What is Sisal Carpet?

Zanzibar-Stanton-Sisal-CarpetWhen it comes to carpet, fibers really are the key factor in the quality of the product that you are looking at. So, when I hear the word sisal carpet, I immediately think of baskets. How could this actually be a carpet fiber I wonder? Well, to get the answer I researched exactly what sisal is and how it came to be a fiber. So here we go:

Sisal Plant

Scientifically named “Agave Sisalana,” it belongs to the agave family and it yields stiff fibers that are used in making twine, rope and even dart boards. These plants consist of sword shaped leaves that is about 4 to 6 feet tall. Young leaves sometimes have a few teeth along the margins, but when the mature the teeth fall off.  It was originally thought to come from the Yucatan, from the port of Sisal, which is how the name came to be. Evidence in Chiapas suggest otherwise however, as a cross of “Agave
angustifolia
” and “Agave kewensis.”

Cypress-Stanton-Sisal-CarpetSisal is propagated by using the bulbs produced from the buds of the plant’s flower stalk. It can also be transferred by the suckers growing around the base of the plant. The plant generally lives about seven to ten years and produces about 200-250 leaves that are put to commercial use. Each leaf contains around a 1000 fibers, and they only count as 4% of the plants total weight. This plant grows best in tropical or subtropical zones, and really loves the sun.

So, how do they extract the fiber?

Through the process of decortication, leaves are crushed and beaten by rotating wheels with blunt knives. The result is that the only thing left is the fiber. The leaves are then washed with water to take away the part of the leaf that is not used in production. The fibers are then dried and prepped for commercial production. The fibers are cleaned by being brushed, and then machine combed and sorted into different grades, much like lumber.

Imani-Stanton-Sisal-CarpetWhy does this get turned into sisal carpet?

Because of the strength, durability, pliability, and affinity for certain dyestuffs, it makes a perfect fiber choice for carpet. Yarn is the result as far as carpet goes. Sisal does not build static electricity, and it does not trap dust and dirt like traditional carpets, so vacuuming it is pretty much the only maintenance required. If a spill does happen it should be treated with a fiber sealer, and for a spot, a dry cleaning powder is recommended. Sisal should not be in a wet area or an area where humidity is high. Like most natural fibers, this makes it expand or contract.

And now we know, sisal carpet is an excellent choice because of its incredible fiber. I hope you enjoyed this little lesson and are as enlightened as I have become. Thank you, and Happy Flooring!

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