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Cable Railing vs. Wood Railing

Newest Trend in Railings

The contemporary and modern style has pervaded the remodeling and home building market with homeowners choosing this uncluttered, streamline design.  One such choice that stands out is steel cable a modern stair railing.  These railings have made it big with the outdoor deck and porch, but also for interior railings in modern and contemporary style homes.  Homeowners are now deciding cable railings vs wood railings and which is best for their home interior and exterior spaces.

Cost of Cable Railings vs Wood Railings

One of the first decision-making criteria for most homeowners is the cost of one vs. the other.  Usually, the cost of cable railings is double the cost of wood, but the methodology of design and installation can help curb that cost.  For exterior railings one of the best ways to do that is by using double corner posts which allows for longer cable runs and fewer cable assemblies, meaning less hardware all the way around. How does it work?  When running cable with single corner posts for a deck with 60 perimeter feet you can only run 15 feet maximum before terminating at the corner.  When installing double corner posts the cable can run as long as 30 feet in one continuous length on two sides dramatically dropping the cost of the cable and the amount of hardware needed.  This in mind, straight runs of cable shouldn’t exceed 70 feet and with bends and the cable shouldn’t exceed 40 feet in continuous length.  Interior cable railings do not usually run in such long lengths and so require less cable footage and often few or no corner posts.


Benefits of Cable Railings vs Wood Railings

What are the benefits of exterior cable railings vs wood railings? For one, maintenance for cable railings is minimal.  Usually created from galvanized carbon steel a highly corrosion resistant stainless steel that holds up well even in coastal areas they require little if any maintenance.  On the other hand, outdoor wood railings will require regular maintenance as does wood decking.   Homeowners will need to strip and sand and stain or paint their wood railings periodically.

Another benefit of cable railings is their aesthetic properties.  The sleekness and sparse design of the cable rail allow for unobstructed views of the interior or exterior landscape of your home.  The cables are much thinner than pickets on a wood railing and are ideal for terraces or decks offering homeowners a panoramic view.  In an interior space, cable railings fit perfectly with the modern and contemporary style.  Cable railings lend themselves to large open floor plans that are found in most contemporary or modern style decor keeping with the overall airy and spacious look.  They can pair well with stainless steel frames continuing the simple, minimalistic design and are often chosen for small spaces in a home to blend nicely and look unobtrusive.  Adding wood posts and or handrails with the steel cables can be a great alternative to offer warmth to the look of a room or exterior space.

Cable Railing Safety and Codes

Cable deck railing code requirements are similar to regular railing codes. The major difference between cable vs wood railings lies in the flexible nature of cables which aren’t rigid like other infills. This can create a challenge in meeting code requirements. Several factors that must be considered when choosing cable railings are the tension of the cable, the spacing of the cables and posts as well as the diameter of the cable.  The tension must be just right to inhibit any body parts from slipping through and the posts must be carefully fixed so they stay in place.  Intermediate posts must be spaced correctly and the general recommendation is no more than 5 feet between posts and no more than 3 inches between cables.  Building code requirements state that the cables must be rigid enough to prevent a 4-inch sphere from passing through them. Most contractors understand these differences and will find the right system to build a strong, safe railing that still meets code.

Homeowners on Houzz go big on landscaping projects, with nearly nine in 10 reporting major renovations or complete overhauls (48% and 37%, respectively) according to the 2017 U.S. Houzz Landscape Trends Study.  This is good news for the construction industry and outdoor living space design and construction.  Keeping up with the trends more homeowners consider design-building with cable railings inside and outside the home.  Also, check out our blog post regarding Cable Rails vs. Glass Rails.


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