Natural materials are a key feature in modern home designs, with their organic look and feel and they tend to have a lot of beneficial features too. Sisal, seagrass, and jute are some of the most common organic materials used in modern floor coverings – even though they’ve been used in flooring for centuries.
This guide will explain what each of these materials is and their properties, and then will explain the differences between them to help you pick which material you’d prefer to have in your home. We also have some style advice, and you can look at our flooring inspiration page to see how our customers are styling natural materials in their homes.
The luxury, hand-woven quality of natural fibre, along with neutral colour schemes and textures, makes them a must-have for contemporary, eco-friendly homes. The sustainable fibres of jute, sisal, and seagrass are most commonly used for these types of carpets, as they can grow extremely quickly and can be harvested all year round too.
To start with, we’ll explore each of these natural fibres to help you determine which one would work best for you and in your space, by finding out how each one is created, and what they’re made of, too.
The jute plant grows in tropical, humid climates in India, Bangladesh, Nepal, and Myanmar. A natural material, jute doesn't require fertiliser or pesticides to grow, it just needs natural humidity and plenty of rainfall, which is easily achieved in these humid countries with frequent monsoon seasons - this makes it one of the most eco-friendly materials available. Besides being 100% biodegradable and recyclable, jute – a relation of mallow – is also durable, chemical-free, and reusable.
Seagrass is the only flowering plant to grow in water. It’s found throughout the world, but the material used specifically for weaving natural fibre carpets and rugs is best grown in the wetlands of Asia. It’s collected, dried and spun into yarn for weaving and is one of the sturdiest materials of the three fibres. It’s not dyed in any way. Although it comes out of the water with a green tinge, seagrass fades to a natural light brown colour during its drying and cleaning process.
Sisal is made from the agave plant, most commonly found in the south of Mexico and East Africa. There are subtle differences between the plants grown in these two locations, with Southern Mexican agave plants growing shorter and stouter, while East African agave plants grow longer and thinner – this makes the Eastern African variety easier to colour with dye. Although you may like the natural look as it adds a neutral element to any room and you can personalise it with your own colour scheme and accessories. You can find out more in our guide to 'what is sisal?'.
When it comes to identifying what makes these natural fibres different from each other, we need to look at their properties – their look, feel, durability, and additional benefits.
Although both jute and sisal are materials woven from plants, they have some significant differences. Jute is grown in extremely humid environments, and as it’s a very porous material it can stain easily. In this way, it’s similar to sisal, which is also prone to staining. Both can be protected with a stain-prevention sealant, however, a job that’s best done by a professional.
The biggest difference between jute and sisal is its durability. The fibres of the sisal plant are extremely strong and are excellent for busy areas of the home like your hallway or kitchen. Tapi sells three different collections made from 100% sisal. In particular, the Havana carpets have been created in herringbone patterns in a variety of colours, which look smart and create movement as well as adding texture in any room.
Jute has a lot of versatility and can come in many design styles, so are great for less busy areas like your bedroom or living room. Jute is also softer, which makes it a great pick for areas where you want a soft sensation under your bare feet.
The biggest advantage that seagrass has over sisal is its resistance to staining. This is because it has natural stain-resistant properties, thanks to its saltwater habitat. Sisal, as we’ve mentioned, is prone to staining. Both materials are hardwearing and are great for busy areas, and a seagrass carpet or rug is great if you want a natural-coloured flooring that can also stand up to the tests of daily life.
Sisal is much easier to stain than seagrass, so it can also be dyed in many different shades and colours, so this is a great choice if you want something more colourful, but just as tough.
Seagrass is much more durable and tough than jute, because while jute is made from the stalk or stems of the jute plant, seagrass fibres are made from the leaves themselves. Seagrass can also handle moisture well, making it a good choice for areas like kitchens and bathrooms where humidity can be higher.
Jute is much softer in comparison to both seagrass and sisal rugs, which makes it perfect for areas where you want to add a little more warmth and comfort. The best thing about all of these types of rugs is that they are eco-friendly, easy to produce and look naturally beautiful in your home, whatever your style may be.
If you would like to pick a natural fibre flooring for your home such as sisal carpet, why not speak to one of our flooring experts about your options, either by booking a free store appointment or getting in touch with our team? Did you know you can also make your own rugs from different carpets in our range with our carpet whipping service? Give it a try today.