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What is a Steel Sheet?

By B. Turner
Updated May 17, 2024
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A steel sheet is a unit of steel that has been formed into a relatively flat panel or sheet. Made from an alloy of iron and tin, steel sheets are available in both flat and coiled varieties. Depending on the thickness of the steel, the sheets can be cut to size using simple tin snips or steel shears. They are bent using a metal brake, and formed into many different types of components.

The thickness of a steel sheet is measured in terms of gauge. The higher the value of the gauge, the thinner the material will be, and the lower the gauge, the thicker and more durable the steel will be. Steel sheets tend to fall between 8 and 30 gauge, though some thinner or thicker products may be available for special applications.

While the thickness of these sheets can vary widely, very thin, papery sheets are often known as "foil" or "leaf." Once a steel sheet becomes very thick, it is generally referred to as a "plate." While there are no industry standards to separate sheets from plates, a sheet can usually be bent using a metal brake, while a plate cannot.

A standard steel sheet can actually be made from a number of different materials. Cold-rolled steel is the most common and most affordable. While it is widely used, cold-rolled steel is subject to rust and corrosion over time due to exposure to moisture or chemicals. Galvanized steel sheets have been coated with zinc through an electroplating process, which adds a layer of corrosion-resistance. Stainless steel sheets are the most expensive, and are mixed with chromium to improve corrosion resistance while giving the steel an attractive finish.

These sheets can be used in many different applications. They are used in the automotive industry for fabricating vehicle components, and are also used in aerospace construction. Some form of steel sheet is used to fabricate the casing for most machinery, and can be found on many electrical components.

Steel sheet products are also used on many types of projects within the construction industry. Sheet metal roofs are popular, and may be fabricated from stainless or galvanized steel. Steel sheets are also used to make ductwork, which transports air from heating and cooling equipment to locations throughout a home. These sheets can also be used for decorative or finish purposes both inside and outside of a building.

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Discussion Comments

By kylee07drg — On Jun 25, 2012

@shell4life - Metal roofs can be attractive, too. You don’t have to settle for a flat roof. My mother had her roof installed by a steel sheet supplier who offered a unique type of steel roof tile.

The tiles look like several shingles notched together, and they are wavy. The ones my mom chose are a red earthy color. The steel tiles are coated with stone, so this makes them look like really expensive roofing.

The cool thing is that though the roof appears to be made of hundreds of thousands of shingles, there are actually only hundreds of tiles present, since each tile is a series of shingle-like pieces stuck together. They feel rough like stone, and they look so fancy.

By lighth0se33 — On Jun 25, 2012

I have an artist friend who etches mild steel sheets. She has produced some gorgeous works of art this way, but the process involves the use of chemicals, and that makes me uneasy. I prefer just to watch her do it and to use paint for my own artwork.

She mixes up a solution of various powders and liquids. She even wears goggles and gloves while she handles them. If they are powerful enough to etch steel, then it is no wonder she needs protection.

She etched a drawing of a lighthouse onto a steel sheet for me, and I have it hanging by my bedroom window. I collect lighthouse art, and this is probably the most unique piece that I have.

By Perdido — On Jun 24, 2012

I once saw a huge galvanized steel sheet coil. I toured an appliance factory, and I learned that this type of metal is used to make dishwashers and washing machines. Because of that zinc coating, the steel doesn’t corrode when it’s in contact with moisture, so it was ideal for appliances that use water to do their jobs.

I had never seen steel rolled up into a sheet before, and it looked a bit odd. When I think of steel, I think of strong, sturdy material in a big, flat sheet. The fact that it was thin enough to be rolled just surprised me.

By shell4life — On Jun 23, 2012

My parents’ roof used to be covered in shingles, but after a few bad storms and many years of wear, the shingles started to fall off at an alarming rate. They decided to get a steel sheet metal roof to replace it.

I was concerned, because I lived there at the time, and I feared that having a metal roof would mean loud noise every time that it rained. I was surprised to find that this wasn’t true.

Yes, I could hear the rain, but it didn’t pound the roof as though it were an empty metal bucket as I had feared. Also, the steel roof was a very light color, so it reflected the sunlight and kept the house cooler.

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