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Landscape Lighting for Decks and Railings

San Diego Cable Railings and Highpoint Offer Landscape Lighting for Decks, Railings and Fencing

Energy efficient and attractive, todays landscape lighting options can take your outdoor living experience  to the next level. When dealing with the elements and exterior construction projects, quality is of the utmost importance. For this reason we’ve teamed up with Highpoint Deck Lighting in order to offer sleek and attractive lighting options that are built to last.

Much like the product line at SDCR, Highpoint lighting has been designed with the installer in mind. With LED options for both wooden and steel post systems, we can customize your railing posts or top railing selections for awesome outdoor lighting. Deck lighting can be installed by pros, or DIY installers. Whether your project calls for a sleek downlight for a vertical post installation, hidden keyhole light, or a strip for backlighting your top rails, we have what you need.

Landscape lighting for decks and railings can add a finishing touch to any outdoor living project. A multitude of lighting options as well as the number of lights selected will determine the ambiance. Fewer lights will offer accents and maintain an intimate feel. Larger lights and a greater number of lights will provide illumination for entertaining and group settings. Outdoor lights can be mixed and matched as well as adjusted via the use of a dimmer to increase or decrease brightness.

At SDCR we have post lighting options for both steel posts and wooden railing posts. Steel post lights are sleek and smaller in size; while wood post options will typically be larger. A variety of color options make customization simple. Additionally, we can make your installation a breeze with pre-drilled, accurate hole locations for easy mounting. Lighting packages contain all of the necessary parts required for a complete installation (transformer, wire, lighting, and exterior wire nuts). If you have questions about landscape lighting for decks and cable railings, contact our pros at 844-277-7327.

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Cool Curves and Radius Railings

Installing Radius Railings and Curves Using    Stainless Steel Cables

radius railings, curved railingsIf you ask an experienced craftsman about creating curves with straight materials like lumber and steel; they will likely tell you it is a labor of love. Radius Railings take time and a good bit of patience, but the finished results can be spectacular and unique. Curves can be achieved on cable railings and cable fencing projects; here are some expert tips on how:

Preparation- A scaled drawing is a great way to get an accurate vision of the curve you are creating. Softer curves will almost always be less difficult than tight curves. For example; many deck builders will encourage a minimum of 12′-16′ for a radius application. A scaled radius can be created on simple graph paper with the help of a protractor.

Post Spacing- In order to maintain a curve, the distance in between railing posts must be shortened. As the cables exit the railing posts they will create their own angle towards the next railing post. Typically a 4′ post spacing call out will be shortened to 30″-36″. The tighter spacing will help create the illusion of curved cables.radius railings

Skill Level- Radius Railings as well as curved decks can often require the skills of a professional. Bending pipes, bars, and/or creating curved wooden members can sometimes mean special equipment. Sometimes curved steel railing sections will be fabricated in one single piece to be attached in place at the job site. Do it yourselfers may consider having a curved top railing member professionally fabricated. A single piece of pre made top rail could then be attached to the DIY post and cable system.

Safety- An important structural note about Radius Cable Railing applications is that every post included in a radius is under a tension load. On curved railings the cables are contacting every post perforation as well. Mixing dissimilar metals is not advised for curves. A stainless steel cable on stainless steel post contact is the best choice for radius railings.  Additionally, the use of engineered railing posts that are designed to sustain cable tension loads is an important consideration for curved cable railings.

Questions about curves??? Talk to one of our pros at 844-277-7327 or use the quote request page!!

Selecting Cable Rail Fittings

Choosing the Right Cable Rail Fittings for Your Project

“Fittings”, “end hardware”, “tensioners” and “terminals” are all commonly used names for the stainless steel parts that terminate and tension cable runs. The quality and functionality of the fittings that are selected for each project will be an important safety factor. Additionally,  properly selected cable rail fittings will ensure that re-tensioning or tune ups down the road will be simple and productive.

