Raceway and Sleeving and Wire Loom ... Oh My!

By: CableOrganizer®

We're all pretty much in agreement about the benefits of cable management in general, right? Since you're visiting CableOrganizer®, chances are you have some understanding about the importance of taming cable clutter. And of course, given CableOrganizer® has tons of items devoted to wire management, it's no secret there's more than one way to organize cables.

However, when you look at some of our most popular cable management products, such as raceway, braided sleeving, and wire loom, they each might seem superficially similar. They are all conduits that allow bundles of cables and wires to pass neatly through them, rather than dragging on the ground, tangling behind your desk, or wrapping themselves around you as you sleep. But in what situations should you use each one? In some cases, they may be interchangeable but in others, one works better than the other. CableOrganizer® has compiled answers and suggestions for you below, as well as the nuances you may like to know about each, in deciding which product type may work best for your application:



Surface Raceway is — in short — a cable channel that travels at least some distance in a straight line. It is affixed to a surface by way of either screws or adhesives. Raceway may be enclosed, with a latching or sliding top. It may also be a “J Channel” style, with an opening that allows for easy installation of — and access to — wires.

Raceway is usually plastic, but can sometimes be metal. It's available in many styles and sizes, but is typically a straight, rigid and inflexible conduit. If you want your cable bundle to split up or change direction, there are accessories available, such as T-junctions and elbow corners. The raceway is usually affixed to a flat surface, such as walls, floors, desks, or furniture. There is even a quarter-round variety that runs discreetly in the space where the wall meets the floor.

When is raceway the right choice? Well, since it needs a surface to be affixed to, it's excellent for hiding speaker wire or other wall-crawling cables in your home theater or office. J Channels are great for keeping desk cables elevated and off the ground as well. The plastic construction and rigid nature of most raceways also means it can be painted to discreetly match your surrounding décor. Cable raceway can additionally be easily cut to size to meet your specific needs. The enclosed nature of latching or sliding top raceway provides protection for cables from minor abrasions or liquid spills, which is typically enough for any normal indoor home or office setting.

The Bottom Line: raceway is great for aesthetically hiding cables on a flat surface, in non-extreme environments, in home, commercial, or industrial applications, where a semi-rigid or rigid channel is necessary to route and protect cables and wires along walls, floors, or ceilings.


braided sleeving

Cables don't wear clothes, so cable sleeving isn't something you'd find on a sweater knitted for your wires. Yet, it does outfit wires with its construction of woven or “braided” fibers (with this product also called “braided sleeving”) that surround a cable (or a bundle of cables) to protect them. Unlike raceway, which is rigid, sleeving is designed to conform to the shape and path of the cable. It's flexible, and often expandable due to the woven nature of its construction. It's also made from a wide variety of materials: Kevlar, stainless steel, nylon, fiberglass, and more.

There are two main methods of installation, depending on the type. Split sleeving (also known as side-entry or wrap-around) features a slit up the side of the sleeve that allows cables to be applied or removed at any point in the run. They can sometimes feature button, hook-and-loop, or zipper closures. For long runs, you can use the split harness wrap tool from Techflex®, which pushes wires effortlessly into the split sleeve. The other type is solid, non-slit standard sleeving, in which cables must be fed through the entire length of the sleeve. Sleeving is best cut with a hot knife, which cauterizes the ends to prevent fraying of the fibers.

The materials used in the construction of various types of sleeving means there's lots of versatility in the applications it's suited for. PET (Polyethylene Terephthalate) sleeving like Flexo® Wrap is a great general purpose option, but specialty sleeves exist that are specifically designed to be resistant to heat, abrasion, chemicals, vibration, and many other extreme or harsh conditions.

When Should You Use Sleeving? Sleeving is excellent for industrial applications, including manufacturing, automotive, military and even aerospace. General purpose, aesthetic sleeves are available, but specialized options make it ideal for challenging environments. Overall, it works for a wide range of applications for cable management, to protect cables from abrasion, dust, chemicals, moisture, and impacts.


wire loom

Wire loom is, in many ways, like braided sleeving. It's a tube-like structure to house cables or cable bundles, that can be split/side entry or non-split/solid, just like sleeving. However, somewhat paradoxically, wire loom is often corrugated in texture, rather than woven, despite having “loom” right there in the name. It's usually composed of plastics such as PET, polypropylene (PP), or nylon, though some varieties may be composed of fiberglass, or feature a metallic coating.

Wire loom, like raceway, can be used in conjunction with accessories such as T-connectors, fittings and locking clamps (to keep loom in place in heavy vibration areas). There are also tools to aid in the tedious process of installation. Since it's corrugated, not braided, it can usually be cut to size with a normal blade without fear of fraying.

What if you have some wires to protect and bundle, and you need them to remain flexible? Should you go with wire loom or braided sleeving? Well, your choice may depend on your own preference. Sleeving tends to be more aesthetically pleasing. It can also fit into tighter spaces, since it can expand and contract to conform better to the shape of cable bundles. But, when made of comparable material, wire loom may provide more solid protection in some cases. Both products are often used for similar applications, encompassing everything from general purpose cable management in home or office settings, to automotive and marine applications. However, wire loom has a more limited range of material options, typically plastics or fiberglass, while sleeving can be found composed of everything from nylon to carbon fiber (and everything in between).

When Should You Use Wire Loom? Wire loom may be ideal for automotive wiring, home installations, or applications where coverage is needed that provides easy installation, flexibility, and protection against abrasion and moisture.

And there you have it. Choosing a cable management solution involves taking a lot of factors into consideration, including application, budget, and aesthetics. Hopefully now you have a little more insight into which option is right for you!

Explore more raceway, braided sleeving, and wire loom, including these below:

Related Items