Cable Railing Design - Information Sheet

Cable railings  are versatile, durable assemblies that can be installed in a wide range of indoor and outdoor sites. With this in mind, individuals must consider structural requirements, materials, location of the project, compliance with building codes and more, to ensure a smooth installation. Understanding such elements during (or before) the planning stages of the project may help you avoid bottlenecks and get the most out of your stainless steel railing.

Note: Customers are encouraged to call their local city for information about their local building codes. City building codes supersede national building codes. Inline Design is providing this information in an advisory capacity only. The company is not liable for any non-compliance with applicable building codes associated with railing installations.

Wire Railing Structural Requirements

The presence of cables is what makes cable guardrail systems unique. In order to sustain the pulling force associated with cables, the posts should be sturdy. Additionally, top rails are frequently exposed to light impacts and pressure from objects or individuals leaning on the structure. To safely accommodate such elements, the International Residential Code (IRC) requires top rails to be capable of sustaining a concentrated load of 200 lbs. (horizontally or vertically) at any point of the railing component. Local building codes call for smaller loads at 20 lbs. per linear foot.

Post Heights and Cable Spacing

Stainless steel railing installations must comply with applicable standards related to post height and cable spacing. When determining the height of railing posts, individuals should factor in the type of location, as well as local, city and/or international building codes. For example, most state residential codes require posts to be 36” (minimum). California is an exception to this standard, which requires posts in the state to be at least 42” (for residential railing installations). This 42” post height requirement is also applicable to commercial building codes.

The height of posts is measured from the floor to the top of the railing system. Inline Design offers a variety of mounting solutions for banisters for wires. Such options include floor mounting, fascia or side mounting and more.

Next, spacing between posts should be kept consistent (when possible) along the assembly. For 36” posts, five feet of space (center to center) is recommended. Four feet of spacing (center to center) can be applied to 42” posts. Inline Design’s Arcadia system is an exception to these recommendations, requiring four feet of space (center to center) for both 36” and 42” posts.

Guidelines for spacing between cable components are straightforward and simple. According to national construction codes, openings between cables should not exceed 4”. Moreover, a 4” sphere should not be able to pass through the openings. To accommodate such standards, railing projects may incorporate 3 ½” of spacing between cables. This configuration would streamline compliance with the 4” sphere requirement.

Bringing both post height and cable spacing guidelines together, a railing system with 36” posts utilizes approximately 10 parallel cables. Stainless steel railing assemblies with 42” posts use roughly 12 parallel cables. Cables may come in the form of thin, stainless steel 1/8” wires for transparent layouts and minimal styles.

Types of Top Rails

Stainless steel is highly recommended for top rails. The metal is resistant to corrosion, moisture, debris and light impacts. Marine-grade stainless steel is applicable to railings installed in rugged locations, such as outdoor beachfront properties, docks, outdoor decks, rooftops, etc. Furthermore, stainless steel top rails are suitable for indoor spaces, including commercial sites, offices and public buildings.
Some project requirements may call for wood top rails. To ensure long-term structural integrity, individuals should consider mounting a steel bar under the wood top rail for additional support. This can help keep the wood component functional and intact, especially when serving as safety barriers along decks, stairs and ramps.


Project Requirements

For large or complex projects, the installed system is often made of handrails may be one of many assemblies that must be installed in the area. To prevent bottlenecks, it is recommended to double check field measurements, dimensions and finalized shop drawings. This crucial step can prevent delays and miscalculations during fabrication. If it is not possible to make field measurements, individuals may obtain guaranteed dimensions from their contractor.
Where field measurements cannot be made without delaying the railing fabrication and delivery, obtain guaranteed dimensions in writing by the Contractor and proceed with fabrication of products to not delay fabrication, delivery and installation.  Coordinate fabrication and delivery schedule of handrails with construction progress and sequence to avoid delay of railing installation.

Inline Design offers a variety of solutions:


Arcadia Cable Railing cable railing design


Arcadia Cable Systems made of flat bar side mounted posts and a welded top rail (Commercial and High End Residential)


cable railing design Press & Latch Square Post Surface Mount System


Press and Latch Cable Systems with round posts, top mounted, with a round top rail  


cable railing design with Arcadia Cable Railing System


Arcadia Cable Systems from AZ, using our Arcadia Cable Systems (Commercial and High End Residential)


cable railing design with stairs railings


Press and Latch Cable Kits with square angle mounted posts and round top rails. 


cable railing design entrance wire guardrail


Press and Latch Kits with square posts, top mounted, with a square top rail 


cable railing design with Press & Latch Round Fascia Mount


Press and Latch System with round posts, side mounted, with a round top rail


cable railing design Press & Latch Round Post Stail Railing


Press and Latch System with square posts, side mounted, with a square top rail


cable railing design using Arcadia Press & Latch Fascia Mount


Arcadia System with flat bar posts, side mounted, with a welded flat bar top rail (Commercial and High End Residential)

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