sarah m. dorsey designs · May 11, 2015

DIY Wire Railing | Tutorial

Hey everyone! Today I'm sharing our DIY wire railing - originally shown on our Home Depot Patio Style Challenge reveal.

We wanted something 1. More modern 2. Less obtrusive (before photo at the bottom) 3. Something that our puppies couldn't fit through - Annabelle has scared us a few times jumping down to the lower roof!

Our total cost was approximately $130, a kit would have cost around $300 - $500 - so the savings was pretty good! This tutorial requires a good understanding of the tools required to make it work for your deck. But, overall, once you understand the concept, it is very easy!

You will need:

(buying in large quantities or whole sale is cheapest for the wire, bolts, and nuts!)

1/8" stainless cable
4 1/2" stainless 1/4-20 bolts
1/4-20 nuts and washers

drill and 9/64" 1/4" and 1/2" bits
vice or drill press
driver or socket set for lag bolts
cable cutter
angle grinder

Here is our process:

We decided to use 6 strands of 1/8" stainless cable in our railing so we created a template by drilling the holes in a 1x4 that was cut to fit under the top rail. Using the template we marked the hole locations on all of the posts. (prior to painting)

All of the holes were first drilled with a 1/4" drill bit to allow the 1/8" cable to easily pass through.

Here's the specific directions for drilling holes on the three types of posts:

1) Posts against house - holes were drilled at a 45 degree angle from the center of the side parallel to the house to the side exterior to the deck.
2) Line Posts - Holes are drilled straight through side to side
3) Corner posts - Holes were drilled straight through on one side and the the second side was drilled at an offset to allow the bolt cable ends to pass each other inside the post.

Next we prepared the bolt cable ends that would be used to tension the cables. We used 4.5" stainless bolts and drilled a 9/64" hole starting at the center of the head at an angle to exit from the threads as close as possible to the head. (the angle through the bolt is approximate). To drill the hole, the bolt was held in a vice (a drill press would have been easier). Then we put on a nut that would later be used to crimp and attach the bolt to the cable once positioned.

We started the cable installation with fixed ends on the post that was against the house (later we did caulk that big crack!). We fed the cable through all of the line posts leading to this end and then fed the cable through the end post until 2 inches or so was exiting the post. We then inserted the cable end back into the hole creating a loop and pulled the cable back to tighten the loop to a 1/2" diameter.

With the loop held against the post it was stapled 3 time to lock it in place.

We installed a stainless 2" lag bolt in the center of the loop to ensure everything was held tightly in place and provide a finished look covering the cable and staples.

On the corner post, the 1/4" holes needed to be enlarged to allow the bolt cable end to pull into the post when tensioned. We used a 1/2" drill bit marked with tape to indicate when the bit reached halfway through the post.

We cut the cable about 1" past the face of the corner post and slid the bolt cable end onto the cable.

The nut was tightened crimping the bolt to the cable with the head 1/2" away from the face of the post as shown below.

Once the bolt cable end is attached, the bolt can be inserted in the post and a washer and nut put on from the back. The nut can be then tightened to tension the cable making it tight throughout the whole section.

For the long span across the front of our deck, we used the bolt cable ends on both sides to allow more ability to tension the cable.

After everything was installed, we tensioned all the cable to make sure they were all even and cut the bolts off behind the nuts on the exterior of the corner posts with an angle grinder.

I love the new look! Our puppies can't fit through and it doesn't obstruct the view!


This space has come a long way!! For the full reveal after, visit Home Depot's blog, The Apron!

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