Hot Rolled vs Cold Rolled Steel : What is the difference

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Basic difference between hot rolled and cold rolled steel is the way they are processed. Hot rolled steel involves rolling the steel above re-crystallization temperatures. Whereas cold rolled steel is processed in cold reduction mills followed by annealing and tempering. In this article we will discuss compare hot rolled vs cold rolled steel sheets.

Processing Temperature

Hot Rolling Steel

It involves rolling steel above re-crystallization temperature. Size and shape of the steel will be less predictable because during cooling process steel shrinks. 

Cold Rolling Steel

It involves rolling of steel in reduced mills at below re-crystallization temperature. This process is done at room temperature. As a result there are very less chances of steel shrinkage.

Manufacturing Cost

Hot rolled steel manufacturing cost is less compared to cold rolled steel. Therefore cold rolled steel cost more compared to hot rolled steel.


Cold rolled steel yield strength is higher than hot rolled steel sheets. Therefore cold rolled steel is less likely to fail under pressure.

Sheet Quality & Finish

Cold Rolled steel will have closed thickness profile, good surface texture and flatness compared with Hot Rolled Steel.

Cold rolled has a smooth and shiny finish while hot rolled has a grey and scaly finish.

Available Thickness

Hot Rolled steel sheets are available in the range of ” 1.6 mm to 10 mm” thickness. Whereas Cold rolled steel sheets are available from “0.1 mm to 4 mm” thickness.


Hot rolled steel sheets are used in fabrication work where aesthetics and quality are not very important. For example railway track, automotive frames, structural frames, low accuracy sheet metal parts etc.

Whereas cold rolled steel are used for precision and quality fabrication work. For example, consumer electronics and telecom products, Metal furniture, automobile industry etc.

Hot Rolled vs Cold Rolled Steel Steel

Properties Hot Rolled Steel Sheet Cold Rolled Steel Sheet
Processing Temperature Above Re-Crystalization Temperature Below Re-Crystalization Temperature
Cost Low High
Strength Low Strength High Strength
Quality and Finish Moderate Good
Available Thickness 0.1mm to 4mm Good


To sum up, hot rolled steel sheets are used to take impact load and for low cost fabrication work. Whereas cold rolled steel sheets are used for very precise and quality work. Read this article for more details on sheet metal materials.

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