Browse our frequently asked questions and let us inform, help and guide you through all things Alternative Flooring.
Sisal is a white fibre which is extracted from the long, green leaves of the Agave Sisalana plant, grown in tropical climates such as Brazil and Africa. Sisal leaves are hand harvested, then crushed, beaten and brushed to extract the white sisal fibre which is then dried, often in the sun. Once dry, the white fibre is cleaned, brushed and spun into sisal yarn ready for dying. Being a white fibre means sisal can be dyed into a whole rainbow of colours. After dying, the sisal cords are wound onto cones and woven by machine into beautiful sisal flooring. Sisal is a strong, versatile fibre which can be woven into many types of weaves in varying thicknesses. From fine and intricate panamas, such as our Sisal Tweed, to chunkier versions such as the Sisal Bubbleweave.
Explore our Sisal floor coverings here.
Seagrasses are flowering plants which are grown in clear, shallow waters and can be found on every continent except Antarctica. There are over 60 varieties of seagrass, however the one often used for flooring is grown in the coastal meadows along the banks of rivers in Vietnam and China. When ready, the seagrass plants are hand harvested, dried and then spun into cords ready for weaving. The water level at the time of harvesting will determine the colour of the batch; it can range from very green to being slightly yellow in tone. Due to its inherent characteristics, seagrass cannot be bleached or dyed, therefore the colour of the plant when harvested will be the colour of the flooring once woven.
Unlike sisal, seagrass is often hand spun and hand woven therefore irregularities in the weave are to be expected; it is part of the beauty of being a natural, craft product.
Explore our Seagrass floor coverings here.
Jute is a bast fibre; a soft, woody fibre obtained from the stems of flowering plants which have 'net-veined' leaves. Other bast fibres include flax, linen and hemp. Jute fibre can be extremely long, often between 1 and 4 metres; it is soft, shiny and often referred to as the 'golden fibre.' Jute is grown in monsoon climates, during monsoon season and the plants can grow to full length in only 4 to 6 months. Once harvested, the plant stalks are soaked in water to extract the soft jute fibre from within the stem. The extracted jute fibres are then dried, combed and spun into yarn ready to be woven into flooring.
Jute is considered to be one of the most eco friendly fibres; it is not only sustainable, but also renewable, fast to grow, easy to grow and easy to re-grow.
Explore our Jute floor coverings here.
Coir is also known as coconut fibre, simply because it is extracted from the outer husks of coconuts. A majority of coir is produced in India and Sri Lanka. Coconuts are harvested from the palm and 'de-husked' (where the coconut fruit is seperated from the hard shell). The shells are then soaked in bodies of slow moving salt or fresh water for up to 10 months to swell and soften the fibre. Once soft, the long fibres are seperated from the husk, cleaned and slowly dried in the sun. When dry, the fibres are straightened and spun into yarn on traditional spinning wheels ready to then be machine woven into flooring.
Explore our Coir floor coverings here.
Wool is a wonder fibre. It is a natural insulator, inherently fire retardant, easy to clean and has natural bouncebackability. It's natural resource is one of life's wonders.
Our wool is ethically sourced from sheep from around the world. It’s cleaned and spun into yarn. Sometimes the yarn is dyed , sometimes not. So versatile and ‘Not just a carpet’; wool fibre is great on its own or can be mixed with other fibres to give different textile carpet designs.
Explore our Wool carpets here.
We work with famous British designers to create unique and stylised patterns. Our collaborations include Margo Selby, Ben Pentreath, Ashley Hicks, Ella Doran and Divine Savages.
Quintessentially British; our Quirky and Quirky B ranges are made using wool from British sheep and carries the British Wool Licence. Every piece is made by skilled craftsmen on axminster looms in Wiltshire.
We celebrate craft, pattern and design, and the end result is our award-winning Quirky patterned carpets.
Explore our Quirky B British patterned carpet collection here. After all, life's too short to live in dull spaces.
