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Stainless steel sections for structural applications


Unlike carbon steel, there have not been listings of open section sizes for stainless steel structural sections, until the BSSA researched and published their Sections Directory in May 2004. This gives the full range of ‘standard’ stainless steel sections that are readily available and the companies who supply them. The directory distinguishes between producers and distributors as well as showing the main stainless steel grades available from each supplier across the complete size range.

Section tables available

The directory can be downloaded from Structural Sections. Section tables available

Manufacturing Method Section Type
Hot Rolled, (Part 1.1) Channels
. Equal Sided Angles
. Unequal Sided Angles
. Unequal T-Profiles
Hot Extruded & Special Sections, (Part 1.2) Z Profiles
. I Beams
. Channel, (parallel)
. Channel, (taper)
. Equal Sided Angles
. Unequal Sided Angles
. Equal T Profiles
. Unequal T profiles
Cold Formed Sections, (Part 2) .
Rolled Equal Sided Angles
. Unequal Sided Angles
. Channel s
Formed Z Profile
. Special Sections, (doors and windows)
Drawn Equal Sided Angles
. Unequal Sided Angles
. T Profiles
Welded Sections, (Part 3) I Profiles
. H Profiles
. Channels
. Equal Sided Angles
. Unequal Sided Angles
. Equal Sided T Profiles
. Unequal Sided T Profiles
Circular Hollow Sections, (Part 4.1) .
Square Hollow Sections, (Part 4.2) .
Rectangular Hollow Sections, (Part 4.3) .

Section properties

The Sections Directory cross-references the specific products and properties included in the design tables section of the Steel Construction Institute (SCI) publication, Structural Design of Stainless Steel. This also provides a comprehensive source of practical design guidance and has recently been revised to incorporate current advances in the understanding of the structural behaviour of stainless steel. With BSSA sponsorship, SCI has also developed interactive software to assist architects and designers in the calculation of section properties and member capacities according to UK design codes. This is now available free-of-charge on the SCI’s linked site . Select the ‘UK Codes’ option on the site’s home page, or go here.

Hollow sections

The hollow sections listed in the directory are available in grades 1.4301, (304), 1.4307, (304L), 1.4401, (316), 1.4404, (316L) and 1.4571, (316Ti).

Normally hollow sections are welded from strip or plate. Seamless sections are also available, but with a more restricted range of sizes. There is no strength advantage from using seamless tubes compared to welded sections of the same sizes. Provided full penetration seam welds are used in the manufacture of welded sections their strengths are comparable with seamless sections. On certain finishes however the weld seam may be visible, which may be unacceptable for aesthetic reasons.

The design strength of ‘as-formed’ austenitic stainless steel tubes is generally higher than for the same grade of annealed tubes. For most structural applications either annealed or ‘as-formed’ supply conditions can be expected to provide comparable corrosion resistance.

Approximate Range of Available Dimensions

Circular Hollow Sections, 1.0-30mm thick, 6.0-914mm diameter, Square Hollow Sections, 1.0-25mm thick, 10 x 10-800 x 800 width, Rectangular Hollow Sections, 1.0-25mm thick, 20 x 10-900 x 600mm width.

Approximate range of available dimensions:

Circular hollow sections: thickness: 0.25 to 8.0 mm, diameter: 3 to 250 mm
Rectangular hollow sections: thickness: 1.0 to 8.0 mm, width: 20×10 to 300×150 mm
Square hollow sections: thickness: 1.0 to 8.0 mm, width: 10×10 to 300×300 mm
Oval hollow sections: thickness: 1.0 to 3.0 mm, diameter: 61×37 to 121×76 mm

Open sections

Open sections, including many masonry support section types, can be press formed from flat sheet or plate. These are available as standard products or to special design and include formed and welded sections, such as I sections made up of two channels welded, back to back. Thicker sections are manufactured from welded flat plate, but may be subject to final straightness limitations. Heavier sections sizes may be hot formed, either by extrusion or rolling. Open sections can usually be sourced in grades 1.4301, (304) and 1.4401, (316). Some less common and more ‘specialised’ grades, including 1.4713, (a 6-8% chromium heat resisting ferritic steel), are also available. For information on how to select the most suitable grade for internal or external building applications, see articles Selection of stainless steels for building internal applications and Selection of stainless steels for building external applications

Solid sections (bars)

Round, square, rectangular and hexagonal solid bars are generally widely available in grades 304, (1.4301) and 316, (1.4401) and additionally in other more specialised grades, including duplex 2205, (1.4462).

Approximate range of available dimensions:

Circular: diameter: 2 to 450 mm
Flats: thickness: 3.0 to 25 mm, width: 12×150 mm
Square: width: 3 to 300 mm
Hexagonal: across flats: 5 to 100 mm

Fixings and fasteners

Fasteners to BS EN ISO 3506 property class 70 are most widely available from stockholders, Stainless steel bolts, washers, nuts, studs, rivets and self-tapping screws are widely available.

Specially designed fasteners can also be supplied in a range of grades. Special grades for specific applications such as swimming pool buildings are also available from specialist suppliers. See the web site Buyer’s Guide for contacts

On-line supply sources for stainless steel sections

In addition to the Sections Directory, the BSSA Buyers Guide area of the web site can be used for sourcing stainless products, including a range sections, using the home page ‘Buyer’s Guide’ selection.

The range of section choices in this guide are shown in the table below;

BSSA Buyers Guide
Hollow sections (tubes) Circular hollow sections, (CHS) Tubes-welded-Tubes and components
Oval hollow sections
Rectangular hollow sections, (RHS) Sections-rectangular hollow-Long Products
Tubes- rectangular- Tubes and components
Square hollow sections, (SHS) Tubes-square- Tubes and components
Open sections Equal and unequal angles Angles- Long Products
Channels Channels-Long Products
‘T’ sections Sections-T Shaped-Long Products
‘I’ sections, (universal columns/beams) Sections-Long Products
Profiles-hot rolled-Intermediate Steel Products
Profiles-hot extruded-Intermediate Steel Products
Sections-cold formed- Long Products
Profiled flat sections Roll formed sections and sheet panels Profiles-cold rolled- Intermediate Steel Products
Sections-special,cold rolled- Long Products
Cold drawn sections Drawn narrow sections Sections-special,cold drawn- Long Products
Solid sections (bars) Circular, (round) Bars-round- Long Products
Rectangular, (flat) Bars-flat,hot rolled- Long Products
Square Bars-square- Long Products
Hexagonal Bars-hexagon- Long Products

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