All you need to know about Sisal

We’ve been busy installing lots of natural sisal carpet and stair runners in Cheshire homes across the last few weeks.
But what is sisal? How robust is it as a carpet or runner in busy family homes? And what sisal options are there these days for your space?
Read on to find out all you need to know about sisal, from us, sisal carpet installation experts.

What is sisal?
Sisal comes from the leaves of the widely cultivated Mexican Agave sisalana plant, which grow quickly and all year round. Once harvested by hand, its fibres are easily extracted from the fresh leaves of the plants using a scraping method. Being strong and stiff with little elasticity, sisal fibres have been used for centuries in the manufacture of cordage and ropes as well as mats and carpets. And in recent years, the use of sisal  has expanded to see it used in composite materials, strengthening plastic and as a replacement for glass fibres.
But one thing remains. Being wholly natural, it has been proven over the centuries, how much of a sustainable, renewable resource sisal is.    

Crucial Trading Ogee 100% Sisal made into a bespoke stair runner by Flooring 4 You and installed at a home in Timperley
This is the Ogee 100% sisal floorcovering from Crucial Trading, which we had made into a bespoke stair runner for our customer in Timperley. It features a black cotton border and matt black stair rods. Ogee with its stunning aesthetic design is incredibly hardwearing and comes available as a full width carpet as much as being able to be made into a stair runner or rug.

Sisal carpets are good for the planet
We are all becoming more conscious of our carbon footprint, of where the products we buy come from, and how good for the plant they really are. If environmentally friendly choices are important to you, then sisal carpet and rug products will be ideal. Sisal is not only a natural fibre, but it is cultivated without the use of pesticides or fertilisers. And during the processing of sisal, only organic waste is produced, which goes on to be reused. Add to this that sisal is 100% biodegradable throughout its lifetime and you can understand why it is a truly sustainable fibre.
Sisal carpets, rugs and runners, as long as their backings are made from latex, are completely natural and sustainable. The latex itself is a naturally derived product, coming from the sap of rubber trees. Latex is used to help hold the natural sisal fibres together, being able to withstand the expected expansion and contraction which occurs with sisal carpets in different temperatures.

The best areas for sisal in the home
We’ve just touched on the point that sisal’s natural fibres can expand and contract under different temperatures. And it’s for this reason that there are couple of areas in the home where sisal is not recommended. These include the kitchen and any bathroom or en suite environments where high humidity is expected, and temperatures may fluctuate significantly. The ideal locations in a home for sisal carpets include the lounge, the stairs and landing, bedrooms, or a study. Areas where temperatures are more likely to be better regulated.
Sisal is also very absorbent and as such is prone to staining and marks from any liquid spills, even if water gets onto the surface. That’s another reason for avoiding laying sisal in kitchens or bathrooms. The degree of mark left behind on sisal depends on what has been spilled, how much, and how quickly it has been treated. There are care kits available for natural floors like sisal, which we can supply. But it’s worth bearing in mind, especially if you have pets or small children, whether sisal is right for the particular space you are thinking of.
And if you do really want sisal for a kitchen or bathroom, then we recommend looking at some of our faux sisal floor coverings, of which we have many options. They look just like a sisal but offer all the practical benefits of polypropylene.
Alternative Flooring Sisal Malay Chen installed across this landing by Flooring 4 You at a Cheshire cottage home

This is Sisal Malay Chen from Alternative which we installed across the landing as a full width sisal carpet in this Cheshire cottage home. It’s the perfect choice for a busy area of the home, and has a lovely natural texture.

The strength of sisal
One thing you might know about sisal is how strong and hardwearing it is. The fact the natural fibres are used in construction and engineering environments today proves exactly how tough they are. And that’s why they make a great choice for the stairs and landing in a home. These are some of the most walked, busiest areas, and those less likely to be prone to any spills or significant changes in temperature.

