DIY Cable Railing For Decks

Cable railing is a modern railing system. It uses cable wires to act as a guard, which keeps the system safe and enhances your view.

Because of this, cable railing is an ideal option for deck railing. It’s safe, thin, and simple for anyone to install — whether you’re an experienced handyman or a DIY homeowner. Viewrail’s cable railing systems come with all the resources you need to install a cable deck railing system.

Even if you have no previous experience with cable railing, you can still install it yourself. Download the cable railing project guide to learn everything you need to know about cable railing.


Types of Posts For Deck Cable Railing

Deck cable railing posts are commonly made from two different materials: metal or wood. Wood post systems are usually custom-built. Depending on the type of wood, they can be durable and long lasting. Here at Viewrail, we don’t manufacture wood posts for cable railing, but we do offer wood post kits. This allows you to install cable wires into any wood post.

Metal posts are a sleek and modern solution for deck railing. They’re made from either stainless steel or aluminum, and they can be treated with a brushed finish or powder coated in a wide variety of colors.

For outdoor projects, use aluminum posts with a Superior Performance Powder Coat. If you’re near the coast, 2205 stainless steel posts will provide the most corrosion resistance.

Get Started by Outlining Your Project

To plan for your project, make a diagram of the dimensions of your deck. You can do this on paper, or by using our design tool, Victor. Victor is our online design and quoting app — it will take your sketches and transform them into 3D masterpieces.

Next, use your diagram to layout and mount your posts. If you’re working with our diy railing system  Express system, this video (or below) will help you properly lay out and position your posts.


A Quick Note on Code

All Viewrail components are built completely up to code, but it’s still your responsibility to make sure that you install according to code requirements. Code stipulations vary by state and even municipality, so make sure you check to see which version of the international code your state has adopted.

In order to meet deck railing code, your posts need to be no further than 4’ apart. If you’re installing cable into your existing wooden posts, and they’re further than 4’ apart, use an intermediate post to bring your system up to code.

You will need to follow the 4” sphere rule, which states that a 4” sphere should not be able to pass through the posts of your system. If your system is 36” high, you should purchase 10 runs of cable. That means you will need 20 tensioners (10 for each side) of your run of cable.

Here’s the breakdown:

  • For a 39 inch system = Purchase 11 runs of cable
  • For a 42 inch system = Purchase 12 runs of cable

Cable Railing Hardware

Each successful cable railing deck system is held up with specific mounting and tensioning components. This hardware keeps your cable taut, and it comes in a variety of shapes, sizes, and styles to best fit your needs. Be sure to buy the correct hardware for your system — because this will ensure that your cables are up to code.


Hardware for Wood Deck Posts

If you’re a DIY homeowner with existing wood deck posts, use DriveTite Exterior. These kits are built specifically for decks that already have wood posts, and the hardware allows you to convert your posts to use with cable railing. DriveTite kits mount into the surface of wood posts and pull tension on the cable as they are drilled deeper into the post.

cable wood

Hardware for Metal Deck Posts

If you ordered our Signature system, purchase the Angle Tension Kit or the Tension Kit, depending on whether your project is located on an angle or a flat surface.

Or, use our Express system, which gets rid of the headache of buying hardware kits separately from the posts, and packages them all together. It’s the easiest way to buy a cable railing system for your deck.

How Much Cable?

No cable railing project is complete without cable. Thankfully, it’s simple to figure out how much you’ll need.

  1. Start by measuring each cable run. That’s the distance between each post.
  2. Add one foot.
  3. Multiply that times the number of cables.
  4. And finally, add each of the runs together to get the total amount of cable needed.
Viewrail Cable

So, if your project has the following measurements, you can figure out the amount of cable you’ll need like this:

  • Cable Run #1 = 12ft. + 1ft. = 13ft. x 10 cables = 130ft
  • Cable Run #2 — 18ft. + 1ft. = 19ft. x 10 cables = 190ft
  • Cable Run #3 — 8ft. + 1 ft. = 9ft. x 10 cables = 90ft
  • Total Cable Needed = 410ft.

Our 5/32 inch stainless steel cable is sold on 400 foot spools, and 100 foot spools. We suggest that you round up to be on the safe side. Unopened spools of cable can be returned.


Installation kits

Installation kits are designed to help you install cable railing components into your post. There are two types of installation kits — one is built for interior applications, such as staircases and balconies, and the other is built for the outdoors. For decks, use the Cable Kit for Wood Posts.

The kit includes all the necessary tools for you to tension one end of a line of cable on either an angled or level run. You can use it to install components into both metal and wood posts. This saves you valuable time, effort, and a trip to the hardware store. The kit includes:

  • a pair of modified pliers
  • a cable cutter
  • a 6″ T-30 Bit
  • an insert sleeve driver
  • a bundle of string
  • a 2 oz bottle of Screw Wax