How to install a cable railing system

How to Install a Cable Railing System

Many homeowners are wanting to install a cable railing system to their deck, balcony or staircase these days. The look is very popular.

Here at StairSupplies we’re your source for all things related to stairs. That’s why we’ve written this blog to help you learn how to install a cable railing system for yourself.

Installation of a cable railing system is not too complicated provided you have high quality tools and components. Check out the following steps and let us know what questions you have.

Installing a cable railing system.

1) Acquire the appropriate tools. You will need to source the following tools:

• Cable Crimper
• Cable Cutter
• Cable Rail Insert Tool
• Guide Pin
• Allen Wrenches
• Long T-30 Screw Bit
• Insert Sleeve Driver
• String
• Modified slip joint pliers
• Drill
• ¼” drill bit

We’ve already put together a tool kit for cable rail installation.

2) Mount and Drill the Rail Posts

The method utilized to mount the rail posts will depend on what type of post you are using. You can save some time by using prefabricated posts that we supply.

If pre-existing posts are used, create a template to drill evenly spaced holes in the posts. If our 5/32” stainless steel cable is utilized [recommended due to superior strength and corrosion resistance], we recommend using a ¼” hole as shown in this video:

Once the template is made, use the cordless drill and ¼” bit to drill holes in the posts.

3) Ensure That the Cable Will Be Level

After all of the holes have been drilled in the posts, it is a good idea to ensure that the cables will be parallel and level with respect to each other. To do this, thread string through all of the holes and adjust the tension until the string is taught. Take a step back and give your work a once over. If satisfied, continue to the next step.

4) Determine the Length of Cable You Need

Determining the length of cable you requires a bit of math. You’ll need to determine the perimeter of the area you are putting cable railing on first, then multiple that by the number of rungs or strands you would like:

Total Required Cable = Perimeter X Number of Desired Strands

If you are measuring cable for a flight of stairs, then things get a little more tricky. The simplest way to get the length correct is to use a formula known as Pythagorean’s Theorem [also known the 3-4-5 rule by many carpenters]. The first step is to measure the base of the stairs and how tall that flight is. The length of diagonal cable you require will be the square root of the sum of the base of the stairs squared and the height of the stairs squared.

Total Required Cable = SQRT([Stair Height]^2+[Stair Width]^2) X Number of Desired Strands.

Don’t worry, if the math is too tedious, you can find a Pythagorean Theorem solver here:

5) Cut and Terminate the Cable

The easiest part of the process is to cut and terminate the cable. Using the cable cutter,cut the cable as evenly as possible. Then using the cable rail insert tool, insert the cable through the DriveTite, then crimp it. We recommend the DriveTite line of terminators for any cable railing.

6) Adjust Cable Tension and Seal Cable

Using the T30 bit, adjust the cable to a tension that you find adequate. The cable should be taught—not loose enough to sag. For more information, see our video over at DriveTite Fasteners.

We highly recommend using a marine grade sealer on the cable to protect it from corrosion. We specifically recommend Marine 31 Polish + Sealer.

To seal the cable, simply apply the polish to a rag and give the cable a good wipe down. This is recommended to ensure that your new cable railing system has the longest service life possible.

What do you think of these instructions? Ready to install a cable railing system for yourself? Got questions about the materials needed for your staircase? Contact us today.