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Factors in Carbon Steel Grade Choice

Carbon steel is one of the most common steel formats in the world, and affordable product that provides great mechanical properties. Since it’s very common, it’s important to know how to choose the right grade for the type of project you’re doing.

At Wasatch Steel, we’re here to help. Here are a few important areas to consider while you’re choosing which carbon steel grade to use.


Many types of carbon steel can be easily machined, but some types might also be difficult. Lower carbon steel grades like C1010 and C1018 have good machinability, and higher carbon steel grades like C1141 and C1144 can also be machined well due to sulfur in their composition. C1045, on the other hand, has higher carbon content but no added sulfur, so it’s a poor choice if machining is needed.


Many types of carbon steel are good for welding, but most of these are not great for machining – grades like C1141 are good examples here. Grades with low carbon are better choices, as they’re readily welded. Higher carbon grades like C1045 can work with preheat or post-weld heat treatment.

Strength Requirements

Low carbon steels tend to fall behind in terms of tensile strengths, and these should be avoided if you need high strength. Look for grades with higher carbon in general.


If you’re looking for ductility, lower carbon grades like C1008 and C1010 are generally best. Use DQ or DQAK grade for sheet. Lower carbon steels are almost always easier to form than higher ones.


Any carbon steel with carbon amounts over 0.30 percent by weight can easily be heat-treated. Low carbon steels under 0.20 percent, however, are not capable of this – the lack of carbon stops steel crystalline structure martensite from forming, which provides hardness and strength.

Corrosion Resistance

Carbon steels are often chosen for their corrosion resistance, as they’re mostly made of iron, which can rust easily. A galvanized or plated carbon steel is a good option to help prevent oxidization, as is adding oil or paint to the surface.

For more on choosing the right kind of carbon steel, or to find out about any of our other steel services, speak to the pros at Wasatch Steel today.