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  • Writer's pictureSt-John Paysagiste

All you need to know about corten steel: a trendy material

Corten steel is a material that is attracting increasing attention in the world of modern design and landscaping. With its rustic finish, it adds an interesting visual element to any outdoor landscaping project. It's also highly durable and maintenance-free, making it an ideal choice for many projects. Discover how corten steel can help enhance your landscaping project while offering a unique and original aesthetic!

What is corten steel?

Corten steel is a type of steel with induced surface corrosion. It is highly durable, which is why it is often used in the construction, architecture, landscaping and outdoor sculpture industries. It is also known as skateable steel or self-protecting steel.

The material's name "corten" derives from its two main properties: corrosion resistance and tensile strength. In English:

"COR" for "corosion resistance

"TEN" stands for "tensile strength".

Corten steel is a progressive material, meaning that its appearance changes over the first 3 years. At first, it has a deep-gray, rough, patinated appearance. Then it changes color and surface texture to a beautiful rusty-brownish-orange color.

Whereas rust tends to weaken conventional steels, in the case of corten steel the process results in the creation of a protective patina. This stable, adherent rust patina becomes less permeable to oxygen, thus protecting the material. This makes the metal a naturally resistant, healthy and durable product!

What's the difference between corten steel and ordinary steel?

Corten steel is a metal alloy designed to resist oxidation. While standard steel is susceptible to rust, a corten steel plate is self-protecting. It develops over time without ever perforating.

What is the composition of corten steel?

Corten steel is an alloy of various metals, including copper, phosphorus, chromium and nickel. Its chemical composition gives it mechanical properties, including a unique corrosion resistance that differs greatly from standard steel.

In particular, it enhances corrosion resistance by forming a self-protecting rust layer under the influence of atmospheric conditions.

Does corten steel rust?

As you will have gathered, corten steel does rust, and this is part of what gives it its strength and unique charm. The protective layer of rust can take between 6 months and 1 year to appear, depending on atmospheric conditions. It then stabilizes on its own after 2 or 3 years.

Does corten steel stain?

As the material stabilizes, some of the rust is washed away by rainwater. This run-off can cause orange streaks that can stain nearby surfaces (concrete slabs, wood...). However, many materials can be cleaned simply by rubbing the surface with water.

Once corten steel has matured, run-off ceases and it no longer stains.

What's the advantage of using corten steel in an exterior design project?

Interest in this material is growing, as its clean, rustic style complements all types of outdoor design. In particular, corten steel is used to create modern planters, window boxes, borders, low walls and outdoor staircases.

What's more, its technical characteristics guarantee a long service life with zero maintenance!

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