When it comes to processing wear-resistant steel, there are many ways to go about it, including forging, casting, extrusion, machining, as well as hot and cold rolling. Each method has its unique advantages and can be selected based on the required properties and the intended use of the final steel product.

The main difference between hot rolled steel and cold rolled steel lies in the manufacturing process and the resulting properties of the finished products. Both processes involve the rolling of steel between two or more rollers, which compress the metal to a desired thickness. Somewhat like rolling dough with a rolling pin to make a pie crust, the processes of hot and cold rolling steel produce a product that can be trimmed to a desired width and length.

The Main Distinctions between Hold Rolled Steel and Cold Rolled Steel

Manufacturing Process

  • Hot Rolled Steel: This process involves rolling the steel at a high temperature (typically over 1,700°F or 926°C). The hot rolling process makes the steel more malleable and allows it to be shaped and formed easily.
  • Cold Rolled Steel: In this process, the steel is rolled at room temperature or slightly above. Cold rolling produces a smoother finish and tighter tolerances compared to hot rolling.

Surface Finish

  • Hot Rolled Steel: The surface finish of hot rolled steel tends to be rougher compared to cold rolled steel. It may have scale, oxide layers, and a characteristic mill scale texture.
  • Cold Rolled Steel: The surface finish of cold rolled steel is smoother and more aesthetically pleasing. Cold rolled steel sheets are often used in applications where appearance is important.

Dimensional Tolerances

  • Hot Rolled Steel: Due to the high temperatures involved in the hot rolling process, dimensional tolerances are not as tight as those in cold rolled steel. Hot rolled products may have variations in thickness and size.
  • Cold Rolled Steel: Cold rolling allows for tighter dimensional tolerances and a more precise shape, making it more suitable for applications where precision is crucial.

Grain Structure

  • Hot Rolled Steel: The hot rolling process results in a coarser grain structure and the mechanical properties of the steel are influenced by the temperature at which it is rolled.
  • Cold Rolled Steel: Cold rolling produces a finer and more consistent grain structure, leading to improved strength, hardness, and other mechanical properties.

Work Hardening

  • Hot Rolled Steel: Due to the high temperatures involved, hot rolled steel is typically not as hard or as brittle as cold rolled steel. However, it may be more ductile.
  • Cold Rolled Steel: The cold rolling process induces work hardening, resulting in increased hardness and strength but reduced ductility.


  • Hot Rolled Steel: Generally, hot rolled steel is less expensive to produce than cold-rolled steel. The hot-rolling process is faster and requires less energy.
  • Cold Rolled Steel: Cold rolled steel is generally more expensive than hot rolled steel due to the additional processing steps involved in its production, resulting in a smoother and more precise finished product. The increased cost is often justified by the improved surface finish, tighter tolerances, and enhanced mechanical properties of cold rolled steel.

The choice between hot rolled and cold rolled steel depends on the specific application and the desired properties of the end product. Hot rolled steel is often preferred for structural and abrasion resistance purposes, while cold rolled steel is commonly used where a smoother surface finish and tighter tolerances are important.

Explore Superior Wear-Resistant Steel Solutions from Titus Steel

Titus Steel offers ENDURA, ENDURA DUAL, and TITUS MANGANESE, which are all hot rolled steels created to limit abrasion and reduce downtime in the production line. These work hardening steel products become harder with more impact, which is how Titus Steel formulates them into a high-quality wear-resistant steel for your desired needs.

Contact us today to learn more about our products and to receive your customized quote.