How to Choose the Best Steel for Your Project

How to Choose the Best Steel for Your Project

Sometimes the best things in life are planned – like buying steel. Of course, you will most likely encounter emergency situations on a job site that require you to buy steel the day of and call around to all local shops in a frenzy to find the material you need. That can’t be avoided. But what can be avoided are headaches and spending more on the material than you should. So, whether you’re planning a new job or looking to remodel your home with steel material, you will need to choose what is best for you. And that is done in the preparation. So, here are some tips on how to choose the best steel for your next project.

How to Choose the Best Steel for Your Project

Start with the Scope of the Project

As soon as you know the project you will need steel for, you will have to think about the size of the project. You could be dealing with a large project like constructing a barn frame out of steel or a residential home out of a steel frame. Or you could be on the smaller side with a project like replacing an AC unit cage or redoing your smoker grills. Once you determine the scope of the project, you will start to gain an understanding of exactly how much material you will need.

Research the Material You Will Need

Once you outline your project and determine the sizes, quantity, and type of material you need you will need to do some further research. You will need to first make sure the sizes of the material you need exist. It’s a common reason for frustration when customers believe a product like square tubing comes in a certain size when it was fabricated specifically for the prior project and does not exist as a stock item. Then, you will need to make sure the material you need is available in the type of metal you need – steel, aluminum, stainless, etc.

Determine If You Need A Fabricator

During your research, you will find there may be aspects of your project that require welding and other fabrication processes. If you do not have to do the skillset to do those tasks, you will have to outsource. To get the best results, ask your local metal suppliers for referrals on fabricators they trust.

Research Metal Suppliers/Distributors/Service Centers

Now that you have your materials list, start calling around to local metal supply companies that can provide you with the metal you need. This will be the most labor-intensive part of your metal buying journey. In this current climate, certain steel products have become difficult to acquire, so keep that in mind. Also, this is when it’s best to ask what services these companies provide aside from supplying material. That can range from cutting material to size, bending, hole punching, delivery, and more. This may be the determining factor in what business you choose to purchase from.

Develop A Budget

After your preliminary research, you will be ready with a materials list and an idea of pricing. This will be when you are best informed and best equip at setting up a budget for your project. Make sure you have a range for your budget rather than one flat number. You will be better set up for success.

Establish a Timeline

As you’ve now established your budget and material list, you will need to create a timeline for when you need to receive your materials. When creating this timeline, ensure you have two dates: when you would ideally want the material and when is the last possible day to receive the material. Doing this will allow you to determine what supplier best fits your needs.

Decide on A Supplier

After all the legwork, you are now set up to purchase. You’ve now dwindled down the suppliers. You’ve based that on what they have in stock, their pricing, lead time on materials, and the services they provide. Choose the supplier that best works for you.

Set-Up Method of Receiving Material

After you’ve purchased your material, you will need to determine how you will receive them. Either it will be by the supplier themselves delivering material to your job site, picking it up yourself, or finding a third party to deliver the material.


Once you have all your steel at the job site, you’re almost ready to install! Get your crew together, schedule any fabricators you inquired about, and grab all your last-minute supplies. It took some work, but now you’re ready to get started.

No matter the size of the project, buying steel requires research. There’s no way around it. However, knowing how to conduct your research will put you ahead of the game. Although you will still be left with questions, make sure to use your TSS sales representatives to your advantage. Good luck!

Visit Tampa Steel & Supply for Steel

Are you in need of steel supplies? Look no further than the professionals at Tampa Steel and Supply. We stock an extensive list of steel products for whatever project you need to tackle. We’re proud to have served our customers for nearly four decades and are ready to assist you with your steel needs. Have questions? Give us a call today to learn more, or stop by our beautiful Tampa showroom.

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