A36 Steel Plates: Properties & Uses | An Overview

January 10, 2022 in Blog / Steel Plates
a36 steel plates

In 2020, the global steel plate market reached a value of $53.9 billion and is expected to grow to $65 billion by 2026. Over the years, steel has quickly become one of the most common materials for structural applications. Steel is an alloy of carbon and iron, but there are many different types with many different uses.

When planning a project, choosing the correct materials is essential. This article will provide an overview of A36 steel, which is one of the most common types of steel on the market. Keep reading to see why A36 steel might be the perfect choice for you.

What Is A36 Steel?

ASTM International (American Society for Testing and Materials) is a standards organization that regulates the standards of a huge range of materials, systems, services, and products all over the world.

One such material is A36 steel, which is one of the most common metals used for structural purposes. For most types of steel, the chemical composition is what determines the grading.

A36 Steel Chemical Composition

A36 is low carbon steel, and as such has a carbon content of less than 0.3% (by weight). This makes it very resistant to heat treatment.

A number of other alloying elements may be present in small amounts to give the final product desirable characteristics. As with most alloys, the amounts of these various elements can vary slightly. A typical makeup would be as follows:

  • Iron – 98%
  • Carbon – 0.25 – 0.29%
  • Copper – 0.2%
  • Manganese – 1.03%
  • Phosphorous – 0.04%
  • Silicon – 0.28%
  • Sulphur – 0.05%

These values may be different depending on the shape of the part being made or the application of the material.

A36 Steel Properties

The chemical makeup of steels determines the characteristics. This low amount of carbon gives A36 steel many desirable qualities:


Good formability means that a metal can be easily formed into a shape as required, without necking or cracking. Necking is when a specific point on a part thins faster than the surrounding material. Necking eventually leads to cracking.

A metal’s elongation is the amount of strain it can endure under tensile testing. The greater the elongation, the more strain it can take.


This quite simply refers to a metal’s ability to be welded. A36 steel has good weldability, so it is relatively easy to join two pieces together with a strong weld. Common methods such as gas metal-arc, shielded metal-arc, submerged-arc, flux core, and resistance welding are all suitable.


This is a measure of how easily the material can be machined (i.e. cut) while keeping a good finish. This is ideally done while maintaining a low cost. Cutting A36 steel is generally quite quick and easy. It also does not cause much wear to the cutting tool used.


A ductile material is one that will deform permanently when stress is applied. This could be bending, stretching, or spreading.

When a part is stressed, it will first deform elastically, meaning it will return to its original shape. When it goes past the ‘elastic limit,’ it will not return to its original shape. A36 steel is quite ductile, able to elongate to roughly 20% of the original length. More brittle materials will fracture more easily when stressed.


A36 is a very strong grade steel, which is one of the main reasons for its popularity.

A36 plates that are less than 8″ thickness can have a minimum yield strength of 36,000 psi and an ultimate tensile strength of 58,000-80,000 psi. This is an impressive level of strength, especially when taking into account the weight of the metal. This level of strength, along with the ductility of A36 steel, means that it has excellent impact resistance.


One of the main advantages of A36 steel is that it is relatively cheap to manufacture. This is an advantage across all industries, regardless of application. As A36 steel is often used for structural components, it is beneficial to be able to produce large quantities for bridges or buildings without having to spend excessive amounts.

What Are A36 Steel Splates Used For?

Structural applications are perhaps the most common uses for A36 steel. The mechanical properties make it an ideal construction material. It is not naturally corrosion-resistant, so is more often used for internal structures.

If needed, A36 steel can be galvanized to improve its corrosion resistance. This is done if the steel will be in an environment where it is exposed to moisture or weathering. External structures such as bridges and oil rigs are suitably made with A36 steel plates.

The strength-to-weight ratio is also a very useful trait when it comes to such applications.

A36 uses also often include some smaller applications:

  • Walkways
  • Boat landing ramps
  • Base plates
  • Parking garages

While it is less common, A36 steel plates are also sometimes used within the oil and gas industry, industrial manufacturing, and road plates.

Steel plates are also available in several other grades. Each grade has different characteristics to make them suitable for varying applications.

What Do You Need?

When it comes to different metals, the choices are nearly endless. For some jobs, A36 steel is the perfect material, but for others, you may need something harder, lighter, or more resistant to corrosion, for example.

Bushwick Metals is a leading supplier of metals, with a large number of types and parts in stock, ready to go. Our value-added services put us ahead of the competition, and we offer next-day delivery, so whatever you need, we’ll get it to you right away.

If you’re ready to order or just have some questions, the team is always ready to help. Click here to get in touch with us today.