What is Sisal Carpet?

Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen

Sisal carpets are rugs that feature fibers from the plant Agave sisilana, a succulent that is grown in Africa and South America. The fibers are celebrated for their durability, and they can be woven with other materials, in many different looks and patterns for use in flooring. There are also synthetic sisal carpets, which may be purchased for those who want to use this look in areas where sisal is not appropriate.

A sisal rug or carpet is a rug made from natural, durable fibers.
A sisal rug or carpet is a rug made from natural, durable fibers.

In addition to its durability, sisal is praised because it cleans up very easily. It has natural properties that resist static electricity, which means the carpets don’t collect dirt with ease. Cleaning instructions for a sisal carpet are usually simple to follow, and not much maintenance is required.

A number of different types of weaves and pricing of sisal carpet exist. Premium quality rugs may be very pricey, and could easily cost over $50 US Dollars (USD) per square yard. Even with premium styles, some people complain that at first the sisal carpet may have a distinct smell. This is because many of these carpets have latex backing. Discussion of what backs the carpet is important before purchase if anyone in the home has latex allergy. For those who simply notice the smell, this tends to dissipate as the carpet is aired out.

Even with a latex backing, the sisal carpet can still be prone to slipping on wood or tile flooring. People buying one of these carpets should purchase a slip-free pad. This will keep the carpet from bunching up or moving around.

Though one of the pluses cited about a sisal carpet is its durability, like all fibers, sisal is imperfect. Carpets should not be used in any environments that get a lot of moisture, such as entrance halls or bathrooms. The fibers can shrink and the carpet may be destroyed quickly.

This is perhaps one of the reasons why many companies have trended toward creating synthetic sisal carpets. These may be made in materials like various forms of vinyl, and they can have the look of a sisal carpet without some of its drawbacks. They can provide slight cushioning for the foot, but will not be affected by moisture. People may choose such carpets for flooring in kitchens, bathrooms, or even as covering for decks outdoors.

There is some criticism that using a synthetic sisal carpet defeats the purpose of sisal rugs. It’s true that one of their selling points is that they are made of natural fibers and are thus kinder to the environment, while still providing long lasting wear. On the other hand, those in favor of synthetic sisal carpets argue that there are many places where sisal can’t be used in a home, but it’s attractiveness can be duplicated with synthetic materials.

Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen

Tricia has a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and has been a frequent wiseGEEK contributor for many years. She is especially passionate about reading and writing, although her other interests include medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion. Tricia lives in Northern California and is currently working on her first novel.

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