Function vs. Flare-

Years of field experience and feedback from contractors and installers have taught us a lot about cable hardware. When it comes to tension longevity or passing an inspection, we opt for functionality over flare. Trying to use the most concealed or low profile fittings may not always serve the project at hand. It’s important to remember that the individual technical factors of each job should dictate the fitting selection; not just the aesthetic considerations. Low profile and hidden fittings are sleek and attractive, however at times they offer little room for adjustment.

On several occasions our preferred installers have been called out to inspect and repair cable railings that are “slacked” or “loose”. Typically the fittings or assemblies have been purchased on “eBay” or some other retail or online outfits that just sell the products.  The cables have malfunctioned because the fittings selected did not provide enough tension capability. Upon installation they may have seemed tight; yet over time or due to acclimation they became loose, and provided no room for future adjustment. Many times these cables must be cut and new fittings must be purchased and installed. At SDCR all of our DIY cable assemblies are designed with strength and longevity in mind. We are happy to recommend cabling and hardware specifically catered to the job.

Swaging vs. Crimping vs. Self Locking Fittings-

Swaging is the process of joining pieces of metal together. A “machine swage” is usually done by the manufacturer via a hydraulic press. A machine swaged fitting to cable connection functions like a cold weld and is the strongest way to join cable and fittings.  Most often, one end of the cable assembly receives a machine swaged fitting. The other end will be completed in the field by hand crimping or utilization of a self locking fitting which allows the installer to cut and install at exact length. 

Hand Crimped Fittings are installed in the field using a crimping tool which compresses the fitting on to the cable. Hand crimped cable rail fittings are the least expensive option; however crimping only provides about 70% of the strength of an actual swage. Crimping has been a cable rigging practice for decades and proven cost effective and durable. An approved cable crimping tool should always be used for architectural railing installations.

Most recently Self Locking Fittings have become popular due to the ease of installation, with no need for crimping or swaging tools. Users can cut their cables and insert them directly into the fittings in one direction, while pulling in the other direction causes the fitting to grab tighter and tighter as tension is applied. Self Locking Fittings carry a premium for the convenience with the highest price point; however for DIY installers it can be well worth the cost. Another added benefit for the DIYer is the ability to release the self locking fitting if necessary. 

At San Diego Cable Railings we offer a large selection of cable rail fittings. Treating each project individually and assessing unique job factors, our pros can help you select the right hardware for the job. If you have questions about any of our DIY cable assemblies or stainless steel hardware; give us a call at 844-277-7327 (SDCR) or visit the quote request page.

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Cable Rail Cleaning and Care

CABLE RAIL CLEANING TIPS TO KEEP YOUR RAILINGS LOOKING NEW FOR DECADES

A little bit of cleaner goes a long way.. Summertime is deck season nationwide and our exterior decks and railings are subjected to a multitude of harsh elements and UV rays. Here are some tips to keep all of the components of your railing system in top condition with little effort or expense.

Fresh Water can be great for cleaning decks and railings if it is used sparingly and as long as all the components are allowed to dry. Keeping your railings clean will allow for the addition of penetrating wood oil finishes without the need for stripping or sanding.  Fresh water can help to remove environmental contaminants, salt crystals, dirt and buildup. A light duty pressure washer is a perfect tool for easy cleaning and can be purchased for less than 100$. Pressure washers reduce the amount of water use while providing a powerful cleaning mist.

Pressure Wash wooden or steel top rails,  posts and cables on a low to medium setting. This should be done prior to using any cleaners or sealers. Allow all of the railing components to dry out thoroughly before cleaning or sealing. Mild sunny days are the preferred weather conditions. Stainless steel posts and cables can also be cleaned with a scotch brite pad and soapy water then rinsed clean. It is NOT RECOMMENDED to use steel wool, or any metallic scouring pads on stainless steel cable railings. 

Stainless Steel Cleaner should be used as a final step to achieve a clean protective finish on railing frames and stainless cables. Lightweight oils in the cleaner can prevent airborne contaminants from pitting into posts and cables as well as repelling moisture and salt buildup. It’s very important to utilize only cleaning products designed for high quality stainless steel. Testing a small spot of cleaner in a non visible area is always a good idea on coated finishes.

