Curran and sisalcarpet.com have been in the custom rug business for a long time and a great majority of our customers lump all of the natural fibers (sisal, seagrass, coir, jute and abaca) into one category, referring to them all as sisal. Yes, they are all made from plant fibers, but they are all quite different.
In this post, we will explain the differences between sisal and jute, as well as the differences between seagrass, coir and abaca. We will also help you pick the best natural fiber rug for your space, needs and lifestyle.
Where Do These Natural Plant Fibers Come from?
Coir is made from coconut husks. Seagrass is just as it sounds—grass harvested from the sea or near the sea. Sisal is woven from the long leaves of the agave sisalana plant. Jute is a bast fiber because it comes from the stem as opposed to the leaves of the corchorus plant. Abaca is handwoven from the fibers of the banana tree leaves.
Classic Sisal Rugs
Sisal rugs are by far the most popular natural fiber rug we sell. Sisal is durable and has a muted, organic beauty that blends with many design styles. These rugs come in a variety of styles and structures, from classic bouclé to herringbone. Sisal fibers dye well, resulting in neutral hues that range from deep browns to grays to bright beiges.
Sisal is great for living rooms, hallway runners, offices, and bedrooms. It has a coarseness that some people object to but others enjoy. We don’t recommend sisal for areas that get wet, like bathrooms or laundry rooms. Our blog post Sisal Rugs – Everything You Need To Know gives you more in-depth information on sisal, sisal rugs, and the best uses for sisal rugs and carpet.
Affordable Seagrass Rugs
Seagrass rugs come in a handful of designs and only in one color—green—which ages over time into a toasty brown. A seagrass rug or carpet is the least expensive option of the plant fibers and is very popular with our design clients. Seagrass’ knots, shade variations and texture create a rug with a unique, rustic look. If you want help deciding if a seagrass rug is right for you, head over to our post Seagrass Rugs – Everything You Need To Know.
Seagrass has long been a favorite for wall-to-wall installations in living rooms, offices or as a stair runner. Seagrass is welcome in any room of the house except bathrooms or any humid environment because it is susceptible to mold and mildew.
Sisal vs. Seagrass
If you are trying to decide between a seagrass rug or a sisal rug, here are some key considerations:
- Durability: both fibers are durable, with sisal taking a slight advantage.
- Variety: sisal has more variety in regards to pattern and color than seagrass.
- Style: both sisal and seagrass bring organic beauty to any space and blend effortlessly with decor styles like minimalism, boho chic, traditional, transitional, japandi or scandinavian.
- Stain Resistance: seagrass is more resistant to staining than sisal.
Coir is incredibly durable, but very rough underfoot and only comes in a few styles and colors. We usually recommend this weave for commercial use or residential customers who want something “bullet proof.” Our Contract Coir is perfect for high-traffic applications such as retail stores, boutique shops, office environments or busy residential spaces like staircases or entryways. It is also available in easy-to-install tiles.
Aesthetic Jute Rugs
Jute is the softest of our natural plant fibers. Jute rugs have earthy tones and a subtle sheen. Most of the jute rugs we carry are hand-crafted and have a rustic yet beautiful chunkiness. Jute is quite durable but not as durable as sisal or coir. A jute area rug is a wonderful accent piece in a living room or office.
One of the most common questions we receive about jute is “do jute rugs shed?” The answer is yes, but if you want to know how to tame the shedding, read our post Jute Rugs – Everything You Need To Know.
Jute vs. Sisal
Jute and sisal are comparable in many ways, with jute being softer but sisal having more variety and stronger fibers.
- Durability: jute can handle light to moderate traffic and sisal stands up to heavy traffic.
- Variety: sisal wins with more variety in regards to colorways, but both jute and sisal have interesting pattern options like bouclé, chevron or basketweave.
- Style: sisal and jute rugs have design versatility and complement many design styles.
- Stain Resistance: jute and sisal are both prone to staining, so we recommend a stain prevention application like sisal-guard.
Abaca fibers have an elegant, glossy shine and are quite thick, creating texturally as well as visually captivating rugs. Our Abaca rug is soft underfoot and has a metallic tonal quality. The weaving process creates a stunning braided edge. An abaca rug is a show-stopper in living rooms, bedrooms, lofts, offices and other gathering spaces.
