Frequently Asked Questions

Our goal is to provide you with the confidence you need to complete your project!

If you have questions that aren't covered on our website, please don't hesitate to reach out.

About Cable Bullet Tensioners

Can I use your tensioners on stair runs?

Yes, and installation is the same for stair runs as for level runs.

Cable Bullet tensioners can be used on level and sloped runs, and are always installed perpendicular to the post. The 7x7 braid cable we recommend is flexible enough to bend to a crisp angle as it exits the Bullet along an angled stair run.

When installing Cable Bullet tensioners, make sure the set screw channel used to tension the cable run is always angled away from the bend of the cable.

Can your system turn corners with a continuous run?

It can, but we don't recommend it.

Pre-tensioning your cable through a 90-degree turn while measuring, especially in a 2-post corner configuration, is difficult due to the rigidity of the wire. Inaccurate cut lengths will result in excessive slack, which in turn increases the likelihood that you won't be able to fully tension the run.

However, 45-degree bends through single pass-through posts are less problematic. It is also possible to make an inline transition from a straight to a sloped run, e.g. from a level deck down a flight of stairs. As with any standard run, make sure the total length of your combined run doesn't exceed the maximum recommended distance of 20 ft. For these cable pass-through posts we recommend using "Dummy tensioners" to protect your post holes.

Will Cable Bullet tensioners hold in my posts?

Yes, but we get that question a lot.

When considering the holding strength of Cable Bullet tensioners it's helpful to think of them less as wood screws, and more as threaded bolts. Properly installed in pressure treated pine (PTP), a standard 1-1/2" Cable Bullet tensioner will hold up to 1,200 lbs of pull tension. Even in softer wood species, e.g. cedar, tensioners will hold up to 800 lbs of pull tension. This means a single cable run will support a 150-200 lb load mid-span. It is our interpretation that the International Residential Code (IRC) specifies each cable run be able to hold a 50 lb load. We highly recommend using Cable Bullet installation tools and following installation instructions to ensure the best possible performance of any Cable Bullet system.

What's the take-up for a single tensioner?

Approximately 3/4 inches per tensioner.

The set screw channel on each Cable Bullet tensioner is approximately 3/4-inch deep. Because both ends have the ability to tension the cable this gives you approximately 1-1/4 to 1-1/2 inches of slack or stretch that can be tensioned out of a single cable.

Do longer tensioners like the XL and XXL have more take-up than the standard size?

No, they do not.

Every Cable Bullet tensioner has the same 3/4-inch deep set screw channel which allows for the same amount of tensioning.

How tight can I tension Cable Bullet?

Using the Allen key will allow you to tension your cable comfortably to approximately 150 lbs.

At 150 lbs of tension your cable is going to feel taught and deflect minimally when strummed. Beyond this point, the Allen key will begin to bend and want to strip out the set screw.

Can I tighten my cables after installation?

Yes, you can, and you will most likely need to.

Over time, cable will relax in place, your structure will settle, and the cable itself will expand and contract if exposed to the elements. This is perfectly normal and to be expected. Following our installation instructions and recommendations will allow you to re-tension your cables as needed using a standard 3/32-inch Allen key.

Can I run Cable Bullet tensioners vertically?

You can, but it's less cost effective.

Tensioners are the most expensive part in any cable railing system. The longer your cable runs, the lower your overall cost per linear foot of railing. Short, vertical runs are substantially less efficient than longer horizontal runs.

Installation Guidelines & recommendations

Why do you have a 20 foot maximum run limit?

To guarantee you can fully tension your run.

The longer your run, the more work your tensioners have to do in fully tension the line. Even steel wire will have a noticeable amount of "stretch" over longer runs. The drawback to an internal tensioning mechanism is the relatively conservative amount of slack that can be adjusted for (e.g. as compared to an external turnbuckle). Limiting your runs to 20 feet guarantees you will be able to tension, and re-tension your run even after the structure settles and your cable relaxes in place over time. Less flexible braids of cable, e.g. 1x19, will allow you to run your cables further between tensioners.

Why do you recommend 3-1/2 to 4 foot post spacing?

To minimize cable deflection (cable displacement under load).

All recommendations for post and cable run spacing are designed to satisfy stricter interpretations of the International Residential Code (IRC). More on that here. To minimize cable deflection we recommend intermediate (pass-through) posts every 3-1/2 to 4 feet.

Why do you recommend 3-inch spacing between cables?

To allow for some cable deflection without breaking code.

The International Residential Code (IRC) specifies that no opening in a railing may be large enough to pass a 4-inch sphere through. The IRC does not specifically address cable deflection, leaving significant room for interpretation. Rules for evaluating cable deflection can vary significantly by local building code. We recommend consulting your local building inspector before starting any cable railing project as it is the installers responsibility to make sure the finished railing complies with all local building codes. Read more about code compliance here.

Can I use 1/8" or 3/16" thick cable with Cable Bullet Tensioners?

Cable Bullet tensioners were designed to work with 5/32" cable.

3/16" thick wire is too large to fit our crimp sleeves and lobed washer, both of which are key components of the tensioning mechanism. Thinner 1/8" wire by comparison will not allow the crimp to seat properly, reducing the holding strength of both cable ends and increasing the risk of failure.

General Questions

Do I need to treat my cable railing?

Whether or not you need to treat your cable railing depends on where you build your railing.

All Cable Bullet tensioners are made from type 316 marine grade stainless steel, which offers the best in corrosion resistance. However, even type 316-grade stainless steel will oxidize or rust over time. When properly maintained, stainless steel will provide lasting beauty for years; however, exposure to harsh environments, chemicals, and abuse will accelerate the natural aging process.

Clean your indoor railings seasonally to remove dust, and dirt using any general household stainless steel cleaner. For your outdoor railing, we recommend treating and protecting your stainless with Boeshield T-9®. This becomes especially important in any saltwater environment, or where weather conditions are considered harsh. How often you treat your railing will vary by location. Check your stainless periodically and address any problem areas by increasing your cleaning and treatment frequency.

Does Cable Bullet offer any guarantees?

Yes we do!

Read our returns policy and product warranty for full details.

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