How Much Do Cable Deck and Stair Railings Cost?
$2,000 - $3,250
$2,000 - $3,250
Cost data is based on research by HomeAdvisor.
Updated September 30, 2022Reviewed by Andy Kilborn, Expert Home Building and Remodeling Contributor.
The average cost of materials and installation for a basic cable railing system is about $3,000. Most homeowners pay between $2,000 and $3,250 to install 50 linear feet of railing on a 350 square foot deck, at an average cost of $60 per linear foot. In addition to decks, cable rails can be installed on interior and exterior stairways, balconies, and porches.
"When installing cable rails, be sure you or your contractor follows the manufacturer's recommendation for spacing and tension,” says Andy Kilborn, Angi Expert Review Board member and owner of Andy's Handyman Service in Des Moines, IA. “This will lead to the safest installation."
|Cable||$0.50 – $1.70 per linear foot|
|Post||$10 – $45 per item|
|Top Rail||$10 – $20 per foot|
|Labor||$20 – $25 per foot|
|Total||$60+ per linear foot|
Cable railing prices will vary by cable type depending on the durability of the material used.
|Type||Price per Linear Foot\|
|Galvanized Carbon Steel||$0.35 – $0.45|
|Stainless Steel Wire||$0.50 – $1.70|
The average price for galvanized carbon steel cable is $0.35 to $0.45 per linear foot. Coated in zinc, this type of cable offers homeowners on a budget a more inexpensive option than stainless steel. However, it tends to corrode more quickly than stainless steel, losing tension and requiring more frequent costly railing repairs. This makes the upfront savings less worthwhile.
The average price for stainless steel wire is about $0.50 to $0.75 per linear foot. Stainless steel is popular for its rust resistance and durability. It creates an attractive and shiny ornamental look for railings that doesn’t crack or fade. You’ll find different types of stainless steel wire for different applications.
Type 304: Most common
Type 316: Marine grade wire good for homes in coastal areas. It can withstand salty sea air and exposure to the elements around oceans.
Feeney CableRail is a popular brand of stainless steel cable that costs around $0.70 to $1.70 per linear foot. This type 316 grade wire is particularly popular in coastal areas and harsh climates. If you buy your product through an authorized dealer and register it with Feeney online, you can qualify for a 10-year limited warranty through the company.
The average cost for Atlantis Rail System cable is approximately $0.50 to $0.80 per linear foot. This brand offers more affordable type 316 grade stainless steel wire for consumers on a budget. It is popular for those with DIY rail building experience because it comes in a kit with clear installation information.
If you purchase your product directly from Atlantis Rail or through an authorized retailer, you may be able to register through the Atlantis Rail website to receive a warranty that varies in length depending on the specific product purchased.
Posts and handrails make up the framework that holds the cables in place. The more of these pieces in a railing design, the more expensive the finished product will be. Posts vary in price depending on many factors, including:
Height: Typical heights are 36 or 42 inches
Position: Options include “terminal” (on an end) or “intermediate” (found in the middle of the railing)
Holes for cable: Options include with holes and without
Consumers who need to save money on their railing project may do so by purchasing shorter posts without pre-drilled holes. It also helps to work with a contractor who has a good relationship with suppliers and can get materials at a discount.
|Squared stainless steel posts||$140 – $230 per post|
|Rounded stainless steel posts||$110 – $200 per post|
|Squared and round stainless steel handrails||$20 per foot|
|Aluminum posts||$65 – $125 per post|
|Wood posts||$20 – $120 per post|
|Aluminum or wood handrails||$30 – $60 per foot|
A typical price for squared stainless steel posts is $140 to $230 per post, while stainless steel handrails cost $20 per foot. Squared posts are more expensive than round ones because they require more steel.
The typical price for rounded stainless steel posts is $110 to $200 per post, while stainless steel handrails cost around $20 per foot. Rounded handrails are popular with homeowners who want stainless steel on a budget or for those seeking a more decorative look.
A typical price for aluminum stainless steel posts is $65 to $125 per post, while aluminum handrails can cost between $30 and $60 per foot. Aluminum pieces come in square, rectangular, and custom shapes to meet the needs of the consumer. Aluminum tends to be less expensive and requires less maintenance than stainless steel.
