What the Data Says: Steel Rebar and Metal Decking Prices

Steel prices are on the rise. That isn’t news to anyone in the construction industry. But the extraordinary rise, steady demand and lack of supply has caused a spike in other crucial commercial materials made of this popular metal – structural components, steel rebar and metal decking.

The cost trends and analysis of material pricing are constantly a hot topic of discussion in the construction industry and beyond – whether in response to public policy, concerns about infrastructure or the effects of the pandemic and natural disasters. As a company at the forefront of the construction industry, we welcome the conversation, and we would like to add our expertise. Through this blog series, we examine the long-term cost trends of the industry’s most vital materials. In this edition of What the Data Says, we’re continuing our analysis into the rise of the cost of steel, which is affecting many critical components for commercial construction.

Tracking Structural Steel Costs

In a previous analysis of steel costs, we discovered that large increases in one quarter are predictably followed by a proportional decrease the following quarter. Some of the swings observed were dramatic but over time, all that flux amounted to a steady 1% growth. With the news and introduction of tariffs in 2018, the fluctuation in the price changes increased, but the trend line stayed relatively steady. This pattern seemed to hold true until 2021, which has seen an unprecedented rise in steel prices. Let’s dive into the data for structural steel costs.

Structural Steel Costs Q4 2021 | Gordian

The price in structural steel increased nearly 43% from the first quarter of 2020 to the first quarter of 2021. Prior to this year, we had become accustomed to the volatility in this commodity’s pricing, with 20% swings not unprecedented. But it would always decrease and increase – eb and flow. The continued, unrelenting rise throughout 2021 is causing some grief for consumers of steel, with a further 82% increase from the first to last quarters of 2021.

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The Dominoes Fall: Steel Increases Mean Spikes in Metal Decking and Steel Rebar Prices

The continued rise of structural steel prices has created a domino effect. Metal decking and steel rebar prices are spiking as manufacturers grapple with a worsening shortage of the key component to these construction materials.

Metal decking is often used as a structural roofing or flooring in commercial construction. Can you guess what metal decking is made of? Correct – structural grade steel. Our data team has calculated a 295% increase in the cost of metal decking since the first quarter of 2021.

Metal Decking Cost Q4 2021 | Gordian

Another domino effect of the steel cost increase is the drastic spike in steel rebar prices. Rebar is a steel bar that is used in concrete construction. Though all concrete will eventually crack, rebar and other reinforcing materials, help control the location and extent of the cracks. It also provides structural strength to the project, critical for large commercial endeavors. Our data team has calculated a 119% increase in the steel rebar prices since the first quarter of 2021.

Steel Rebar Price Q4 2021 | Gordian

The dominoes effect doesn’t end with structural metal components. The cost of reinforced concrete has also increased due to these sharp increases in steel rebar.

Contributing Factors for the Rise in Steel Costs

Steel is everywhere in the United States, supporting our buildings, factories and bridges; it’s a critical material in our schools, cars and kitchens. The nation has seen a dramatic spike in its cost, which has had real implications for business owners, contractors and consumers. If you’ve tried to buy an appliance or car lately, you can attest to that.

In a previous blog, our principal construction cost data engineer identified four contributing factors for price fluctuations in steel: steel fabrication costs, transportation costs and tariffs, installation labor and (last but certainly not least) supply and demand.

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Our Construction Cost Database

Gordian regularly collects, validates and analyzes North American construction material costs to maintain RSMeans data, our construction costs database. RSMeans data contains more than 92,000 line items localized to over 970 locations. Thanks to the 30,000 hours of research our data team devotes to construction cost research every year, we can examine the price of steel and tens of thousands of other line items from every corner of the U.S. and Canada.

These rising metal decking and steel rebar price trends we have seen in recent quarters will have an impact on the cost of construction for the foreseeable future, after having stunned the market. We’ll continue to track these changes and more to keep you informed on what the data says.

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About Gordian

Gordian is the leader in facility and construction cost data, software and services for all phases of the building lifecycle. A pioneer of Job Order Contracting, Gordian’s solutions also include proprietary RSMeans data construction costs and Facility Intelligence Solutions. From planning to design, to procurement, construction and operations, Gordian’s solutions help clients maximize efficiency, optimize cost savings and increase building quality.