Penetrating Oils are amazing products for wood preservation. If your wood top railings are clean and dry it’s time to add the oil. A good test is to use an eye dropper to wet a small spot on the top railing. If it beads up then the finish is still heavy but if it soaks in then it could be time for another coat. Hardwoods like Ipe’ are difficult to penetrate for the first couple of years and require a couple of coats a year until the finish really soaks in.

If you have questions about cable rail cleaning products or techniques used for our railing systems, give us a call at 844-277-7327 or visit the quote request page to submit your question.

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Wall Mounted Fences and Railings

Understanding Mounting Types and Different Style Options for Wall mounted Fences and Railings-

Wall mounted fences and railings can offer some questions and challenges when it comes to rigidity. A good connection to solid structural masonry units is ideal. Here are a few common installation scenarios we have encountered, and some solutions for a successful end product.

Block Walls- Cinder block walls are the most commonly encountered masonry fences and curbs in residential construction. Fences can usually be surface mounted or fascia mounted to a solid block wall. If the wall is hollow; the cells which support the fence post should be grouted solid. If the wall is capped like the one in our feature photo; the anchoring should penetrate past the wall caps into the solid wall. Threaded rods that are epoxied into the wall will function well. In addition, a variety of masonry anchors are suitable for mounting railing posts on to masonry walls.

Keystone Blocks– Keystone blocks are very appealing to DIYers because of affordability and their easily stackable design. The blocks come in a variety of sizes and stack on top of each other. Keystone blocks are held in place by a lip on each block and the backfill pressure against the blocks. Keystone blocks are not typically a good choice for top mounted fence and railing posts because the top block can move. Fences and railings should be cast into concrete footings utilizing the compacted fill behind keystone walls for best results. Footing depth can vary for these types of installs. To learn more about keystone block walls- gardenclub.homedepot.com/build-a-retaining-wall-with-landscape-blocks/

Pony Walls- Also called knee walls, pony walls can be found inside and outside the house. They are typically wood framed and veneered in drywall (inside) or stucco, stone, tile (outside). Knee walls can be a great mounting frame for fence and railing posts. The most important considerations are the framing thickness and waterproofing. Pony wall top plates should have a 3″ net thickness in order to offer a good lag bolt connection. If a fascia mount is desired; wood blocks should be installed at the post locations.  Wooden framing members should be properly wrapped (waterproofed) in order to prevent water intrusion. Sealant should be used on all bolt threading and around the plates when installing the fence posts.

Wall mounted fences and railings can be a beautiful improvement to interior and exterior spaces. If you have questions, our pros are here to help. 844-277-7327 (SDCR)

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Graspable Handrails

Handrails and Grab Rails for Stairways and Cable Railing Kits

If you have ever had a stairway constructed or inspected, you are probably familiar with some of the various terms used to describe “graspable handrails.” A “handrail” or “grab rail” is most commonly used to assist with support on one or both sides of a stairway. These types of graspable rails are sized so that users of all ages are capable of wrapping their hand completely around the railing member in order to assist in pulling themselves up stairs. When descending stairs, handrails are designed to provide support and security without blocking or projecting into the opening.

Graspable rails can be constructed using a variety of wooden, steel, or stainless steel tubes or dowels. The most common dimension is 1.5″x 1.5″ for square members or 1.5″ diameter for round members. A graspable rail should not be smaller than 1.25″ or greater than 1.875″ in diameter. (Always check local codes) At San Diego Cable Railings we offer graspable railing members as well as the brackets and hardware necessary to mount the railings. Our handrail brackets can be powder coated to match any standard or stock color, metallics, and also furnished in bare stainless steel. We offer grab rail members in a variety of wood types as well as steel and stainless steel (see photo). Brackets can be wall mounted or attached to railing posts in order to properly support the grab rail.