Which natural fiber rug is best for you? It all depends on your lifestyle, your design style and the rug’s location. If you still aren’t sure, our Rug Buying Guide – Everything You Need To Know is a deep dive into rug materials, rug placement, how to order a custom rug online and more. Our amazing customer service team is also available to help guide you on your purchase.
Need more details about how to choose the right material for your next custom rug?
Our Everything You Need To Know series has the information you need.
Creating an outdoor gathering space and need just the right amount of shade? Our umbrella guide is here for you.
Christy is the Flooring Content Specialist at Curran and sisalcarpet.com. She writes about flooring products with a focus on design and sustainability. For 5 years, her blog posts, technical guides, and product descriptions have led customers along the path from purchasing to maintaining their flooring investments. Her favorite natural flooring? A sisal rug, of course.
Which fibre do you recommend for a sun room opening onto the swimming room?
We would recommend anything in our Outdoor section The first section listed is our SynSisal Anywhere which would probably be the best fit. It looks natural, but is UV protected polypropylene so it won’t fade or mold/ mildew. Please let us know if you have any other questions! [email protected]
Hello! Are abaca rugs softer than sisal? Is abaca relatively sound-absorbing?
Thank you so much!
Thank you for your inquiry. Abaca is definitely softer to the touch than most sisal weaves, except a sisal blend with wool which adds to softness while keeping durability. If you have further questions, feel free to connect with our customer service team.
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What is the most durable indoor rug for people with large dogs. There are three dogs in the household, which is a lot of “wear and tear” on rugs.
Hi Mary. We have lots of options for indoor rugs from nylon to wool to polypropelene. We would be happy to help you choose the best rug for your household. Email us [email protected]. Stephanie, Linda, or Chiahana would be happy to answer your questions. Thank you and take care.
What type of rug would you recommend to go under a seldom used formal dining table? It is the first room that people see when they enter our house, and so I’d like it to look nice. I’d prefer a neutral colored rug, because I add color to the room in the curtains and wall color. Ideally I’d love for it to last for years so that I don’t have to replace it anytime soon.
Thank you for your inquiry. We would be happy to help and guide you in the right direction for a perfect rug for your formal dining room. Please contact Stephanie or Linda at [email protected] and they can assist you today.
do you have woven rugs? or all are non-woven? TIA
We do have woven wool weaves for custom rugs. Feel free to contact us and we would be happy to help you and answer any of your questions. Email Linda or Stephanie [email protected]
Love your post! Would you use an abaca rug on a porche?. Fell in love with one but I’m afraid that the elements would ruin it. It’s a covered porch but it rains a lot here and summers are very humid and hot. Thank you
Thank you for your compliment and question. As Abaca is a natural fiber, it is best advised to not have it outside even under cover. The humidity and moisture from the rain would not only affect the shrinkage/expansion of your rug, but would unpleasantly create mildew and unfortunately ruin the beauty of your Abaca rug. We have a lot of replica weaves that look very natural, but a synthetic version to be used outdoors. Feel free to contact our customer service team [email protected] Stephanie and Linda are happy to guide you in choosing a comparable alternative to suit your needs and style.
We had a seagrass rug in a former home. It looked great but my husband didn’t like how it felt. Now I’m considering sisal. Will it wear as well and be softer for his tootsies? It will be over tile.
Hi Myrna, Thank you for your inquiry. We would be happy to help you. We do have many Sisal, SynSisal and SynSeagrass options that would work for you and your husband. Please contact, Linda, in customer service at [email protected]
Looking for advice on a soft texture, unaffected by moisture, natural looking rug for an infrequently used guest bathroom. Thank you very much.
Thank you for your inquiry. We are happy to suggest options for you. Our SynSisal collection of weaves would be a great start. It has a natural sisal look and very easy to maintain. Feel free to contact Stephanie or Linda at [email protected] and they can assist you.
Which is the easiest to clean and maintain? And can these natural rugs go well with more traditional wood framed furniture? Thank you.
Hi Melanie, Thank you for your question. Coir, Abaca, Sisal, Jute and Seagrass are all natural fibers, so they are difficult to keep clean if you have a lot of foot traffic, pets or children. They absorb water and dirt and that will leave a permanent stain. We suggest taking a look at our SynSisal options. These weaves look just like natural fibers without the worry of spills. Feel free to email us with further questions and we would be happy to point you to a great weave that suits your needs.
If you were to use synsisal to carpet a room in your home would you recommend using padding with it? If so, assuming it would be a firm padding as opposed to a soft?
