Surplus steel is an affordable alternative to new steel products, and though it may have minor blemishes or imperfections, it is often just as useful, especially where perfection is not a requirement. Surplus steel is often sourced from steel suppliers or manufacturers that have gone out of business while still having significant stock on hand, businesses that have mistakenly ordered too much steel for their needs or construction projects that have significant amounts of steel leftover from design changes or over-ordering.
In many cases, the surplus steel is in near-perfect condition, and in others, it may have minor imperfections or may have been cut or altered for a particular purpose. By selecting your materials carefully, surplus steel can be a great choice for many projects, while saving significant amounts of money versus buying new steel products.
Here are some examples of projects where surplus steel would be a great fit:
1) Farm or Ranch Fences
Fences that must contain large livestock like cattle, horses, pigs or goats need to be extremely strong and durable to prevent the animals from escaping and to keep predators out. Surplus steel like pipe, steel tubing or steel channel can create extremely strong fences posts that can be used in combination with welded wire fencing or barbed wire to create a long-lasting fence for larger areas that is cost-effective. For smaller areas, such as enclosed pens, that need increased strength, surplus steel can be used to create the entire fence, including posts and horizontal bars or slats.
When built correctly, steel gates are externally strong and lightweight compared to heavy wood gates. With surplus steel like angle iron, pipe, channel or tubing, it is easy to create a gate to close off a walkway through a fence, a driveway or a road. For gates in fences, a simple rectangular frame can be made from four pieces of steel cut to length, with bracing added horizontally, vertically or diagonally to strengthen the frame and keep it square. Expanded metal mesh or grating can be added to finish the gate, preventing animals passing through. To block a road, a simple gate can be made from steel pipe, tubing or channel, using three pieces in a triangular pattern or four pieces in a rectangular pattern, which is hinged on one end and mounted to a post.
3) Cattle Guards
In fenced areas where gates would be impractical, a cattle guard can be used to contain cattle and other livestock. It can be made from a combination of surplus steel pipe and either steel channel or beams. At the opening in the fence, a trench is dug in line with the fence, a few feet deep and a few feet wide. Two pieces of steel beam or channel are laid perpendicular to the fence, with several rows of steel pipe or channel placed at intervals of several inches along the tops of the beams, parallel to the fence. This creates a surface that can easily be driven over by a vehicle, but discourages livestock from crossing, because their feet can slip through the spaces between the pipes.
4) Yard Fencing
In many urban or suburban areas, a fenced yard provides a place for children or animals to play safely without worrying about traffic or other problems. With surplus steel pipe, a simple fence can be created by sinking pipes into the ground at regular intervals of six to eight feet, at the desired height of the fence. The posts can be anchored with concrete, then either chain link fencing, welded wire or expanded metal can be used to enclose the area between the posts. If carbon steel pipe is used, instead of galvanized, it will need to be painted to protect it from the elements.
5) Car Ports
Storing your vehicle outdoors can expose it to damage from the elements, such as hail storms, falling leaves and branches and excessive amounts of sun, which can easily damage the finish. While a garage is the best solution, some homes do not include one, and building a garage can be expensive and may be prohibited in some areas, due to local regulations or code requirements. A less expensive alternative is a carport, which is a simple structure with vertical posts, open sides and a roof that provides shade and protection for your vehicle. The posts can be created with surplus steel pipes, channel or tubing, while the rafters for the roof can be created from steel channel or tubing. Add some steel or tin roofing, and you have a durable shade structure for your vehicle and protection from hail storms and falling branches.
6) Shade Structures
In areas with a significant amount of sunny weather, a simple shade structure can provide a cool place to enjoy a picnic, or it can provide shade for mobile homes or recreational vehicles, reducing cooling costs. With gutters, downspouts and storage tanks, it can also be used in drier areas to harvest rainwater for agricultural uses or gardening. With a combination of surplus steel pipes, beams, channel, and tubing, a simple shade structure of nearly any size can be built with ease. Simply install vertical posts at regular intervals at each side of the structure, anchored with concrete. Add horizontal beams at the top of two opposing sides to support rafters, and install steel channel or tubing between the beams as rafters at regular intervals of about two feet. Add steel or tin sheet metal for roofing and gutters, if it will be used for water harvesting.
These are just a few of the hundreds of products that are perfect for surplus steel. In these applications, the steel does not need to be perfect, and it can easily be sanded and finished to make it visually appealing. By choosing surplus steel for these projects, you can save significant amounts of money, without sacrificing quality or durability.