All About: Sisal

All About: Sisal

Michelle Chin
Sep 28, 2010

Sisal is generally known for cat trees and door mats, but it can be so much more! Paper, cloth, wall coverings,'s much more versatile than we would assume. Traditionally thought to be native of the Yucatan, no one knows its true origins. The biggest surprise to me is that it comes from a variety of agave plant. Obviously a different variety than what produces agave nectar or tequila.

Agave sisalana has a 7-10 year lifespan, grows in a tropical environment with temperatures above 77 degrees Fahrenheit, and requires no commercial fertilizers. Herbicides are rarely used, as most of the weeding is done by hand.

As the usage in agricultural settings has decreased due to the high competition with polypropylene, sisal has been developed as an alternative to asbestos in composite products, such as those used in car production.

Used as carpet, it does not trap dust and simply needs to be vacuumed for regular maintenance. Available in pure sisal weave and blends with other fibers, one thing to keep in mind is that In high traffic areas it can become matted. In high spill zones, it should be treated with a fiber sealer.

As a wall covering, it meets the standards of the National Fire Testing Associations. Other products made from sisal include, slippers, the aforementioned cat scratchers, lumbar support belts, disc buffers and spa products.

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