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safety of cable railing on a deck?

post #1 of 11
Thread Starter 
We are looking at building a deck/ramp at the front of our house [DH uses a wheelchair and the huge front porch with 6 steps isn't so useful to him!]. Our contractor just constructed a ramp that uses horizontal metal rails instead of the standard vertical wooden ones. He said he really liked how it turned out and urged me to check out the work and see what I thought. When I did, I thought one thing that children would think when seeing it: the rails make a fantastic ladder! YIKES! Our deck won't be super high, but I think that pretty much any height is too unsafe for climbing up on a deck rail.

But then I started thinking about cable railing. It looks much the same and would have the same nice aesthetic effect. Since our deck will be in front of the house, I'd like a little more blending with our home's exterior [we're in a brick ranch]. But you know, I don't give that much of a jot about aesthetics if it will be unsafe. Our kids are almost 1 and almost 4, so the prime ages for them and their friends to be tempted to climb and test their agility. But it seems that the cable railing wouldn't be as tempting.

Anybody read anything about the safety of cables, or anybody more experiences with building have an opinion? Is there a real difference between vertical and horizontal railing for safety? When the kids are older, I imagine them being able to play out there safely on their own for very short periods of time [yeah, like my 4 year-old goes three minutes without me]

Also: ideas/experience about materials? The plastic would be nice as we aren't so good at maintaining stuff, I have to be honest.
post #2 of 11
We have a cable railings on our deck and they haven't been a problem. We were worried about it too. My ds was 4 when we got them and he's never climbed them. Dd was 2 and sometimes stands on the first rung but that's it. Mine are a little bit flexible so it seems it would be challenging for them to do. Plus the top rail is wood and wide enough that it would be challenging to get over. I suppose they could but they just don't.
post #3 of 11
i would make sure your contracter checks your local building codes, the horizontal railings without some sort of mesh etc might be illegal after a certain height.
post #4 of 11
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by TranscendentalMom View Post
We have a cable railings on our deck and they haven't been a problem. We were worried about it too. My ds was 4 when we got them and he's never climbed them. Dd was 2 and sometimes stands on the first rung but that's it. Mine are a little bit flexible so it seems it would be challenging for them to do. Plus the top rail is wood and wide enough that it would be challenging to get over. I suppose they could but they just don't.
Hmm, I am assuming that you have the kind of kids who are looking for an adventure, like most all kids? I remember I did have a friend who used NO gates on her stairs because her toddler had zero interest in scaling the staircase. : Not in our house! My littlest one is already climbing anything she can!
I also had the idea about making the wooden top wide enough to make the effort unattractive.
post #5 of 11
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by wonderwahine View Post
i would make sure your contracter checks your local building codes, the horizontal railings without some sort of mesh etc might be illegal after a certain height.
Okay. He has kids himself, so he'll want to know!
post #6 of 11
Quote:
Originally Posted by mashenka View Post
Hmm, I am assuming that you have the kind of kids who are looking for an adventure, like most all kids? I remember I did have a friend who used NO gates on her stairs because her toddler had zero interest in scaling the staircase. : Not in our house! My littlest one is already climbing anything she can!
I also had the idea about making the wooden top wide enough to make the effort unattractive.

My kids are actually big time climbers - stairs, top of the couch, counters. They find ways to scale things...esp my 2 year old. But for some reason, something doesn't appeal to them about the cable railings. I could see them being a problem for some people. And we didn't do them on our loft which I would be more worried about because its higher. They do look cool, I must say!
post #7 of 11
Thread Starter 
Thanks! That is really good to know--I'll be calling the contractor soon, but those cable rails they are $$$$, right?
post #8 of 11
I am afraid to tell you this, but my DS (who isn't the most agile kid in the word) recently learned to climb a vertical rail without a problem, rather than walk around to the opening.

He also likes climbing on cable rails, but shows no interest in horizontal rails now.

The horizontal railings are probably legal, provided there is no more than "X" gap in them dpeending on your code. Here, the gab cannot exceed 12"
post #9 of 11
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Throkmorton View Post
I am afraid to tell you this, but my DS (who isn't the most agile kid in the word) recently learned to climb a vertical rail without a problem, rather than walk around to the opening.

He also likes climbing on cable rails, but shows no interest in horizontal rails now.

The horizontal railings are probably legal, provided there is no more than "X" gap in them dpeending on your code. Here, the gab cannot exceed 12"

Yeah, that scares me. But then it's like: well, what do I do--glass panels? Our deck will probably be only 4 or 5 feet up, the rails adding that extra 2 feet, but as I said any height on that railing is scary for a young one [though DS climbs trees and I am okay with that]. It is more visiting friends that make me nervous--DS leads, they follow, I get panicky.
post #10 of 11
Are the deck rails already installed?

I think horizontal rails on the stairs should be fine - just put a baby gate on so kids can be contained to the desk. Glass panels would be great on a desk, but I would expect them to be costly. And even more costly on stairs.

The code on railings (here) requires you to be unable to pass a 4" diameter ball between the railings of stairs/deck. That ball is the size of a baby's head or torso. If you use steel cables, they will have to be less than 4" apart, with frequent horizontal supports, to meet the safety spec. Depending on the cable thickness you choose, it could be very costly.

Around here (East coast) most decks have horizontal wood posts, and high-end construction has metal posts. These deck posts are available at Lowes: http://deckorators.com/ They also have glass in various shades: http://www.deckorators.com/Photos.asp?ProductType=Glass
post #11 of 11
Thread Starter 
I'd read that about the 4". Not sure what code is here though. We're step free around here: DH uses a wheelchair and I wanted something where our kids couldn't escape from him [they don't really do that, but baby doesn't know better]. Thanks for the links.
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