How to Buy Steel Beams

How to Buy Steel Beams

Navigating the realm of steel beams can be quite the journey, with a plethora of options to choose from to suit myriad industrial applications. Here at Continental Steel & Tube, we understand the challenge of finding the perfect fit for your project amidst the sea of possibilities. But fear not, for we are here to guide you through the process, making it as simple and straightforward as possible. Let's delve into the world of steel beams and explore the factors you should consider when making your selection.

Understanding Steel Beams

Shapes and Their Implications

Steel beams come in a diverse range of shapes, each with its own unique characteristics that influence strength, weight, and cost. Among the most common are wide flange beams, also known by the somewhat interchangeable monikers of I-Beams, H-Beams, or W-Beams. These beams feature broad flanges on either side of the web, offering robust support and stability. In rare cases, projects may call for standard American beams, distinguished by their S-Shape profile. While less prevalent, these beams are adept at withstanding bending and shear loads, making them a staple in the construction industry.

Grading Standards

Another crucial factor to consider is the grade of the steel beam. Most mills produce wide flange beams to meet the dual specification of ASTM A992 and A572 GR 50. ASTM A992, the new industry benchmark, mandates the use of stronger materials compared to its predecessor, ASTM A36. While some mills may still offer beams under the old standard, they are gradually phasing out in favor of the newer, more robust specification.

Sizing Matters

Size matters when it comes to steel beams, and understanding the sizing system is key to selecting the right fit for your project. Wide flange beams are denoted by the letter W followed by the section number, indicating the nominal depth. The designation also includes the pounds per lineal foot of the beam and its length. For instance, a beam labeled as W12 x 50 x 40 would have a height of 12 inches, weigh 50 pounds per lineal foot, and span 40 feet, resulting in a total weight of 2,000 pounds. The sizing system for S-Shape I-Beams follows a similar pattern, with the letter S replacing the W to denote the different beam profile.

Simplifying the Selection Process

Common Sizes and Beyond

To simplify your search, we've compiled a list of common wide flange beam and S-Shape I-Beam sizes that you can easily access and download from our website. However, if your project requires rarer, larger beams, fret not! As experts in the field, we can source and supply these specialized beams and transport them directly to your job site.

Value-Added Services

Our commitment to customer satisfaction doesn't end with beam selection. We offer a range of value-added services to meet your specific needs, including cutting to length, hot dip galvanizing, priming, welding base plates, and burning mounting holes. Whatever your requirements may be, we're here to provide tailored solutions to ensure the success of your project.

Get in Touch

Ready to take the next step? Reach out to us today to discuss your beam requirements and kick-start your project. Whether you're a seasoned professional or a newcomer to the world of steel beams, our team is here to offer guidance, expertise, and unparalleled service every step of the way.


Enter your inquiry details and we will reply to you within 24 hours.