How to Tighten Steel Wires in Balustrade

C.L. Rease

Unlike wooden or metal handrails, thin diameter steel cable is nearly invisible when installed on your deck or patio. One component of a steel handrail system, the balustrade, requires more attention during and after installation. A balustrade holds the end of the steel wire in place and adjusts the tension of the installed wire. When a steel wire handrail loosens, a dangerous situation develops, as the wire will not provide adequate support for persons or pets that encounter your handrail.

Steel wire provides a safe handrail if correctly tightened.
  1. Turn the lock nut seated above the balustrade cone, resting on the exposed threads of the receiver with a spanner from the spanner wrench set. The direction you need to turn the lock nut will vary depending on whether the receiver threads are left or right handed.

  2. Run the loosened lock nut 1/4 inch above the top of the balustrade cone.

  3. Turn the balustrade cone toward the receiver with the appropriately sized spanner wrench until the steel wire is tight. If your balustrade has a hole midway between the lock nut and the steel wire insertion point, slide the tensioner into the hole to turn the balustrade cone.

  4. Spin the lock nut until it reaches the top of the balustrade cone, place one spanner wrench on the lock nut and one spanner wrench on the top of the cone and tighten the lock nut to the balustrade cone. If in Step 3, you used a tensioner to tighten the cone, place the tensioner into the hole of the cone rather than use a second spanner wrench.

  5. Pull on the steel wire to test the wire's tension. If the wire is still loose, repeat the process until the steel wire is taunt.