Our collection of Faux carpets, including our Anywhere range and Plush range, are all made from synthetic rather than natural materials. The reasoning for this is that sometimes hard-wearing synthetic fabrics are the only practical option, such as in bathrooms or commercial spaces - places where natural fibres would not be the most suitable or practical. However we ensure that our timeless designs and production quality can be trusted to last, cutting the resource cost of wasteful replacements. We therefore see it as 'smart sustainability.'
Explore our Faux carpets here.
We would be cautious about recommending the use of natural fibre floor coverings in these areas. Natural plant fibre flooring is inherently absorbent and can be sensitive to any change in the environment or atmosphere. If fitted in an area where there is constant change in temperature, such as a bathroom, kitchen or basement, the fluctuating temperatures and damp may result in shrinkage and/or mould or mildrew growth. We would also be cautious because natural fibre flooring can mark with liquid spillages. Our Anywhere range of Faux flooring coverings, woven from synthetic rather than natural materials, would be more suited to these areas.
From our research, natural plant fibre floor coverings, made from materials such as coir or sisal, are 'naturally' moth resistant - moths just don't like the taste of coarse plant fibres. Most of our wool carpets have been treated with moth proofing; however to help identify those that are and those that are not we have a helpful 'Mothproofed' field in the Product Information area of each of our beautiful floor coverings. Our luxurious deep pile Barefoot eco carpet collection has not been treated with mothproofing because it has been specifically designed to be chemical free.
It would really all depend on the individual person and their sensitivities. Our natural floorings are made from 100% natural plant fibres and, although the sisal floor coverings are dyed, most are not treated with any further chemicals.
However, you may find that sensitivity will occur with the latex backing that we use on all our natural fibre floor coverings. The latex is a mix of natural latex and synthetics.
Most of our wool carpets are made from 100% pure wool but, again, may have been dyed or chemical treatments such as moth proofing may have been applied. There is also a chance that chemical adhesives have been used to secure the backing/s to the carpet fibre. We have tried to list as may of these as we can in the Product Information area of each individual product.
We want you to know exactly what goes into making each of our beautful floor coverings. However, chemical sensitivities are a very personal thing - and we cannot make any guarantees. Perhaps ordering a larger sample from Alternative HQ would be a good place to start?
As far as we are aware, currently the only range we would suggest as 'breathable' would be our Anywhere Rope collection as this has an extremely thin latex backing, as opposed to a thicker latex compound or foam.
Unfortunately, not at the moment. All of our natural plant fibre, wool and faux floor coverings have a backing as they are made with the intention of being fully fitted as wall-to-wall carpets. These backing range from latex compounds, jute to man-made woven fabrics such as Action Bac. We have highlighted the backing/s used in the Product Information area of each product.
Show Me My Room is an easy to use, online visualisation tool where you can quickly see and get a feel for any one of our carpets in your own interior space, even on your stairs. There are only four simple steps with no fiddly masking or technical photo editing required – Show Me My Room does it all for you.
Unfortunately, natural fibre floorings, such as sisal and seagrass, are inherantly absorbent and may mark if water is spilt on them. The degree of mark that is left will depend on what is spilt and how quickly it is treated. We would always suggest having one of our Natural Flooring Care Kits to hand in case of any spillages.
As natural plant fibre floorings do not 'like' water, we would always suggest using dry cleaning methods. These floor coverings are delicate, they need care, attention and the right cleaning products. The great news is that our Natural Flooring Care Kit has been tested and approved as safe to use on delicate fibre floor coverings by WoolSafe. So you can be confident to use this on any spots and spills on your sisal, seagrass, jute, coir or even pure wool carpet. For more information see our Product Care Tips here.
Intec Stain Inhibitor is a solvent free, environmentally friendly solution which, if requested, is applied to our carpets, rugs and runners in our warehouse before dispatch*. Intec has been specifically developed for natural floor coverings and will reduce the impact of liquid spillages while also prolonging the life of your flooring.
However, even if your floor covering has been treated with Intec, we would still recommend that any spillages are treated as soon as possible with one of our Natural Flooring Care Kits to avoid a mark being left.
*Please be aware that this is a chargeable service.
Each of our floor coverings will have different recommendations when it comes to vacuuming. Some will require suction only vacuum cleaners, others will stand up to the more rigorous vacuums with a beater bar and some will need a mix of both. We have given a suggestion to help you when it comes to your choice of vacuumming routine in the Product Information area of each product. For further information on vacuuming please see our Product Care Tips.
