas wool and cotton are renewable.

This Turkish Oushak has been passed around for 60 years!


The hand-knotted nature of handmade rugs renders each piece its very own. The variations in colors and knots means no two rugs will be exactly alike, making it truly one-of-a-kind. A handmade rug is the difference between an original painting and a print; the original tells a story through individual brushstrokes, while a print is simply a copy and paste.

You can see the perfect imperfections in this rug from our Designer's Collection.

When you think of your rug as an art piece, this uniqueness makes it all the more valuable in your home. Plus, handmade vintage rugs can be passed through hands and homes from generation to generation. Keep this in mind when purchasing this beautiful investment piece.

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