Stay Wire:Meaning, Applicaion, and More

Stay wire is a sturdy metal cable that improves structural stability and safety in power distribution, telecommunications, and construction. Its primary function is to provide tension, keeping or “staying” vertical structures upright under mechanical load, which is how the name comes. Have you ever wondered how these seemingly slender cables hold up massive structures? Join us as we delve into the basics of stay wires, covering their definition, types, applications, and the process for installation.

What is stay wire?

Stay wire is a type of guy wire, meaning galvanized steel wire strands that provide additional support for freestanding structures to prevent them from collapsing under weight or external forces (high wind and seismic). It has one end anchored to the ground or lower part of the structure (typically metal stake) and the other end anchored to the structure’s high point, forming a diagonal support line. Such diagonal support is integral for the service life and stability of towers, poles, masts, etc, subject to constant stress.

stay wire

Guy wire is a fundamental component in engineering and construction and is typically made from high-strength steel (or stainless steel). The primary manufacturing process is cold-drawn steel into wires and coated with zinc before stranding to resist corrosion. Typically stay wire sizes are stay wire 7/8 swg, 7/10, and 7/12 (7 stranded wires, each of which is 12 gauge in SWG). While often applied to vertical components, stay cables can sometimes employed in horizontal members like trusses and beams.

After the guy wire definition, we’ll examine the components that makeup stay cable.


Components of Stay Wire.

Unlike standard cables, which are mainly composed of insulation and sheath, stay cables require multiple components for fixing and tensioning, the main components are:

  • Prestressing steel: The main material used for stay cable, which has high tensile strength and will not break even under severe tension.
  • Forged steel: Commonly used for anchoring with high strength, toughness, and wear resistance.
  • Zinc or other anti-corrosion coatings: Can be found on pre-stressed steel. The protective coating prevents corrosion and extends the service life of stay cables under various environments.
  • Wax: A filler material used to protect strands and anchors from moisture and other potential external factors.
  • Polyethylene Sheathing: Applied to prestressing strands to provide a durable and resistant barrier against physical damage, further extending the prestressing strand’s service life.
  • Guide Deflector or Damping Device: Made of rubber or polychloroprene, used to reduce vibration or dynamic response that may cause wire wear.

In addition to the main components, stay wires also equipped with other components:

  • Guy Clamp or Clip: For tightening fittings.
  • Turnbuckles: Allow for the adjustment of the wire’s tension. The fitting has screw mechanism that can be tightened or loosened to increase or decrease the tension on wire stay.
  • Thimbles: Protect the wire from wear at connection points.
  • Strain Insulators: In cases where stay wires are used near electrical installations (utility pole and static wire transmission line), insulators should be used in conjunction to prevent electrical conduction, and it’s normally near the top.


Together, these components form a comprehensive system that enables stay wires can effectively support structures against forces. Following the basic components of stay wire are their types and applications.


Different Types of Stay Wire and Their Uses.

The reason we are exploring guy wire types is to provide a solid foundation for informed purchasing decisions. While stay cables might seem like a single category at a glance, as their shared purpose is to provide support to structures, there are various stay cable types to suit different applications and can be categorized by function and material:

Function-based Types:

  • Static Stay Wires: Used for structures that don’t experience significant wind or seismic loads.
  • Dynamic Stay Wires: Designed for structures subject to significant wind or seismic forces.

Material Types:

  • Galvanized Steel Stay Wire: The zinc coating protects against moisture and rust and is the preferred choice for outdoor utility poles and towers.
  • Stainless Steel Stay Wire: Prized for durability and strength, such wire type is ideal for heavily salt-corroded coastal areas, high-end construction, and for areas where maintenance is challenging.
  • Copper or Aluminum Stay Wire: This type is not common due to the higher cost, but is still a viable option.

In addition to the above, depending on the specific application, there are upholstery stay wire, seat spring wire,  furniture spring, and stay tuff barbed wire. Each type of stay wire can provide the necessary tension, what’s essential is to choose the suitable stay wire based on the specific needs. In the following section, we will explore stay wired applications.


Where to use stay wire?

The demand for stay cables spans multiple industries, including power distribution, telecommunications, construction, and even marine, which reflects their versatility. Here, let’s take a closer look at how steel cables are widely used in different industries:

  1. Telecommunication.

Antenna masts and radio towers in telecommunication are vulnerable to the lateral pressures caused by high winds. Stay wires, when anchored at strategic points, provide a balancing force against the wind,  making the antennas remain in optimal orientation for uninterrupted communication services (broadcasting and cellular networks)and somewhat eliminate static electricity.

  1. Utility Poles.

Such transmission lines bear not only their weight but also additional loads from snow accumulation and mounted equipment, which exert a downward force that can cause supporting towers for electrical wires to buckle. Stay wire for electric pole introduce a tension that counteracts the compression forces on structures, thus reducing the risk of collapse.


  1. Bridge.

In suspension and cable-stayed bridges, stay wires are the key components that carry the deck load; they maintain the bridge’s shape by distributing deck weight to the tower and anchor points.

stay wire on cable-stayed bridge

  1. Sailing and Marine Applications.

Used in sailboat rigging and supporting masts, stay cables are typically positioned at the front (bow) and back (stern) to guarantee the mast remains vertical and resists the wind.

  1. Construction.

In instances where any heavy equipment (e,g scaffolding, and cranes) requires stabilization within utility installations or substantial construction sites, stay wires are put to use.

  1. Sports and Recreational Facilities,

Beyond industrial and construction applications, stay wires support sports and recreational facilities, including securing golf course fences, stabilizing stadium light towers, and supporting large event tents.