Homeowners can expect to pay between $20 and $120 per wood post, depending on the type and thickness of the part. Wooden handrails can cost between $30 and $50 per foot. Cedar, mahogany, and a variety of other hardwoods make great frames because some of them are rot-resistant.
A typical wooden frame is square or rectangular, depending on the preferences of the consumer. Although popular because of its low price point, wood requires frequent maintenance when installed outdoors. For those who do not want to stain or refinish their railing on a regular basis, this is not the ideal choice.
“If your cable railing is going around corners, plan to budget for inserts in the wood, which will reduce the chance of the tensioned cable pulling through the wood over time,” says Kilborn.
Vinyl and composite materials are easy to maintain and highly durable. Both should last for years without needing replacement. Homeowners pay $25 to $35 per post, and handrails cost about $10 to $20 per foot.
Composite materials are meant to look like wood. This gives them the aesthetic appeal of wood without the maintenance.
Vinyl is shaped or sculpted to mimic wood’s texture. However, most paint vinyl a solid color. This gives it a more manufactured look than composite.
A typical contractor charges up to $115 per linear foot for installing a cable railing, although costs can range anywhere from $40 to $225 per linear foot. Homeowners who shop around and compare bids may be able to bring these rates down. However, the lowest price is not always the best deal.
Homeowners should check references and contractor reputation before making a final decision. Meeting with professionals in person and asking smart questions is another way to decide which person is best for the job.
Cable installation for a deck railing averages between $65 and $220 per square foot. This range is due to variation in heights and configurations of different decks as well as the cost of metal customization, both of which can have a big impact on the cost. High decks or those that involve more risk for the contractor are costlier than those that are easily accessible.
The more posts and terminal ends included, the more expensive the installation. Homeowners on a budget may prefer aluminum or wood to stainless steel because the materials are more affordable. Those who want a high-end product may lean toward stainless steel for its quality and durability.
Cable stair railings are around the same price as those for decks because the materials are the same. The only difference is the cost of the handrail, which angles to fit between posts of different heights. Angled models may cost as much as double the price of deck handrails.
By installing your own cable railing system, you may be able to cut costs by a third or one-half. However, buying the necessary tools can add hundreds to your budget, and consumers who make mistakes or who damage their property during installation lose money on corrections and may even need to pay a contractor to finish the job.
This can be very costly and may be more expensive than hiring a contractor from the start. An improperly installed railing can have many hidden dangers for residents. Unstable installations and poor workmanship could lead to household accidents and even fatalities, and the cost of making stairs safe can be great.
A reputable contractor can install railings right the first time, and without placing homeowners in danger. Look for other ways to cut costs, like bundling the project with the cost of installing steel staircases.
The amount of cabling needed for this project depends on the height of the posts and the number of holes.
36-inch posts with 11 holes = 11 feet of cabling per foot
42-inch posts with 13 holes = 13 feet of cabling per foot
To find out how much cable you’ll need, multiply the number of cables by the length of the railing. Add extra cable to the order to cover for any overage that you may need.
This can vary depending on different factors. Check with your local building codes office to find post spacing regulations and how many you will need for the project. You may need to provide information regarding whether the cables run vertically or horizontally. If you’re not comfortable with measuring and purchasing materials yourself, contact a licensed contractor.
To achieve proper tension in a cable wire, experts use a turnbuckle or threaded swage. Achieving proper tension is very important because tension affects the safety, effectiveness, and appearance of the structure. A loose cable can be a hazard and make your installation less attractive.
The best way to achieve an adequately tight, long-lasting railing is to hire a contractor. An experienced professional will have the right tools and knowledge to install your rail correctly.
Cable railings are simple to maintain. Beginning on installation day, cable railings require regular cleaning and general maintenance to keep them looking shiny and protect them from environmental damage. Routinely rinse and wipe down your railings using products recommended by the manufacturer.
The length you can run a cable railing will vary depending on the specific product you purchase. For example, Feeney recommends runs of no more than 40 feet in length, while Atlantis Rail allows for up to 48 feet of total length per run. Check the specific recommendations for your project before installing cable rail.