We use steel in several aspects of life. We use metal to build roofs, equipment, machines, computers, hinges, door locks, and many more. Almost everything around us these days has its part of its component. For example, a high-rise building uses metal for its internal structure. Our smartphones take advantage of metal for their internal and external casing. The chassis of our vehicles leverage steel for a more robust frame.
Everywhere we look, we see it as a part of our life. However, it does not simply come in one type. Different applications require different thicknesses, which we refer to as metal gauges. A high-rise building requires a thicker sheet than a one-story house. Your vehicle’s chassis would need a thinner sheet than a metro station.
In the following sections, we will tackle the different varieties of metal sheets, together with a chart for a clearer understanding.
Table of Contents
- What does gauge mean in steel?
- What steel gauge is thicker – 10, 11, 12, 14, 16, or 18?
- Sheet Metal Thickness Chart
- Standard Steel
- Stainless Steel
- Galvanized Steel
- Easy tools to measure the gauge
What does gauge mean in steel?
A sheet metal gauge, or simply a metal gauge, refers to the thickness of a specific material, which is steel in this case. The standard system expresses it in numbers, where a higher number means a thinner material, and a lower number means a thicker one.
Its weight is 41.82 lbs per square foot per inch of thickness, which we use to express weight per square foot. It is a standard value for the sheet metal gauge chart, which is different for brass and aluminum. For example, an eight sheet has a thickness of 0.1644 inches. Its weight will be 41.82 * 0.1644 inches = 6.875 lbs per square foot.
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In the United States, they use inches and feet to measure. For sheet metal thickness, they use the gauge, which is a dimensionless number. Larger numbers denote a thinner sheet, while smaller numbers denote a thicker sheet.
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What steel gauge is thicker – 10, 11, 12, 14, 16, or 18?
From 10 to 18, the thickest is the 10, and the thinnest is the 18. If we look at the measurements, the increments are minimal. For example, a size ten standard steel is 0.1345 inches, while a size 11 is 0.1196 inches. It does not imply there is not much difference in its strength. The former is significantly more durable than the latter despite a very minimal thickness increase.
The following section shows a table of all the measurements you need. The weight per area is also available for your convenience.
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Sheet Metal Thickness Chart
The table below shows the sheet metal thickness chart to make sure you get the right products. We have these in millimeters and inches, so you do not have to convert from gauge to mm or to inches. It’s no different from copper wire and PVC pipe having their own standards and specifications.
Moreover, you don’t have to spend time searching the internet about how thick is an 8-gauge because we have all the information you need in the chart below. If there is a need to make conversions, we recommend checking this article about SAE to the metric conversion size chart.
The volume and material will influence the weight, which is the reason you see the vast changes between gauges.
|Gauge||Thickness (inch)||Thickness (mm)|
Weight per Area
Pros of standard steel
- Stiffer and stronger than stainless steel due to removal of lower carbon content.
- Has magnetic properties which can be useful.
- Higher thermal conductivity which makes distribute heat evenly.
- Powder coating on steel can be used to make interiors more aesthetic in various colors.
- Duller shine compared to stainless steel
- Not resistant to rust and corrosion like stainless type.
- More maintenance required.
|Thickness||Weight per Area|
Pros of stainless steel
- Most resistant to corrosion and rust than other cheaper metals.
- Lustrous shine that doesn’t dull
- Maximum resistance to moisture.
- Minimal maintenance.
- Can withstand more abuse.
- Self-healing capabilities.
- Great for food and beverage since it doesn’t affect the taste of food and can be cleaned and sterilized easily.
- Less malleable
- Lower heat distribution due to low thermal conductivity
|Thickness||Weight per Area|
Pros of galvanised steel
- Very durable
- Long-lasting metals
- Smooth finishing
- Scratch-free surface.
However, we must note that the thickness may change according to the steel type. For example, a size three in standard steel is 0.2391 inches thick, while a three in stainless steel is 0.2500 inches. The difference is minimal but could make or break it in actual application. Another example is between the size 38 standard and stainless steel. The former is 0.0060 inches thick, while the latter is 0.0062 inches. Again, the difference is very minimal.
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Easy tools to measure the gauge
Here’s a tool that makes it easy for you to figure out what you have rather than having to consult a chart. Otherwise, scroll down to check out the chart.
- The round tool works great for wire & steel.
- It’s sturdier than we anticipated.
- Engraved numbers that are colored in
- Good value
- The edges are somewhat sharp.