In California we have a standard 42″ height requirement for barrier rails, while grab rails need to fall between 34″ and 38″. This can be easily accomplished by mounting a grab rail to an opposite wall when available, or by attaching directly to the cable railing posts at the desired height. If you have questions about graspable handrails or whether or not they may be applicable to your project; our sales staff is here to help. Give us a call at 844-277-7327 or visit the quote request page. In most cases we can complete an assessment and produce a quote for your project in 24-48 hours. 

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Design/Build Ideas For Cable Fences

Professional Tips and Design Ideas for Stainless Cable Fences

An attractive fence can serve as a cohesive design element in any new or existing landscape. Well planned outdoor designs will create a flow using a blend of colors and textures; no single element should stand out among the rest. The materials and colors we choose will largely determine the aesthetics and longevity of exterior cable fences. Consider the following information and construction ideas for your next fencing project:

Wooden Posts and Rails– Using wood timbers for cable fences is an excellent way to create a natural look and a warmer feel than a vertical picket or rod iron fence. If durability is a concern when embedding wood posts “in ground” with concrete footings:

  • A concrete casting tip for extending the life of wooden fence posts is to coat the bottom 12″-24″ (depending on footing depth) of the post with asphalt emulsion or asphalt fence paint prior to setting them in concrete.
  • Using pressure treated wood timbers is another way to extend the life of any wood members making ground contact. In previous years the green color of pressure treated lumber was a turn off, but today most pressure treated utilizes a brown stain which tends to blend better with other woods/composites.
  • Penetrating oil finishes and exterior paints also work well on wooden cable fences and provide the user with a multitude of natural and colored finish options.

Steel Posts and Rails– Using steel members to construct your cable fence will typically increase the durability and minimize the visual profile of the fence frame. From a design perspective we should consider the age and style of the home as well as the existing landscape. A few tips for steel framed cable fences:

  • Mild steel should never be considered as a material option for cable fences. The perforations will allow moisture to enter the posts and corrode them from the inside out. Galvanized and stainless steel fence posts are better options than raw steel or rod iron for exterior fences.
  • A wooden top cap can really soften the look of any steel frame; especially outdoors. Additionally, you can avoid an industrial looking fence just by adding a simple piece of timber. Ipe’ hardwood lasts 30 to 50 years and will not jeopardize the durability of your fence. Cedar and Redwood are also popular cap choices.
  • Choose colors that exist in place, or use bare stainless. Unless you are trying to showcase your fence, it should blend into the landscape. Grey tones and bare stainless steel with non reflective finishes are muted and work well for the most transparent fences. 

Are you considering a stainless steel cable fence? We offer complete fencing packages and design assistance as well as nationwide shipping.  Give us a call at 844-277-7327 or visit the quote request page.

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Exterior Wood Types and Uses

Popular Wood Types and Top Choices for Outdoor Living Spaces

IPE’ – Pronounced (ee-pay) is a Brazilian hardwood species from the ironwood family. Ipe is typically sourced in South America and Central America. Timbers milled from Ipe trees are extremely dense and resistant to rot, insects and decay. Coastal decks and railings are great applications for using hardwoods like Ipe, and the planks are commonly used on docks and marinas. Due to the popularity and import cost of this material the price point is one of the highest among exterior building material types. The structural integrity and lifespan of this product make it well worth the premium for most builders.

Western Red Cedar- Commonly used for posts decking and shingles, WRC is a solid choice for exterior projects. Cedar trees are most commonly found in the Pacific Northwest, and lumber is easily sourced in Washington, California, and Oregon. Cedar timbers have attractive grain patterns and colors ranging from light tan to reddish brown. Western red cedar timbers are naturally resistant to insects and decay making them popular choices for fencing, garden boxes, decks and railings. The price point for high quality cedar is much less than hardwoods and some composite products making it an attractive option. Western Red Cedar can be stained or painted quite easily.

