Hot Rolled vs. Cold Rolled Weathering Steel

Cold or Hot Rolled Steel

Hot Rolled vs. Cold Rolled Weathering Steel

Weathering steel comes in many grades, specifications and shapes and can be used in a variety of applications — from landscape projects to bridge building. Some types of weathering steel are better suited for certain applications, and knowing the right type to use for specific applications can save time and money on additional processing. 

The manufacturing processing of steel can have a significant impact on steel products even if the grades and specifications are the same. For instance, weathering steels can be hot rolled or cold rolled. 

What is the difference between hot rolled and cold rolled weathering steel? 

This is a common question we receive from customers. The difference lies in how the material is processed. 

Hot rolled steel

In the manufacturing process, hot rolled weathering steel is roll-pressed with additional heat at temperatures above 1,700 degrees Fahrenheit. This step makes the steel easier to form and shape and results in a wider size range. However, because steel shrinks slightly as it cools, hot-rolled steel can be prone to shrink, and there is less control over its final shape and dimensions. Consequently, hot-rolled steel is often used in applications where precise dimensions are not as crucial. Hot rolled steel requires much less processing, which makes it more affordable than cold rolled steel. 

Cold rolled steel

Cold rolled steel starts off by being processed the same way as hot rolled steel; however, once the steel has cooled to room temperature, it is re-rolled at room temperature. This additional processing results in more precise dimensions and enhanced surface qualities. Cold rolled steels are also harder and stronger than standard hot rolled steels. Cold rolled steel, therefore, is used for more technically precise applications or applications where the appearance of the steel is more important. Due to the additional processing required, cold rolled steel is typically more expensive. 

Ultimately, how you plan to use the steel is often the deciding factor when choosing between hot rolled and cold rolled weathering steel. For reference, Central Steel’s office building is built out of cold rolled weathering steel. We’ve also found that cold-rolled materials (18 GA sheets or thinner) usually form the protective patina quicker than hot-rolled materials (16 GA sheets or thicker). 

Contact Central Steel Service for High Strength Weathering Steels

Established in 1981, Central Steel Service, Inc. specializes in the distribution of High Strength Weathering, High Strength and Abrasion Resistant Steel products. Our hot rolled and cold rolled weathering steels are available in a wide range of specifications and shapes. Generally, and unless specifically-ordered otherwise, cold rolled products are available in 18ga (.045) and lighter gauges through 22ga (.028), and hot rolled products are available from 16ga (.056”) through 1:2.” 

Contact an experienced sales representative, and we can help you determine the best type of steel for your project.