How To Tension A Cable Railing System Using A Tension Meter Tool?

While the cables in your railing shouldn’t be tight to the point where they bend your rails or posts, they absolutely cannot be too loose. Loose, sagging cables have poor atheistic qualities, but more importantly, they’re not up to cable railing code requirements.

International residential codes specify that a four-inch diameter sphere shouldn’t be able to pass between vertical or horizontal cables. This is for safety reasons, preventing small heads and shoulders from being able to squeeze through space. Loose cables allow children to stretch and widen the space between cables creating a potential hazard. Even when no children are in the home, maintaining enough tension to prevent cables from moving or stretching is still a requirement to pass a building inspection.

See: Installation Guidance - Cable Tensioning

Required tools:

  1. Safety Glasses
  2. Gloves
  3. Loos & Co PT-01 Tension Meter
  4. 2 each 10mm open end wrench 2 each

Always wear safety glasses and gloves while working with metal
Consider wearing a long-sleeved shirt and closed-toe shoes before working with metal

How To Tension Cable Railing?

Each cable run is made from one tensioner, one terminal, and a cable. Apply a tension meter tool on the cable, then twist the tensioner hardware enough to have your desired reading on the tension meter. Repeat this process on the remaining cable runs to have equal tension on all the wires.

Pro Tips IconPro Tips:

  • Start tensioning from the middle cable and then work your way out to the top and bottom. Tension the cables equally using a tension meter
  • Avoid over tensioning the cables
  • Cut all the wires of the same run to the same length. Make sure that all the posts are leveled from all the sides
  • Make sure your handrail or top rail is installed properly before installing the cables

How To Use The Tension Meter?

Hold the gauge with the left hand and place the cable between the two nylon spools as shown in the image below.

With the right hand pull the lanyard and extend the spring until the hook on the nylon slider can be hooked on the cable.

Release the lanyard. Read the needle position on the scale. Refer to the calibration table to obtain the correct tension in the cable.

Calibration Table