Ask Ken: 3 Things to Know About Sisal Carpet
Ken's Quick Answer:
"Sisal carpets are beautiful products that come with a litany of annoyances. But, fear not: There are 'fake' sisals that are dimensionally stable, stain-resistant, and cleanable. If you want the real sisal, you've got to take the bad with the good."
Ken's In-Depth Answer:
Today, I want to talk to you about what is generally known as 'sisal carpet.' There are a lot of different natural fibers—the three most popular are sisal, seagrass and jute. (Don't worry: They're all grouped together as sisal.)
Designers like these natural fiber rugs for a variety of reasons. For instance, you can lay them down in a large room and put area rugs on top. In short, they're easy to decorate with. They're also a 'natural' product which means a lot to people.
There are a few things to keep in mind about sisal. First, you can't clean or stain protect it very well. Also, if you have a large room and have to seam it together, the seams are going to be pretty visible. Finally, sisal is dimensionally unstable which makes installation more difficult.
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"If you try to clean sisal carpet with water it's just going to absorb the water and proceed to blow up. My expert opinion is that you generally want to avoid that!"
Years ago, people tried to install sisal by stretching it over tack strips. Here's the problem: In the summer, the sisal grew. It crawled up the walls! In the winter it contracted and was prone to pulling the tack strips out of the floor.
Instead, what we recommend is that you glue sisal. This will significantly reduce the likelihood that it's going to go anywhere. (Some people may not want to glue it to a hard floors, so we recommend gluing it over a very flat, firm carpet pad.)
Why is sisal carpet so hard to clean? Why can't you just steam clean it? Well, it's a plant. What do plants do? They drink water! In other words, if you try to clean sisal carpet with water it's just going to absorb the water and proceed to blow up. (My expert opinion is that you generally want to avoid that!)
I will admit to you that sisal is still a strong choice among decorators. Here's my warning: You've got to know what you're getting into. There are also alternatives! You could choose a wool sisal or a synthetic sisal. These are products that are much more dimensionally stable, stain resistant, and cleanable. If you want the real thing, you've got to take the bad with the good.
If you have any questions about sisal carpet or sisal-like products, please give us a call at 401-214-0285 or visit our showroom."
About Ken: Ken Fain is the co-owner of Island Carpet in Middletown, RI and a floorcovering veteran of more than 40 years. His popular 'Ask Ken' video series answers common flooring questions on a variety of topics. It has reached thousands of viewers on both YouTube and Facebook.