What is the correct way to install sisal carpet?

Updated February 21, 2017

Sisal is a natural fibre material spun from the agave plant. It's naturally fire-resistant, sound-muffling and strong (ocean liners use the material for anchor lines). This makes it a long-lasting, highly functional alternative to traditional carpet. However, the natural fibre nature of sisal means it's subject to humidity issues. Do not install sisal carpet in rooms that get moist (near pools or spas, in bathrooms or kitchens).

Lay the carpet gripper in strips along the walls, leaving a 1/8-inch gap between the edge of the gripper and the wall. Nail it in using the gripper nails, pins facing the walls.

Lay the underfelt from wall to wall so that the seams in the centre of the floor lay flush. Cut the wall-side edges of the underfelt so that they lie flush with the wall. Do not use glue or other adhesive to attach the underfelt to the floor. Do not allow the seams of the underfelt to match the seams of the sisal carpet you will lay above it.

Lay the sisal carpeting out on the area of floor you intend to cover. Cut it roughly to shape along the outer and wall edges, but leave the interior sisal edges overlapping each other. Smooth out any wiggles, bumps, or wavy areas along the interior of the room. Lay down high-quality heat-activated seam tape, adhesive side up, along the seam where two strips of sisal meet.

Trim the overlapping edges of sisal carpet with a pair of shears to fit edge to edge. Apply wood glue to one side. Heat a small section of the heat-activated seam tape with an iron. Lay the seam over the seam tape. The wood glue will hold the edges together, and the heat-activated seam tape will bind them from underneath. Roll the joint smooth with a rolling pin.

Move further down the seam and repeat the heating, gluing, and rolling process. Repeat this process for the entire area of sisal carpeting joints. Allow the final joint area to set for at least one hour before you stretch the sisal carpeting into its final position.

Stretch the edges of the sisal where they meet the wall into place using a knee kicker or a power stretcher according to manufacturer's instructions. Staple into place at the edges of the wall as you go using 12-mm staples from a staple gun. Staple approximately every two inches right up against the wall. Trim and tuck as necessary after stretching. Disguise this stapled edge with baseboards where it meets the wall or with decorative carpet trims where it meets other flooring types.


Style Plantation recommends spraying a fine mist of water over areas of your sisal carpet where the power stretcher or knee-kicker tools cannot work out creases. Do this after the entire carpet has been installed.

Things You'll Need

  • Carpet gripper
  • Underfelt
  • Heat-activated seam tape
  • Iron
  • Shears
  • Wood glue
  • Rolling pin
  • Knee-kicker or power stretcher
  • 12mm staples
  • Staple gun
  • Mist-spray bottle with water
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About the Author

Samantha Belyeu has been writing professionally since 2003. She began as a writer and publisher for the Natural Toxins Research Center and has spent her time since as a landscape designer and part-time writer. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from Texas A&M University in Kingsville.