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Cold Rolled Steel vs. Hot Rolled Steel

Hot and cold rolled steel both serve a purpose, but what’s the difference?

These two materials can be very similar and, depending on your specific needs, they can both be used for welding, machining, or other manufacturing needs. So what is the real difference between hot rolled and cold rolled steel? It’s all about the process used to create the specific shapes of steel. Here are some of the main differences for you to compare!

Rolling process:

  • Hot rolled

This process involves rolling the steel at a high temperature (over 1700° F). When steel is heated to this temperature, it can be shaped and formed easily and can be developed into much larger sizes. It’s often manufactured without delays in the process. When the steel cools off, it will shrink slightly, giving the steel manufacturer less control over the size and shape of the finished product.

  • Cold Rolled

Cold rolled steel starts the process in the same manner as hot rolled steel, however; it then undergoes further processing. After the first step, the steel is processed in cold reduction mills, where the material is cooled (at room temperature) followed by more rolling. This process will produce steel with a more accurate size and shape as well as a wider variety of finishes.


  • Hot Rolled

Hot rolled steel will have a scaly gray finish and more rounded and less precise corners than cold rolled steel.

  • Cold Rolled

Cold rolled steel has a much smoother appearance and may have square corners. It can have a more finished surface and will be more accurate in dimension.

Steel Uses:

  • Hot Rolled

Hot rolled steel is used more often in welding and construction. Some common uses are railroad tracks, I-beams, and other steel construction materials that don’t require precise dimensions.

  • Cold Rolled

Cold rolled steel is better for machining, the quality of the steel is an important factor in the quality of the final product, and the appearance of the steel is a key element of the machining process.

At PTL we are adept at using both types of steel for a variety of processes and products. To learn more about our material sales and manufacturing, call us at 931-647-0675 or visit our website!  We are also available for a wide array of other needs such as facilities maintenance, millwright, and more! At PTL we utilize more than 30 years of industrial experience to tackle our industry’s toughest challenges with innovative solutions. Contact us to learn how PTL can help your business today!


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