Unlike seagrass (another natural fibre), sisal does not contain its own natural oils which makes it a better choice for stairs. Seagrass on the other hand, if used on the stairs can become slippery. It also isn’t as hardwearing as sisal so it may not last as long.
You may have heard that fitting a sisal carpet is difficult to do, especially on the stairs, and therefore the fitting costs are a lot higher. It is true that sisal is trickier to deal with than regular carpet materials, however our carpet fitters are all experienced in fitting in sisal carpets and have even attended courses in sisal carpet fitting. While the fitting costs are a little bit more to cover the extra time and expertise taken; due to the strength of sisal, you are likely to see your carpet last longer. You will therefore save in the long run by not having to change your carpet as quickly as you would if you opted for a different material.
Flooring 4 You Ltd made a bespoke stair runner from Alternative Sisal Malay Chen and installed it on the stairs at this Cheshire home in Cranage

This is the Sisal Malay Chen floorcovering, in the same property as the carpet on the landing in the picture above, this time made into a bespoke stair runner. The beauty of many of the sisal products we sell is that they can be made into rugs or runners, with your choice of border edges and other accessories such as stair runners as seen here. We then installed the stair runner at this Cheshire cottage home.

For a clean carpet, choose Sisal
Another one of the benefits of sisal, other than it is free from artificial chemicals, is the fact that it is super clean. So clean in fact that moths and dust mites can’t stand the stuff. If you have any asthma sufferers in your home, sisal can help make a difference to their quality of living at home. Moths and dust mites can neither live in nor eat sisal as it is a coarse natural fibre.

Sisal is also naturally fire resistant with flame retardant properties, making it another great choice for your home.

The texture of sisal
One of the biggest turn offs for sisal that we hear of, aside from the staining, is how rough it can feel. Yes, sisal being a coarse natural fibre does have a rougher texture than something like a 100% polypropylene carpet. But think of all the other benefits sisal brings!
There are so many different sisal options out there, some with a tighter weave that don’t feel quite so scratchy underfoot. Some which are blended with wool for a bit of extra softness. And an underlay can help make sisal a little more comfortable underfoot.
If you have small children who play on the floor or you enjoy sitting on the floor yourself, then sisal might not be the best choice for you. Other options to consider are laying soft rugs across sisal floorcoverings, or choosing sisal for spaces where you spend more time walking on the floor as opposed to kneeling or sitting on it.
This is Sisal Boucle Saffron from fibre which Flooring 4 You Ltd installed to this bedroom at a home in Timperley South Manchester

We installed the Sisal Boucle Saffron full width carpet to this bedroom at a home in Timperley. From the flooring company fibre, it is a 100% natural sisal with a natural latex backing. The Boucle collection comes in a great choice of 12 different colours to suit all interior styles.

Endless sisal carpet options
We work with several flooring suppliers to deliver the very best sisal flooring products to our customers. If you visit our flooring and carpet showroom in Knutsford you can see a great cross section of sisals, varying in weave, style, and colour. From textured chunky sisals to finer options in a choice of different weaves, such as herringbone, we have options for all homes and spaces where sisal will thrive.
If you want texture, proper texture for your property then sisal will not disappoint. It will bring personality to your space yet remain resilient and tough enough to withstand everyday life. And the fact we can take most of the sisals we sell and help you turn them into bespoke rugs or stair runners, extends the opportunities available. Plus, by knowing we have the expertise to fit sisal carpets well, including providing a comprehensive property assessment prior to fitting, you can rest assured your sisal purchase will last.
Sisal Boucle Saffron from fibre made into a bespoke stair runner by Flooring 4 You Ltd and installed to this staircase at a home in Altrincham Cheshire

Another example of the Sisal Boucle floorcovering from fibre, in colour Saffron. This time we had it made into a bespoke stair runner for our customer in Altrincham, complete with a Rust colour cotton border. It brings a lovely pop of colour to this staircase, as well as textural and hardwearing properties.

For the very best sisal carpets, stair runners or rugs, make sure to visit us in Knutsford.
As well as being able to advise on the right areas for sisal by visiting your home or space, we are experienced in sisal carpet and stair runner fitting. You can find our carpet and flooring showroom in Knutsford here