What Is Structural Steel?

August 7, 2017 6:56 pm Published by Leave your thoughts

According to the World Steel Association, the United States is the third largest steel-producing country in the world. Americans use steel across a wide sector of industries, from canned foods to skyscrapers. There are many different categories of steel allocated for different purposes, but one of the most common is structural steel.

Structural steel is used in construction or building projects. In its most basic definition, structural steel is defined as steel shaped for use in construction, but that doesn’t give a very clear picture of what structural steel actually is. As your premier local structural steel company in Indiana, we wanted to help give you a clearer understanding of what sets structural steel apart from other forms of fabricated steel by covering its two main characteristics: composition and shape.


Structural steel is a carbon steel, meaning it has a carbon content of up to 2.1 percent by weight. After iron, carbon is the most important element in carbon steel. Increasing the amount of carbon in the composition of steel results in materials that have high strength and low ductility. Depending on how the steel will be used will determine the carbon level or content needed.

Low-carbon steel, also known as mild steel, is the most widely used form of carbon steel and what is most commonly used for construction purposes, which is why low-carbon steel is what is most often thought of when referring to structural steel. Low-carbon steel typically contains 0.04 percent to 0.30 percent carbon content, which makes it strong yet more ductile than other forms of steel with higher carbon content. Although both medium and high-carbon steels (steels with a carbon content ranging from 0.31 percent to 1.50 percent) can also be considered structural steel, these are typically used for mechanical engineering purposes.


An overview of structural steel would not be complete without discussing the different shapes of structural steel. Getting back to its basic definition, structural steel is simply steel designed for different uses in building construction.

A structural steel shape is a profile formed with a specific cross section. Below are a few common structural steel shapes:

  • I-beam: An I-shaped cross section capped with flanges on either side
  • Z-shape: Half a flange going in opposite directions resembling a “Z”
  • Angle: An L-shaped cross section
  • Tee: A T-shaped cross section
  • Bar: A rectangular, cross-sectioned long piece of steel
  • Rod: A round or square long piece of steel

Because of the ductility of structural steel, the variety of shapes, thicknesses and even sizes can be customized to meet specific building needs. At Benchmark Fabricated Steel, your trusted structural steel company in Indiana, we design and manufacture structural steel to meet your project needs.

If you want to know more about the quality and composition of our structural steel or the different designs and shapes we have available, call us today! Whether you are contemplating a small, personal project or a large-scale construction job, our expert team of experienced steel fabricators and designers are ready to provide a quote for your project.

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