We understand that every situation is different and our Product Care Tips may not cover all eventualities. Therefore if you have an urgent question relating to the care and cleaning of your sisal, coir, jute, seagrass, wool or synthetic carpet, please speak to the experts at WoolSafe on 01943 850 817 or an email to firstname.lastname@example.org, they will be more than happy to help.
It's best to use a professional fitter for both home and commercial fitting. Using a recommended underlay is also a good idea. Leave your natural flooring to acclimatise for at least 48 hours before fitting; this can be loosely rolled as long your new flooring has been un-wrapped and the air can flow around and through it. See our Installation Tips here.
Attempting to join or seam a flatweave wool flooring, such as our Wool Iconic or Wool Herringbone, is not recommended. Where possible we would suggest only installing as a single width.
This is not a straight forward question to answer as unfortunately we cannot guarantee any of our floor coverings for use with underfloor heating systems; they have not been independently tested for such use. However, we are aware that some of our floor coverings, such as Sisal Bouclé, have very low thermal resistances (or TOG ratings) and, in theory, should be usable with underfloor heating.
From our understanding, the lower the thermal resistance or TOG rating, the more heat the flooring will conduct and therefore the more effective the underfloor heating will be. However, it is always best to check with your underfloor heating manufacturer what their recommendation would be (oh and don't forget about the underlay, this will have a TOG rating that will need to be considered too!) Where possible we have included TOG ratings in the Product Information area on each individual product so you can check with your underfloor heating manufacturer whether your chosen flooring will be suitable.
Seagrass contains its own natural oils so, when it's used on stairs, it could become slippery. It's also not the most hardwearing of natural fibre floor coverings and, therefore, may not last as long as sisal or coir.
Our No Bother Sisal floor coverings are still made from 100% natural sisal fibre on the surface. However, the difference is that they have a man-made woven secondary backing as opposed to our other sisal carpets which are latex backed. The woven fabric backing gives No Bother Sisal carpets more stability and also means that they can be conventionally (or traditionally) fitted - no need for any glues or adhesives.
To start, find your perfect flooring and border combination using our Make Me A Rug online designer; we know it says 'rug' but any flooring and border combination that is possible here can also be turned in a runner or stair runner. Of course, make sure the floor covering you choose is suitable for stairs too!
Once you have an idea of what you would like, we would suggest contacting your local Alternative Retail Partner. Each of our retail partners will be able to discuss your flooring and border choices in more detail, supply samples, visit your home to measure your staircase (again checking suitability), discuss installation options and of course provide estimates. Contact your local Alternative Retail Partner using our handy Where to buy.
The 'Waterfall' method involves bringing your chosen floor covering over the edge of the stair tread (step) and straight down the riser to meet the next tread (step), without molding it to the riser, which creates a waterfall effect. It is the most common installation method because of the clean look. This method is more appropriate for thicker carpets that are more difficult to wrap around and mold to the edge of the tread.
The 'American' style, also known as the 'Hollywood' style, refers to a specific installation method. Your carpet fitter will tack down the carpet directly to the staircase and as they do this they mold and wrap the floor covering around the edge of the tread, contouring the nosing to meet the riser. The carpet or runner gets stapled and is secured under the nose of the stair.
Before deciding which look your prefer, we would always recommend discussing options with your carpet fitter as each floor covering will look different depending on your particualr staircase, the carpet material, thickness and construction. For some carpets you may not have a choice! All of our Alternative Retail Partners are fully conversant with our products and will be more than happy to discuss options for your particular needs further. Contact your local Alternative Retail Partner using our handy Where to buy.
Make Me A Rug is our online bespoke rug and runner designer. You choose any one of our carpets or floorings, pick an available border style, pick a border fabric, colour and then finally enter your bespoke size. This handy feature offers the chance to mix and match from all our collection, border styles and border combinations, then create and view the results on screen. You can choose to add INTEC, a Natural Flooring Care Kit and Wunderlay, then simply Click 'n' Collect from your local Alternative Retail Partner - all from the comfort of your own home. Start designing your own personalised rug or runner now with Make Me A Rug.
