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Types of Structural Steel

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  • Posted date:
  • 10-08-2021
Types of Structural Steel

What Are The Types of Structural Steel Used in Construction?

What are the types of structural steel used in construction? Find out more about the various types of structural steel beams, RSJ beams and flanges.

Structural Steel in Construction

Today, steel has become the most popular building material in the world. Compared to its counterparts, mainly wood and reinforced concrete, it boasts several unique and valuable advantages regarding its application when it comes to construction. Its high tensile strength, durability, and reuse ability make it an ideal material to build with.

Modern steel buildings are often constructed using steel frames, such as single slope, modular or clear span frames. The ease with which these frames can be constructed, and therefore the building, makes steel one of the best and most versatile construction materials. 

Innovations in standard structural steel shapes have made them all the more popular with architects, designers and contractors alike. It is incredibly strong and durable and comes in various shapes for different components. It is also surprisingly light when transported or lifted. Ultimately, all of this serves to cut construction times when using structural steel shapes. 

With all these various benefits and advantages in mind, it may be helpful to take a closer look at the common types of steel available on the market. This article will take you through these different types of steel and components so you may better understand and appreciate just how useful a material it really is. 

Structural Steel

It is maybe important to first explain what structural steel is and how it is formed. However, structural steel is known to differ depending on where it is made, given that different countries have different specifications and production standards. For example, European structural steel conforms to Euronorm 19-57. In contrast, US steel comes with various alloying elements, chemical compositions and forms, such as stainless steel, low alloy steel, quenched steel, plain carbon steel etc.  

The components made from structural steel broadly conform to similar standard shapes. They have precise cross-sections, whether in the shape of an "I" or "H" or "C" and many others. Across the board, they all have similar advantages, such as strength, versatility and durability. It is, therefore, easy to see why it can be formed into such a variety of shapes. 

These pre-formed shapes also mean that structural steel can be placed into the structure you are building as soon as it reaches your construction site. Whatever the project, structural steel components are fabricated to purpose and are ready to go as soon as you receive them. 

How do you design a steel structure?

Structural steel provides resistance to many things that plague other building materials. While it has a higher resistance to fire, your architect or designer should still take fire-prevention measures to ensure the steel is not exposed to excessive heat. Steel is also naturally corrosion-resistant, but preservative steps still need to be taken.

There are many famous examples of the popularity of structural steel, whether carbon steel, rebar steel, or any other form of construction steel. Some of the most notable include the Sydney Harbour Bridge and the Empire State Building. The eco-friendly nature and recyclable nature of structural steel is also a great selling point and cause for its popularity. 

Parallel Flange Channels 

How do you design a steel structure?


These beams are "U" or "C" shaped when viewed from one end, with the two legs of the channel running parallel to one another and being of an equal height. They can be produced to various lengths and mass per metre measurements, offering high strength-to-weight ratios and have similar construction applications to RSAs.  

Tapered Flange Beams 

As the name suggests, tapered flange beams have flanges that are thinner towards the ends and are formed into an "H" or "I" shape. You can purchase them in a wide range of sizes depending on your needs. They have a very particular resistance level, and it is recommended that you do not strain them along their lengths, as they do not offer any torsion resistance. 

How do you design a steel structure?


Tapered Flange Beams 

Universal Column 

Universal beams are of a similar shape to tapered flange beams, only without the tapering. Again, as the name suggests, they can be universally applied to most construction. These types of steel used in construction are often found in residential, commercial and civil engineering works. 

Like their universal beam counterparts, universal columns have many applications in steel construction. They have the same "I" or "H" shape, with all three sections being the same length. Given that they are used vertically as columns, they have tremendous load-bearing capacity. 

Angled Sections 

Circular Hollow Sections 

Angled sections or RSAs (Rolled Steel Angles) come in two varieties: equal and unequal. Both types are formed at right angles, with unequal angled sections taking the shape of an "L" when viewed from one end. You can purchase them in a range of sizes and lengths, and they are up to 20% stronger than other sections, with greater strength-to-weight ratios.

These sections are formed into hollow tubes and offer greater torsion resistance than tapered flange beams. The walls of these sections are of a similar density all the way around, making these sections excellent for multi-axis loading purposes. 

Rectangular Hollow Sections 

Square Hollow Sections 

These steel sections are similar to the previous ones, with the only difference being that they are rectangular rather than circular when viewed from one end. These hollow sections are very versatile, with their flat faces being perfect for joining and fabrication uses. 

Again, these hollow sections are similar to the circular and rectangular sections, save for their cross-section shape. They have a more limited range of uses and are most commonly used as posts and columns. Square hollow sections, or "box sections", are uniquely unsuitable as beams, given that their shape makes them difficult to attach to other shapes. 

Flat Sections

These types of steel sections are possibly the most versatile, with many mechanical properties, and therefore useful, section types. They have the appearance of flat bars of structural steel, and they are incredibly easy to attach to other shapes. Flat sections are often used as a tension device to reinforce other beams, columns or sections and are often known as "reinforcing steel" or "plates". 


Are you looking for RSJ steel beam suppliers in London and the surrounding areas? Follow the link below to discuss your project.