Cable Deck Railing DIY [Ultimate Guide]

Table of Contents

A modern railing system is cable railing. It protects the system and improves your view by using cable wires as a guard.

As a result, cable railing is an excellent choice for deck railing. It’s safe, thin, and simple to install — whether you’re a seasoned handyman or a do-it-yourself homeowner. Inox Star Hardware supplies everything you need to install a cable deck railing system.

Even if you’ve never installed cable railing before, you can do it yourself. To learn everything you need to know about cable railing, download the cable railing project guide.


Benefits of Cable Railing for your Deck

The cable railing has a very clean and modern appearance. A cable railing is also an excellent way to keep your view from the deck intact. A wood rail system will obstruct your view, whereas the thin 1/8-inch stainless steel cable will not. Cable railing systems are an excellent way to protect your children and pets.

Types of Posts For Deck Cable Railing

Deck cable railing posts are typically made of one of two materials: metal or wood. Custom-built wood post systems are common. They can be durable and long-lasting depending on the type of wood used.

Metal posts are a sleek and modern deck railing solution. They’re made of stainless steel or aluminum and can have a brushed finish or be powder coated in a variety of colors.

Use aluminum posts with a fluoropolymer powder coat for outdoor projects. If you live near the water, 2205 stainless steel posts will last the longest.

Begin by outlining your project.

Make a diagram of the dimensions of your deck to help you plan your project.

Next, lay out and mount your posts using your diagram.

stainless steel cable railing

A Few Words on Code

All Inox Star Hardware components are completely code compliant, but it is your responsibility to ensure that you install them in accordance with code requirements. Code requirements differ by state and even municipality, so check to see which version of the international code your state has adopted.

To comply with the deck railing code, your posts should be no more than 4′ apart. If you’re installing cable into existing wooden posts that are more than 4′ apart, you’ll need to use an intermediate post to bring your system up to code.

You must follow the 4″ sphere rule, which states that a 4″ sphere should not be able to pass through your system’s posts. If your system is 36″ tall, you should buy 10 cable runs. That means you’ll need 20 tensioners (10 on each side of your cable run).

Here’s how it works:

Purchase 11 cable runs for a 39-inch system.

Purchase 12 runs of cable for a 42-inch system.


Cable Railing Hardware

Specific mounting and tensioning components support each successful cable railing deck system. This hardware keeps your cable taut and is available in a variety of shapes, sizes, and styles to meet your specific requirements. Purchase the appropriate hardware for your system to ensure that your cables are up to code.

Hardware for Wood Deck Posts

Use DriveTite Exterior if you’re a do-it-yourself homeowner with existing wood deck posts. These kits are designed for decks with existing wood posts, and the hardware allows you to convert your posts to use with cable railing. DriveTite kits screw into the surface of wood posts, pulling tension on the cable as it is drilled deeper into the post.

Hardware for Metal Deck Posts

Purchase the Angle Tension Kit or the Tension Kit if you apply a metal deck post, depending on whether your project is on an angle or a flat surface.

cable stair railing

How Much Cable?

Without cable, no cable railing project is complete. Fortunately, calculating how much you’ll require is simple.

Begin by measuring each cable run separately. That is the distance between each of the posts.

Increase by one foot.

Multiply by the number of cables.

Finally, add the total length of cable required for each of the runs.

So, if your project has the following dimensions, you can calculate the amount of cable you’ll need as follows:

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

Our 5/32-inch stainless steel cable is available in 400-foot and 100-foot spools. To be on the safe side, we recommend rounding up. Unopened cable spools can be returned.

cable rail fence

How much does cable railing cost?

While cable railing can be expensive, doing it yourself will save you a lot of money. The most cost-effective option is to make your posts out of wood, but if you want a clean, modern look, I recommend metal posts.

Metal posts for cable railing are available in a variety of materials. Many websites sell posts made of aluminum or stainless steel. These are excellent solutions, but they can be quite costly. Quality posts with pre-drilled holes start around $100. This can be a great option because you can then buy your remaining supplies and install the system yourself, saving you a lot of money.

High-end cable railing systems for a deck can be quite costly. With 126 linear feet of railing, I’d say I have a fairly large deck. A high-end complete system, not including labor, can easily cost between $6,000 and $10,000.

