CableRail by Feeney

Cable Rail
CableRail Standard Assemblies Make Measuring,
Ordering, and Installing a Breeze

CableRail Overview


When it comes to railing infill, most people immediately think of vertical pickets, horizontal rails, or glass panels. However, today's cable railing infill options offer many benefits:

  • Very strong
  • Extremely durable
  • Versatile
  • Attractive
  • Low maintenance
  • Easy to use
  • Virtually invisible

Perfect for projects with a view

Advantages of Cable Railing Assemblies

  • Cable has strong tensile strength with minimal stretch; excellent for strong, durable infill barriers.
  • Wide variety of cable fittings are available to meet virtually any attachment condition and design need.
  • Cable assemblies can be installed on wood or metal frames.
  • Cables are slender and unobtrusive and will not impair views through the railing.
  • Stainless steel ensures durability, low maintenance, and lasting beauty.

Versatility of Cable Railing Assemblies

Cable railing assemblies can be used on wood or metal railings, fences, or trellises in exterior, interior, residential, or commercial settings. Please note, however, that the cables, fittings, and assemblies discussed in this presentation should never be used for lifting, hanging, or other high-load conditions; the manufacturer can recommend other cables and components for these types of critical applications.

Advantages of Prefabricated Cable Railing Assembly Kits

Feeney offers cable assemblies in standardized kits or packages with pre-cut lengths and predetermined end fittings. The benefits include:

  • Save time and money.
  • Standardized lengths simplify ordering.
  • Excess cable is trimmed in the field so exact railing measurements are not necessary when ordering.
  • Special cable fittings make installations quick and easy.
  • No special crimp tools are required.

Cable Assembly Care and Maintenance

Cable railing assemblies are typically made from type 316 stainless steel for weather-tough durability and very low maintenance. The protective chromium oxide on the surface of stainless steel gives it superior corrosion resistance.

Properly maintained, stainless steel provides excellent luster, strength, and durability. In most applications, stainless steel will not rust or stain even after many years of service; however, it is not rust or stain proof. With proper care and maintenance, as specified by a manufacturer, cable railing assemblies can remain beautiful and functional even when exposed to harsh marine environments.

CableRail assembly care and maintenance recommendations and practices include:

  • Only clean stainless steel with soap and water or a stainless steel cleaner. Never clean with mineral acids or bleaches.
  • Always remove stains or rust spots as soon as possible with either soap and water or a stainless steel cleaner.
  • Never leave stainless in contact with iron, steel, or other metals. This can cause rust spots or corrosion.
  • Never use coarse abrasives like sandpaper or steel wool on stainless. Use synthetic general purpose scouring pads instead.
  • Important: Periodically inspect cable assemblies for proper tension and re-tension as necessary.

Frame Design

As mentioned, cables can be used on wood or metal railing frames, but the frames need to be structurally sound. That is, they need to be designed and built strong enough to not only meet code requirements but also support the tension of properly installed cables, which could exceed 300 lbs per cable. In addition, frames should be designed to use cable infill efficiently, thereby saving materials, time, and money.

This section will outline some basic guidelines on how to properly prepare railing frames for cable infill. These guidelines will apply, whether using 1/8", 3/16", or 1/4" diameter cable assemblies. End and Corner Posts Requirements

The end and corner posts need to be strong enough to support the full tension of the cables, which could exceed 300 lbs per cable. Below are recommended minimum sizes for the end and corner posts only. The intermediate posts do not support any tension load and only need to be sized as necessary to support the cap rails and meet railing frame code requirements.

Cable Rail

Basic Frame Design Requirements

Spacing From Walls: Set end posts three to four inches away from any wall face to allow access for attaching cable end fittings.

End Posts: Use minimum end post sizes as noted on the previous slide and securely bolt or lag to joists or deck surface.

Intermediate Posts: Sized as required for cap rail support strength or for code.

