What is sisal carpet?
Sisal carpet is a natural carpet fiber extracted from Agave plant’s long spiny leaves (species Agave sisalana). Sisal is a highly durable carpet often used in heavy traffic areas and higher end homes. It can be used as a wall to wall carpet, an area rug or runner. Often, sisal area rugs and runners are bound with a canvas border (about an inch wide) for a more tailored finish. In Westchester County NY, sisal has been rapidly growing in popularity.
Agave is believed to have originated in Mexico, but it is now grown in Brazil, Florida, the Caribbean, as well as Tanzania, Kenya and parts of Asia. (There is also a seaport town in Mexico named Sisal).
Sisal is also used for rope, twine, cloth, paper, handicrafts and wall coverings.
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Sisal carpet has become very stylish in higher end homes in Westchester County where customers prefer hardwood and environmentally friendly options. Many prefer sisals because of their earthy tones, their high end “berber” look/feel and they because they hold less allergens. They also love that they are durable and tend to hide dirt/stains.
Because sisal is made entirely of natural plant fibers, it reflects the irregularity found in nature. A perfectly uniform floor covering is not possible using natural sisal fibers. Weaving variations – including knots, slubs, lines and color variances – are an inherent and desirable property of sisal.
How do you pronounce sisal?
There does seem to be a lot of confusion on how to pronounce the word sisal. According the the dictionary and wikipedia, the “i” is long in the same way that you pronounce “bide.”
More about the sisal plant
The typical life span of sisal is 7-10 years and the plant on average creates 200-250 commercially useable leaves. Each leaf produces about 1,000 fibers. The fibers grow up to 3 feet long and are harvested by hand. They are sustainably harvested. Sisals grow best in climates that are 75 degrees Fahrenheit or higher and arid environments. Because sisal is in the agave family, it can be distilled to make a tequila-like liquor.
Renowned for their strength, the long white sisal fibers are sun-dried and then carefully spun into fine carpet yarns.
A lot of people get sisal and jute rugs mixed up, but as you’ll see in this article (Sisal versus Jute) that they are from 2 different plants and they are rather different, especially in terms of how they feel on your feet.
Benefits of sisal carpeting
- Natural fiber and eco-friendly
- Naturally stain resistant
- Sisal doesn’t trap dust or allergens
- Heavy duty, durable and good for heavy traffic areas
- Does not build up static electricity
- Won’t compress or show wear patterns like a typical wall to wall carpet
- Neutral colored, so sisal carpet goes with most furniture, decors, and paint colors. Tends to appeal to those with more sophisticated tastes and styles.
- Absorbs sound well – the molecular structure of sisal is dense and absorbs sound better than other types of carpets
Disadvantages of Sisal
- Not water resistant – it will absorb water like a sponge
- Can be rough on your feet, so it’s not always the best surface for kids to sit and play on.
Places where sisal carpeting works well for your Westchester home
- Area rugs in heavy traffic areas
- Steps and hallways
- Entry mats
- Living rooms, and offices
Places to avoid sisal carpet
- Wet areas, areas that get a lot of snow, moisture or frequent spills (sisal will absorb air humidity or release it, causing expansion or contraction). For areas that tend to get spills, you can treat sisal with a topical fiber sealer.
- Avoid near pools, spas, bathrooms, kitchens – areas that tend to have a lot of water or moisture.
How do you install sisal carpeting?
- Ideal to drop off for acclimation before installing
- It’s best to use a thin felt carpet pad, double sided taped carpet pad or glue down sisal directly to floor. This helps hold the sisal secure in place and eliminates issues with the padding bunching underneath.
- Avoid cross seams as they will show very visibly
- Best to have installed by a professional carpet installer – sisal is tricky
Sisal carpet care and cleaning
Sisal carpet is naturally stain-resistant (but not stain-proof) and does not require excessive care. Sisal is easily cleaned, because dirt will not cling to the hard, non-static fibers. Vacuuming a sisal carpet regularly will keep it clean. Remove the spills promptly by scrapping up solids and blotting liquids. Follow by dabbing with a damp cloth of water (add white vinegar to the cloth to cut grease). Dry with a cloth or hair blow dryer. Water can dissolve dirt particles and bring them to the surface. This may cause watermarks to form. Therefore spilled water or water from plant containers must be dabbed immediately with an absorbent white cloth and then dried with a hair blow dryer or floor fan. An absorbent powder like Host or Capture can also be used.