An I-beam, also known as H-beam, W-beam (for “wide flange”), Universal Beam (UB), Rolled Steel Joist (RSJ), or double-T, is a beam with an I or H-shaped cross-section.
Also known as “American Standard Beams,” these have tapered flanges that increase their strength. They are used in building and home constructions, lifts, and hoists, trailers, and truck bed framing among others.
Steel beams are strong structural components, and although widely used in commercial or industrial constructions, they are used sparingly in the home or residential buildings. The reason is that wood is the primary structural material used in most homes due to perceived cheaper cost.
Average Cost of Steel I-Beams
The average I-beam prices range around $0.90 to $1.25 per pound or around 125 to 150 pounds beam of roughly 6 feet in length for a cost of $112.50 to $187.50.
The average professional fee of an engineer to calculate the proper length and mass of the I-beam to meet code ranges from $400 to $600.
The average labor cost to install steel I-beams that will take a half day ranges from $200 to $400, provided that you will be assisting in the lifting of the beam into place. Otherwise, expect to pay around $600 to $1,200 in total for labor and equipment rental per day to lift the beam in place.
However, users report I-beam prices, including installation costs around $2,100 on the average.
Factors Affecting Cost of Steel I-Beams
Two main factors are affecting the cost of steel beam installation, namely:
Price of steel
We all know that cost is the foremost consideration in the selection of structural material and form. Like all other materials, steel I-beam cost is also subject to fluctuations due to the rise and fall of supply and demand.
The challenge to the cost consultant is to recognize the price changes of steel and reconcile these changes to returned tender price information that is very limited during the early estimates.
Fortunately, the prices of these raw steel decreased significantly since 2008 and have now stood at $90 per ton. These prices are enough indications whether or not to use steel beams for home construction or find another cheaper alternative.
Cost of hiring professionals to install the steel beams
If you think of working with massive steel beams in a DIY fashion, think again. Even if you think you are experienced enough to do the job, it will never work. One reason is that you need three different types of professionals to do the job, namely:
- Engineer or Architect – the one who will supervise the overall workflow on the job site. He will do the evaluation of the worksite and will advise you and the contractors about the size and strength of the steel beam needed in the project.
- Contractors – are the ones who will physically install the steel I-beam with the aid of equipment they use to lift and place it.
- Delivery – professionals in charge of these ensure that the beams get to the worksite where they should be installed. They must consider the weight of the steel I-beams, the size of the truck, the distance the vehicle must travel and the physical challenges of unloading it at the site.
The decision on the type of materials to be used happens in the early part of the design process for most projects. Once the choice has been made, the frame material is unlikely to change. Otherwise, there would be a significant impact or implications to the other major elements of the design.
Aside from the main factors mentioned above, some other factors can be considered to have an impact on the steel beam prices to be used, namely:
Function, sector and building height
Different buildings have different functions, and these usages will dictate the design loadings. This influence means that the average weight of the steel beams and frames will vary between building types.
Form, site conditions and complexity
The intricacy of the structure is connected to building form, function and site conditions. This connection should be present to achieve structural stability.
Location, logistics, and access
The site of the project is a key factor in the steel beam prices or cost determination. There are available listings, which highlight the existence of varying market conditions in the various regions, which enable the cost adjustment across different regions.
The site-specific features also need to be reviewed because while the design frame of two different buildings may be similar, the logistics and access settlement will differ significantly among the various sites.
Program, risks and procurement route
Because of the challenges arising from the uncertainty of economic conditions and price changes, accurate forecast of steel materials is necessary.
Where to Find?
There are a lot of hardware stores and scrap metal yards around the country where you can find different I-beams and other steel products. For convenience, check out some of these stores:
Types of Steel Beams
Steel beams are necessary for the construction of any building or structure such as bridges, etc. But not many are aware that there are different types, sizes, and uses of steel beams based on their shape. Some are the following:
This type of beam is commonly used in industrial applications. They come in two different styles; one has parallel flange surface, the other one has a slope on the inner flange surfaces (S-beam). They may be used both on their own or acting compositely with another material, typically concrete.
These are otherwise known as wide flange beam and have flanges that nearly parallel to the web, unlike the traditional I-beam. They can be found in residential construction as well as many structural applications such as bridges and buildings.
Appearing like a letter H, they are generally longer and heavier compared to I-Beams, and they have long flanges. They are commonly used in commercial construction because their design is much wider than S-Beam, which conforms to code requirements for larger structures. Often, they are interchangeable with I-beams.