Common Metals in the Construction Industry

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Chosen for their durability, strength and resistance to weather, metals used in the construction industry serve a wide range of functions. The most common of them are carbon steel, aluminum, copper tubing and stainless steel, which each have their particular qualities and ideal uses. As a whole, however, these metals are ubiquitous in the world of buildings and architecture, in applications both small and large.

Common Metals in the Construction Industry

Carbon steel is one alloy that is prized in the construction industry for its hardness and strength. It is typically used to make beams for structural framework, plates for highway construction, and rectangular tubing for welded frames trailer beds, and bridges. It is also a material of choice to make rebar and hollow structural sections (HSS). Made by mixing carbon and iron together, carbon steel is classified on a scale of “mild” to “very high,” depending on how much carbon is present in the metal.

Aluminum is also commonly used in the industry because it is resistant to corrosion, highly conductive and ductile. Because it is resistant to harsh weather, the metal is used in windows, doors, and wire, as well as outdoor signage and street lights.  The metal is processed into sheets, tubes and castings, and also used to build automobiles and trucks, as well as bicycles and marine vessels. HVAC ducts, roofs, walling and handles made of aluminum are also frequently found in the building industry.

Copper tubing, which comes in two main types, is often used to construct pipes in buildings. Rigid copper tubing is ideal for hot and cold tap water pipes in buildings. Soft copper, on the other hand, is frequently used to make refrigerant lines in HVAC systems and heat pumps. Copper ductile, malleable metal is resistant to corrosion from water and soil, and is also recyclable. Copper tubing is also easily soldered, forming lasting bonds. All of these properties make this metal ideal for piping and tubing.

Stainless steel is among one of the oldest known building materials. It was used centuries ago to construct structures that still stand today, thanks to the corrosion and stain resistant properties of the metal. Some of the most famous architectural structures, such as the Chrysler Building in New York City, rely on stainless steel for its strength, durability and reliability. Stainless steel is an alloy of several different metals, the amounts of which can be adjusted to create different grades of stainless steel with different properties. The most common grade is 301, which is ductile and easily welded.   It can be found in roofing, structural applications, handrails and balustrading, architectural cladding, as well as in drainage components.

Carbon steel, aluminum, copper tubing and stainless steel are all durable, strong and corrosion resistant metals that are frequently applied in the building industry. These metals form everything from door frames and highways, to pipes and staircases.

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