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Cable railing at a university workout facility

Looking at 10 Important Cable Railing Terms

  •   Posted on December 17, 2019

Cable railing is a relatively new trend in the industry, leading to some confusion on specific terminology. We're here to help alleviate that confusion by focusing in on 10 key terms associated with the product!

In past blogs we examined key terms associated with railing (twice actually), but never went in-depth on a highly popular new style. Cable railing has become a go-to choice in many modern environments, especially areas with a view and contemporary locations. Today we will dive a bit deeper into a few of the terms associated with cable railing that may not be used, or used differently, in other railing systems.

1. Cable Railing: is a barrier or a fence used either for safety, style, movement assistance, or for keeping people or animals in or out of spaces, that utilizes horizontal or vertical cables as infills in lieu of traditional pickets or panels. Cable railing is ideal for creating an unimpeded view.

Cable Railing lines a backyard staircaseCable Railing in a Modern Residential Setting

2. Cable: is a rope made of various materials, usually stainless steel (if used in railing). It runs horizontally or vertically between posts to provide a safety barrier. 

3. Post: A vertical component available in either a square design or a round pipe design built to perform multiple functions:

  1. Accept top and bottom rail components either via brackets or Superior Aluminum pocket posts
  2. Accept horizontal cables
  3. Either hold the force of tensioned cables if used as tension posts, or if as a section post used to maintain levels of horizontal cable

4. Tension: is achieved by tightening cables within posts that stretch them. The more they are stretched, the higher the tension and the less flexible the cables will be.  

5. Tension Gauge: is a tool used for measuring the tension within an object. For cable railing, tension should be a minimum of 250 lbs. 

6. Swaged: is the process of shaping metal to reduce the number of cross-sections. In terms of cable railing, fibers of cable are contained in preparation for insertion into tensioning posts.

7. Sphere Rule: is a building code regulation that states railing infills must not allow a 4” sphere to pass through. Cables within cable railing systems must have enough tension to meet this requirement.

8. Turnbuckle: is a device used to connect lengths of cables or similar items and control tension. This is oftentimes utilized in cable railing. (Superior cable railing does not require them – creating a much cleaner look!)

9. Support Picket: is an intermediate picket used in many competitors’ cable railing systems to level off cables and add vertical support. Superior cable railing does not require them.

Comparison of Superior Cable Railing and other cable railing systems

10. Ladder Effect: is an incorrect assumption that railing with horizontal components, such as cable, creates a dangerous “ladder effect”, enticing children to climb and put themselves in harm’s way. Extensive testing showed no such effect exists, and any mention of it has been removed from building codes since 2001. Learn more about the “ladder effect” here.

Are more questions still bouncing around in your head? Please contact us today and we can get you on the path toward a beautiful cable railing for your home, business, or construction venture! If you prefer, you can call us at 800-548-8656.


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