The Common Types Of Steel Beams And Their Uses Explained

While steel beams are necessary and crucial in a wide variety of structures including residential and commercial buildings and bridges, you may not know that there are different types of steel beams. In truth any supporting structural item spanning an area can be classed as a ‘steel beam’ and here lies the confusion. However each type of beam offers unique properties that serve a certain purpose so more often than not, they’re used in different roles. In order to unravel some of the confusion, let’s take a closer look at the types of steel beam available and their main purpose.

W beam

W steel beams are so called because they have a wide flange (hence the ‘W’ acronym). They can be

manufactured in an H-beam or I-beam format. (H or I, being the alphabetical shape the beam is when you look at it head on). They are commonly used in residential construction where weight saving is important and are best used when riveted, bolted or welded.


As already stated the I beam is so called because it resembles the letter I when you look at it directly in the frontal position. They can have either tapered flanges or wide flanges. They are commonly used in industrial applications where contained strength in key.


Similarly to I-Beams, H-Beams are so called because they resemble the capital letter ‘H’ when looked at from the front. They have long flanges and are usually longer and heavier than I-Beams. Often used in larger constructions such as skyscrapers or bridges they provide greater strength across a wider span

C or Channel Beams

The C or Channel Beam has a C-shaped cross section. They contain sloped inner flange surfaces that appear only on one side of the beam. Typically Channel Beams are used as a support for lighter loads. As such they’re a preferred choice in residential construction, rather than for heavy construction purposes.

As you can see there are a wide variety of steel beams available for different jobs and as such, it’s important to know what type of beam befits what task. If you aren’t entirely sure you can always ask your local fabricator who should be happy to help you find the right beam for the task in hand.

Here at Metro Steel as well as fabricating off-the-peg steel beams such as those listed above, we can also fabricate beams to just about any shape and size you like, in order to fit any purpose. Why not contact us on 07 3204 1000 or call into our Kabi Circuit fabrication shop to find out more.

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