Written by: Kisha Gianni*
You’ve heard of sisal. You’ve heard of seagrass. We know it’s a great compromise between carpet and hard surface flooring (such as wood or tile), but what’s the difference between the two?
People often use these terms interchangeably–and even more frequently mispronounce “sisal”. (Say “sigh-zhel” quickly and with a slight slur and you’ve got it right.) The confusion is understandable as the two do have quite a bit in common. Both are natural, renewable fibers used to create rugs and wall-to-wall flooring. They are somewhat similar in appearance with their woven texture and natural hues and look strikingly rich. But perhaps their greatest asset is their stylistic versatility. Sisal and seagrass are idea candidates for nearly any design direction from chic to shabby, modern to traditional.
However, these two are not the same, nor do they wear the same. They’re not even made from the same plant! And that’s just the beginning of their differences. Here are the rest, including pros and cons.
Agave Sisalana: Sisal fibers are extracted from the crushed leaves of the agave plant. (Nope, not the one used to make tequila.) The telltale look of sisal flooring is tight, neatly woven rows that are natural in color; however the absorbent fibers can also be dyed and/or woven into patterns such as a chevron pattern. These same fibers are used to make rope and scratching posts for cats which gives you an idea of how soft it’s going to be: not very.
You spill, you stain: Sisal and seagrass both start out as beauties, but, unlike seagrass, sisal is so absorbent that it can soon turn beastly with blemishes. If you spill wine on sisal, you have two options: learn to live with the stain or throw the flooring out. If you think the third option should be clean with water or carpet cleaner, think again. Most cleansers will discolor the sisal, and water, as odd as it sounds, may stain sisal, leaving a watermark behind.
The splendor of seagrass: Like sisal, seagrass also comes in a chevron pattern, but its classic and most common look is a basket weave. Unlike the crushed fibers that comprise sisal, seagrass is a marsh-growing weed and no stranger to water. Seagrass is also inherently static-free and therefore dust and dirt repellent. A clean, damp cloth can be used to blot away most spills if you catch them right away.
Soak it up: Seagrass’s resistance to moisture makes it equally resistant to dye. This is why you will almost always see it in its natural state which is slightly green when first unrolled; in a week or so, after interior exposure to light and air, it will dry and turn a shade of wheat. Note: When sisal or seagrass are installed wall-to-wall, they can be treated as a hard surface with rugs thrown atop them; however, seagrass, more than sisal, needs to breathe. Any areas you cover with a rug will stay green longer.
Binding situation: Both sisal and seagrass can be cut and bound into custom-sized rugs (have the edges bound or they will fray and unravel) or installed wall-to-wall. The edges can be bound in anything from plain cotton, UV, Jute to Leather all provided at Blackstone carpets.
*All credit for this blog goes to Kisha Gianni from Design Musings