The Different Types of Structural Steel and Their Uses in Construction

Steel is known to have given a structure that no other can when it comes to construction. The durability and potency that steel provides is not matched by wood or concrete. It is getting more and more common for steel to be used in construction, and people are preferring Steel Fabrication Melbourne due to its various advantages. Steel buildings are built using various frames as well, for example clearspan, modular, single slope etc. Due to the fact that steel is very much easier and less time consuming when it comes to construction, along with its numerous other factors that have proved advantageous, steel, these days, has become the most sought after way of constructing buildings.

Steel buildings are known to have higher resistance due to their strength, and steel construction does not cost as much as concrete or wood construction usually does. It is important to note that there are various advantages of using steel over wood in construction, and due to the number of places starting to incline towards using steel based on its numerous benefits, it has become awfully common. Steel construction is also environment friendly, and can resist natural calamities like earthquakes. Having known these beneficial qualities of steel building construction, let us go ahead and explore the most common types of steel used in construction.


Parallel Flange Channels

These channelled beams are U-shaped with right angled corners, similar to the shape of a staple. They come in various different sizes, however, the two sides are always the same length and are parallel to one another. They also offer a high strength to weight ratio and have similar uses to angled sections.

Tapered Flange Beams

Taper flange beams come in an I-shaped and are also available in a vast variety of sizes. In construction, these are often used as cross-sections for girders. Though they have a particularly resistance ratio, it is not usually recommended when pressure is present along the length as they are not torsion (twisting) resistant.

Universal Beam

Universal beams, also known as I-beams or H-beams, come in the shape of their namesake: an ‘I’ when standing upright, and a ‘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 referred to as I-beams or H-beams, however, all three sections are the same in length. As their name suggests, they are mainly used for columns, and have brilliant load-bearing capabilities.

Angled Sections

Angled structural steel sections can come as either equal or unequal. Both will be right angled, however, unequal sections have different sized axes 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. Also, they are available in a wide range of lengths and sizes.

Circular Hollow Sections

Circular Hollow Sections come as hollow tubular cross sections and have a much higher resistance to torsion than tapered flange beams. The density of the walls is uniform within the entire circle which makes these beams great for use with multi-axis loading processes.

Rectangular Hollow Sections

These types of structural steel are much like the 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 counterparts (except with square cross sections), these are used within smaller applications such as columns or posts. However, they are unsuitable for beams as their shapes are inherently difficult to bolt into other types of shape. They are also known as ‘box sections’.

Flat Sections

Arguably the most versatile type of steel section as they require to be attached to another section. In some cases, they can be attached to another section as a strengthening tool. They are also often referred to as ‘plates’ (for example, checker plates).

What are Structural Steel Beams Used For?

Industrial or commercial buildings – high-rise buildings are often designed using structural steel due to its excellent tensile strength, durability and low weight. Larger buildings often require steel framing. Steel beams are perfect for these due to how quickly they can be fabricated, as well as how easy they are to use.
Residential applications – steel is used in favour of other building materials in some domestic structures, for the same reasons as why it’s used in commercial and industrial buildings. Steel’s reliability and ease of use help it to provide solid, consistent reinforcement to a property.
Other buildings – steel is one for incredible strength but many steel fabricators are specialists at welding steel beams into bespoke structural frames. These are known as steel frame buildings, and often form the entire frame of a structure to be built around. Some examples are agricultural buildings, warehouses and garages.
Bridges – steel makes an excellent material to support applications for large bridges. Its tremendous strength-to-weight ratio helps it withstand large loads.
It’s clear to see how versatile steel is, both in the shapes it can come in, as well as what it can be used for.

There are various steel beam sizes and shapes available to buy from local steel fabricators, but in today’s climate, there is an easier and more efficient way to buy steel.