Marine grade 316 stainless steel has a solid reputation and proven track record for holding up well even in harsh conditions. However, nothing lasts forever, and even the most corrosion-resistant materials can rust if not properly treated and maintained. To keep your stainless steel cable railing looking (and working) great for years to come, follow the steps outlined below.
Step 1: Clean the stainless steel railing
Do this after installation, especially on seams, column bases, and anywhere the stainless steel may wear out. Use a soft nylon brush to remove dirt and wash the railings with warm water and mild dish soap. Dry any exposed parts of the cable railing with a soft cloth or hair dryer.
What if my existing railing or hardware shows signs of rust?
If your stainless steel hardware shows signs of rust, corrosion, or patina, we recommend Rust Free first. Follow the manufacturer's instructions to safely apply and use Rust Free. All surface rust must be removed before handling the hardware.
Warning: Avoid all-purpose cleaners, chlorine bleach, and abrasive cleaners that can cause damage.
Step 2: Protect your aluminum or stainless steel parts
Apply a rust and corrosion inhibitor waterproof lubricant or stainless steel cleaner of your choice to all components of the cable railing to prevent rust and corrosion. Work on the tensioner set screw channel to prevent it from sticking and ensure smooth tensioning over time.
What should I do with stainless steel hardware in metal posts?
Aerosol sprays are great for applying directly to metal railings. For a lightweight protective jacket, wipe off excess. If your metal railing has wood components, spray the lubricant on a soft cloth or sponge before applying it to avoid contact with the wood.
What should I do with stainless steel hardware in wooden posts?
The T-9 squeeze bottle is ideal for wooden post railings as it allows for more precise application. Squeeze lubricant onto a soft cloth or sponge and apply to all exposed stainless steel parts.
Warning: Avoid exposing any wood to lubricant as it may cause discoloration.
Step 3: Repeat the process as often as necessary
To maintain your cable railings, we recommend treating all components at least once a year, or as often as your environment requires. How often you clean and protect stainless steel depends largely on how exposed your hardware is.
Inland and coastal environments
If you live within one mile of environments that expose your cable railing to acid rain or salt air and spray, treat your railing at least every 3-6 months, or as needed. Check early and often to gauge how your unique environment is affecting your railing. The best time to treat the railing is when there are signs of corrosion. Failure to adequately clean and protect your stainless steel can lead to rust, compromise the integrity of your railing, and create safety concerns.
Indoors, outbacks, or railings that are not affected by the elements may not require frequent treatment. Check your railings at the end of each season to avoid any surprises.
Maintain cable tension over time
Do I need to retighten the cable after installing it?
Yes, you may need to re-tighten the cable after the initial installation. Don't worry, it's normal! If you've installed cable railings on a new structure, you may need to re-tighten your lines after the structure or posts start to be fastened and moved. Metal expansion and contraction and stress on the cables can also lead to the need to re-tension the line.
Check 1 month after installation and annually thereafter.
Check cable tension and tighten any cables that start to sag. Use a 3/32” Allen key to advance the set screws on both ends.
Inspect each set screw channel to make sure it is clean. Clean and lubricate if you notice buildup or difficulty advancing the set screw.
Check your posts for signs of rot, especially in harsh environments where wood rot and rust are a concern.
The above describes the maintenance of cable railings in different situations, if you want to know more, or want to buy cable railings, please contact us.
Terada is a professional custom cable railings and accessories manufacturer. We offer a full range of hardware. Our accessories are widely used in shading structures, tensile structures, fabric stretching, wire railings, railing systems, railing systems, marine, lifting, and other industries.