Thank you for your question. We would suggest using a rug pad with most flooring as it extends the lifetime of your flooring keeping it easier to maintain. Feel free to email us if you have further questions and need any other details.
I am working with a dog loving client whom is dedicating one stair well to her elderly dogs- hoping a to use a natural fiber – of heavier weave to aid the dogs ascent and decent what would your recommendation be sisal, seagrass or other ?
Thank you for your inquiry. We would recommend a synthetic sisal because it is impervious to any moisture or liquid. With natural sisal if it got wet, a stain would be left and then it would have to be replaced as there is not any option to remove the marking. Feel free to contact Linda, Stephanie or Michelle at [email protected]
Hi, I am interested in your synthetic sisal but was wondering how to prevent pilling of the polypropylene fibre if this is a potential issue. Thanks!
Thank you for your question. The polypropylene will not pill, but we do recommend using a higher setting on your vacuum to prevent thread breakage. Feel free to contact us with any other questions you may have or if you would like to order any synthetic sisal swatch samples.
I’m wonder whether a natural fiber rug would be good in a home office where there are chairs with rollers ?
Thank you for your question. We do not recommend placing a natural fiber rug in a home office because over time the rollers on the chair will break down the construction of the rug. We would be happy to give you other suggestions as to what would work better, like SynSisal or please contact Michelle, one of our experienced customer service representatives.
We were looking to install a natural fiber carpet wall-to-wall in our home but we live in a relatively hot and humid country. Will this affect the the material? Will it cause damage to the flooring underneath the natural fiber carpet? Are there any alternatives with a similar look?
Thank you for reaching out. Yes, with change in temperature and humidity, it is a strong possibility that a natural fiber rug could be damaged in the material structure. We would be happy to assist you with other alternatives like Synthetic Sisal or Synthetic seagrass if you like the natural look. Feel free to email to email our customer service representative, Linda. She is very knowledgable and can give you some great advice as to what you are looking for.
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Thank you for your compliment.
What is the best rug for a family room that gets a lot of daily use. The flooring is engineered hardwood.
Thank you for your inquiry. We would suggest a synthetic version of sisal if you prefer a natural look. It is unbelievable how close they look just like the real thing. With synthetic flooring, you won’t have any worries of stains or spills ruining your rug. Check out our synthetic natural flooring and also Michelle from our sales team will reach out to you if you have any other questions.
What material would be best in a yoga studio (not hot or humid, just meditative yoga)? It needs to be soft, but not plushy and will be covered with a yoga mat. Thanks!
Thank you for your question. As a long time Bikram yoga practitioner and retired instructor, I used to practice on low pile carpet. I can now say as a vinyasa and yin yoga practitioner, I love practicing without. It feels clean in the yoga studio and there’s no smell. At SisalCarpet, we have provided flooring and custom rugs for yoga studios, cycling studios and spas with our Synthesis weave. It is easy to clean, lighter colors look like natural flooring, it’s soft underfoot and not too plush for ease to balance in yoga poses. Feel free to contact Stephanie or Linda with questions, send you samples or help you with pricing.
what is the best for a sitting room, with one dog. Sisal, coir, seagrass
Thank you for reaching out. The best suggestions I have would be dependent upon if your dog might have accidents, that could potentially stain or leave marks on your rug. For a natural sisal look, a good option would be our SisalPlus weaves. They are coated with a protective stain-resistant layer to help liquids be cleaned easily and not penetrate through the fibers. Seagrass is another great option as it’s easier to clean than sisal and we also have that in a synthetic version. Finally, coir is quite rough, so if you would have bare feet or sitting directly on your rug it might be a little rough to your liking. Please feel free to contact our sales team with any further questions or getting samples to help you in your decision of ordering.
We just installed natural white oak flooring on our first floor. I would like to maintain the neutrality with a natural fibre/synthetic entrance rug and runner. I live in Ohio, how would a synsisal rug handle snow? Does it absorb, does it dry fast? Is there a backing that would protect my wood floors?
Thank you for your feedback,
Thank you for reaching out with your inquiry. I have a few suggestions that would be helpful in your situation. I would advise first to make sure you have a really durable walk off mat at your door before entering your house to take care of as much muck on your shoes as possible. I would also suggest our Synthesis weave as an entryway rug for the snowy boots and then you could have the Synthetic Sisal as the runner. It would look stunning and not get damaged from saturation of melted snow. We also highly recommend having a rug pad under your rugs to protect the rug and your floors. It also helps with the durability and lifetime of your rug. Feel free to contact us with any further questions or concerns. We are happy to help.
