How to Install a Cable Deck Railing

Posted by in Home Improvement Tips, on November 6, 2015

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This Old House general contractor Tom Silva installs a cable railing on a deck in Greenwich Village, New York. (See below for a shopping list, tools, and steps.)

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Shopping List for How to Install a Cable Deck Railing:
– Cable deck-railing kit (includes all necessary steel cable and connectors)
– 4-inch-wide by 3/4-inch-thick plywood strip, used as a hole-drilling template
– Sleeve anchors, for securing cable end to brick wall
– Liquid thread lock, used to seal and secure threaded fittings

Tools List for How to Install a Cable Deck Railing:
– Cordless drill
– 1/4-inch-diameter carbide-tipped masonry drill bit, used to bore holes in brick wall
– Three 1/4-inch-diameter twist drill bits, one for drilling the template, two for holding the template in place
– Two one-handed bar clamps, used to hold the template to the railing posts
– Hammer
– Cable cutters, used to cut the steel railing cable
– Adjustable wrench, for tightening the anchors
– Nut driver, used to tighten the machine screws

Steps for How to Install a Cable Deck Railing:
1. Make a hole-drilling template by drilling 1/4-inch-diameter holes spaced 3 inches apart through a 4-inch-wide by 3/4-inch-thick strip of plywood.
2. Hold the template against the brick wall, directly under the deck's handrail.
3. Use a 1/4-inch-diameter carbide-tipped masonry bit to bore through the top hole in the template and into the brick house wall.4. Push a spare 1/4-inch-diameter drill bit into the hole to hold the template in place.
5. Next, drill a 1/4-inch-diameter hole through the template's bottom hole, and then insert another drill bit.
6. Drill the remaining holes through the template and into the brick wall.
7. Clamp the template to a deck-railing post and drill 1/4-inch-diameter holes through the post. Repeat to drill holes in the remaining railing posts.
8. Use a hammer to tap a wedge-type sleeve anchor into each hole in the brick wall.
9. Place a washer and nut onto the threaded end of each sleeve anchor, then tighten the nuts with a wrench.
10. Hand-tighten a cable-end connector onto the threaded end of each sleeve anchor.
11. On the far railing post at the end of the deck, insert a machine screw through each 1/4-inch-diameter hole.
12. Apply a little liquid thread lock to the end of each bolt, then thread on a cable-end connector.
13. Once the connector bottoms out, back it out four turns. Repeat for the remaining cable-end connectors.
14. Push the end of the cable into one of the connectors at the brick wall. The connector will automatically lock onto the cable.
15. Pass the opposite end of the cable through the holes in the intermediate railing posts.
16. At the end post, use cable cutters to cut the cable to the proper length.
17. Press the end of the cable into the connector on the end post. Repeat to install the remaining cables along the railing.
18. Use a nut driver to tighten the machine screws to tension the cables.

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