Best Cable Railing Systems For Your Deck

Cable railing was developed in coastal areas to create showstopping views. But how do you pick out the right cable railing system for your deck?

With this guide, you can find the best cable railing systems on the market, learn the benefits of each, and pinpoint the perfect cable railing for your deck. Read on to learn more.

Key-Link Cable Railing disappearing into the view from a lakeside deck

Table of Contents

How To Find The Best Cable Railing System For Your Deck

As a whole, cable deck railing is great for opening up your view and making your space feel bigger. That's because the stainless steel cable runs are polished and intertwined so that instead of reflecting the light, they actually blend into the view beyond them.

But beyond that common benefit, there are plenty of differences in the cable railing systems you can find on the market. Let's run through the specific strengths of our favorite cable deck railings.

Do You Already Have Posts And Rails?

The first question to ask when picking out your cable railing is whether you have existing posts and rails, or whether you'll need an entire cable railing system including posts and rails.

If you need a full cable railing system, you can jump forward a few sections here.

Best Cable Rail System If You Already Have Posts

If you have wood or aluminum posts already mounted on your deck, there's a great cable railing option to tie into your existing posts. It comes from Feeney, the brand that effectively launched cable railing as a style.

Feeney CableRail

Feeney CableRail cable between wood posts

Above, you can see a classic deck railing setup with Feeney CableRail installed into pre-existing wood posts. It's a beautiful blend of very traditional railing with incredibly modern cable runs.

Feeney CableRail can work with wood posts, metal posts, or even composite post sleeves, giving you the visibility benefits of cable railing without compromising your deck's unique style. (It's also a good way to keep cable railing costs down).

You can see the beautiful texture of a Feeney CableRail below. Feeney CableRail includes the cables themselves, along with the stainless steel fittings you'll need to install into your posts.

Cable for a Feeney Cable Railing
Shop Feeney CableRail

Best Full Cable Railing Systems, Including Posts And Rails

If you don't have existing posts or rails to work around, don't worry: there are tons of amazing cable rail systems that include vertical posts, horizontal rails, and all the components you need to mount cables between them.

Here are our favorite cable railings in a variety of categories:

Best Cable Railing System To Open Up Your View

Without a bottom rail, Key-Link Horizontal Cable Railing makes for the best deck view

All cable railing is designed to open up your deck view, but some do an especially good job at it. One major key is finding a system without a bottom rail. As you can see above, the railing shown (Key-Link Horizontal Cable) only features a metal rail on the top, leaving the bottom of the railing open for maximum view.

Key-Link Horizontal Cable Railing

Key-Link's well-designed cable railing system in black

Key-Link is known for high-quality craftsmanship, and their horizontal railing system is truly a work of art. Key-Link Horizontal Cable Railing manages to remove the bottom rail without compromising strength and safety - and the result is a wide-open view from your deck.

Key-Link offers a wide range of railings using their distinctive American Series top rail, which you can see below. The rails (and posts) are intricately detailed and look amazing in any setting. But they're completely in their element in the modern look that cable railing delivers.

The carefully-crafted rail and post design of Key-Link railing
Shop Key-Link Horizontal Cable

Best Cable Railing System With A Drink Rail

Having a flat surface on top of your deck railing is an amazing choice for both style and functionality. Often called a drink rail or a cocktail rail, this flat surface acts as a built-in table to rest coffee mugs, wine-glasses, or even plants or decor.

AFCO Flat Top Cable Railing

AFCO Flat Top Cable Railing with a drink rail

If you're looking for a cable railing system with a drink rail, AFCO's Flat Top Cable Railing is the way to go. The AFCO Flat Top system is beautifully designed to mount the deck board of your choice on top - that allows you to tie your decking and railing together for a cohesive style.

AFCO's aluminum rails are high-quality and well-designed. You can choose to mount the flat top railing alone, if you don't want to mount a board on top. You can see the Flat Top railing profile below.

AFCO's flat-top railing option
Shop AFCO Flat Top Cable

Most Customizable Cable Railing

Every deck is different - and based on the unique features of your deck and home, you may want a cable railing that's easy to customize.

For a completely customizable cable railing, we'll again turn to Feeney, the proven giant among cable railing manufacturers.

Feeney Custom DesignRail

A deck with the unique colors of Feeney Custom DesignRail

Feeney's Custom DesignRail program comes with an incredible range of options to make your space your own. With Feeney Custom DesignRail, you can adjust all of these aspects of your railing to perfectly suit your vision:

  • 6 top rail options
  • 15 different color options
  • 3 wood grain top rail options
  • 3 railing heights
  • Multiple mounting options including fascia-mounting

In the picture above, the distinctive steel blue of the custom railing draws out the cool hues of the house itself, while the wood-grain top rail calls back to the wood siding.

With Feeney Custom DesignRail, you can also mix and match infill, or what fits between your posts and rails. That means a choice between horizontal and vertical cable, with the chance to add unique intermediate rails for extra flair.

