In the search for a more up-to-date, contemporary-looking alternative to carpet, the building design and management community has begun to discover the virtues of woven vinyl sisal. While resilient vinyl flooring has been a staple of modern design for some time, the idea of pairing strong, durable vinyl construction with a soft, natural, woven appearance is relatively new. And, it’s catching on quickly.More modern-looking than carpet and more colorful than natural sisal, the variety of design options available with woven vinyl sisal and its ability to stand up to heavy-traffic conditions are what make it such an appealing flooring alternative. This unique floorcovering comes in a diverse palette of colors and weaves, enabling a designer to create custom designs for ultimate variety and originality.Another advantage of woven vinyl sisal, which comes in both sheets and tiles, is that it can be cut in any direction without fraying or tearing. In addition to simplifying the installation of the product, this feature gives facilities professionals the ability to incorporate non-traditional curves and artistic shapes into designs, which would not be possible with natural sisal or carpet. Custom-cut seams, inlays, and borders add interest and are easy to create with this product. Joints are invisible after installation.However, a rich, distinctive appearance is just the beginning. With woven vinyl sisal, safety, acoustics, and maintenance aren’t causes for concern, either. Because it is constructed primarily of vinyl, woven vinyl sisal provides exceptional comfort underfoot; dries quickly; and features a non-slip, dimensionally stable surface. High levels of sound absorption keep ambient and footstep noise to a minimum, while chairs roll smoothly over the surface without scratching.At a time when sustainability and “green” products are gaining in importance, it is comforting to know that woven vinyl sisal also provides a much longer life-cycle than natural sisal.The product is fire-resistant and has a high degree of colorfastness. Woven vinyl sisal is also stain resistant – even to wine, mustard, and grease. It is rot- and mold-resistant and remarkably low maintenance, unlike natural sisals and some carpets. It can be cleaned quickly and easily with a hose or hot water extraction, and because of the product’s woven nature, dirt is less obvious. There will never be a need to wax, strip, or buff this floorcovering.From retail and commercial businesses to hospitality, education, and healthcare, any facility manager looking to create a warm, rich environment should consider the advantages of woven vinyl sisal. It is a cost-effective, performance-driven floorcovering that looks better and lasts longer than traditional carpet in high-traffic environments.Jim Cave is vice president of Sales & Marketing at Stoughton, MA-based Mats Inc. (www.matsinc.com).