Things to Know About Structural Steel Shapes And Dimensions

March 18, 2021


A close-up of a steel bridge Description automatically generated with low confidence

The application of steel for load-bearing structures in construction is from a relatively recent age. The first steel constructions are slightly older than 200 years. Steel structures are characterized by specific properties and obvious advantages over other structural materials, so they are widely used in all types of buildings: industrial halls, multi-storey buildings, showrooms, and sports halls, hangars, bridges, tanks, silos, antennas, and transmission line towers, storage tanks, chimneys, offshore platforms, and other specific facilities. When steel is purchased for construction projects, managers opt for a cut to any size steel as it helps to meet their project completion deadline. Moreover, when you buy cut-to-size sheet metal, you don't have to worry about waste.

What are the benefits of steel structures?

Steel as a structural material has a number of positive properties: high mechanical properties,

small size and weight of structural elements, industrial production, easy handling, transport and installation, relatively simple way of use for foundations, favorable seismic behavior, flexibility and adaptability, possibility for dismantling and relocation and many others.

How to obtain different steel shapes?

Almost 90% of steel products are obtained by rolling. Rolling can be hot or cold. The hot rolling procedure is most often applied in the process of production of steel products that find further application in the manufacture of load-bearing structures. In the process of hot rolling, the basic steel products (ingots) are heated to 1200-1300°C (rolling temperature), whereby the steel is brought to a favorable condition for rolling.

The rolling process usually consists of two stages. In the first phase they are rolled, ie semi-finished products are obtained, which in the second phase of rolling are shaped into final products. In the process of hot rolling, the heated element is passed through a series of rollers (up to 70) that rotate in the opposite direction. The finished products in the rolling mills are: sheets, profiles, pipes, etc. Click here for more information.

Hot rolled products

Hot rolled products are most common in steel load-bearing structures. They can be grouped into four basic product types: rods, sheets, profiled girders and hollow profiles.

Steel rods

Steel rods are produced in the form of: flat iron (steel), wide (universal) flat iron, angles, T and Z profiles, small I and U profiles (up to 80 mm), round, square and hexagonal iron (steel). Flat steel is rolled to a thickness of 5 to 60 mm and a width of 10 to 150 mm with a normal length of 3 to 15 m. It is most often used for making lamellas in welded “I” girders.

Round steel is rolled in diameter from 10 to 500 mm. The same dimensions apply to square and hexagonal steel. Steel angles are obtained by rolling through calibrated rollers. The arms are at right angles and can be the same or different dimensions. Each type of angle is made in several thicknesses of the arms. For different sections and dimensions you can find out more on this page.

Steel sheets

Depending on the thickness, the sheets can be: fine sheets up to 3 mm thickness, medium sheets with a thickness of 3 to 4.75 mm and thick sheets over 4.75 mm thickness. Regarding the surface treatment, they can be: flat, ribbed and perforated. Sheet metal with a thickness of 5 to 50 mm is most often used in steel constructions. Flat sheets are used in the manufacture of welded steel profiles and other elements of welded steel structures.


Profiled girders

Profiled girders are rolled in two basic shapes: “I” profiles and “U” profiles. “I” profiles are basic elements in the manufacture of steel beams and columns. The nomenclature of these profiles is clearly shown in the appropriate tables with all of the characteristic dimensions.

For example, IPE 100 means that the height of the profile is 100 mm and all the necessary data such as the width of the flange, the thickness of the rib and the flange and the nominal weight expressed in kg/m is also given. You can check structural steel shapes and dimensions to find out more.

Cold shaped products

Cold rolling produces thin sheets with significantly increased mechanical properties. These products are in the form of: flat sheets and strips, profiled sheets, open (L, U, C shapes) and closed (square and rectangular) profiles.

Profiled sheets are obtained from thin flat sheets (0.5 to 1.2 mm) by passing them through calibrated rollers in the cold state. They are used as facade and roof coverings of buildings. Cold shaped profiles allow to achieve a wide range of shapes and dimensions and they are widely used in shaping steel structures.


I believe in making the impossible possible because there’s no fun in giving up. Travel, design, fashion and current trends in the field of industrial construction are topics that I enjoy writing about.

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