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What is Sisal Flooring?

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  • Written By: Tricia Ellis-Christensen
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 11 September 2016
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Sisal flooring is carpeting made from sisal, or Agave sisilana, a succulent plant which was initially a New World plant. Production of sisal, not just for sisal flooring but for numerous other products has led to numerous locations of sisal farms, especially in Brazil and Africa. As a fiber, only cotton production exceeds sisal in the world today, and there are some significant advantages to the plant, since it requires few pesticides, if any, and may not even need to be treated with herbicides.

Many people love sisal flooring, especially carpets of various kinds because it tends to be very durable, takes color well, and requires little care except for regular vacuuming. Sisal fibers may also be blended with wool to create flooring that combines the greater softness of wool with the more durable textures created by sisal. Sisal flooring can be a little problematic in areas of the home that get high traffic. It can mat under such circumstances. It’s also troublesome if regularly exposed to water, since the fibers may expand or shrink. For this reason, you shouldn’t use sisal flooring in bathrooms, or main entryways to homes.

On the other hand, sisal flooring is typically lower in price than some other fiber carpets, and it is resistant to static electricity, so it won’t attract dirt. The rugs, nevertheless, are not exactly “cheap.” A good quality large area rug could cost anywhere from $200-500 US Dollars (USD).

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Much depends upon the design too. In most sisal flooring you can see the weave of the rug, which tends to be fairly flat. Weaves can really differ though, and you can get those that weave multiple colors of thread (hemp) together in patterns that can be exceptionally beautiful. Many argue that one of the reasons they like sisal is because it still looks natural, and has an artisanal appeal. Though sisal rugs are usually mass-produced, it does have that look of something “homemade,” and in multi-colors may resemble braided rugs of old.

Most people don’t purchase sisal flooring in wall-to-wall carpet style. Instead they may lay rugs (and you can usually custom order sizes you need) over other rugs or on top of tile or wood flooring. Many folks really love the combined look of sisal over wood, and especially praise the protective quality that sisal gives to wood flooring.

In most cases, you will need to purchase a rug pad to go underneath sisal rugs, though they may be backed in latex. If you’re purchasing sisal rugs to cover a hard surface, you might want to consider a slightly cushioned pad for a little more comfort when you’re standing. Over plush or heavily padded carpeting, a sisal rug probably only needs a thin rug pad to prevent slipping and to protect the carpet beneath.

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