Although our online Make Me A Rug can only create square or rectangular rugs and runners under 6m long; we can handle bigger rugs, runners and unusual shapes, such as over 4 mitres/corners or one with internal mitres (such as an ‘L’ shape), depending on the size and dimensions. We can also make circular rugs.
However, all unusual requests would need to be discussed with your local Alternative Retail Partner and they would price on request. Contact your nearest retail partner to discuss your options further using our Where to Buy.
The best way to hold a rug or runner in place is by using a rug underlay. Rug underlay will stop your rug or runner from moving on smooth floors or creeping on carpet, while also reducing the risk of slips, trips and falls from rugs or runners; plus it adds some extra cushioning underfoot. There are a lot of benefits from investing in a good quality rug underlay.
Our Anywhere floor coverings are the perfect choice as a bespoke rug or runner for outdoor living spaces; however please bear in mind that if you leave your Anywhere flooring outside all year round, exposed to prolonged extreme weather conditions, this may limit the life of the product.
See our full collection of Anywhere faux rugs here.
Ceneva® is the world’s first carpet backing containing no styrene-butadiene (SBR). Instead, Ceneva® uses a compound based completely on vinyl acetate ethylene (VAE). VAE provides a number of advantages to the final product and is the solution for those who are environmentally conscious.
Tomsit T440 is a filler used in the backing which has meant that the No Bother Sisal floor coverings have achieved the important Cfl-s1 fire classification; this satisfies contract applications where fire retardency is a consideration.
Changing the filler is the most desirable flame retardant versus halogenated compounds because it does not emit toxic smoke when burned. Plus, the effect is permanent in contrary to alternative fire retardents which are applied as finish or coating.
Floor coverings are tested for fire retardency to ensure they meet CE Certification standards. They are put through two tests, one for ignition and one for smoke. The results of the ignition test are classified from Afl - so very little or no flame, down to Ffl - which means un-tested. The smoke test results in either 's1' which means very little smoke, or 's2' a bit more.
BREEAM is an effective environmental assessment method and rating system for buildings. BREEAM assessments are globally appreciated as a method of assessment and ranking. The HEA 02 assessment specifically measures indoor air quality ensuring there are no harmful levels of TVOC's within the floor covering, including formaldehyde.
Some our floor coverings have a GUT Licence number displayed on them, but what does this actually mean? In short, these are carpets tested for a better living environment.
Since 1990, GUT has supported the European textile floor-covering industry by setting and continuously developing the environmental standards to give the consumer the greatest protection. All products under the GUT Licence are stringently tested for harmful substances and emissions according to the latest findings and techniques available.
To find out more about GUT, or to check the test results for a specific floor covering, please click here.
Cuts of the same flooring allocated to different widths are not guaranteed to be a colour match, as they will have come from different production batches. With some natural-fibre floorings, there can also be a textural and construction difference as they will have been made on different looms. These differences could be significant. If colour/batch match is crucial, we would suggest taking all cuts from the same width.
Natural floorings' charm lies in it's texture. A majority of our products are made from natural sustainable fibres; that means that slubs, tufts and irregularities in the weave are to be expected.
Some of our floor coverings are completely hand crafted, such as our eco Barefoot collection. However, hand crafted carpets are not for everyone. The process means the carpets are not uniform and do not display a machine made finish. Gorgeous but not perfect!
Natural plant fibre flooring, such as sisal, has anti-static properties. It's not prone to the off-gassing that aflicts many man-made fibre carpets.
Please be aware of the specific product's suitability. Certain products aren't recommended for heavy-traffic areas, stairs or damp areas such as bathrooms. Please refer to the Production Information area on each individual product, on our samples or in our latest brochure for advice.
We can send swatch samples of any of our carpets or border fabrics*. You can request these through our website, popping us an email to email@example.com or giving us a call on 01264 335111.
*A charge may be applicable.
You can buy Alternative Flooring products through a network of reputable specialist retailers. Visit our Where to Buy to find your local Alternative Flooring Retail Partner.
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