FAQ About Cable Railing Installation

If you’re having cable rails installed, you probably have a few questions about the system and what to expect. Falls are the number one cause of death when it comes to construction, and, not surprisingly, failing to properly protect against falls is also the most common OSHA violation at any given work site. Guardrails are important, so if you’re choosing systems, here are some FAQ about how they work and what to expect in cable rail fittings, railing supplies, and everything for your rigging and cable needs.

What Specific Requirements Do I Need to Consider?

There are weight and height restrictions that have to be taken into account whenever you get railing supplies and cable rail fittings. Most cables have a tension load of around 200 to 300 pounds, so frames have to be able to support loads of this weight.

It’s also possible to use your frame to make cables work more efficiently. A good frame design will super your cables in the right way, meaning you need fewer cables and your overall costs are lower. If you’re having trouble with your rigging and cable needs, be sure to talk to your cable railing hardware suppliers for frame ideas.

How Far Apart Can Cables Be Placed?

There are OSHA regulations and building code specs that will determine how you can set up your cable rail fittings. According to the International Building Code, for example, it should not be possible for a sphere of four inches diameter to get through any opening.

Where you have to be careful is in planning for the reality that cables flex. This flexibility has to be taken into account as you design, so a good rule of thumb is to allow three inches between each cable for safety and flexion under force.

What Does It Take to Maintain the Cables?

Most cables are made to endure what weather can throw them and do so with minimal amounts of maintenance. For the most part they’ll just need an occasional wipe down with soap and a non-abrasive pad to keep the clean of corrosives.

If your railings and cable rail fittings are going to be exposed to constant splashes of salt and other corrosives, for example if you’re having them installed near the sea, you’ll want to apply a protectant of some kind to make sure they last as long as possible.

How Close Do Cable Measurements Have to Be?

To be sure you have enough, always measure from the outside face of each end post to the outside face of the next post. Add about a foot after that just to make sure.

How Far Apart Can Things Be Spaced?

Vertical posts should generally be placed at least every three feet, and even closer in some situations. The design and purpose of your railing will determine how frequently you need cable rail fittings and posts.

If you’re putting in intermediate pickets, remember that these are not structural members and cannot replace posts. Their purpose is to maintain spacing and protect from deflection.

Can Cables Go Around Corner Posts?

In most cases, no. If you want to take your cable around a corner, the best thing to do is to end the cable at each post and start a new one around the corner. If you prefer continuous run, put in a second post at the corner for safety.

How Far Can the Cable Be Bent?

It’s never a good idea to ever bend your cable more than about 45 degrees. Cable that is bent too far will kink up and lose its tensile strength. At that point it becomes undependable, so never try to loop your cable around. Always start and terminate in a straight line at your posts.

If you need help or have other questions about design or installation, be sure to ask your cable hardware supplier or rigging professional for help. You won’t regret putting your cable in the right way from the beginning.

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