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Machine Made vs Handmade Rug : An In Depth Comparison

There has been a lot said and written about machine-made and handmade area rugs. But in this blog, we will not just limit our conversation to the basic comparison but also discuss the extended impact of both the products on the environment and community. 
In this comparison when we mention a handmade rug we refer to a good quality hand-knotted rug made by an artisan rug maker. 
We will compare these two type of rugs on below seven points.

  1. How are handmade and machine-made rugs made?
  2. Material Used in making the rug
  3. Price
  4. Life of the product
  5. Impact on the user
  6. Impact on the community
  7. Impact on the environment
  8. Bespoke - Rug Customization 

    1. How handmade and machine made rugs are made?

    The oldest handmade rug has been traced back to the 5th century B.C. but is believed to be older than that. The rug was found in the grave of prince Altai near Pazyryk. 
    Handmade rugs are made by skilled hands that have been practicing this ancient art for years. The skill is passed through generations, it takes years of practice to master it. Making a handmade rug not just results in a beautiful handicraft but also helps in keeping a tradition alive. Though the art was invented in central Asia by nomadic tribespeople, today India is the largest manufacturer of handmade rugs, around 75-80% of rugs made in India are exported around the globe.
    On the other hand, machine-made rugs are made using automated machines similar to any textile-making machines. The design and colors are fed to a computer which guides the power loom to weave the rug. The machine-made rugs came into the picture during the 19th century when industrialism gained momentum. The U.K used to be the leader in machine-made rugs but today Turkey is a top manufacturer and exporter of it.


     2. Materials Used in the handmade and machine made rugs.

    The material used in making a rug can change the look and feel of it, and also influences the price of the final product. A handmade rug can be made using several material options - wool, silk, art silk such as viscose. Traditional handmade rugs are made using wool with cotton weft and warp. A handmade rug can be made with hand-carted and hand-spun wool.
    A machine-made rug is mostly made with synthetic materials which are polypropylene, nylon, acrylic, and art silk. The reason behind generally using synthetic materials in machine-made rugs is that the wool and other handspun material fibers get stuck to the machine making it essential to clean the machine frequently which increases the cost of it. 


    3. Price comparison

    We all know that a machine-made rug is cheaper than a handmade rug. Certain handmade rugs are more of an investment than an expense. The value of certain handmade rugs appreciates over time, the most expensive handmade rug is worth $33 million. Handmade rugs are not just floor covering but also a piece of art, whereas the primary focus of machine-made rugs is to provide an area rug at a lower price, to achieve so machine-made rugs use lower price material.

    4. Life of the product - Durability

    If taken care of, a handmade rug can last for centuries. Handmade rugs are much durable and are used as an heirloom. Check out the Legacy collection by The Rug Décor that showcases rugs that can last for a decades.  
    Since machine-made rugs are made with synthetic fibers these are not as durable as handmade rugs, these can last for a few years but over time they lose the feel of the rug.

     5. Impact on the user

    Machine-made rugs are made of polyester which omits toxic chemicals that are really harmful to the user. Carpet and Rug world has written an in-depth blog about the harmful effect of machine-made rugs 
    Handmade rugs are made with natural fibers such as wool, jute, sisal. These have no negative impact on the user but on the other have health benefits as they remove odor or toxicity from the room.


    6. Impact on the community 

    It can take 90 people to make one handmade rug, each hand plays a vital role in making the rug. Handmade rugs uplift hundreds of families from poverty and unemployment, there are so many steps in making the rug that an unskilled to a highly skilled person can fulfill. The steps involved in making the rug is depicted in the below image from CEP.

    Handmade Rug Making Process

    The aim with machine-made rugs is to provide a floor covering at a cheaper price, this minimizes human involvement in making it, most of the process is automated using computers and machines. It generates less employment and has a smaller impact on the community.


    7. Impact on the environment

    Handmade rugs are made from biodegradable natural fibers. According to estimates, polyester can take from 20 years to 200 years to decompose on its own. Polyester has a massive impact on marine life.  

    8. Bespoke - Customization of the rug

    One of the major set back for machine-made rugs is they can’t be customized or produced in small quantities. Since these are made with automated machines and the aim is to achieve economies of scale these are mass-produced. 
    Whereas handmade rugs are know for there uniqueness and one of a kind attribute. These can be customized into any design, color, and size.


    The Rug Décor specializes in hand made rugs, our rugs are made from fine material such as wool, viscose, real silk. 

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