A Sisal Substitute for the Stairs

During our recent renovation, we removed our carpet runner from the stairs, refinished the oak with a darker stain and replaced the spindles with white painted ones.

Eventually, I knew we would need a carpet runner.  

My kids run around in socks all the time and I have to think of my golden retriever, Rosie.  Those bare stairs were just too slippery.

Red Oak Staircase with Minwax Provincial Stain

I have always loved the look of sisal or seagrass but we didn’t want the rough feel on our stairs.  Essentially, what we needed was a “sisal substitute”.

Recently, I shared my stair runner options with you – Choosing a Stair Runner.

After some consideration, I ended up choosing a synthetic sisal-look runner and couldn’t be happier!…

Sisal Look Stair Runner

This “sisal alternative” carpet is from Masland Carpets.  After sampling all their colors and choices, I chose their Sisaltex line in the color Indochine.  By the way, I’m not being compensated in any way to mention them, in case you were wondering.

Sisal Substitute - sisal look runner on stairs


This is definitely the sisal look I wanted for the stairs.

Sisaltex Stair runner in Indochine color - a great substitute for sisal

And it feels so nice on our feet!  So much softer than real sisal…

Sisal Look Runner on stairs - softer on the feet than sisal or seagrass

We were able to choose the width we wanted and they cut the carpet to our specifications.  

Our stairs are 41 inches wide (above the landing) and 39 1/2 (below the landing)…I never realized that until we measured for the carpet…weird.  Anyway, we had the carpet cut at 31 inches wide.

I also had them cut me a runner for the upstairs hall…

Synthetic Sisal Runner in upstairs hallway - matches stair runner

My husband isn’t sure if he wants the runner because he (the previous carpet lover) got used to the look of the wood floor up here.  We’ll keep it up here for now though.

Sisal Look runner on stairs

And back down we go…

Sisal Substitute for stairs - It would have been nice to leave the wood stairs uncovered but with a dog and kids, we needed a stair runner.

The subtle color works well with our recently painted foyer.  (Benjamin Moore White Sand).  Plus, the rug is golden retriever color…a necessity in our home!  Yes, we have to decorate around the dog in our house.  Doesn’t everybody do that?…

New Stair Runner on newly stained staircase

Not only does it match the dog but the runner is neutral enough to work with the existing foyer rug…or something else if I decide to change it!

White Stair Spindles and sisal look runner - a whole new look for our foyer.

So, a sisal substitute is what worked for us!  A sisal-looking rug, without the sisal feel…

That’s one more thing I can cross off my list!  On to the next project!

If you want to catch up with all my recent renovations, click over to My New White Kitchen Reveal and Links to All the Renovation Details.

And if you are looking for more rug inspiration, visit my post, Area Rug Ideas for Every Room.

Do you love the look of a sisal runner?

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sisal substitute carpet runner - sisal look without the sisal feel


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  1. Love it. I know a lady who brought carpet samples home and threw golden retriever hair on them in order to choose her carpet color!

  2. Shelley,How funny, another thing we have in common! I did my stairs four years ago. Removed the previous ugly carpet and added and finished hardwood. And I have not added a runner! I wanted to, but my husband wasn't sure. It is not that slippery for us, but our Golden (the one that died) he slipped on it a lot! And now that we have the new puppy, I am thinking maybe it's time:)I will keep you posted! And I will definitely look into the one you used!Sheilawww.maisondecinq.blogspot.com

  3. Ooohh! Your runner had me totally fooled – it looks just like sisal! At some point I need to redo the carpet on our stairs and I'm loving having this as a resource!

  4. It looks great! I love the stain you guys chose for your floor. I'd love to know what color it is. We're in an apartment right now, but I am saving ideas for when we get a house 🙂

  5. Looks beautiful. Love the white spindles too! We are in a rental with wood stairs and the animals and us slip a lot. Wish we could have a runner. 🙂 Thanks for linking up to The Creative Circle.

  6. This is just the idea I have been looking for. Our basement stairs are farmhouse style, painted white wood, and they need a runner. I wanted something neutral, not too prissy or too rustic. I'll be looking for this at the local carpet store this week!

  7. Your new carpet looks terrific! The project that you've just finished is one that I need to tackle. Our stairs have mint green carpet from the previous owner vintage 1970's that needs to go!

