Types of Steel Sections: A Comprehensive Guide to Structural Steel Options


Steel is a robust material in various grades and with various chemical compositions.  It allows us to build in ways that are not possible with any other material. No other material comes close to steel in strength and longevity. Due to its many advantages, structural steel has quickly replaced other materials. It may come as a surprise to learn that all types of steel, even CNC machining steel comprise iron and carbon, given the wide range of steel qualities and the variety of steel alloys.

Steel construction necessitates a wide variety of structural frames. In addition, building with steel takes significantly less time, making it the most popular option. However, all international design and construction codes recognise a few standard steel member shapes. The profile of the cross-section serves to identify these segments.

In this article, you will learn about some important types of steel sections and their uses on different construction sites.

Need for Different Types of Structural Steel Sections

Importance of Steel Sections

To understand the need for different types of steel sections, one must have a basic familiarity with load applications, structural phenomena subjected to members, and parameters that govern the structural capacity of a member.

Point loads, uniform loads, moment/direct bending, and rotation are the most frequently occurring types of loads in construction. They often occur together. Compression, tension, shear, flexure, and torsion are all structural phenomena that are exerted on a member in various ways, depending on the nature and distribution of the applied loads. Several measures are available to evaluate its resistance to the events above, including a member’s cross-section area, total depth, web, flange, leg thicknesses, moment of inertia, and section modulus. Multiple load combinations, structural phenomena, and the need for a specific resistance parameter all necessitate the shaping and profiling of steel sections.

There’s a need for different types of structural steel sections, as we can’t use all types of steel for making steel sections, as some are more rigid than others. Hot rolling produces rolled steel sections. Here, two massive rollers heat the steel. This is the most common method for producing structural steel sections. These steel parts are rolled into the desired form during this procedure. Masteel’s hot-rolled steel, for instance, is ideal for shipbuilding due to its high yield strength and good quality. It is produced in accordance with the requirements for Structural Steel for Ships ASTM A131. Circular hollow sections, open sections, beams, and other shapes are the various types of rolled steel sections.

Steel has been advantageous considering the frequency at which amazing structures are being made. With its rapidly expanding role in the building industry, it’s safe to assume that steel will eventually dominate the whole sector in no time.

Types of Steel Sections in Use

Coming to the main context of the article, there are various types of steel sections available on the market. Some of them have been listed below.

01. Angled Steel Section

Angled Steel Sections

One of the common structural components is the L-shaped steel beams supporting buildings. Two steel legs joined at a right angle produce an L-shape. Though the length of each section can vary, angled beams always make the right angle. There is no hard-and-fast rule that the steel legs should be of the same length because these beams come in a wide range of sizes and dimensions.

Structural steel angles can be equal or unequal. Both will be right-angled, but the unequal one will have an L-shaped axis. The strength-to-weight ratio of this part is significantly better than average (by as much as 20%).

The dimensions of the different diameters of the uneven angle pieces range from 30 millimeters by 20 millimeters by 3 millimeters to 200 millimeters by 150 millimeters by 18 millimeters. The comparable weights per meter length are respectively 11 N and 469 N. The equal angle steel sections are available in sizes spanning from 20 mm x 20 mm x 3 mm to 200 mm x 200 mm x 25 mm. Both lengths have similar weights per meter at 9 N and 736 N.

02. Steel Beam Section

Beams Steel Sections

Universal Beams (UB) are the mandatory specification for structural steel beams. The UK market is the target during production. However, rolled beams, IPE beams, and I sections are all common on the Continent.

There are several types of steel beam sections, such as U-beams, I-beams or H-beams, round and squared beams, etc. U-beams are used as braces because they are like I-beams but have two parallel flanges extending from only one side of the vertical support. Round or square solid steel beams are more common types of steel beam sections used in machinery and appliances than in construction. However, they are a valuable commodity across many sectors and have many potential uses.

03. Channel Steel Section

Channels Steel Sections

Hot-rolled steel channels find employment in various structural contexts, from the built environment to the automotive industry. C-shaped, U-shaped and parallel flanges (PFC) are the various channel steel sections. The C-shaped profile of this segment is what inspired the name. The standard designation for this kind of section in the AISC Steel Construction Manual is “channel.”

Like a half beam, except that the web is full thickness, channel steel sections consist of a single web bordered by upper and lower flanges angled at right angles to the web. Bar sizes typically come in lengths of up to 6 to 12 m, while structural sizes are offered in 18 m sections. While channels aren’t used as beams, they facilitate fastening together with similar surfaces because of their flat faces.

04. Hollow Structural Steel Sections (HSS Section)

Hollow Structural Sections

Hollow structural sections, or HSS sections, can have a variety of cross-sectional shapes, including rectangles, squares, ellipses, and circles. However, rectangles are the most popular because they are well suited for welded frames subject to loads from many directions. Round HSS sections, also known as round structural tubing are used in load-bearing columns, such as Lally columns, but are not considered pipes because they are not designed to transport fluids. These forms start as welded rounds before the square, and rectangular tubing is formed to achieve the desired big radii at the corners.

The HSS section has a lot of relevance for rotation and point loads. This section is quite strong in both compression and twisting.

05. T-Steel Section

T Steel Sections

When referring to this section type in the AISC Steel Construction Manual, the term “structural tee” is used. The T-steel section comprises two T-shaped parts, the flange and the web. The flange side of this design has far greater flexural capacity than the non-flange side. Steel roof trusses rely on them to create built-up sections.

The cross-section resembles the letter T and comprises a flange and a web. Dimensions and wall thickness are the identifiers. You may get these pieces in dimensions ranging from 20 mm X 20 mm X 3 mm to 150 mm X 150 mm X 10 mm. 9 N and 228 N are the comparable weights per 1 m length.

Uses of Steel Sections

Uses of Steel Sections

The following are the most common uses of steel sections:

  • For Angled Sections – Many industries use angled portions, including building, infrastructure, mining, and transportation.
  • For Channels – This hollow section is utilised for applications with a consistently distributed load and minimal moment/bending. This section excels as a secondary structural member, where loading passes to primary members, such as transverse joists for supporting the floor, purlins for supporting the roof trusses, studs for framing the walls, supporting members for ceiling assemblies, etc.
  • For HSS Section – The most general applications for this part include columns, shafts, and similar structural elements.
  • For T Sections – Used frequently as a connection member between I-shaped or other shapes, a secondary beam member, a chord member in trusses and the primary member of a built-up member, an end diaphragm member in a bridge girder system, etc.


After reading this, you must have acquired a better grasp of the various section shapes and how they support and transfer loads in an optimal structural layout. With over 3,500 unique steel grades available, the material’s potential applications seem boundless. Each variety of steel has a specific use and set of features that make it ideal for anything from manufacturing and fabrication to computer numerical control machining. To meet their customers’ demands, professional structural steel fabricators need access to high-quality fabrication equipment that allows them to work with various steel sections.

Author Bio

Nafisa Nazneen Choudhury – Nafisa Nazneen Choudhury is a Civil Engineer (completed B.E. from Assam Engineering College) and is currently pursuing M.Tech in Structural Engineering at National Institute of Technology, Silchar. She is a Technical Content Writer, having over 3 years of experience and has wrote many articles related to Civil Engineering. She is also a Book Author (Authored – “Dream Tales of NNC: Revenge By Murder”) and her book can be found on Amazon. She is also a Guest Author at Gharpedia. Moreover, she is a certified member at Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE) and National Society of Professional Engineers (NSPE). She writes her blogs at her website – nnc2017.wordpress.com. She can be reached on LinkedIn.

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