3 Things to Look for in a Horizontal Cable System


Cable railing is increasing in popularity every year, and horizontal cable is the standard choice. Homeowners love its modern, almost industrial, style. For contractors, installation can have a learning curve, but once an installer is familiar, he or she can move through a project quickly. Of course some systems allow for quicker installation than others no matter how experienced the installer!

If you’re thinking about using horizontal cable railing on your deck or on an upcoming job, here are three things to look for when choosing a system.


Posts are really the backbone of the horizontal cable rail system, creating stability and allowing cable to be tensioned. (In fact, posts that aren’t installed correctly could be pulled inward when the cable is tightened.) Cable rail posts should be solid and well-made with high-quality fittings and powder coating.

Posts on the corners are another feature to watch for. If a manufacturer doesn’t have a post specifically designed to take cable around a corner, then the installer must double post on each corner. This raises the cost (posts are often the most expensive part of the system) and adds some additional bulkiness and obstruction.


Labor Time

In addition to the posts, time spent on the installation also has its cost. What comes preinstalled or prefitted from the manufacturer? Look for a system where at least some of the work is done for you, so you or your contractor don’t spend time placing little parts and pieces. What is included in a box section—do you need to buy a lot of extras, or are most of the major components there? Additionally, make sure that the system is set up for long runs of cable. Constant starting and stopping runs can add time to the job.

Key-Link’s system has some additional small but important features for time savings. First, self-centering brackets fit into the grooves on the post for an easy centering with no measuring. Second, the posts come with leveling plates and set screws, so you can plumb the post even if the surface isn’t perfectly level.



While “quality” may sound vague at first, there are specific attributes that you can look for when investigating potential cable rail systems. We suggest going to a dealer who stocks the railing so you can see and touch it in person. Some things to look for:

  • What is the standard powder coat? At minimum it should be AAMA 2604 standard for weather protection.
  • Does the powder coat extend to the edges and corners? Are the trim and caps coated as well as the posts and rails, in addition to being color-matched?
  • Does the aluminum have a thick wall and seem sturdy, or does it appear flimsy?
  • Are the cable and fittings 316 marine grade stainless steel to help minimize corrosion?
  • What is the warranty? Does it include reimbursement for labor costs?

Reviewing the pieces of the cable system (and the work involved) before you start will help you choose the right system for your job. Cable rail systems are a high-end product, so make sure the system you buy has the quality that matches the price.

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