Wire Balustrade FAQ: Post Distance, Wire Spacing, Regulations & More
Wire Balustrade FAQ: Post Distance, Wire Spacing, Regulations & More
All balustrades, whether they be wire, timber, steel or otherwise, need to adhere to the same Australian Building Standards (outlined in NCC 2019 BCA). However, when it comes to stainless steel wire balustrade specifically, it can be difficult to understand exactly how this translates to installation requirements such as post distance, wire spacing and wire tensioning. If you need a refresher on the building code as it pertains to staircases and decks, check out our article on Understanding Australian Handrail & Balustrade Standards before reading any further!
In this article, we’ll answer the most frequently asked questions about our wire balustrade systems, and how to install them in a safe, and compliant manner.
Disclaimer: The information in this article references the following building code: NCC 2019 BCA, however it is not a comprehensive overview of the code; therefore, we recommend that you consult your local council or a licensed builder before undertaking any work to ensure it is compliant with the current version of the building code.
Disclaimer: The information in this article applies only to Hammersmith products, and should not be used as a guide for other brands, fittings or products, as the same rules may not apply.
Frequently Asked Questions About Wire Balustrade
How Far Apart Should Posts Be for Wire Balustrade?
A good rule of thumb when it comes to the spacing of wire balustrade posts is between 1.2 and 1.5m. The exact distance between your posts will depend on the diameter and configuration of the wire being used. Generally speaking the thicker the strand of wire, the longer it can be spanned.
The two most commonly used wire diameters in Australia are 3.2mm wire, and 4mm wire. For 3.2 mm wire your intermediate posts should be spaced no more than 1.5m apart from each other. For 4mm wire your intermediate posts should be spaced no more than 1.8m apart from one another. These are the conditions that our wire fittings have been tested to, and we cannot guarantee that your balustrade will be compliant if these recommendations are not followed.
How Far Apart Should Wire Be Spaced For Wire Balustrading?
In order to ensure your balustrade meets Australian Building Standards, your wires should be spaced no more than 80mm apart. For a 960mm high post (which, once a handrail is added will meet the recommended height requirements), this means you will need 11 strands of wire per run.
Hammersmith’s range of pre-drilled stainless steel posts for wire balustrading meet these specifications. So, if you would prefer to purchase a prefabricated post, feel free to shop our range.
It’s important to remember that Australian building standards do not actually specify spacing for wire balustrade, but rather these are the conditions under which such balustrading meets the code. What is actually specified is that at no point in the balustrading should a 125mm be able to pass through an opening. Therefore, these are the conditions under which our wire balustrade kits have been tested.
What is The Maximum Run Span For Wire Balustrading?
The maximum run span for wire balustrading is dictated by which wire fittings are being used. For most fittings, this will be between 6 and 10 meters, when supported every 1.5m by an intermediate post.
If you are unsure of what the requirements for your particular system are, more information can be found on our wire balustrade systems page. All of Hammersmith’s kits and systems have been tested to meet Australian Building Standards.
What size wire should I use for Balustrading?
The most commonly used wire diameters for balustrading are 3.2mm and 4mm, although almost any size can be used provided it complies with Australian Building Code.
For a more detailed run down on what wire should be used for balustrade, read our article on what kind of wire is best for wire balustrading.
What is the difference between 1x19 and 7x7 wire cable?
In the past we've written an entire article on the difference between 1x19 and 7x7 wire cable configurations, but the short answer is it's flexibility!
7x7 wire cable is more flexible than its 1x19 counterpart and can therefore be used with balustrade kits that include ferrules and thimbles. It is however far duller and less visually appealing than a 1x19 cable, so we therefore only recommend using it where absolutely necessary.
Most modern balustrade systems do no need the wire to make tight turns or loops, so the 1x19 is used far more commonly.
Related reading: What kind of wire is best for wire balustrading
What Tools Do You Need To Install Wire Balustrade?
Installing wire balustrade is an incredibly easy, DIY friendly job that requires the use of only a few, inexpensive tools! Namely, you’ll need a swager (depending on the system, either a hand swager or a hydraulic swager), a pair of wire cutters and a tensioning spanner.
For more information on these tools, plus a list of additional tools that might be needed depending on your specific set of circumstances, see our article on The 5 Tools You Need To Install Wire Balustrade.
Please note that these are just the basic tools that are required for installing wire balustrade. Depending on your specific project, you may also need other tools such as a level, a tape measure, rivet nut inserter, pop rivet gun, electric drill etc.
How Much Should I Tension My Wires For Balustrading?
When installing any kind of balustrade or handrail, it’s important to ensure that it meets Australian Building Standards (you can find our guide here). When it comes to wire balustrade specifically, however, you also need to ensure that it is tensioned to the correct level.
Below we have outlined the standards for 3.2mm wire balustrade, spaced 80mm apart, with 1.5m intermediate posts as this is our recommended installation setup. For those interested in alternate configurations, the full table can be found here.
Wire Configuration / Lay
Minimum Tension In Newtons (N)
1 x 19
7 x 7
You can check the tension of your wire balustrade by using a wire tension gauge which can be purchased through our online store, or in person over the counter.
Which Kit Is Best For Wire Balustrading?
Deciding which wire balustrade kit to install in your home or on your next project comes down to a few different factors. The first of which being the material of your posts, as not all systems are compatible with both metal and timber posts. The second would be whether you are looking to install angled or horizontal balustrade, as again, not all systems are compatible with both.
If you are looking for a more in depth breakdown of how to choose the right system for your particular job, you can find more information in our article: How To Pick The Right Wire Balustrade Kit For Your Project.
At the end of the day, many of our kits will achieve similar results, but are visually different from one another. Therefore, it ultimately boils down to personal preference!
While wire balustrade is an extremely simple and achievable DIY project, installing it correctly and to Australian Building Code is extremely important if you want to achieve compliance. While we hope this article has helped answer any burning questions you might have had, we’re more than happy to answer any additional ones over the phone or via email.
Please also note that all advice given in this article applies to Hammersmith wire balustrade systems only, and may vary if your wire systems have been purchased from a different shop or supplier. We also always recommend consulting a building inspector or contractor before undertaking any renovation or extensive building work.