Rope railings can add a contemporary, country or upscale look to your home, depending on whether the railings use wire or cloth rope and how they are used. Before installing any rope railings, check your local building codes to ensure your railings meet the approved safety standards, which will include the pounds of pressure the rope must withstand, as well as railing spacing.
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Outdoor rope railings increase safety on your deck or porch, and wire rope can increase the beauty as well. Also called aircraft cable, wire rope is extremely strong and safe when attached properly to a sturdy post. Create a contemporary look by attaching your wire rope to high-gloss cedar fence posts. The cedar adds a natural look that blends with many home and landscaping styles, while the high gloss ties in with the muted sheen of the metal on your wire rope. The horizontal wire rope railings between the posts do not obstruct the view as much as wood railings do, so the wire rope and cedar post combination is particularly beneficial to homes that look out over appealing views.
Indoor rope railings offer more options because your rope and posts do not have to be weather-resistant. However, they still need to be sturdy and preferably attractive. If you are using fabric rope, note that it is especially important to check your local building codes to find out if the rope you are using is safe and legal. Choose simple wood posts that are bold, geometric shapes, such as square, round or hexagonal. Too much detail on the posts will clash with the simplicity of the rope look. If your decor is country style, choose square or rectangle posts of aged wood. As long as it's solid and sturdy, you can enhance the look with a real or faux worm-eaten finish. If you are looking to create a ship-style atmosphere, use round or hexagonal posts of highly polished wood with a medium-dark stain, contrasting with light-colored rope.
If your railing is merely decorative, such as the classic velvet rope used at floor level in nightclubs and retail outlets, you do not need to worry about building codes and impact pressure for your ropes and railings. In this case, your posts will be self-supporting stanchions you can move about your home or garden area as needed. For outdoor decorative posts, fill a square shoebox (such as the style boots come in) with wet concrete and sink the end of a 3-or-4-inch-diameter bamboo pole into the wet concrete and allow it to dry. You can tie the rope around the upper part of the bamboo pole or drill a hole through the bamboo and pass the rope through, securing it with a knot. For indoor decorative rope rail stanchions, use 1 1/2-inch-diameter hard copper pipe from your local home improvement store's plumbing department. The store should also sell end caps for the top of the post and flanges that will allow you to attach the post to a solid wood base, which you can stain the color of your choice. Drill through the upper end of the copper pipe and place eye bolts through it to give your rope a place to attach.