How to Determine the Spacing of Cable Railing Hardware Along a Railing

Spacing of Cable Railing Hardware Along a Railing

The spacing of cable railing hardware along a railing can have significant effects on the overall safety of the system. The proper spacing is determined by a combination of building codes, requirements for individual applications and ICC standards. It also depends on whether the cable railing is being used for a deck or stair handrail and what type of deflection (or lack thereof) is acceptable.

The sphere rule for cable railing states that gaps between cables should be large enough that a four-inch sphere couldn’t pass through it even with considerable force. This is a safety concern, because cable railings don’t offer the same rigidity of baluster railings and could open up under the application of significant force. Stairs are a notable exception to this, where a six-inch sphere can’t pass between the bottom of a step and the lowest cable in the stair run.

Spacing between cables in other applications, such as on a deck or a balcony, is determined by local code and the design of the installation. Most codes require that the posts be spaced a certain distance apart to ensure that a four-inch sphere wouldn’t be able to pass through any gap between cables, even with considerable force applied. The distance between the posts is also determined by the size of the span and the load requirements of the cable railing hardware.

How to Determine the Spacing of Cable Railing Hardware Along a Railing

Another factor in the spacing of cable railing hardware is the type of end fittings used. There are two types of end fittings: tensioning and non-tensioning. The choice of which type to use depends on the requirements for the specific project and a combination of factors, including the manufacturer’s specifications, ICC standards, local building codes and stair railing code.

Once the end posts and intermediate posts are properly spaced, it is important to calculate the cable length needed for each run of the railing. This will help to determine the number of cables and assemblies required, as well as any additional hardware that may be necessary for rounding corners or accommodating angled runs. Once the cables are measured, they can be cut to length, crimped and installed.

Ideally, the end posts and intermediate posts should be constructed with sufficient rigidity to minimize cable deflection. This is especially important for the end posts to which the cable railing tensioners attach. The excessive amount of deflection can cause body parts to slip through, creating a hazard for both pedestrians and pets.

Properly spacing the end and intermediate posts allows for a cable railing that meets all governing code requirements. It also makes it possible to create a safe and durable railing that can be enjoyed for years to come. When planning the layout for your cable railing system, it is recommended that you consult with local building code enforcement officials to gain approval before beginning the construction process. Doing so can help to prevent costly changes to your plan and keep the construction on schedule.

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