- It’s great for steel metal.
- Very handy
- Nice that it can attach to the key ring.
- It does not measure wire.
- It doesn’t feel quite as durable.
- The round device above measures more gauges.
There are several metal gauge types in the market, which gets confusing. The following should give you a rough idea of where each one is ideal to use, such as:
- residential buildings
- commercial spaces
- repair shops
- and many more.
These are not the only available ones because there are so many options in the market. These are the ones that are common and sell out faster than the rest.
We thought it would be more convenient for customers to get more information on the types, particularly in the application.
The 24 is common for use in buildings that experience snow loads or high winds and standing seam panels. We also use it for residential roofing and it’s great for metal stamping, forming the shapes you need in a neat process.
We use the size 22 for metal roofing. It runs on the thinner side of sheet metals, so expect it to be lighter. We also use the same for steel chairs and desks.
The size 20 is common in flutter spoon and metal case manufacturing. If you wish to drill a hole at the center of it, we recommend using a carbide bit.
We also use the 20-gauge for oversize caskets because it is much lighter than a 22.
We use the size for regular casket sizes. Despite its heftier weight than the 20, we recommend using it because of its smaller dimensions in a not oversize casket.
Our recommendation for the 16 is for light to medium-duty projects. You can use it for your desk and table projects at home. The kitchen sink is another home application for this option.
The 14 gauge is likely the global standard for frame thickness for metal structures and carports. Although several people compare the 12 with the 14, you must know when to use one over the other.
Some manufacturers interchangeably use the two, depending on the availability. Before making any decisions, we recommend confirming the requirements. The 14 gauge standard steel thickness is 0.0747 inches.
The 12 typically stands out in applications such as:
- base rail anchor of a building
- overhead rafters
- vertical uprights
- window frames
- door frames
- and cutouts.
Manufacturers also use a 12 for steel during manufacturing.
Moreover, you should also see the 12 in:
- storage buildings
- retail stores
- parking garages
- auto repair shops
- and workshops.
As you can see above, 12 gauge standard steel has a thickness of 0.1046 inches.
The 11-gauge is about 1.45 times stronger than its size 12 sibling. However, their practical applications are similar. We also recommend using it for window frames, walkways, cutouts, door frames, parking garages, workshops, and retail stores. The thickness of gauge 11 standard steel is 0.1196 inches.
The 10-gauge works best on more heavy-duty applications, such as:
- blower systems
- industrial systems
- ventilation systems
- and many more.
They come in different heights so you can order the right one. The 10 gauge standard steel thickness is 0.1345 inches.
The 8-gauge is similar to the 10 in terms of application. We can use it for heavy-duty systems.
The 7-gauge is the thickest among the thicknesses listed in this section. We recommend using a 7 for any heavy-duty project, such as tall buildings and industrial systems. Manufacturers also use a 7 for:
- oversize tables
- and cabinets.
However, the trade-off is weight, which is significantly more. Gauge 7 standard steel has a thickness of 0.1793 inches, as you can see above.
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Besides getting the right thickness, metal comes in many different materials. We’ve covered sheets here, but make sure you figure out if you need galvanized steel, mild steel, carbon steel, or cold rolled. The chart above makes thickness conversion easy.
How do I find out my gauge size for sheet metal?
- Lay the sheet metal on a leveled surface to reduce the error in readings.
- Use a tape measure to measure the sheet metal’s thickness.
Use mm for maximum accuracy.
- Convert the value in mm to inches by multiplying it by 0.03937.
- Use a sheet metal gauge chart to find the number representing your sheet’s thickness.
For instance, a 1/20” thickness is represented by an 18 reading.
Whether you need metal bars or sheets, you’ll want to get the right items made of the appropriate materials. Sometimes it’s fractions or decimals of thickness that could determine if you have the right parts. We hope these articles help you.
We use the 12-gauge steel for storage buildings, workshops, manufacturing plants, retail stores, parking garages, and many more. It provides a ton of support, making it one of the common choices for short buildings.
A size 11 has more strength than a 12. It is 1.45 times stronger than the latter.
There are several options for the steel sheet gauges. You must know your project’s requirements before choosing the size that works best.
In standard steel, gauge 7 has a thickness of 4.554mm. Gauge 10 has a thickness of 3.416mm. Gauge 11 has a thickness of 3.308 mm, while gauges 11 & 12 have thicknesses of 3.038mm & 2.657mm.