The Different Types of Structural Steel and Their Uses in Construction

Parallel Flange Channels

These channelled beams are U-shaped with right-angled corners – a bit like a stick of staples. They come in many different sizes; however, the two sides are always the same length and are parallel to each other. They also offer a significantly high strength-to-weight ratio and have similar uses to angled sections.

Tapered Flange Beams

Taper flange beams are I-shaped sections and are also available in a wide variety of sizes. In construction, these are often used for cross-sections of girders. Though they have reasonably high resistance ratios, they are not usually recommended when pressure is present along their length, as they aren’t torsion (twisting) resistant.

Universal Beam

Universal beams, also known ad I-beams or H-beams, are shaped like their namesake: an ‘I’ when standing upright, and an ‘H’ on their side. Universal beams are usually made of structural steel and are used in construction and civil engineering, among other industries.

Universal Column

Universal beams are also widely used for structural purposes. They are similar to beams and are often called I-beams or H-beams; however, all three sections are equal in length. As their name suggests, they are mainly used for columns and have fantastic load-bearing capabilities.

Angled Sections

Angled structural steel sections can either be equal or unequal. Both are right-angled; however, unequal sections have different sized axis’, making them L-shaped. This kind of section is much stronger (up to 20%) with a much higher strength to weight ratios. Angled sections are used in residential construction, infrastructure, mining and transport. They are also available in a wide range of lengths and sizes.

Circular Hollow Sections

Circular Hollow Sections have hollow tubular cross sections and have a much higher resistance to torsion that tapered flange beams. The thickness of the walls is uniform around the entire circle which makes this beam great for use with multi-axis loading applications.

Rectangular Hollow Sections

These are similar to circular hollow sections; however, they have rectangular cross-sections. They are very popular in many mechanical and construction steel applications. Their flat surfaces make them prime for use in joining and metal fabrication.

Square Hollow Sections

Like their hollow section brothers but with square cross-sections, these are used in smaller applications such as columns or posts. However, they are unsuitable for beams as their shapes are inherently difficult to bolt into other shapes. They are also known as ‘box sections’.

Flat Sections

Why Fabricate Structural Steel?

There are many benefits to incorporating structural steel in construction and other projects, but the products themselves can be complex and demand experienced structural steel fabrication teams to be successful. We always recommend using an experienced steel detailing company.


Compared to other metal options, steel is stronger and cheaper. It offers more value in the range of fabrication industries where it is a staple.

Prefabrication Ability

In the construction and other industries, structural steel usually arrives in the pre-fabrication phase and is fabricated on-site. Pre-fabrications reduces how much work needs to be done on-site, fast-tracking projects.

Low Maintenance

Materials other than steel tend to be higher maintenance. For example, wood is vulnerable to bugs and can break down during corrosive weather conditions. Steel, meanwhile, is easily repaired and lasts a long time.


Put simply, steel looks great and can enhance the appearance of different projects regardless of the look required.


Steel is environmentally friendly because it can be endlessly reused and recycled. It also requires less energy to produce and generates less carbon dioxide.


Structural steel is very strong and weighs up to a third less than comparable metals.


Structural steel is malleable and can be customized to meet project specifications, especially with experienced welders and fabricators. Because structural steel is an alloy, its physical and mechanical properties can be adapted as needed.

Cutting is the first part of structural steel fabrication. High-grade steel needs to be cut by cropping or sawing using different tools like laser cutters, plasma torches, or water jets etc. This is usually done in a closed manufacturing factory and some safety measures are needed to be taken for this process. The methods typically employed are sawing (cold sawing or band sawing), burning and shearing. Shearing generally is limited to miscellaneous structural steel parts. It is not used on larger structural elements, because the force required and the resulting cut quality limit economic and practical feasibility.

Bending comes next. The bending of the structural alloy for which there is specialized machinery; there are still many fabricators who prefer to do it manually by hammering the alloy as well. It also depends on the type of project as, if there is a requirement of a repetitive bending of multiple steels, then using machinery will be much more feasible. ! There are five typical methods of bending in the industry: rolling, incremental bending, hot bending, rotary-draw bending, and induction bending. Each method has its advantages. The principal advantage of curved structural steel is its aesthetic appeal. It allows architects and designers to express a variety of forms and makes exposed steelwork an attractive solution.

Structural Steel Fabrication Average Cost

The expense mainly depend on the steel and the weight of the steel to be fabricated.

The prices for a metric ton of steel go from $549 to $726, according to Steel Benchmarker. They list steel prices from major suppliers in USA, China, and Europe.

This then equates to the average cost of structural steel per pound as ranging between $0.25 and $0.33.

For a metric ton of fabricated structural steel, average prices typically start out at around $1,000 and could potentially go as high as several thousand dollars.