Home Sweet Home: Everything You Need To Know About Stainless Steel Cable Railings

Posted By Devin Mergens on March 21, 2017


​In recent years, stainless steel cable railings have become one of the most popular options for helping modern-minded home and business owners create a space that is truly unique. Offering both unparalleled aesthetics and above-standard safety design, these contemporary elements work to provide equal parts form and function. While typically used for decks, porches, and stairwells, creative architects are finding new ways every day to utilize these versatile components to really showcase the beauty of a space and the unique personality of its owner.

WHY SHOULD I CHOOSE CABLE RAILS?

Traditional wood railings make it difficult to create a minimalist look inside your home, your business, or outside on your deck. Cable rails solve this problem, helping you design a contemporary space that eliminates the need for bulky dated rail supports that take away from other design elements.

Perfect for spaces that are plumbed with natural beauty, cable railings virtually disappear and allow you to defer to the view… and not the rails between. From lazy beach-front porches with seaside views to big city skylines where light and noise reign, cables open the way to enjoying life outdoors in the way that it was meant to be enjoyed… fully visible from every side.

ARE THERE ANY DOWNSIDES TO INSTALLING CABLE RAILS?

Cable rails have a long lifespan that can serve to provide you with the kind of space that not only meets your needs but also adds to the beauty of your home or business. While cable rails can be slightly more expensive than wood railings on startup, in the long run, these modern marvels will cost much less to maintain than traditional elements like wood. This makes them a great value that really pays off over time to help you to save money throughout the years.

Luxline Materials - Showing how to do proper measurements on cable railing hardware

HOW DO I INSTALL THEM? IS IT HARD?

Cable installation is much easier than it looks and it can be done as a weekend DIY project, on your own, if you have the time, patience and drive to create a space that you will love for decades to come. (However, if you have any handy friends, now is the time to call in a favor and save yourself a little time.) If you are not familiar with cable installation, the following basic instructions can help you to get started and to know what to expect before you get going:

1. To start, you will need as many intermediate support posts as required for your project. Keep in mind that you will be placing each of these posts 4 to 5 feet apart.

2. Using a 2×4 or 2×6, create a template for your posts where the cables will run straight through. 

3. Next, measure the center and mark it with a line down the middle.

4. Measure the distance from your deck to the top rail, cutting your template to match. Divide that measurement by the number of runs plus one. Mark your template to reflect your findings.

5. Clampdown the template you just made to the intermediate posts. Now it is time to drill. From one side, go in 1/5th to 3/4ths of the way through each post. Then, move the template to the other side, repeating this step until you meet in the middle with the drill bit. This allows you to keep your holes perfect, preventing any potential variations or wood splintering.

6. Use the template to mark the center on terminating ends for the tensioners or lag screw terminals. In the case of deck toggles, you will need to disassemble one toggle, using the toggle or mounting bracket as a template to mark the distance between each lag screw.

7. Now is the time to play around with aesthetics and decide how you prefer the look of your toggles… vertical, sideways or horizontal for straight runs. Remember, toggles MUST be vertical for ramps or stairs.

8. Using a 1/8″ drill bit or smaller, pre-drill holes and install hardware.

9. For Turnbuckles, unwind the barrel  until there is ½” to ¾” of the thread showing on each side of the turnbuckle. Ensure that they are all the same. Unwind the turnbuckle more based on the length of your cable run.

10. Measure the length of your run from post to post and cut the desired number of runs. Install the Terminal ends first and run the cable through the intermediate posts. Undoubtedly you will have extra cable using this method that will need to be trimmed. Too much cable better than not enough!

11. If using Swageless fittings, you will need to remove the end of the Swageless unit to measure the cable before cutting. However, be sure to do this with care as there are several small parts housed inside. For Swage fittings, the cable enters the fitting 1 ½”. Measure accordingly.

12. Cut the cable as tight as you can reasonably work with.

13. First, place the main tapered portion over the cable followed by the 3-pronged unit and lastly the brass washer. Refer to this video, How to install Swageless Fittings – LUX Cable Railing Guide for a detailed

Example: 

14. After the cable and all hardware have been mounted, begin by tightening the middle strand, followed by the one above it and then, the one below it. Finish with the next loose cable that is just above the second cable etc., moving upward and downward and upward once more until all the strands reach the desired tension. (You don’t need to make the strands sing like a guitar, however, they should be tight enough that they will not sag downward or allow a 4″ sphere to pass through the cables.

Got it? See, that wasn’t so hard.

WHAT HELPFUL HINTS SHOULD I KNOW?

Though cable railing parts are not difficult to install, knowing a few helpful hints can assist in making the process go a little bit easier while also ensuring that your project looks pristine. These simple but useful tips can help you to get the most out of your overall design and finish with a result that you can be proud of:

1. Ensure that vertical posts are compatible with steel railings.

When choosing an option for vertical posts in which to anchor your stainless steel railing cable to, make sure to choose materials that are rigid enough to be able to withstand the tightening of steel cables. Not only is this a safety issue, it is also an aesthetic concern. Additionally, ensuring that the material that makes up your vertical posts are compatible with steel railings can also save you a lot of time and money in the process, eliminating the need to buy more supplies later on.

2. Know that some inspectors are stricter depending on jurisdictions. Plan accordingly.

For safety reasons, railings should be no more than 4 inches apart. However, just because your railings are measured to 4 inches apart, does not mean that they cannot be pushed apart to greater lengths. For this reason, some inspectors will attempt to push these railings apart to get a more accurate read. Meanwhile, other inspectors may be perfectly fine with approving railings that can be pushed a little beyond 4 inches.

Because you never really know what you are going to get, it is best to plan ahead and measure out a little under 4 inches when marking your drilling holes. This allows room for error and also ensures that no matter which inspector you get or which jurisdiction you fall under, you will not have to go back to the drawing board, wasting time and money that you didn’t plan on spending.

3. Achieving the aesthetic you want can be as simple as choosing the right compliments to your railings.

Stainless steel cable railings is incredibly versatile and can be used in just about every design from rustic to contemporary. For instance, when embedded in Brazilian walnut, modern stainless steel cables work to create an updated rustic atmosphere that can help you to build a deck that is perfect for viewing the beauty around you. Meanwhile, when adding stone end-columns to a row of cables, you can create a storybook stairwell that invites your guests into a fairytale with plenty of present tense charm.

ARE THERE ANY UNEXPECTED PERKS?

Aside from its unmatched beauty and low maintenance needs, stainless steel cable railings also have other unexpected, hidden perks that you might not have thought of. Many people choose cable rails for their ability to virtually disappear into the view beyond them and this makes cable railings the optimal choice for wooded areas and water-view lots.

In nature-friendly areas, other railings made to make viewing simpler can also be dangerous to wildlife. In fact, glass railings are a leading cause of wildlife injury, but cable railings can help to prevent unnecessary injuries to birds, making railings visible without obscuring a homeowner’s view. If you are earth-conscious, cable railings may be the right choice for you and your home or business.

WHERE CAN I FIND STEEL OR ALUMINUM POSTS?

LUX Materials has formed relationships with steel and aluminum working across the country to get you exactly what you are looking for for less.

If you are planning your next big project or just reinventing an old space, LUX Materials cable railings can help you merge the beauty of nature with the efficiency of modern marvels. Together, these elements work to provide you with the kind of home sweet home that is sweeter than before.

Devlinerail.com

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