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    Table of Contents

    The application of steel in construction is manifold. And steel beams and structural steel beams form the backbone of several infrastructural and construction projects. It’s versatile, strong, and come in different types that cater to diverse structural needs. In recent years, the growth in construction projects has led to a substantial rise in the demand for steel beams for constructing sturdy, long-standing buildings. Let us take a look at the meaning of steel beams, price of steel beams, the different types and industry applications of steel beams, and how the right beams can enable businesses to balance cost and performance.

    What are steel beams?

    Steel beams appear as two long steel plates (also known as flanges) connected by a perpendicular steel plate (known as a web). Put simply, they are two long steel legs connected in the middle by a web of flattened steel.

    Steel beams are critical to the construction sector, especially for buildings and bridges. The skeletal structure of a building (or bridge) is usually made using different types of steel beams for strength and increase its load bearing capacity. It’s robust and long and provides support to modern buildings and structures.

    In India, with the rapid expansion of the real estate sector, there’s a spike in the demand for steel beams. Structural steel beams are often used in high-rise buildings. They provide the strength and support for the structures to stand tall and resilient.

    What are structural steel beams?

    Structural steel beams are beams that are used essentially in construction work. They provide strength and support to the structures, namely buildings, bridges, etc.  They are available in different sizes and are used as per the architectural needs of the project.

    These beams are designed especially for structural support and are critical in any load-bearing structure. They can be customised for specific architectural needs.

    Also read: Steel bars – Types and their application in construction

    What are the different types of steel beams?

    There are different types of steel beams used in the construction sector depending on the structural needs of the project, budgets and designs. From skyscrapers to industrial complexes, steel beams can be found in all types of structures. It provides flexibility, strength, and using the right steel beam type can even lead to cost efficiency.

    There are primarily 4 types of steel beams in use in India – I beams, H beams, T beams and C beams.

    • I-Beams

    These are called so as they resemble the alphabet ‘I’. They are commonly used as steel frames in residential and commercial construction projects.

    I-Beams have two flanges that are connected perpendicularly by a web, running through the middle of the cross-section. They have a thicker web (compared to H-Beams) and shorter flanges.

    Also read: I beam weight chart

    • H-Beams

    These beams resemble the alphabet ‘H’ and hence are called H-beams. They are stronger and heavier than I-Beams. They have higher bending resistance and can bear support heavy loads. H-Beams are usually used in high-rises, skyscrapers, and bridges.

    In appearance, H-Beams have wide flanges connected by a short web that makes an H shape.

    • T-Beams

    T-Beams are shaped like the alphabet ‘T’ and are used to support structures where I-Beams cannot fit. Common application includes floor joists.

    C-Beams (Channel Beams)

    These beams have a C-shaped cross section. Due to their unique shape, they are good for framing and providing support to structures and are used for various applications.

    Also read: Steel frame types used in construction

    How many types of structural steel beams are there?

    Let us also take a look at the different structural steel beam types, often used in construction, manufacturing and transportation sectors.

    The 5 main types of structural steel beams are:

    • W-Beams: Also known as Wide flange beams that come with wider flanges. They are used in the construction of bridges, highways. Due to their shape and based on their size, they can support heavy loads and provide structural support and stability.
    • Universal columns: These are similar to I-Beams and H-Beams but have a squarish look. Used in large and small structures they are ideal for load-bearing. (Also read: Steel columns – Size, types, uses, price)
    • L-shaped Beams: Also known as Angle Beams, they are the preferred choice in lightweight projects.
    • Parallel Flange Channel (PFC) Beams: These add versatility to construction projects. Shaped either as a ‘C’ or rectangle they are usually used as frames for support.
    • Tapered Flange Beams: These resemble the ‘I’ shape but are tapered at the bottom. The shape makes them suitable for light, less load-intensive, residential projects.

    How are steel beams manufactured?

    We have taken a look at the structural steel beam types. Now let’s understand how is a steel beam made? It’s both intricate and fascinating. Let’s learn how.

    Listed below are the basic methods in the steel beam manufacturing process:

    Using iron ore as raw material:

    • Preparation stage: Iron ore (raw material) is purified in a blast furnace for molten iron which is mixed with scrap steel in a furnace (impurities are removed)
    • Casting: The molten steel is then cast into long beams or slabs (as per requirement), heated and then rolled into the desired shapes
    • Cooling and Cutting: The beams are cooled to prevent any internal stress and then cut into various lengths and sizes

    Using steel plates:

    Alternatively, rectangular steel plates can also be used. A single plate is placed horizontally on a flat surface, and two steel plates are attached vertically on its opposite ends (this should resemble the desired I or H-shape). Welding is done to attach the plates or form beam-to-beam connection.