  8. our golden had the same slippery floor issues. But we let him pass on back in the summer. But, I love your stair runner. looks great. Sheila

  9. Thank you Shelley for posting all those pictures of the stair runner. I have been searching for a carpet for dark wood stairs for weeks. I love the natural fiber look but like you, wanted something soft on our feet, easy to clean ( we have dogs) and neutral enough to go with anything as this is a new house ( to us) and not much in it yet. In fact, the carpet you chose was one of the samples I brought home though in a different color. But I almost threw that one away because of the color until I saw your post today. I really couldn't tell from the small swatch what the pattern would look like big, so thanks for all the great pictures. I am thinking of a carpet runner for our hall upstairs too instead of carrying the stair runner all the way down so glad you showed that. Our hall took more of a beating than the stairs in our last house due to pet "accidents" so we want something removable. Thanks again! Liz

    1. Thanks for your comment, Elizabeth. I would have emailed you directly but I didn't see your email anywhere. Yes, I am very happy with how our runner turned out. So far it has held up really well and hides dog hair beautifully! The color I chose, Indochine does tend to look more yellow at different times of the day but looks more neutral in these photos. Definitely try to get a bigger swatch of the exact color you are thinking because it's always best to try it in your own house. It's amazing how lighting and surrounding paint colors can change the way something looks! I am glad we went with a separate runner for the upstairs hallway. Although I loved the plain hardwood, it makes the hallway softer when you are coming out of the bedroom and plus my dog doesn't slip around as much! Good luck with your decision and let me know if there is anything else I can help you with!Shelley

    2. Hi Shelley! Sorry about not providing my email. This is the first time I have commented on anyone's post and I didn't see the check box. 🙂 Yesterday I found a large display board at the carpet store and your color, Indochrine was the large size on front! Thanks for your tips about its color as I noticed it looks more taupe in some of your pictures. I just want it to be a color that works with taupes, grays and beiges. How is it holding up with foot traffic so far and dirt? I am so glad you mentioned the different widths of your stairs! I was able to get out to the house Friday and discovered our staircase has crazy widths all the way up too! The house is very old – 1910 so there is wainscoting on parts of one wall and ½ wall and ½ railing on the other side. It's crazy. I will have to post a picture. The carpet guy says to keep the same width all the way up. The width you chose looks perfectly proportioned. Do you have a pad underneath? I so appreciate you responding! Have a nice day! Liz

    3. Sorry for the delay – yes, definitely try the sample in your house to make it works with your surrounding colors. It is holding up very well. I don't see any wear and tear on it and I have two boys and a golden retriever! Yes, we have a pad underneath. It is a thin one – I think maybe like a felt type. Hope that helps!

    1. Yes, we have a thin pad underneath. At first they didn't staple the sides because they said it will flatten over time but I was nervous with my kids and dog so I had them staple the sides before they left.

  10. Hi! Are you still liking your Masland carpet? I'm looking at the same brand for our stairs. Curious to know how it's held up with kids and dogs. 🙂

    1. Yes! The stair runner has held up beautifully to a golden retriever and boys! Shelley

  11. It looks amazing!!! Found your story on pinterest, we are looking for a runner for our stairs for our Newfoundland 🙂 did you have to have the carpet bound on the sides before installing it? Just curious as it looks amazing and I would love this look for our house! Also we have winder tteads as oyr stairs go around a corner, so im guessing we woild need to custom cut each triangular corner stair tread area and have those bound, too… thanks so much for sharing your fabulous update and gor anh information you can provide!
    Karen in Northern Michigan
    [email protected]

    1. Thank you, Karen! Yes, because it is a carpet and not technically a stair runner, we were able to have it cut down to the size we needed and had it bound. Hope that helps! Thanks for stopping by!

    1. Thanks, Kate! The carpet is Sisaltex by Masland and is made of nylon. It hasn’t really showed much dirt yet. I haven’t had it professionally cleaned yet but so far, so good!

  12. So, this was not a typical ‘off the roll’ carpet runner but a “broadloom” that the company cut into lengths and added binding for your Hollywood style stair carpeting? Did they give you one long length or a few that you put together during installation? Do you also have padding beneath?

    1. That’s correct, Deb. Since it was a regular carpet, they could cut it to whatever size we wanted. I believe when the installer arrived, it was in a couple pieces. Yes, there is a thin padding underneath. Hope that helps!

  13. Has your rug snagged at all from your dog after all these years? I need something big dog friendly (my guy runs up and down stairs) and love the look of yours! Thanks!

    1. Actually, the rug is in great shape! When we bought it, the snagging was one of my concerns but it has held up beautifully. Hope that helps!

    1. Our carpet installer took care of that. I know there is a thin pad under the rug and then I guess it’s stapled down. Hope that helps!

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