Shop Feeney Custom DesignRail

Best DIY Cable Railing System

If you're looking to save money on labor by installing cable railing yourself, you'll want a simpler system designed for DIY installation.

In general, the best cable railings for DIY installation will be vertical cable systems - they often come with cables already installed and save you the time in running cables through posts.

FortressCable V-Series Railing

A deck with FortressCable V-Series vertical cable railing

In our experience, the easiest cable railing to install is Fortress's V-Series vertical cable rail.

FortressCable V-Series comes with vertical cables already attached to both rails - all you have to do is cut each panel down to size and attach it to the post brackets.

Fortress is known throughout the railing industry for superior strength, and this system comes in sturdy steel. The strength of steel allows for longer railing sections between posts - that means fewer panels to install, and fewer posts breaking up your deck view.

Shop Fortress V-Series

Best Cable Railing For Traditional Styling

Cable railing is a decidedly modern look - but pairing that style with a traditional top rail can give your deck space an unforgettably timeless look.

AFCO Pro Horizontal Cable Railing

AFCO's traditional-style top rail combines with modern cable for a distinctly timeless look

In addition to its flat top rail option, AFCO also makes cable railing with its gorgeous traditional top rail, known as AFCO Pro.

AFCO Pro is rounded off at the top in what's known as a "breadloaf" style. That makes it easy to grasp as you're walking along your deck's railing. It also delivers a beautifully traditional style that looks natural and welcoming.

You can see the AFCO Pro top rail below:

AFCO's traditional-looking Pro top rail
Shop AFCO Pro Cable

Best Cable Railing System To Save Deck Space

If you're looking to maximize the space on your deck, fascia-mounting your railing can be a great option. With a fascia mount, your deck posts attach to the outside of your deck, rather than directly on the surface.

Fascia-Mounted Feeney Custom DesignRail

A Feeney Custom DesignRail railing fascia-mounted to maximize deck space

Feeney's Custom DesignRail includes a fascia-mount option, as shown above. Mounting the posts to your deck fascia (the boards around the edges of your deck frame) means you get to enjoy every single inch of your deck's surface.

Because Feeney is such a trusted leader in the cable railing industry, their fascia-mount options are safe, sturdy, and totally reliable - plus, they look amazing.

Shop Feeney Custom DesignRail

Fascia-Mounted FortressCable H-Series Railing

Fortress's H-Series cable railing also features a fascia-mount option. The strength of Fortress steel once again means you can mount longer railing panels to keep your view unobstructed by thicker railing posts.

Shop Fortress H-Series

Safest Cable Railing For Homes With Small Children

For parents (or grandparents) of small children, safety is always a consideration. While horizontal cable railings are still completely safe and building-code compliant, some parents want to avoid the possibility of a child standing on or climbing horizontal cable runs.

If your deck will be a play space for young kids, vertical cable railing might be a great option - it'll keep you from having to re-tension the lower cable runs if children stand on them.

Key-Link Vertical Cable Railing

The ornate top rail of Key-Link Vertical Cable Railing

Key-Link's Vertical Cable Railing is a great vertical option. As you can see above, it features that same intricately-detailed American Series top rail that delivers an amazing modern look.

Shop Key-Link Vertical

Other Settings Where Vertical Cable Railing Is A Great Choice

Key-Link Vertical Cable Railing

Stylistically, there are a few other reasons we'll recommend vertical railing to our customers. If you have lots of trees in your yard, the vertical railing can look great, tying the vertical lines of your deck to the vertical trunks of trees.

Vertical cable railing will also look great on homes with distinctive vertical lines or vertical siding.

Shop Vertical Cable Railing

DecksDirect: Your Cable Railing Guide

When it comes to cable railing, it's always good to have a knowledgeable guide. At DecksDirect, we help thousands of people just like you plan their deck railing projects each year. We work with a huge range of cable railing systems, and we understand the parts and installation processes for all of them.

If you want help making sure you get every piece you need to complete your cable railing system, give our team a call at 1-888-824-5316. We can help you build a package with every part you need - we might even be able to save you from over-buying on cable by helping plan your railing in the most efficient way possible.

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A Key-Link cable railing setup makes a deck feel expansive and improves the deck view

Learn more about the basics of deck framing and building in our Deck Framing Guide and learn deck parts and terminology in the DecksDirect Glossary of Deck Terms and Lingo.

Browse more deck design and railing style notes to upgrade your backyard space and deck in the DecksDirect Railing Style Guide: the quickest way to learn if your home is more suited for a classic aluminum deck railing or a showstopping cable rail setup.

The more you know, the better your deck and backyard projects will be! Whether you're looking at a brand new project, a deck update, or a style refresh, give our deck project planners a call at 1-888-824-5316 or send us an email at hello@decksdirect.com. Our experienced team will help you get the information, products, and tools you need for an awesome deck completely personalized to your needs!