If you bought the materials separately for this size deck, you’d be looking at around $35 per linear foot. I used 32 deck posts, which would have cost approximately $3200 if they were all $100 each. The remaining materials would cost me around $4000-$4300, bringing the total cost to around $35 per linear foot if I installed it myself.

Total Cost to Build From Scratch

The total cost for one client to build a deck railing from scratch was $1,545. The costs are broken down below. This means that purchasing a product through the link will help support more DIY Pete projects. Prices may have changed since the project was completed.

$342 for steel tubing and flat bar

$218 for a 1/8-inch cable

Cable hardware costs $299.

Deck perimeter cable railing hardware

Staircase cable railing hardware

$73 for a crimping tool and a cable cutter

$330 for cedar wood

$283 for washers, bolts, nuts, lag screws, roofing screws, spray paint and drill bits.


Installation kits

Installation kits are intended to aid you in the installation of cable railing components into your post. There are two types of installation kits: one designed for interior applications such as staircases and balconies, and one designed for outdoor use. Use the Cable Kit for Wood Posts for decks.

The kit comes with everything you need to tension one end of a cable line on an angled or level run. It can be used to install components into metal and wood posts. This will save you time, effort, and a trip to the hardware store. The kit contains the following items:

  • 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
316 Stainless steel made railing

How to Install a Cable Deck Railing

SKILL Cost Estimated Time
Easy railing kit is DIY-friendly $1.5 to $2.5 per foot of cable 6 to 8 hours for average-size deck

Tools list for installation:

  • Cordless drill/driver
  • Twist drill bits
  • Carbide-tipped masonry bit-1/4 inch
  • One-handed bar clamps
  • Hammer
  • Cable cutters
  • Adjustable wrench
  • Nut Driver

Installation steps:

Step 1: How to Install and Set Up Deck Railing Posts

We used an “inside mount” approach to install our Deck Railing posts and then “picture framed” the edge board around the posts. To accomplish this, we installed the railing posts so that the top cap of the railing was 38″ tall (check local codes as you may need to make yours 42″ tall depending on where you live). We used Thrulock Screws, which do not require any predrilling, to secure the posts to the deck. Links to the tools and materials used are provided below!

Step 2: How to create a drill hole template.

We made a template out of a scrap 2″x4″ board to ensure that all of our drill holes were identical from post to post. First, because we were using 1/8″ cable, we drilled 1/4″ holes every 3 inches (approximately) in the center of the template board. Please check your local code for cable railing requirements. When your template is complete, use clamps to secure it to your deck railing posts and mark the holes on the posts. Make sure to use your template on both sides of the post.

Step 3: Drilling into railing posts for your DIY cable railing

At this point, take a drill bit slightly larger than the diameter of your cable and drill halfway through the post, exactly where you marked it with your template. Maintain the drill level and ensure you are in the exact center of the post. Then, move to the opposite side of the post and drill halfway through, meeting the previously drilled hole in the center.

Step 4: How to route a cable or wire through deck railing posts

Simply thread the wire railing through the post’s holes and cut to length.

Step 5: Suggestions for running a continuous cable through the stairs

It was difficult to maintain a continuous run-up and down the stairs. I would suggest that you have a separate set of hardware for the stair railing – it will make your life easier. However, if you want to save money, you can do what we did in the video. The video is a little confusing, but I hope what you see sparks your imagination enough to come up with your own solution!

Step 6: Useful Cable Railing Hardware

We used 1/8″ Type 316 (Rust Proof) Stainless Steel (included a cable cutter with purchase), Cable Railing Kit Hardware, and a Hydraulic Crimping Tool for our project.  

Step 7: Adjusting the cable railing tension and tighten the cable

Simply insert the hardware in both posts at the beginning and end of the cable run once the cable has been run through the railing. Insert the cable into the hardware and crimp it in place. Then, thread the washer and nut on the opposite side of the post and tighten the nut as needed with a wrench to achieve the desired cable tension.

Step 8: How to trim the extra bolt length.

When the cable tension is just right, use an angle grinder or a reciprocating saw to trim off the excess bolt length. A metal blade is obviously required for this. After removing the excess length, screw on the decorative hardware end cap, and your DIY Wire Railing Installation is complete.

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