Laying soft natural flooring, such as sisal or jute, differs slightly from laying hessian-backed carpet as most natural flooring is backed with latex. The laying process involves sticking the latex onto an underlay, which is itself stuck to the subfloor. The gripper rods used to secure the flooring around the perimeter have no upward teeth, as the flooring is glued down — the back edge of the rod is simply used to tuck in the flooring. As the flooring is stuck down, there is no need for a knee kicker to stretch the carpet. Check with your supplier for the best adhesive to use.

Although the majority of natural floorings are now laid using the technique shown here, it is possible to find other backings. Check with your supplier whether they use synthetic or natural latex backing. A synthetic version negates many of the arguments for choosing this flooring, as it will not be biodegradable.

Step 1

Nail the Gripper Rods Into Place

Nail the blank gripper rods around the edge of the room (Image 1), leaving a gap between the baseboard and rod that is slightly thinner than the flooring.

Ensure the square edge of the rods face into the room, with the slightly angled edge pointing toward the baseboard (Image 2).

Step 2

Measure and Cut the Underlay

Roll out the underlay, butting its straight edge directly up against the gripper rods where possible (Image 1). This avoids excess trimming.

Use a razor knife to cut the underlay to the edge of the gripper where needed (Image 2). Roll out the underlay "dry" until the entire floor is covered.

Step 3

Install the Underlay

Roll back sections of the underlay to apply adhesive to the subfloor, using a fine-notched spreader (Image 1). Follow any supplier's guidelines closely.

Replace the underlay, smoothing it onto the adhesive below. You can kneel on the laid sections whilst positioning the rest of the underlay (Image 2).

Step 4

Roll Out and Trim the Flooring

Roll out the flooring across the underlay (Image 1). Some manufacturers advise letting it settle for 24 to 48 hours before trimming.

Allow an overlap of 1 to 2 inches with the baseboard or wall. Trim with a razor knife or carpet shears, then smooth the flooring up to the wall (Image 2).

Step 5

Install the Flooring

Roll back the flooring and apply adhesive directly to the underlay, again with a notched spreader (Image 1). Aim for a smooth, even coverage.

Having observed guidelines on drying times, roll the flooring back into place, flattening air bubbles and checking the positioning (Image 2).

Hold a razor knife at right angles to the baseboard, and trim the flooring, leaving a small excess (Image 3). Blades will blunt quickly, so be sure to have a supply of replacements, as the accuracy of this trimming is essential for a good fit. Once one area is glued and trimmed, move onto the next.

Use a carpet bolster to finish the job by pushing the excess of flooring down behind the gripper rods (Image 4).