Cable Railing Code and Safety Facts

Many customers have never worked with Cable Railing previously or have some ideas that may be founded in traditional construction knowledge, but not applicable to Cable Railing today. Let us explain the basic factors regarding code and safety.

Many customers have never worked with Cable Railing Code previously or have some ideas that may be founded in traditional construction knowledge, but not applicable to Cable Railing today. Let us explain the basic factors regarding code and safety.

WHAT IS THE ACTUAL CODE REGARDING CABLE SPACING?

Code Says:

Nothing specific regarding cable. Inspectors will often be required to make their own judgment regarding the factors below.

Code Interpretation

The actual code requirement is the same as any other railing and states that a balustrade (cable) cannot allow a 4 inch sphere to penetrate between cables with reasonably applied force. Given the ability for cable to defect (open up) when pressure is applied the practical application of cable railing to meet code requires spacing much tighter that 4 inch. Atlantis Rail answers with maximum 3 inch spacing between cables and not more than 4 foot space between post and / or cable stabilizers. With many of our products we space cables, post and stabilizers even closer. 

Code Compliance: 

Properly tensioned cable with properly spaced post (4 foot max) will generally deflect up to 25% under reasonable pressure emulating handling by occupants. This is where we derive our instruction and specification for cable to be spaced no more than 3” apart and 4 foot between post or cable stabilizers. A 25% deflection will create a space of 3.75 inches under reasonable pressure. Never space cable more than 3” with post or stabilizers spaced no more than 4 foot.

WHAT IS THE ACTUAL CODE REGARDING POST SPACING WITH HORIZONTAL CABLE? 

Code Says:

Nothing specific. Inspectors will often be required to make their own judgment regarding the factors below.

Atlantis says:

Never space post or cable stabilizers more than 4 foot without an intermediate cable support.  We call these supports cable stabilizers and they generally are 1” x 1” or 1” round tubes with pre drilled holes.

Best Practices:

Discuss your cable railing design with your local code officer before finalizing design or installing. We see several occasions where code enforcement officers have reasonable additional requirements.