    Using hot rolling steel:

    Here, hot rolled steel is fed into a machine to create the shape of a beam cross section. Automated machines are used for precision and minimal errors. The desired dimensions of the steel beams can be fed into the machine to customise sizes as per specific project requirements.

    Also read: Steel manufacturing process – From iron ore to end product

    What are the sizes of steel beams?

    At this point, you must be curious to understand the typical sizes of steel beams. As can be understood, there are the standard steel beam sizes and ones that are customised as per requirements.

    Steel beam type Height/Width Length
    I-Beam H- 100mm – 600mm 6m – 12m
    H-Beam H – Up to 600mm (have a thicker centre than I-Beam)

    W – Up to 300mm

    6m – 12m
    W-Beam W – 300+mm 6 – 15m
    C-Beam W – 50 – 400mm 6m – 12m

    *For informational purposes and subject to change. Please check with your steel supplier for more details.

    What is beam depth and beam thickness span?

    Understanding bean thickness and depth is important as it can impact the structure’s stability and durability.

    Steel beam type Depth Thickness
    I-Beam 100mm – 600mm 5mm – 20mm
    H-Beam Up to 600mm Up to 40mm
    W-Beam Can be over 600mm 6mm – 25mm
    C-Beam 80mm – 400mm 4.5mm – 17mm

    *For informational purposes and subject to change. Please check with your steel supplier for more details.

    Advantages of using of steel beams in construction

    One of the most important benefits of using steel beams for construction is the support it provides to the entire structure. Here are some of the main advantage of steel beams in construction:

    • Fire and corrosion resistant (Also read: Steel corrosion – Causes, impact, prevention)
    • Good tensile strength to withstand external pressures like earthquakes (Also read: Mechanical properties of steel)
    • Can be customised according to preferences (Steel beam sizes vary according to different manufacturers)
    • Provides structural integrity and safety
    • Strong resistance to various weather conditions
    • Resistant to termite or rodent attacks

    Applications of steel beams

    There are many uses of steel beams within the construction industry:

    • To build platforms such as the middle floors of a skyscraper, or the upper floor of a warehouse.
    • To build bridges with high load bearing capacity
    • To build low rise commercial centres
    • To build frames for trolley ways, elevators, trailers, and even truck beds
    • To build decks of cargo ships

    The structural integrity and the load bearing capacity of steel beams depend on the grade of steel used in the construction of the beams.

    How much does a steel beam cost?

    The price of steel beam varies based on multiple factors – the brand, size and dimensions (thickness, length, width), type, steel type, location and availability.

    Here’s a snapshot of steel beam cost in India:

    Steel beam type Price per kg* Price per tonne*
    I-Beam (standard beam) ₹52 – ₹100 per/kg ₹52,000 – ₹100,000 per/tonne
    H-Beam ₹55 – ₹105 per/kg ₹55,000 – ₹105,000 per/ tonne
    W-Beam ₹82 – ₹110 per/kg ₹82,000 – ₹110,000 per/ tonne
    C-Beam ₹65 – ₹100 per/kg ₹65,000 – ₹100,000 per/ tonne
    L-Beam ₹60 – ₹95 per/kg ₹60,000 – ₹95,000 per/ tonne

    *Price range. This is for information only and subject to change. Please check with your steel seller for the best rates. Prices not inclusive of taxes, freight, packaging and other details.

    Looking to buy steel beams at the best rates? Get in touch with us at Tata nexarc. We have partnered with leading steel providers and offer steel beams across multiple brands. Credit facility available, doorstep delivery. For quotes to buy steel, contact us now.

    *For informational purposes only. Originally published on 28 April 2023, and updated on 4 April 2024 to keep it relevant. Please check with your steel supplier/manufacturer for more details.

    Priyanka Babu

    Priyanka is a seasoned content marketing professional with more than 6 years of experience crafting various forms of business and technology sector content. Her insightful writing tackles critical issues faced by small-scale manufacturing businesses. Priyanka’s clear and concise communication empowers businesses to make informed decisions and thrive in today’s dynamic business environment.