Choosing Between Cold And Hot Rolled Steel Plates

When investigating plate metal options, two of the most common options you might encounter are cold and hot rolled steel. These types of steel plates differ in how they are processed at the mill and this can affect how you may use them.

Fabrication Process

With hot rolled steel, the steel is processed simply at a high temperature. Then, the steel is allowed to cool on its own. Cold rolling still is also heated but is processed further afterward through the process of annealing and temper rolling. The plate metal is cooled in a way that is intended to achieve specific physical properties.

The Effects of Shrinkage

The goal of heating the metal during hot rolling is to raise the temperature above the recrystallization temperature. By doing so, the steel can then be shaped into any form that is needed. By skipping over other processes, the hot rolled steel will shrink and this will give you less control over the final shape of the steel plate. However, there are some cases where a precise shape is not necessary. For instance, you might use hot rolled steel for the following purposes:

  • Railroad tracks
  • Welding
  • I-beams
  • Simple cross-sections

Hot rolled steel is a less expensive way to make steel because there are no delays in the manufacturing process, unlike with cold-rolled steel. However, this comes at the expense of the valuable properties of cold-rolled steel. 

The Effects of Cold Rolling Steel

By incorporating cold rolling into the steel manufacturing process, several imperfections can be eliminated through grinding, turning, polishing and cold drawing. After these processes, the cold-rolled steel will have a superior tolerance and surface finish. 

Ease of Use

Hot rolled steel is easier to work with because there is lower carbon content. Therefore, you may need help from more skilled welders using cold rolled steel. This may also increase labor costs and slow down productivity.


If you are concerned with the appearance of the final product, you may want to consider what plate metal looks like. After cooling, the hot rolled steel will typically have slightly rounded edges and corners. However, this might suit your needs.

There are several other types of plate metal, such as copperplate metal. It's important to research the characteristics of each plate metal supply and products so you can find the exact type of metal that will suit your organization's needs. Contact us to learn more.