How much will steel plate cost in 2024?

Understanding the Cost of Steel Plate and Other Steel Materials

The cost of steel plate and other steel materials is influenced by a variety of complex and fluctuating factors. This article has been updated as of April 2024 to reflect these nuances.

Introduction to Steel Pricing

Steel is typically priced by hundredweight (CWT), which refers to the price per 100 pounds of material. In some contexts, particularly in market reports, the price of carbon steel might be expressed per pound. For instance, a CWT price of $40 equates to $0.40 per pound.

The complexity of steel pricing is further compounded by the use of different units of measurement. Often, prices are quoted in tons, where 1 ton equals 2,000 pounds. For example:

  • 2,000 pounds = 1 ton
  • $40 CWT x (2,000 pounds / 100 pounds) = $800 per ton

Note: The price used in this example is arbitrary and not reflective of current market levels.

Since steel plate pricing is typically by CWT, understanding the weight of your order can help estimate costs. Factors like thickness (gauge) and size impact the material's weight and, consequently, its cost. You can use the calculator below to determine weight based on height, width, thickness, and quantity.

Calculate Order Weight

With this foundational knowledge, let's delve into the various factors that influence steel plate prices. For a quick overview, refer to our "Cost of Steel Plate" infographic. If you have any questions about steel plate products or pricing, feel free to ask us.

Factors Affecting Steel Plate Prices

Market Prices and Supply & Demand

Steel prices are fundamentally influenced by supply and demand. An oversupply leads to lower prices, while limited supply drives prices higher. For instance, supply chain constraints can lead to reduced supply and increased demand, causing CWT prices to rise to unprecedented levels. Although supply has stabilized, prices remain elevated due to rising demand and low inventory levels among service centers.

In general, supply and demand are the primary determinants of steel prices, which can fluctuate daily or even multiple times a day. While daily price changes are typically minor and might not significantly impact small to medium-sized projects, they can have a substantial effect on large projects. For instance, a $1 increase in CWT for a project requiring 10,000 tons of steel would add $200,000 to the total cost.

Let's explore the key factors that influence daily steel prices in more detail.

#1: Steel Grade


Just as a luxury car costs more than an economy model, certain steel grades are inherently more expensive due to their specialized properties, such as added alloys or heat treatment processes like quenching and tempering. Below are general steel material categories, ranked from lowest to highest price:

Steel Grade CategoryExample
High Strength Low AlloyASTM A572
Low/High Carbon Non-StructuralC1020
Pressure Vessel QualityASTM A516
Offshore & MarineAPI 2H grade 50
Quenched & TemperedASTM A514
Abrasion ResistantAR400

Note: Exceptions exist within each category. For example, A656, a specialty High Strength Low Alloy grade, is priced more like Quenched & Tempered grades.

When requesting quotes, ensure that each grade's CWT is listed for accurate comparisons.

#2: Order Quantity

Bulk purchasing, typically 22 tons or more, can lower per-unit costs due to efficiencies in production and resource management. Suppliers can pass on these savings from mill manufacturers who also benefit from bulk orders.

#3: Future Needs

Even if you don't need a bulk quantity immediately, indicating future needs can impact the quoted CWT price. Regular, long-term orders might secure better pricing compared to one-time purchases.

#4: Steel Grade Origin

The country of origin of the steel can significantly affect the CWT price. Some projects may require steel from specific countries to meet quality standards, while others may be more flexible. Suppliers sourcing from both domestic and international mills can offer a wider price range.

#5: Steel Processing


Requesting additional processing like cutting, drilling, or cleaning will increase overall costs. However, bundling these services with material orders may provide some room for negotiation on CWT.

#6: Steel Material Location

Transportation costs, both in terms of time and money, are substantial due to steel's size and weight. Strategic distribution centers across North America enable faster and more economical delivery. Some suppliers include transportation costs in CWT, while others list it separately.

#7: Grade Liquidation

How much will steel plate cost in 2024?GRADE LIQUIDATION

Suppliers occasionally need to clear excess inventory of non-standard sizes or grades, often resulting in reduced CWT prices. Flexibility in size and grade can lead to significant cost savings.

#8: Supplier Niche

Specialized suppliers, such as those focusing solely on steel plate (e.g., Steel Friend), can offer more competitive pricing compared to general suppliers. However, for projects requiring varied material types, a one-stop-shop supplier might offer time savings that outweigh CWT savings from niche suppliers.

#9: Prime vs. Secondary Materials

Prime steel plate meets stringent regulatory specifications and is generally more expensive. Secondary steel plate, or sub-prime plate, which has minor imperfections, is cheaper and suitable for non-structural applications like containers and pipe rollers.

#10: Market Regulation

Tariffs and subsidies significantly impact steel prices. Tariffs on imports make foreign steel more expensive, increasing demand for domestic steel and driving up prices. Subsidies can lower production costs for domestic steel, influencing global prices.

#11: Government Bills & Legislation

Legislation such as the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) and the Infrastructure Investment & Jobs Act (IIJA) can increase steel demand through funding for infrastructure and manufacturing projects. This can drive prices up if demand outstrips supply.

#12: Raw Materials

The cost and availability of raw materials like iron ore, pig iron, or scrap metal directly impact steel production costs. Rising raw material prices or shortages can lead to higher steel prices. The trend towards decarbonization in steel production, involving increased use of electric arc furnaces (EAFs) and renewable energy, may also affect production costs.

#13: Natural Disasters & Conflicts

Natural disasters and conflicts can disrupt supply chains and production, leading to price fluctuations. The COVID-19 pandemic, for instance, caused significant supply and demand imbalances, leading to price spikes. Similarly, conflicts like the war between Ukraine and Russia can impact raw material availability and lead to economic sanctions, further influencing prices.

Practical Considerations

Armed with this understanding, you can better navigate steel pricing complexities and make informed decisions. For instance, using secondary steel plate for non-critical applications can result in significant savings. Additionally, communicating future needs and considering supplier niches can lead to more favorable pricing.

Example Calculations and Tables

Let's illustrate some of these concepts with examples and tables for clarity.

Example Calculation:

  • Steel Grade: ASTM A572
  • Quantity: 10,000 pounds
  • CWT Price: $50
Total Weight10,000 pounds10,000 pounds
CWT Conversion10,000 pounds / 100 pounds100 CWT
Total Cost100 CWT x $50$5,000

Example Table: Steel Grade Pricing

Steel Grade CategoryExampleAverage CWT Price ($)
High Strength Low AlloyASTM A57240
Low/High Carbon Non-StructuralC102035
Pressure Vessel QualityASTM A51645
Offshore & MarineAPI 2H grade 5050
Quenched & TemperedASTM A51455
Abrasion ResistantAR40060

Despite covering 13 key factors affecting steel material pricing, this list is not exhaustive. Understanding these elements equips you to find the best steel material supplier for your project needs. For competitive steel plate pricing in the U.S., Canada, and Mexico, consider Steel Friend. Use our quote builder tool or submit your requirements to us today.

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