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Floorcoverings  >  Natural Sisal  >  Design Tips
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Design Tips

We offer all kinds of ways to customize our natural fiber rugs, so that you can create exactly the look you need.

Within each collection—Premium and Everyday—you can combine almost any weave and binding and/or create a custom size. For Premium natural fiber rugs, you can even specify the binding width or add mitered corners—read more about the available customization options here. Not sure which weave is most appropriate for your space, or what size will work best? Here are some things to keep in mind when you're thinking of using natural fiber floor coverings.

Placement
Size Recommendations
Wall-to-Wall Installation

Placement

As you plan the location of your rug please consider the following:

  • Natural fiber floor coverings are inherently absorbent; therefore they will shrink and expand a bit with changes in the humidity around them. We therefore recommend all of our natural fiber floor coverings (Premium and Everyday) for dry indoor use only. They are not appropriate for excessively moist indoor areas; and are best used in well-ventilated, dry settings. They should never be used in bathrooms, kitchens, basements, or other damp or humid environments—or in areas exposed to the elements, such as covered porches or lanais.
  • Exposure to direct sunlight is another factor to consider. Placing these natural fibers in direct sunlight several hours a day can, over time, result in the fading of dyed materials and the gradual darkening of the un-dyed fibers. A rug placed in a sunny location should be turned regularly.
  • Narrow bouclé sisal weaves, can show indentations from the continued pressure of furniture and other heavy objects. For this reason we recommend the use of flat weaves, or heavy boucles in dining rooms and other areas where chairs or other furniture may be moved regularly.
  • Finally, we do not recommend installing natural fiber floor coverings on stairs. The surface of the plant fibers is smooth enough that people wearing leather-soled shoes could slip and fall.

In terms of overall durability and performance, sisal, seagrass, and coir-sisal blends are probably going to be your best bets. Our hemp, jute and woven paper weaves are also really good, but you'll need to watch them in high traffic areas. Softer blends like Tournai, Grand Tournai and Artiste are also durable, but their use should be limited to low traffic areas like bedrooms or formal living rooms.

If you have pets, kids, and/or a floor to cover in a busy room, we recommend seagrass more than anything else. It's inexpensive, great looking, and the texture and color variations in the weave tend to hide dirt and stains more than tightly woven sisal. If sisal is really the look you want, choose a weave with lots of shade and texture variation, in one of the darker hues. Or go with one of the less expensive weaves— that way, if accidents do happen and your rug is ruined, replacing it won't cost an arm and a leg.

For suggestions, use the “Recommendation by Room" feature located at the top of the left-hand column on nearly all of our floor coverings pages.

How do I figure out how big my rug should be?

It all depends on the look you're after. If you want the look of wall-to-wall sisal without having to install it, measure carefully and choose a size that allows minimal space between the edge of the rug and your wall or baseboard. Careful measuring in this case is very important, because walls and floors can be slightly uneven. When in doubt, you're better off going a little too short than too long.

Most people like to have a little bit of floor showing around their area rug. If you have beautifully finished wood floors, you don't want to hide them completely, do you? There's no standard recommended measurement, but a lot of designers swear by 2-3 feet—some people prefer less, some more, but that's a good place to start.

If you're trying to determine the right size to use under your dining room table, the best thing to do is to arrange all of your dining chairs at a distance around the table that would be natural when people get up after a meal. You want your chairs to stay on the rug when they're pushed back, so once that distance is established, get out your measuring tape and measure the area. We've found that it often helps to use string or yarn to outline the "border" where the rug will be— it gives you a good idea of what that size rug will look like in the room, and you can play around with chair placement and make adjustments when necessary. It takes a lot of the guesswork out.

Wall-to-wall application

Most of our natural fiber weaves are available as broadloom for wall-to-wall installation, with a few exceptions. 100% coir should never be installed. Nor should jute or hemp weaves, because of their questionable performance in many environments. In fact we don't even sell those weaves as raw yardage.

Some of our seagrass weaves are available as broadloom, with one caveat: because seagrass undergoes very little processing before being handspun into cords, it may retain some moisture when it is woven. As a result, seagrass can be susceptible to mold or mildew and should never be used in bathrooms, kitchens, basements, or other damp or humid environments. In humid regions use seagrass rugs only in climate controlled or well ventilated rooms.

Wall-to-wall sisal is beautiful, but note that installation can be tricky, and it may be difficult to find a carpet installer who will take on the challenge of laying sisal and doing seam work. When calling installers in your area, be sure to ask if they have experience working with sisal or other natural fibers. The recommended installation method is direct glue-down.

Important:

If you've ordered loose binding or broadloom material for wall-to-wall installation, be sure to inspect and measure the material before you (or your installer) cuts or alters it in any way. Once the material has been cut or installed, we cannot accept returns, claims or consider allowances.

Note also that natural fibers tend to fluctuate (expanding and contracting) depending upon climate and humidity levels, so the listed roll width may vary by 1-2 inches—something to keep in mind when calculating how much material to order.

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