What Are the Best Types of Steel for a Commercial Building?

  • Author: Fazal Umer
  • Posted On: May 19, 2024
  • Updated On: May 19, 2024

When looking to construct a building for commercial use, the materials that will best suit your needs and budget are a primary focus.

The backbone of countless high-rises and other commercial structures, steel is a versatile and dependable option that is customizable to suit any type of business. Commercial steel buildings are durable, relatively inexpensive, and can be constructed quickly.

Understanding the different types of steel that can be used in commercial construction is crucial to ensuring a building’s performance, longevity, and cost-effectiveness.  

What are commercial steel buildings?

A popular choice for businesses of all sizes, commercial steel buildings are prefabricated buildings made from steel. Panels arrive fully formed at the building site to be welded and/or bolted together, decreasing the amount of time and money required for construction.

They have become increasingly popular for:

  • Retail stores
  • Restaurants
  • Offices
  • Churches
  • Warehouses
  • Auto Repair Shops
  • Machine Shops
  • Manufacturing Facilities
  • Packaging Operations

Commercial steel buildings are weather-resistant, pest-resistant, low-maintenance, flexible, and energy-efficient. They can be reconfigured or expanded much easier than buildings made of wood and offer an excellent return on investment.    

What types of steel are used for buildings?

Commercial steel buildings are a smart choice for business owners who want a top-quality structure at a reasonable price. Steel is an alloy of iron, meaning iron is used as the base metal to make steel. It also contains between 0.03% and 1.075% carbon and often additional elements.

Carbon Steel

Carbon steel is created using carbon, manganese, sulfur, and silicon, plus phosphorous impurities. It resists corrosion, scaling, heat, and fire. The strength and elasticity of carbon steel are determined by the amount of carbon present in the alloy. As the carbon concentration increases, the steel gets harder and stronger.

  • Low Carbon: Cheaper than other steel materials, low carbon steel is used for making nails, pipes, wires, chains, and other machine parts.
  • Medium Carbon: Resistant to basic wear and tear, medium carbon steel is quite strong and used to create screws, axles, crankshafts, and heat-treated machine parts.
  • High Carbon: Even stronger, high carbon steel is ideal for manufacturing high-strength springs, rope wires, hammers, screwdrivers, wrenches, and edge tools.
  • Very High Carbon: Very high carbon steel is a very hard material used in industrial applications such as manufacturing milling cutters, razors, axles, springs, shear blades, and other tools.

Alloy Steel

With components that are superior to carbon steel, alloy steel is a mixture of metals like manganese, nickel, copper, chromium, and aluminum. It is a tough and strong material with a high resistance to temperature and greater hardenability making it less susceptible to distortion and cracking. 

  • High Alloy: High alloy steel contains a high percentage of alloying materials. It is commonly used for storing liquids, chemicals, pharmaceuticals, and mining materials.
  • Low Alloy: Conversely, low alloy steel incorporates a low percentage of alloying materials. It is used in processes like seamless rolled ring foraging, the mechanism used to create rings of various sizes and for studding outlets, flanges used in industrial settings to connect vessels and tanks.

Structural Steel

With a high strength-to-weight ratio, structural steel is ideal for constructing large steel buildings. It can be transformed into any shape or size, withstands harsh conditions, and resists temperature from fire. Ductile and strong, structural steel is used to make steel frames, beams, columns, bars, girders, plates, and other framing components. It is also used to create various shapes such as Z-shape, L-shape, T-shape, HSS-shape, and I-beam.


Rebar is fortifying steel used as a strain device in reinforced concrete or masonry structures. Available in various yield strengths and chemical compositions, rebar can hold a structure together even under enormous pressure. Providing strength to concrete structures, it combines with the elements and design of a structure and resists the induced tensile and shear force with concrete.

Mild rebar steel bars, which are plain and round, are used in concrete buildings for dowels at expansion joints and column spirals. They are also used in contraction joints in roads and runways. Deformed rebar steel bars have ribs, lugs, and deep recesses on the surface. Eliminating the problems of slippage and lack of good bonding that can be common with mild rebar, deformed rebar is popularly used for bridges and industrial steel buildings.   

Mild Steel

Similar to plain carbon steel, mild steel is a bit more flexible and won’t crack when bent. It consists of carbon and a relatively low amount of alloy content.  A high amount of iron and ferrite makes it more magnetic with less tensile strength than carbon or alloy steel. Used in producing automobiles, nails, fencing, and signs, mild steel is easily weldable, recyclable, and can be cut, bent, and twisted easily. Regardless of your commercial steel building project, we recommend visiting U.S. National Steel to explore the right solution for your next project.

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Author: Fazal Umer

Fazal is a dedicated industry expert in the field of civil engineering. As an Editor at ConstructionHow, he leverages his experience as a civil engineer to enrich the readers looking to learn a thing or two in detail in the respective field. Over the years he has provided written verdicts to publications and exhibited a deep-seated value in providing informative pieces on infrastructure, construction, and design.