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Stainless Steel Cable Railing

Perfect as Front Porch Railings
And on Decks with a View

Stainless steel cable railing is ideal for porches and decks with a view that would otherwise be hindered by traditional porch railings. While typical wood railings can obstruct views and glass panels sometimes produce unwanted glare, steel cables may be an excellent option for your porch.

Initially requested for more contemporary decks and porches, cable railings have become increasingly popular for a variety of homes styles due to several different rail post options.

Steel Cable Railings On Beautiful Tan House

We chose to show you The Cable Connection's Ultra-Tec® stainless steel cable railing that is almost invisible to the eye. It requires little maintenance and can be installed yourself by using one of their DIY installation kits. You can attach this cable to either metal or wood frames and install it either vertically or horizontally on your front porch or deck.

Take a few minutes and watch this video

Learn more about Ultra-Tec® and steel cable designs for your front porch or deck.

Having never worked with steel railing cable, Mary and I like the idea of DIY steel railing kits. They come with the right cable railing hardware fittings for your posts, cable, and instructions. You can order cable in lengths of 5 feet up to 60 feet long. Make sure to order enough to meet your cable run requirements. You will cut the cable to the correct length during installation.

Installation tools and other accessories are usually ordered separately.

Steel Cable Railings ON A-Frame House

Cable railing must be significantly tightened to satisfy local building codes. This requires very rigid posts, usually made from stainless steel, aluminum, or wood. In addition, the size and strength of the cable is extremely important.

Stainless steel cable railing is available in different diameters such as 1/8", 3/16", 1/4", 5/16" and 3/8" (all sizes available with Ultra-Tec ®). Usually the larger the cable diameter, the more it costs. The Cable Connection recommends using a cable that doesn't stretch and is very rigid. For most applications, they recommend 1x19 construction, type 316 stainless steel cable. 3/16ths is the most commonly used diameter.

Steel Cable Railings On Porch Overlooking The Water

Having the option of using either a metal or wood supporting structure increases your cable steel railing design options. Those desiring a more contemporary look would probably opt for metal framing. Metal framing offers you the advantage of using square, rectangular, double end post, and even tubular frames.

Want a less contemporary and perhaps a more traditional look? Use beautiful hard woods which can be stained or painted. Wood is an excellent choice for maintaining a nautical theme for those porches and decks with an ocean view.

Stainless Steel Cable Railing Installation Considerations

We offer a few ideas to consider when installing the more popular steel cable rail designs.

Horizontal Stainless Steel Cable Railings - Metal Framing

When planning your cable railing, spacing and rigidity are extremely important in order to satisfy local building codes and to keep you safe.

A maximum of 42 inches is allowed between posts and braces. Braces are installed between posts to support the cable over the length of the run.

Minimizing cable deflection (the distance the cable moves up or down when pressure is applied) is critical to maintaining the required spacing between cables. The Cable Connection recommends vertical spacing of at least 3 inches between cables when installed.

Steel Cable Railings Example Illustration
Basic spacing requirements

Most mistakes are made in the railing framework design. Posts, to which hardware and cable are attached, must be made to not bend perceptively when cables are tightened to loads of 400 pounds or more.

The goal is to ensure a 4 inch sphere cannot pass between the cables - a rigid well designed frame is essential.

Vertical Stainless Steel Cable Railings - Metal Framing

Steel Cable Railings On Log Home Balcony

Installing vertical steel cable railings requires a different frame. In lieu of attaching the cable to end posts, cable hardware and cable are attached to top and bottom rails. Top rail material should be made from strong wood (hardwoods) or metal; composite lumber is not recommended.

The Railing Connection recommends using schedule 80 pipe or 2x2x1/4" square metal tubing for the top and bottom rails to withstand the force applied when tightening the cable. Note; however, the amount of tension on the fastening hardware required will probably be less than for horizontal cables. Because of this you may be able to use 1/8th inch diameter cable.

Wood Framed Stainless Steel Cable Railing

Steel Cable Railings On Porch Overlooking Mountain Range

Wood framing for steel cables, unlike ordinary wood railings for front porches or decks, requires a slightly different approach. Here are a few guidelines to consider.

  • As we've previously discussed, end posts must be securely fastened and have sufficient strength to keep the post from bending when tension is applied. A 4x4 inch post is the minimum size for an end post.

  • To help support the end posts, an additional support board should be installed under the top rail as indicated in the diagram below.

Stainless Steel and Rust

The only metals that won't corrode are gold and platinum in their natural state. Each type of stainless steel, and there are several, has its own specific characteristics. Stainless steel cable railing type 316, the most resistant to corrosion, will tend to rust in environments around swimming pool chemicals or if located near the sea. However, products are available to remove the rust and restore the protective coating. As such, protective coatings are not necessarily permanent; therefore, some periodic maintenance may be required.

See The Cable Connection's Installation Video

This video offers more detailed installation information you'll want to know. The Cable Connection was established in 1992 and produces mechanical cable assemblies for many industrial, commercial, and government entities throughout the U.S.

In 1998, the company introduced its innovative Ultra-tec® line of stainless steel tightening and mounting hardware designed specifically for cable railings.

Chances are you already have used their products in either automobiles and trucks, planes, at the gym, or in various other applications. If considering stainless steel cable railing for your porch or deck, we encourage you to contact The Cable Connection. They have the expertise and products to help with your project. Contact them today.

Steel Cable Railings On Balcony Above Carport

If considering installing stainless steel cable railing, be sure to comply with your local building codes. Although a few areas in the U.S. do not allow horizontal railings, The National Association of Home Builders Research Center has indicated there is no data that indicates a problem with climbable railings. This applies to wrought iron railings with scrolls and other features that create footholds as well as steel cable railings.

If your area does not permit horizontal cable railings consider using vertical ones.

Steel cable railings are a wise choice, especially for those with a view. Durability, beauty, and the fact they don't block your view are very persuasive factors for opting for cable railings.

Listen to our steel cable railing expert, Kevin Harris with AGS Stainless, to learn more about what you can do with this popular railing idea.


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Shop for Porch Parts at Vintage Woodworks.
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For Your Porch Parts

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DIY Eze Breeze
Screen Porch Windows

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Custom Porch Products

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Complement Any Home!

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