Hello, I am writing to ask what you would recommend for a tiled kitchen floor. Our kitchen floor is tiled mimicking the color of travertine. We both find it difficult to walk on the hard surface of our kitchen floor yet most carpeting would not seem to work in this area. Softness underfoot is a consideration as we spend considerable time standing and working in the kitchen.
Thank you for your inquiry. I understand your concern for being comfortable standing and working in your kitchen for long periods of time. I would recommend either our Synthesis, a modern vinyl or SisalPlus, natural with a protectant coating. Both are very easy to keep clean and soft underfoot, but have different looks. Another recommendation for extra comfort and a longer lasting rug would be to add a rug pad. Feel free to contact us if you would like samples or have any other questions.
Hi! I am wondering which natural material, jute or coir, would be better suited as a doormat? Which would you recommend, and why?
P.S. I definitely do not want synthetic. I want to be able to compost my doormat when it wears out! 🙂
Thank you for your inquiry. We would recommend coir to use as a doormat because of its durability. It is used specifically for high traffic and contract, whereas jute is for indoor use only. Jute will fade or get damaged quicker if getting wet from shoes. Feel free to get in touch with our customer service team if you have any other questions or would like to order samples.
Hi, we need a large area rug for our living room. We have two young children, one of whom will learn to crawl likely in this room. What material – jute, sisal, or something else might be a good option for a natural looking area rug that is soft enough to crawl on (it doesn’t have to be as soft as carpet, just not so rough as would discourage crawling or cause pain or splinters),
Thank you for giving thoughts on several options if there are some!
Thank you for your question. In terms of what you are looking for, jute is going to be your best option for softness for your little one to crawl on. Jute fiber is eco-friendly, anti-static, sound absorbing, naturally resilient and fire-retardant, but most of all a great addition to low traffic areas indoors as it’s soft and provides cushioning underfoot. If you have any further questions or would like samples of any our jute weaves, feel free to reach out to us [email protected]
I would like a new natural fiber rug. I’ve had two different jute rugs in the past that shed excessively (lots of dust bunnies even after regular vacuuming) and left dust/residue underneath. Is this common with all jute rugs? I’m guessing all rugs shed to some degree, but is there a natural fiber rug that doesn’t shed as much?
Sorry for the late reply, but we had some difficulty accessing word press the last weeks. Yes, jute sheds maybe the most among all the natural fibers and there is not much more to do than regular vacuuming to stay on top of the shedding.
We always stir customers toward sisal for natural rugs if they are looking for a natural rug that sheds the least.
I just recently wrote a blog about “Sisal Rugs–Everything You Need to Know” with a separate section about shedding:
“Do Sisal Rugs Shed?
All plant fibers shed to some degree whereas natural sisal fairs much better in the shedding category than jute. Another way to say this: the more durable a natural fiber rug, the less it sheds. Sisal is tough. It is often used for ropes because it withstands some serious wear and tear. To avoid shedding, choose tightly woven sisal rugs such as Astute or Madrid, and take care of them the proper way. The trick is to regularly vacuum your rug, going with the grain, to dislocate any fine dirt particles that may contribute to abrasion. Vacuums with strong suction are preferred, but turn off that beater bar. This will take care of the fuzz and increase your rug’s life-time immensely.
Often customers mistake sprouting for shedding. For the uninitiated, sprouting looks like a pulled thread. But if you talk to our dedicated sales team, they will inform you that sprouting is a common process that may occur in all natural fiber rugs. “To sprout” means that the fibers of a yarn separate or loosen. This happens with regular maintenance and general wear and tear and is not a defect. Simply trim the sprout at pile height with a sharp scissor and do not pull. This routine maintenance will not hurt or affect the integrity of your rug. For more details, consult our cleaning tips for natural fibers or contact our customer consultants should you have further questions.
I hope this information helps you to make your decision.
Also feel free to contact our customer service directly if you have additional questions: [email protected]
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Which is the best material to use and make a bag, shopping or grocery bag for example? The one that you can wash anytime. I see mostly Jute tho.
And if made as a bag, do you think any of them can handle machine wash? If not, Would you be able to tell how to clean each depending on the material?
Thanks in advance!
We do not recommend washing any natural fiber material in the washing machine. For advice on proper maintenance for natural fiber products, please refer to our cleaning guide.