Hot-Rolled vs Cold-Rolled Steel

What Is Roll Forming

Alpine Sheet Metal Systems performs many different metal fabrication processes and techniques. Depending on the scope of your project and the specific metals that are needed, you might need to choose from among these techniques.

Hot-Rolled Steel

As the name implies, hot-rolled steel is steel that is rolled at very high temperature. The metal heated to very high temperatures, over 1700˚F. By heating the metal, it is softened and more malleable, and it makes the rolling process much easier. Hot-rolled steel is considerably easier to shape, and it can take on a wider range of shapes too. From there, it is cooled at room temperature.

There are plenty of pros and cons that come with the hot-rolled method for fabricating steel. All of them relate back to this process of shaping the steel while it is hot and then cooling it down at room temperature.


There are plenty of advantages to the hot-rolled steel technique.

  • For starters, fabrication takes less time because the process is easier.
  • The easier, faster process is also cheaper, so hot-rolled steel typically costs less than its cold-rolled counterparts.
  • At the same time, the single heating and gentle cooling process reduces any risks of internal stresses that are associated with steel quenching.
  • Also, hot-rolled steel is very common. Because of that, you can find hot-rolled steel in the most common shapes and applications.

When you have a project that requires custom-fabricated rolled steel, but you don’t need the very highest levels of precision in the final forms, then hot-rolled steel is an obvious choice.


On the downside, hot-rolled steel is not always an ideal way to go. Because the steel is heated, rolled, and then cooled, it undergoes considerable thermal expansion and contraction. As a result, the exact final size and shape of the steel are difficult to predict. In other words, hot-rolled steel forms are less precise.

Another downside to the process is that hot-rolled steel comes with a rough surface texture. You have to remove and buff the steel if you want to paint or otherwise finish it.

Cold-Rolled Steel

Cold-rolled steel is an alternative process for fabricating steel forms, but the name is less intuitive.

With the cold-rolled process, the steel is still heated, and while hot, the steel is rolled and then cooled. So far, this is the same as hot-rolled steel. The difference of cold-rolled steel is the what’s done to the steel after it has cooled.

Cold-rolled steel adds additional processing to the fabrication, and this happens in cold reduction materials. Once the hot steel is cooled and annealed, it is then re-rolled.

As a result of these extra steps, the fabrication is able to produce steel with better dimensional precision and tolerances.


  • Cold-rolled steel is more precise. Any project that requires high levels of precision in the steel shapes and sizes will prefer the cold-rolled method to the hot-rolled method.
  • Cold-rolled steel can achieve a wider range of surface finishes. This means that you don’t have to remove layers and buff the steel before achieving the finish that you want.
  • Cold-rolled steel is smoother on the surface and typically provides a shinier aesthetic.

On top of all of that, cold-rolled bars are square and true, tubes have better uniformity, and fabrications better match tolerance limits.


On the downside, the extra processing comes at the cost of time and money. You cannot get cold-rolled steel products for the same price as their hot-rolled counterparts.

Additionally, cold-rolled steel can not viably adapt as many shapes as hot-rolled steel can. 

Most importantly, the additional steps in processing can create internal stress. These stresses can lead to warping in the steel structure which can ruin final products. That’s another aspect of cold-rolled fabrication that can raise the cost of this type of steel.

Alpine Sheet Metal Systems Is Here to Help

Whether you need hot-rolled steel, cold-rolled steel, or anything else, you can get it all from Alpine Sheet Metal Systems. We’re located right here in Dallas, TX, so you can get your metals fabricated to order without any concerns for shipping delays.

We handle all kinds of metal fabrication, and we work with a wide range of materials. From architectural materials to rolled forms, we can make what you need to custom specifications.

Contact us today. Speak with one of our experts, and we’ll work with you to map out a plan that puts the metals you need where you need them right on time.

ASMS Sheet Metal Fabrication

About Jeff Folsom

Jeff Folsom is the founder and president of Alpine Sheet Metal Systems, a key player in North Texas’s commercial construction sector, specializing in roofing and architectural design. He also leads Alpine Roofing Construction and Alpine Thermal Imaging Systems, expanding his influence across the U.S. Residing in Dallas, Jeff enjoys travel, auto racing, and boating in his free time.

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