Double Corner Posts: If possible, use double corner posts to allow the cable to run continuously through the corners without terminating. This will save money by reducing the overall number of cable assemblies needed.

Post Spacing: Space all posts and vertical spacers a maximum of three feet apart to minimize any deflection that may occur if the cables are ever forced apart.

Cable Rail

Cap Rail: Always include a strong, rigid cap rail that is securely fastened to all posts. The size should be based on load strength needs and local code requirements.

Railing Height: Minimum height should be 42" or as set per local code.

Cable Spacing: Maximum three inches apart to allow for cable deflection if ever forced apart.

Wood Blocking: Underneath the cap rail attach minimum 1"x 4" size wood blocking between posts to provide additional lateral reinforcement. (Wood frames only)

Cable Rail

Frame Design Options

Vertical Spacers: Slender spacers may be used instead of some of the larger intermediate posts to achieve a more open railing design. These are non-structural members and are only intended to maintain cable spacing and minimize deflection. Use materials such as 2" x 2" wood strips, 1" metal tubing, or ľ" flat bar and attach to the cap rail and either the foot rail, deck surface, or joists.

Foot Rails: Foot rails are another design option, and they should be spaced no more than four inches above the deck surface, or as required by local code, and should be sized as needed for support strength and design appearance.

Single Corner Post: Single posts can be used instead of a double corner post configuration. In most cases, however, cables must be terminated at single corner posts. Exceptions are angle iron posts or tubular metal posts. Corner post details are discussed in the next section.

Cable Rail

Maximum Cable Run Lengths

When a cable passes through posts and around bends, friction is imparted on the line. Running a cable continuously through too many posts or bends will eventually restrict the ability of the cable fittings to properly tension the line. Therefore, itís necessary to restrict the length of individual runs to provide the extra adjustment needed to overcome the additional resistance. Two basic guidelines for ensuring proper cable tensioning are as follows:

  • Straight runs should terminate every 50 feet or less.
  • Runs with bends should terminate after every 2nd bend or 40 feet, whichever distance is less.

Code Requirements

Building codes vary by state, county, and city, so itís important to note that following a manufacturerís recommended railing design and installation procedures does not necessarily ensure code compliance in all areas. Therefore, before starting a project, always consult with your building department to see if there are any special local requirements for using and installing cable railings.

Two of the most important code issues relating to cable infill are the 4-inch sphere rule and the restrictions on horizontal infill.

4-Inch Sphere Rule:
In most areas, building codes require that guardrails have intermediate rails, balusters, or ornamental infill patterns that will not allow passage of a sphere four inches or more in diameter. Since cables are semi-flexible, it is necessary to allow for the possibility of cable deflection when designing a railing. This is done by spacing the cables and posts (or vertical members) such that the cables will not open past the four inches of the sphere when a reasonable force is applied. From experience, manufacturers have been able to determine that when the cables are spaced no more than three inches apart and the posts or vertical members are spaced no more than three feet apart, one can easily tighten the cable such that they will comply with the four-inch code rule. These spacing recommendations will apply regardless of the cable diameter being used.

Horizontal Infill:
There has been a lot of discussion over the years regarding the safety of horizontal elements in railing designs because of a perceived climbability issue. In fact, the very first edition of the International Residential Code (IRC) actually included a restriction on horizontal railings. However, after extensive independent research was conducted and reviewed by an International Code Council (ICC) code committee, the restriction was removed in the very first IRC supplement (details of this research are available upon request). The International Building Code (commercial codes) never included wording that restricted horizontal railing elements.

Some building departments, however, are not yet using the International Code Council (ICC) codes and continue to prohibit horizontal infill. This is becoming less of an issue as more and more building departments adopt the ICC wording which allows horizontal infill designs. But, itís always a good idea for architects and installers to check with their local building officials before starting a project to confirm that there are no restrictions on horizontal infill in their area.

Design & Cable Installation Checklist

CableRail by Feeney Step-by-Step Installation


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