Steel is a great material to use in many projects due to its strength, durability, flexibility and long lifespan. It can be used to construct everything from small, intricate parts to larger things like trusses, oil rigs, or even entire buildings. For many projects, the process of building with steel begins at the local steel supplier.
In Houston, there are several steel suppliers who offer the basics, like angle iron, channel or pipe. To find the best steel supplier for your needs, or your business’s needs, here are a few things to look for:
#1 A Wide Selection In order to meet your needs, you need to find a Houston steel supplier that offers a wide variety of types, grades and alloys of steel. The basic selection should include multiple varieties of carbon steels, stainless steel, and galvanized steel in various grades, as wells as other alloys and metals necessary for your project, such as aluminum. Here are a few of the most popular products that should be stocked regularly:
- Angle iron: Used for things like bed rails, frames, legs, shelves and trays, it is steel that has been formed into an “L” shape at the cross-section. Common sizes available range from ½ inch by ½ inch, to 9 inches by 4 inches, with thicknesses from 1/8 inch to over an inch.
- Channel iron: With a C-shaped cross section, channel iron is often used for structural components such as building rafters or joists, frame members for trailers or vehicles, or for other load-bearing components. It is commonly available in depths ranging from 3 to 15 inches, with varying flange widths, web heights, and thicknesses.
- Strips, bars and plates: Flat steel, either cold-rolled or hot rolled, available in thickness from ½ inch to over an inch, with varying widths. Used to construct larger objects, or where a flat piece of steel is required for strength or protection.
- I-beams: Used as load-bearing beams in buildings and other structures, I-beams have a cross-section that resembles an “H” rotated 90 degrees, giving it extreme durability with reduced weight. I-beams are available in multiple sizes and lengths.
- Square or rectangular tubing: Often used as load-bearing components in buildings, for vehicle frames, or for carrying fluids. Square tubing is available in widths from ½-inch per side, up to 16 inches per side. Rectangular tubing is commonly available in sizes from 1 ½ by 1 inch to 12 inches by 8 inches at varying thicknesses.
- Round tubing or pipe: Used to create structural components or to carry fluid or gases, steel pipes and tubes are available in multiple sizes, from 1/8 inch diameters, to 48-inch diameters, with multiple wall thicknesses.
- Round, square or hex bars: Steel bars in multiple sizes, cold-rolled or hot rolled. These bars are used for structural components or for decorative purposes.
- Sheets: Steel sheets are often used for cladding, siding, or other purposes. The sheets may be flat, or have ridges to provide extra strength, and are available in multiple sizes and finishes.
- Floor plates: Thick steel sheets or plates used for flooring, often with textured surfaces for grip. Available in a variety of pre-cut sizes.
- Grating: Assembled steel grating made from bars, which is used for securely covering windows or other openings, or for creating fencing or grills.
- Expanded metal: Often used for screening or grating, expanded metal is available in sheets with varying designs, hole sizes and thicknesses.
- Other products: Depending on the supplier, there may also be pipe fittings, flanges, welding supplies, rebar, fencing, wire, and other steel-related products available.
#2 Fair Prices
The prices at your chosen supplier should be competitive with other Houston steel suppliers, as well as suppliers from other areas. They should also offer good prices on overstocked or surplus items, and be willing to buy surplus steel at reasonable prices, if they buy surplus steel. The prices of steel continually fluctuate, and the supplier you choose should be quick to adjust to market forces, so that you get a good price no matter when you need to resupply.
#3 Quality Products
The steel stock your supplier offers should be quality steel, accurately identified by its variety and grade. Manufactured products, such as tubing, channel, pipe, fittings and flanges should accurately reflect their dimensions and specifications, and surplus or other similar products should be adequately marked and appropriately priced.
#4 Sufficient Quantity of Products
A good steel supplier will have the appropriate quantities of steel products available on demand, so that you can complete your project in a timely manner, no matter how big or how small it is. Often, smaller suppliers can run out of important products at the worst time, or not stock enough of popular products to begin with. Make sure your supplier can meet your demands when necessary.
#5 Good Customer Service
In addition to choosing a company that has a wide variety of steel in stock, sufficient quantities for any of your projects, and high-quality products, you should also make sure that your Houston steel supplier has a history of good customer service. This includes working with you to meet your project’s budget and time constraints, as well as offering specialty products that are hard to find. The company should also offer free quotes on your materials, along with easy and inexpensive delivery options to make sure that the materials arrive to the job site when necessary, without the hassle of arranging your own delivery. Finally, it should also offer decent financing options to qualified businesses and individuals to make the payment process easier on your budget.
Once you find a good steel supplier in Houston that meets all of these basic requirements, it is important to communicate regularly with the company, in order to form a solid working relationship that will meet both your needs and the supplier’s needs. By choosing a local supplier that you can count on, you can make sure that all of your steel needs are met quickly and conveniently, allowing you to focus on completing your projects on time and within budget, and growing your business to new and unprecedented levels.