What’s the Difference Between ASTM A36 and ASME SA36?


The American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) A36 and the American Society for Mechanical Engineers (ASME) SA36 grades of steel plate are widely used in construction because of their strength and hardness. Both A36 and SA36 are available through Kloeckner Metals in a variety of forms, thicknesses, widths, and lengths, most commonly in steel plate.

Download Our Structural Steel Spec Sheet

Kloeckner Metals is a full-line steel supplier and service center. Download our structural plate spec sheet to see in greater detail what Kloeckner Metals routinely stocks.

Structural Plate Spec Sheet

Because of its strength and value, A36 and SA36 are supremely versatile metals that are found in a wide range of applications. Here is what we routinely supply:

Item Short Description Grade Product Short Description (Thickness “) Width “ Length “
Coil SA36 3/16″ – 1/2″ 84″, 96″ Any
Cut to Length SA36 3/16″ – 1/2″ 84″ – 96″ Any
Hot Rolled (Strip Mill) A36 / SA36 3/16″, 1/4″, 5/16″, 3/8″, 7/16″, 1/2″ 48″, 60″, 72″ Any
Discrete (Mill Rolled) A36 / SA36 3/16″, 1/4″, 5/16 84″ – 120″ 240″ – 480″
Discrete (Mill Rolled) A36 / SA36 3/8″ – 12″* 72″ – 144″ 240″ – 480″


What’s the Difference Between ASTM A36 & ASME SA36?

Let’s start with A36. A36 carbon steel plate is a common structural steel plate that you’ll find in a range of applications and industries because it adds rigidity and strength to projects at a better value than other steel plate grades. You will usually find A36 bolted and riveted in various structural applications. It is readily welded by all welding processes, including shielded metal arc welding, gas metal arc welding, and oxyacetylene welding.

SA36 steel is simply a variant of A36 that has virtually all of the same properties, but one important distinction.

How are A36 Steel and SA36 Steel Grades Defined Differently?

ASTM and ASME standards for steel and other metals are very similar to each other or even seem identical. However, the A36 and SA36 grades can have minor differences based on the criteria of the individual organizations. In fact, technically speaking, only ASTM A36 and ASME SA36 exist; you will not find ASTM SA36.

ASTM A36 covers carbon steel shapes, plates, and bars of structural quality for use in riveted, bolted, or welded construction of bridges and buildings, and for general structural purposes. In comparison, the ASME publishes design codes and standards for pressure applications. ASME standards are generally based on the appropriate ASTM standards, but the standard numbers are preceded with the letters ‘SA’, rather than just the ‘A’ of the ASTM standards.

The difference between an A and a SA designation has to do with ASME Boiler and Pressure Vessel Code endorsement of a material. If a material is supplied to an SA material specification, it meets the requirements of ASME Boiler and Pressure Vessel Code, Section II, and can be used in code-fabricated items. If a material is supplied with an A designation, it meets the lesser requirements of ASTM A36 – it is generally similar or the same, but hasn’t been endorsed by ASME for boiler and pressure vessels.

That’s it!

In some cases, A and SA material designations can be equivalent; in other cases, an A designation may not be permitted for use in code fabrication. Put another way, SA36 could be used for any project demanding A36, but ASTM A36 could not be used in projects demanding ASME Boiler and Pressure Vessel Code endorsement. One resource to reference is ASME Boiler and Pressure Vessel Codes, Part 2, Section II—Materials and Specifications.


What are Some Common Applications for ASTM A36 and ASME SA36?

The A36 steel designation is one of the most widely used in construction because of its strength. Common applications include bridges, buildings, and other general structural purposes. It is not, however, designated for usage as cable. In addition to the same uses as A36 steel, SA36 steel can be used in the construction of boiler and pressure vessels.

A36 structural steel shows up in:

  • Building frames
  • Bridges
  • Construction Equipment
  • Machinery
  • Truck parts
  • Crane booms
  • Transmission Towers
  • Freight Cars

SA36 can be used in all of the above, and also:

  • Boiler & pressure vessels

How Do ASTM A36 and ASME SA36 Steel Densities Compare?

A36 steel and SA36 steel both have a physical density of 7.85 g/cc (metric) or 0.284 lb/in³(English).

What are the Yield Strengths for A36 Steel and SA36 Steel?

ASTM A36 steel and ASME SA36 steel both have a yield strength of 250 MPa, which is 36,300 psi.

What is the Tensile Strength for A36 Steel and SA36 Steel?

The tensile strength for A36 steel measures between 400-550 MPa (58,000-79,800 psi). SA36 steel measures a tensile strength of 400-650 MPa.

Hardness of A36 Steel and SA36 Steel

ASTM A36 steel and ASME SA36 steel measure between 119-159 on the Brinell Hardness scale and 67-83 on the Rockwell Hardness scale.

Modulus of Elasticity of A36 Steel and SA36 Steel

The Modulus of Elasticity for ASTM A36 and ASME SA 36 Steel is 200 GPa (29,000 ksi).

What Steel Plate ASTM A36 and ASME SA36 Does Kloeckner Stock?

Because of its versatility and popularity, Kloeckner Metals keeps A36 steel and SA36 steel stocked throughout its more than 40 North American locations. It’s available in a wide variety of forms, most commonly steel plate.

Contact Our Qualified Team Now

In the market for A36 steel? Kloeckner Metals is a full-line steel supplier and service center. We combine a national footprint with the latest fabrication and processing technologies and the most innovative customer service solutions.

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Natalie Spira
Natalie Spira is Kloeckner's Acquisition Marketing Manager. Previously, she was the Founder and CEO of Fraction Marketing, a marketing agency providing fractional support to scaling startups with a focus on acquisition marketing and demand generation. Natalie holds a MBA from Tel Aviv University with concentrations in entrepreneurship and marketing and a BA in English from UCLA.
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