Steel 101: The Difference Between Non-Structural and Structural

Since the late 19th century, steel has been known to be the main component in structures everywhere. Steel has since evolved into one of the most important and widely used building materials on the planet. Today, the material has produced thousands of buildings that have become landmarks and staples for people’s everyday living. 

Along with providing strength, steel also helps control the overall weight of the structure. In combination with the strength of the connections between the steel, steel buildings can last for a long time. From offices to malls and schools, steel stands as their backbone. Indeed, more than half of all steel produced globally is consumed by the construction industry.

Beyond buildings, though, steel could be used for producing a myriad of valuable items we use today. Read on to learn more about steel as well as the difference between structural and non-structural steel.

Explaining the Importance of Steel

Steel is used in numerous industries. It’s critical for industries like automotive, medical, chemical, and oil. In the construction industry, however, not all steel is created equal. Steel labeled “structural steel” is used in construction. 

While this appears to be a simple naming strategy, structural steel has extremely specific and stringent requirements. To fully appreciate this, it is necessary to first understand how steel is produced. 

Steel is an iron-based material that is currently obtained from taconite ore. Magnets are used to separate iron particles from taconite, which is a sand-like material. During “reduction,” carbon-rich coke is combined with iron to strengthen it. Then, as the mixture’s carbon content decreases, it eventually transforms into steel (less than 2.1 percent by weight). 

See also  Metal Matters: Steel Grades You Should Know About Today

Facts About Structural Steel

Because of its high strength-to-weight ratio, ductility, and adaptability, this newly formed steel is highly regarded. To make structural steel, the alloy’s carbon content must be reduced to between.05 and.25. Not only must structural steel be rigorously tested, but it must also be formed into distinct shapes such as I-beams, z-shapes, tees, bars, and rods. 

Throughout the world, structural steel is used in the construction of building frameworks, reinforcing and support rods, and cladding sheets. Furthermore, modern steel is 100 percent recyclable, which is good for the environment. 

For example, the HAMK Sheet Metal Center in Finland saved more than 50% on electricity and heating by utilizing steel solutions. Builders, on the other hand, do not exclusively use structural steel. In addition to transmission towers, it is used in crane booms. 

Non-Structural Steel

While structural steel is not appropriate for every application, non-structural steel (steel that does not meet required levels of reduction) is used in a wide range of construction applications. Heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems, as well as stairs, railings, and shelving, are all included. 

Non-structural steel industries are thriving. Stainless steel is used in automobile trim, grilles, and exhaust systems. Furthermore, new emission standards have required automakers to incorporate steel into structural components. 

Sterilization and corrosion resistance are highly valued in the medical industry. You may also find steel as the main component for medical instruments, operating tables, and MRI scanners. 

Moreover, non-structural steel is also used in a variety of culinary applications, including electrical equipment and home appliances. 

See also  Choosing a Steel Supplier in Birmingham: 5 Key Factors


Perhaps it’s not all about buildings and skyscrapers. Steel, as fascinating and as useful as it is, turns out to be useful for many purposes. As such, its strength contributes greatly to our lives today. From structural to non-structural, steel is simply a mainstay for generations to come. 

For guaranteed quality structural steel in Nashville, KGS Steel, Inc. has been a trusted full-service carbon steel service center warehouse for almost 40 years. We offer products made to withstand the test of time. Get a FREE quote from us today!

Bessemer, AL

3725 Pine Ln,
Bessemer, AL 35022


Mon - Fri7:30 AM–4:30 PM
Sat - Sun: Closed 

Nashville, TN

310 Herron Dr,
Nashville, TN 37210


Mon - Fri7:30 AM–4:30 PM
Sat - Sun: Closed 

Follow Us:
Member Of:
Steel Alliance logo
Scroll to Top