Finishes & Furnishings

Sisal Floor and Wall Coverings

Thick, textured wall covering made from sisal fibres.

Building Use
bullet highrise office
bullet lowrise office
bullet highrise apartment
bullet lowrise apartment
bullet retail
bullet food service
bullet institutional
bullet arena
Building Type
bullet new
bullet retrofit


bullet mature technology

Sisal has been in use as a wall covering for over two decades. Sisal fibre comes from the henequen plant, a cousin of the agave plant, native to Mexico. Sisal farming initially caused great environmental degradation, because sisal plantations replaced native forest, but among agricultural land uses, sisal farming is currently considered less damaging than most. No pesticides or chemical fertilizers are used in sisal production, and although herbicides are occasionally used, even this impact may be eliminated, since most weeding is done by hand.

Henequen branches are harvested once the plants are mature (seven years), and the fibres are mechanically extracted. All waste products are returned to the soil. Some manufacturers treat the leaves with borax, and sisal fibres are dyed to the required fashion colours. The fibres are spun into thick yarns, which contain irregularities typical of natural fabrics.

Sisal wall covering meets the abrasion and tearing resistance standards of the American Society for Testing and Materials and of the National Fire Protection Association.

Contributing Expert
Sheldon Levitt
Quadrangle Architects Limited
390 Wellington Street West
Toronto ON
Canada  M5W 1E3
tel 1 416 593 1240

bullet reduces emissions from wallpapers, adhesives and paints
bullet reduces maintenance
bullet reduces sound transmission within buildings
bullet lowers impact of resource depletion and manufacturing
bullet not suggested where a smooth wall surface is required 

Design Materials is a leading producer of sisal carpet and wall coverings. Their products are glued to the work surface with a zero-VOC adhesive that contains anti-microbial agents. It can also be laid as a carpet over double-stick carpet pad. Side seams are preferable to end seams.

Sisal is known for the great durability of its yarns, although slight matting of sisal carpeting may occur in high traffic areas. Sisal does not build up static and does not trap dust, so vacuuming is the only maintenance required. High spill areas should be treated with a fibre sealer. Spot removal involves the use of a dry cleaning powder.

Sisal will absorb air humidity or release it, depending on climatic conditions, and thus will expand or contract slightly. When used for carpeting that is loose-laid, and not fastened down, this may result in come curling. Sisal is not recommended for areas that receive wet spills, or rain or snow.

Sisal carpets and wall coverings have been widely used for decades. Design Materials clients include the military, universities, churches and hospitals.

Current Buildings
Green on the Grand

The cost of the wallcovering ranges from US$11 to $14/m2, depending on the quantity ordered.

Example Manufacturers
Design Materials Inc.
241 South 55th Street
Kansas City KS
USA  66106
tel 1 800 654 6451
fax 1 913 342 9826

Advanced Buildings Technologies & Practices