  1. Landscaping and Tree Support.

In landscaping, guy wires can support young or vulnerable trees against high winds or train trees and plants to grow in a certain direction.

  1. Wind Turbines

Within this, stay cables are used to stabilize the wind turbine tower and enable it to endure the significant forces generated by wind.

  1. Signage and Billboards

Large outdoor signs and billboards may use guy wires for additional support to preserve integrity in harsh weather.

In summary, stay wires are essential for structural stability and safety in numerous fields. From the poles that supply power to residential areas, to the antennas that facilitate global communications, to livestock fences, we can find them everywhere. With an understanding of the types and applications of wire stays, let’s look at what to consider when making a purchase.

How to choose the right stay wire for your project?

During the procurement process, selecting the appropriate stay cable is highly important for structure‘s overall stability and longevity. Proper wire stay could secure performance under extreme weather or heavy loads, whereas improperly selected stay wires can compromise the integrity of structure, potentially leading to collapse and injury. To help you choose the right one, we listed several factors that should be taken into consideration:


  1. Raw Material: Choosing galvanized wire is more economical, but it may be prone to corrosion. Alternatively, stainless steel wire, while more expensive, offers greater durability and corrosion resistance. It’s important to find a balance that meets both your budget and quality needs without compromising too much on either —opting for the cheapest stay wire price may not always be wise.
  2. Size: The wire’s thickness, or size, should match the weight you intend to support: heavier objects require thicker wires. Standard practice is to select a wire size that can handle 1.5 to 2.0 times greater than the maximum anticipated load.
  3. Coating Options: Galvanization is a standard method to shield steel wire from corrosion, and it is ideal for general outdoor uses. For settings with high corrosion risks, an additional layer of PVC or PE coating can be applied for enhanced protection.
  4. Length: The wire’s length depends on how far the anchor point is from the support structure. Select the wire with this distance in mind and allow some extra length for adjustment and tensioning.
  5. Check the Gradual Level of Coating Adhesion: High-quality guy wire has a uniform coating that adheres firmly to the metal surface to prevent flaking over time.
  6. Certifications: Look for products with quality certifications from recognized industry bodies, which can be an indicator of reliability and performance.

In short, the features of a good quality stay cable include the stranding pattern, tension design, and level of coating adherence. High-quality stay wires made of high-strength materials can last for many years to maintain infrastructure reliability. Additionally, it is important to consider the finishing of the wire and the environment in which the wire will be exposed. By carefully evaluating these factors, you can select a stay wire solution that is both technically compliant and cost-effective. In the end, let’s check how to install guy wire.


How to install a stay wire?

Installing guy wire can effectively offload some of the structure’s weight to the ground. The overall idea is to anchor one end of the cable to structure’s high point and the other end to the ground, but some technical details need to be taken care of, for instance, the job is done from the top of the pole coming down and not the other way round. Here’s a detailed guide on how to install a pole stay wire:

Step1. Attach the Wire to the Structure: Secure one end of the guy wire to the pole top with appropriate fittings (shackles, clamps, or eye bolts). Wind the wire several times to avoid unraveling. 6-8 times are recommended.

Step2. Lay Out the Wire Towards the Anchor Point: Extend the stay wire from the structure down to where the anchor will be installed, allowing for slight adjustments in length for tensioning. The Wire should be fixed at 45 degrees to the pole to improve efficiency.

Step3. Install the Anchor: Install the anchor at the predetermined location, considering the soil type and expected load. If there are multiple anchors, they should be placed 120 degrees apart around the pole to provide optimal support, preventing uneven stress and potential failure points. For concrete anchors, insert them into at least two feet deep holes and secure with concrete. When satisfied, cover the screw eyes with roof tar. (ps. It is generally recommended to drill the hole slightly deeper than the anchor will penetrate to allow space for dust created during installation and to prevent the anchor from bottoming out before full penetration into the concrete).

Step4. Attach the Wire to the Anchor: Once the anchor is securely in place, attach the bottom end of the guy wire with thimbles and clamps. Similarly, Winding the wire end approximately 6-8 times to secure the fastening is recommended.

Step5. Tension the Wire: Use a screwdriver to rotate your turnbuckles to adjust the tension until the desired support is achieved. The tensioning process is vital for structure stability and should be done with care to avoid over-tensioning and overrelaxation. Generally, a set of stay cables has three turnbuckles. Suppose your installation needs more than one set. In that case, different screw eyes should be used so that each set of stay ropes can be adjusted independently without affecting the others or overloading.

Step6. Final Adjustments and Inspection: Conduct a comprehensive inspection to confirm that all components are securely fastened.

Electrical mast guy wire installation is not complex, but the process can be more perfect when consulting with a professional. Proper installation techniques are necessary for the effectiveness and safety of stay cable system.

Bottom line.

All in all, stay wires are indispensable in maintaining the stability and integrity of structures. By selecting the appropriate type and correct installation, you can fully leverage their benefits for your projects. As public utilities grow,  so will stay wires continue to provide support and grounding solutions for a wide range of projects. For those seeking guidance or specialized stay wire solutions, expertise and comprehensive support are available from ZW Cable, a leading cable manufacturer.

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About Me
Richard Zi
Richard Zi

My name is Richard Zi, and serve as the General Manager of ZW Cable. With a deep and extensive background of more than 15 years in the cable industry, I am excited to share my wealth of knowledge and experience.ZW Cable is a renowned company in the field of cable manufacturing in world, we specialize in selecting the best cable sizes and effectively solving all your cable challenges. If you have any questions or needs regarding cable solutions, please contact me and I assure you of the highest standards of personalized and effective guidance and support.View All My Posts >>

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