What is Corten Steel

corten steel garden sculpture by eddie roberts

Corten steel is also known as weathering steel. It’s often additionally denoted by its branded trademark COR-TEN steel. But however it’s referred to, this particular type of steel, developed from a group of steel alloys, has specific, enduring properties:

  • Cor – refers to the metal’s property of corrosion resistance.
  • Ten – denotes the metal’s tensile strength.

The combination and production of these alloys means the steel produced retains its strength and doesn’t need painting because it is corrosion resistant.

But what is weathering – and why is Corten steel also known as weathering steel?

Weathering is atmospheric corrosion – literally the effect of being out in all weathers. The chemical composition of the Cor – ten alloys increases the resulting steel’s resistance to atmospheric corrosion.

Instead of corroding, the steel is subject to surface oxidation and develops its own protective film. Although this layer resembles ‘rust’ it is in fact a ‘controlled’ corrosion which is stable, forming a corrective rather than damaging layer across the metal.

As the surface layer develops over time, the appearance and durability of Corten steel – and any product made from it – is enhanced as a result of weathering. As a result, every product made from Corten develops a very unique, rustic looking finish.

How is Corten steel made

When the combination of alloys is manufactured, it is produced as Corten steel sheets. Despite being just ¼” thick, Corten is an extremely robust metal, providing high structural strength. Because of this, it’s become very popular as a lighter weight and lower maintenance alternative to other forms of steel.

Can Corten steel be welded?

Yes, Corten steel is a weldable structural steel, another characteristic which makes it popular and versatile across a variety of uses. Speaking of which …

Interesting uses for Corten Steel

Corten is popularly used in the building and construction industries – from housing structures and bridges, to the cranes used to put things together. It is also well used in the freight industry, including bulk transport, tanks and shipping containers, as well as rail and road vehicles and exhaust systems.

Corten has been used to some very famous and stunning effects in the arts and architecture worlds:

  • Most people in the UK are familiar with Antony Gormley’s famous Angel of the North sculpture but few are aware that it’s continued beauty is in the safe hands of its Corten Steel construction.

  • It’s also been used to create a 21m2 micro-home from a garage, in Lithuania.
  • In a great example of how form can reflect purpose, the refurbishment of the archaeological Museum of Troy in Turkey included a corten steel cladding to the exterior, where the weathering effect adds to the ‘artefact’ nature of the building.
  • Broadcasting Tower in Leeds, winner of 2010’s Best Tall Building in the World award, uses the combination of its Corten construction with exposure to the Yorkshire weather to enhance it’s high impact tones and texture.
  • In 2013, several of the Paley on Park Avenue sculptures graced Manhattan, New York with Corten structures.

Because Corten steel retains strength and looks so great after time outdoors, it’s also becoming increasingly popular in domestic residences for outdoor use, for example as:

Why not take a look at some of our Corten steel products and see just how stunning and versatile they are?

Can’t see what you need? That’s no problem – we can source it through our large network of Corten steel suppliers UK wide. Just contact Sara, Jess, Rosey or Erin on sales@buymetalonline.co.uk – we’ll be happy to help.