A hand-knotted rug is a work of art, a masterpiece that is woven completely by hand on a special loom. They are typically made of silk, viscose, wool, and cotton. Hand-knotted rugs have a much flatter pile than hand-tufted ones.
On the other hand, a hand-tufted rug is made partially by hand and partially by a mechanized tool. And it is typically made of wool. A hand-tufted rug is made by punching strands of wool into a canvas that is stretched on a frame with the help of a hand-operated tool. After piling with wool, the rug is removed from the frame, and it would be glued with a fabric backing, most likely cotton. This process requires much less time and skill than hand-knotting does.
Due to the differences in their making processes, weaving a hand-knotted rug requires greater skillful craftsmanship, thus making its quality and cost much higher than a hand-tufted rug. To determine a hand-knotted rug's quality, we often take a look at the number of knots per square inch. The higher the number of knots, the better quality it is.
It can often take months to complete a hand-knotted rug. An average weaver can tie about 10,000 knots per day. So you can imagine how long it can take to complete one rug, especially if it happens to be a large one. The time involved in making it also accounts for hand-knotted rugs costing more on average than hand-tufted rugs.
How to Differentiate Them
As a result of an entirely different process and skills, the rugs create a different look and feel. One way to differentiate a hand-knotted rug from a hand-tufted one is to check the backing of the rug. A hand-tufted rug usually has a cotton backing on it. However, a hand-knotted rug will not. The design would be the same on both sides. It will look like you could turn it over and use it on either side thanks to the exquisite amount of detail from the knotting. Also, there is no binding on the ends of a hand-knotted rug so most likely, a hand-knotted rug will have fringes at the borders.
Furthermore, these two different types of rugs can also differ in longevity. No doubt it is the hand-knotted rugs that hold up their quality and beauty much longer, often for decades or generations because of their unique making process.
Additionally, A hand-knotted rug is a collectible piece, sought after by collectors from all over the world, because of their exceptional design and craftsmanship. However, a hand-tufted rug also has great quality, but it could slightly shed and loosen up over time, and doesn't have the same heirloom status as its counterpart.