Structural Steel Terms and Basics, Part 1

Stainless Steels for Welding, Part 2
June 10, 2018
Structural Steel Terms and Basics, Part 2
June 30, 2018
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Structural Steel Terms and Basics, Part 1


When it comes to the world of steel and steel services, structural steel is a huge name. It’s one of the most common building materials in the world, characterized by its shape and a strong cross-section, as well as beneficial mechanical qualities that make it perfect for large buildings.

At Wasatch Steel, we can help you with all varieties of structural steel. It comes in various sizes and shape considerations, meaning it’s important to use the right terminology when measuring or ordering it. Here is part one of our two-part blog on various structural steel terms, dimensions and other factors.

Structural Beams

Also called I-beams, H-beams or W-beams (for wider flanged versions), structural beams are mostly used as support areas on large buildings. The “web” of the structural beam provides resistance to any forces that might cause the steel to break, tear apart, or collapse, while flanges on the outside resist bending too far.

In North America, steel I-beams are generally specified using depth (measured in inches) and weight (pounds per foot). So for instance, if you see a beam labeled as 4 x 12, you will know this is about four inches in depth and will weigh roughly 12 pounds per foot. Certain I-beams may be available in metric measurements in Canada. Other important factors include web thickness, fillet radius (the curved area where the web and flange transition), and beam depth (distance from the top and bottom surface of the steel).

Channel Terms

Steel channel is a hot-rolled product that comes with a vertical web, a horizontal top and bottom flanges. It comes in a wide variety of heights, depths and web thicknesses, and is generally used for manufacturing machinery or vehicles. It’s also used in some structural supports and for enclosures.

In the US and Canada, steel channels are generally measured using depth in inches and weight in pounds per foot. In the UK, these are measured using universal metric terms. Structural channel is broken up into categories: Standard channel, ship and car channel, stair stringer channel, and U-channel or bar channel.

For more on various types of structural steel, or to learn about any of our steel services, speak to the pros at Wasatch Steel today.