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Homa Alemzadeh
Homa Alemzadeh Assistant Professor at University of Virginia
7mo Charlottesville, Virginia, USA Story
How to Get Creative with Galvanized Rope

Galvanized rope is an incredibly versatile material that is widely used in commercial operations. It can also be harnessed effectively to create compelling projects at home. Here are a few helpful tips to inspire you to use galvanized rope in your next crafting endeavour, whether you want to construct an indoor diorama or an outdoor display.

A coil of high quality galvanized rope, ready for use.

Step 1: Choose the Rope

If you have never worked with galvanized rope before, you might not realise how many different types of products there are within this broad category. This can make choosing the right rope slightly intimidating.

The first thing to consider is the rope’s construction; most will consist of bundles of galvanized steel wire arranged in different configurations. The layout of the bundles and the number of wires they contain will impact the properties of the finished product.

1x19 construction rope, for example, is very strong but not especially flexible. This means it is good for bearing heavy weights, but will be less useful for decorative purposes. 6x36 construction rope, on the other hand, is much more malleable and easy to work with, while being less able to handle hefty loads. The type of core will also play a part; steel wire cores are sturdier but less adaptable, while fibre cores deliver flexibility at the cost of durability.

The next consideration is the diameter of rope you require. The thicker the rope, the higher its load capacity will be. If you are interested in the aesthetics of the rope, then opting for slender products which are also more malleable will make sense. It all depends on the type of project you are hoping to complete.

The load capacity of wire rope is an important factor for safety.

Step 2: Pick a Practical Project

This is the fun part, where you get to decide how you want to use galvanized steel rope. There are a huge number of potential DIY projects that can be tackled effectively with this material, so let us take a look at one common example – an outdoor hanging garden chair.

A hanging chair can be supported effectively by galvanized rope.

A chair which needs to support the weight of one person, or a bench that has room for two or more onboard, will easily be able to achieve this when matched with the right type of wire rope. Galvanized rope offers excellent weather resistance, so it will also be a good choice from the point of view of durability as well.

You will typically need to buy four lengths of rope, one for each corner of the chair. You will also need suitable anchor points and end terminals so that everything can be hooked up. Eye bolts are great for permanent fixtures, while snap hooks give you a bit more flexibility, allowing you to take the chair down and move it when it is not in use, perhaps over the winter months.

 Getting the length of each rope is obviously important, so be prepared to keep your tape measure close to hand whatever project you decide to pursue. You can even use galvanized rope to replace a chain that holds a hanging chair, which is worth doing if you are tired of having to deal with pinched skin that gets caught between the links during use.

Galvanized rope is excellent when used for lots of other practical projects around the home, whether to support a bunk bed in a room with limited floor space, or to suspend shelves from the ceiling and create a dazzling display for your books or Blu Ray collection in the living room. After your first use, you might find yourself coming back to it time and again.

Step 3: Consider a Creative Alternative

Using galvanized rope as a support for seating is all well and good, but what if you would rather harness this material for something a little more adventurous and interesting? There are a lot of potential options to consider if creativity is more important than practicality.

By using the thinnest, most flexible rope it is possible to construct unique chandeliers, wreaths and other decorative items that will be sure to impress guests. This can be particularly impactful if you want to make something seasonally appropriate, whether for Halloween, Christmas or Easter.

Create incredible bespoke chandeliers with galvanized rope.

You could even take the popular route of adopting wire rope balustrades on a stairway or balcony, replacing wooden banisters with something a little more modern and eye-catching. It will quickly become clear why so many architects and interior designers turn to galvanized rope when they want to impress their clients. By investing it for your next project, you could get the same benefits without the steep cost.

If you do not have a fixed idea about what to use galvanized rope to achieve, then it is an inexpensive crafting item to acquire and can be kept coiled up until you finally settle on an appropriate use. From hand-decorated hanging mobiles to stylish sculptures, the potential for creativity using this material is immense and the only limit is your imagination.

Step 4: Contact a Supplier

There are lots of places to get galvanized wire rope and you may be tempted to head straight for your nearest hardware store. However, depending on the scale of your project and the kinds of fittings you need, you may be better off going direct to a commercial supplier.

Plenty of firms that usually provide rope for business use will also be happy to help consumers out with rope for their home crafting and DIY schemes. Choosing a commercial supplier has the added benefit of allowing you to specify the attachments you require and have them fitted on rope that is cut to the correct lengths, which takes a lot of hassle out of the installation process.

Get wire rope fittings added by the supplier to make life easier.

The next perk of contacting a supplier to provide you with rope is that you will be able to ask an expert for advice on which construction and diameter is best for your purposes. All of the product specifications should be provided, but if you are not experienced with the use of this material then it is always sensible to get a bit of help from a professional.

Step 5: Install your Rope

In order to make sure that you use galvanized rope safely and effectively, you need to affix it to a suitably secure structure. If this is an overhead beam or other internal surface, it is worth checking to see whether it will support the weight you intend to apply to it. The same is true even if you are attaching the assembly to something like a tree branch or another exterior feature.

Another important consideration when using wire rope is the type of clothing to wear. If the rope has already been cut to length and endowed with end terminals and attachments, this may be less of an issue. If the ends of the rope are bare, then wearing working gloves to keep your hands out of harm’s way is a good idea.

Always wear the right protective clothing when working with galvanized rope.

In terms of the tools you will need, you can expect this to vary according to the type of rope you choose and the fittings it features. A power drill may be helpful to have handy in order to make the holes for the anchor points. An adjustable wrench will also be effective in order to ensure that everything is tightened up adequately.

Step 5: Maintain your Rope

The purpose of picking galvanized rope over other non-treated types of wire rope is that it will be able to offer a better level of corrosion-resistance. When the rain falls and the wind blows, galvanization will make sure that rust does not develop.

Of course it is still important to keep an eye on the rope over time, especially if it is tasked with bearing any load. Look out for the early signs of corrosion taking hold and also remember to check the anchor points and fittings to see whether they are still holding firm, as this will help you avert danger before accidents have the opportunity to occur.

Lubricating the rope can extend its lifespan and prevent fatigue. There are lots of different products that serve this purpose, from wax-based lubricants sold in tins to oil-based lubricants which can be sprayed on from a pressurised can. Using a lubricant on galvanized rope is often worthwhile only in the case that it is being used outdoors. It may not be necessary for indoor craft projects.

Improve the lifespan of galvanized rope by maintaining it and inspecting it.

One way to lower the maintenance requirements and improve the usability of galvanized rope even further is to opt for a plastic coated exterior. This will not only rebuff the elements, but will protect people from injuring themselves when they touch the surface of the rope. Even if the entire rope remains in one piece, individual wires that make it up may snap due to wear and tear, meaning that a plastic coating could be a very useful barrier to have.

Good luck with your galvanized rope project and remember that the best results can often be achieved by thinking outside the box.

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Homa Alemzadeh
Assistant Professor at University of Virginia

Assistant Professor at University of Virginia

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