Redwood- Well known and widely used, Redwood has been one of the most popular exterior building materials for decades. The tannin acids found in redwood make it naturally resistant to insects, and the red and white marbled color make it an attractive timber. Redwood trees are commonly found in Northern California and historical old growth trees are no longer harvested by the lumber industry. Due to the farming and harvesting of younger trees, the quality of the timbers has suffered in recent years. A noticeable increase in whitewood boards is a result of harvesting these young trees . Heartwood (harder to find) is the highest quality and grade with a deep pinkish red color. Redwood is generally soft and needs to be maintained in order to preserve its longevity. Fencing decking and siding are popular exterior applications for the use of Redwood. The price point for Redwood is generally low for construction grade lumber.

If you have questions about exterior wood types for a deck, railing or fencing project contact one of our sales professionals at 844-277-7327.

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Build Your Own Cable Railing

Did you know that you can build your own cable railing?

We have DIY customers in all 50 states that have utilized our product line in order to assemble cable railings and fences. Our experienced staff and user friendly cable railing systems will provide everything you need to build your own cable railing.

Our project photograph in this article showcases a beautiful deck railing that combines wooden posts with intermediate picket posts. Generally, wooden railings and fences are a bit easier to build for the average do it yourselfer. Picket posts are also lightweight and easy to install. By combining wooden posts with steel pickets you can expand the viewing windows from your deck. Additionally, the lineal foot cost for a hybrid (wood/steel) railing will be lower than a complete steel or stainless steel railing.

The customer that provided this photo lives in a rural setting and did not want an “ultra modern” or “contemporary” look that would stand out from the surrounding landscape. Western red cedar posts were selected for a natural look and were combined with SDCR intermediate picket posts . The intermediate picket posts were powder coated a light grey to match the house. Pickets offer a lean 1″ profile to contrast with the bulkier 3.5″ wooden posts. The neutral toned railing posts and 1/8″ stainless cable used on this railing provide a transparent framework to preserve the beautiful view.

Product selection and preparation are important facets of any home remodeling project. Building your own cable railing can be fun and also provide cost savings when compared to hiring a professional. It is important to do your homework and utilize online resources and building code information prior to installing any cable railings. If you have questions about our products or need assistance with a DIY cable railing project, please use our quote request page or give us a call at 844-277-7327.

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Posts, Intermediate Pickets and Spreaders

Post selection is an important part of any deck and railing design. Structural posts, intermediate pickets, and spreader posts each have unique applications. Here are some tips to help you decide which types of posts are right for your cable railing project:

Structural posts are used as the support posts of any railing frame. Pertaining to cable railings, end posts and corner posts are both examples of structural railing posts. Wood, steel, stainless steel, and aluminum are common material selections for structural posts.  Cable railing systems typically feature a cable count between 10 and 13 cables. When tension is applied to these cables, the majority of the tension load will be carried by the corner and end posts. For this reason, only posts that are designed to carry these type of loads should be used in these locations. Structural posts support the top railing, sustain tension, and are typically attached with bolts or concrete anchors in order to resist heavy loads.

Intermediate Pickets can be utilized in order to reduce cable spread and provide a tighter post spacing with a minimized post profile. Intermediate pickets are usually made of stainless steel or aluminum tube with a 3/4″ to 1″ profile.  Picket posts are placed in between structural posts with the primary purpose of reduced cable spread. Picket style posts are not usually suitable for use as support posts, however they do provide some upright support for the top railings. Intermediate pickets will allow the user to space the structural railing posts farther apart, and because of a thinner profile they should not negatively affect visibility. SDCR Intermediate Picket Posts will provide great lateral stability because of the steel construction and welded plate connections.

Spreader Posts are another example of an intermediate post option that will reduce cable spread and allow for larger distances in between structural posts. SDCR “ultra slim” spreader posts are custom made flat bar posts that feature the most minimal profile available. Spreader posts are almost always made from steel or stainless steel flat bar, although we have on occasion made them from hardwood/s. Flat bar provides a very sleek look and maximum visibility. Due to the custom nature of our spreader posts, the price point for these posts is higher than a picket style post. Spreader posts are a great option for coastal applications and ocean view railings. For more information on our line up of railing posts give us a call at 844-277-7327 or click on the product links below:

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