Structural Steel Shapes: Everything You Need To Know

Steel is a common material used in building construction. This metal is a necessary component in structural support. The potency and durability of this material are what endears it to all who are involved in a construction project. Another feature of this metal that many are concerned with is the geometric shape of the steel.

Structural steel comes in various strategic shapes that improve the effectiveness and efficiency of a building structure. Builders today have used this material to accomplish feats that were tagged as impossible. Construction companies make this material into shapes using a fabricator. This fabricator divides the metal based on its size, shape, and use.

Choosing the right construction company for this fabrication is necessary if you want to get a good quality end-product. With many of such companies available around you, you would have to take your time to make a good choice. If you want to know how you can choose a good company, you can click here for guidance.

Apart from knowing how to make a good choice, you also need to know the different types of structural steel available and the benefits of each of them. You also need to know the downsides of each of them. With that in mind, let us discuss the types of structural steel, their benefits, and disadvantages.

Types of Structural Steel Shapes Used in Construction

beam types

The following are some types of structural steel:

S-Shaped (American Standard Beam)

This section is like a web that connects two narrow flanges with a rolling section. It is easy to deduce the width and weight of this material by merely looking at its designation. For instance, if it is designated S18x75, this means that it is 18 feet deep and each foot of the steel weighs 75 pounds. It is used in hoists, lifts, truck bed frames, and building construction.


⦁ It can be used for many construction applications.
⦁ It can be easily incorporated into any heavy building project.
⦁ Builders can know the weight and width of the steel by merely looking at it.


⦁ Not suitable for certain light construction
⦁ It might be unstable if flanges are imbalanced.

H-Shaped (Bearing Pile)/I-Beam

This material takes the shape of the letter H or I. So it is commonly called ‘W’ in some steel construction manuals. You can also refer to it as a universal beam. This is because you can use it for almost all building and complement construction except for pure rotation.

This section is highly effective in resisting pressure from heavy objects as it can hold immense weight. Some of the applications of this include columns for bridges and buildings. You can also watch videos explaining how to handle the erection and grouting of a steel column for assistance.


⦁ It is a universal material, so you can use it for many projects.
⦁ It allows high conservation of steel, unlike other shapes.
⦁ It can be used for a wide range of construction designs.
⦁ It is compatible with both secondary and primary connectors.


⦁ It has less torso resistance because it is an open section.
⦁ You cannot use it for the X-X direction, unlike using it for the Y-Y direction.

Channels (C-Shaped)

Channels (C-Shaped)

This shape looks like the letter ‘C’. This section is used for uniform distributed load applications that have small bending. It is highly effective as secondary structural steel that can transfer the load onto the primary structures. It can be used as a transverse joist in the supporting floor, as studs in a wall frame, and as supporting members for a ceiling assembly.


⦁ It is an ideal substitute for the I-Beam section.
⦁ It can provide a high structural capacity.
⦁ It can be placed back-to-back to produce a virtual I-Beam section.
⦁ It is highly compatible with both secondary and primary connectors.


⦁ It is highly unstable when it is loaded without securing the top flanges. This is because it is not symmetrical to Y-Y directions.
⦁ It cannot be used for heavy applications.

Angle (L-Shaped)

Angle (L-shaped)

This looks like the alphabet ‘L’. It is also referred to as angle due to its ability to allow angular connections. This shape is used to resist tension, sheer, and compressions in point load applications. It is also used as a primary connector for other structural steel members.


⦁ It provides high structural capacity in connections.
⦁ It can be placed back-to-back to form a virtual T-shape


⦁ It is not symmetrical in both X-X and Y-Y directions.
⦁ It has a very low material to structure capacity ratio, unlike other shapes.

Structural Tees (T-shaped)

This section comes from standard I-Beam by removing its bottom flanges. It can be used for all load applications like the I-Beam. It is used as a connector for other structural steel members. For more information on structural tees, check here:


⦁ It is an ideal substitute for the I-Beam.
⦁ It has a high axial flexible capacity compared to the other shapes, due to its depth and symmetry.


⦁ It offers no structural capacity when used in the X-X direction.
⦁ It had very limited applications because of its incompatibility with the X-X axis.


A good steel construction must have any of the above shapes that perfectly suit its design and application. So make sure that you choose the best company Steel Products Direct that can fabricate this for you based on your needs.

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