What is Corten Steel, and Why Use it in Your Next Exterior Build?

Rustic design is a big deal right now. And if you’re a fan of rustic or industrial design, you may already be familiar with Corten steel. Sometimes called weathering steel, Corten steel wears to a beautiful, earthy appearance without losing its durability. It’s the weathering quality of this building material that extends its longevity. When used in the outdoors, Corten steel forms a fine layer of rust on the exterior. This serves three purposes:

  • To protect the underlying steel from further deterioration
  • To eliminate the need for paint
  • To create a unique, rustic appearance

If you’re searching for a solid material for an outdoor machine shop, garage, or storage shed, weathering steel is a durable, attractive, and low-maintenance option.

What is Corten Steel?

The original Cor-Ten steel patent is owned by U.S. Steel. First developed in the 1930s to build railroad wagons, it was a combination of metal alloys. When these alloys were installed outdoors, they weathered to a nice patina that held up well, looked good, and required no further maintenance. Because of its unique reaction to the elements, this material was used in many outdoor sculptures, bridges, and historic buildings throughout the 1960s.

Benefits of Corten Steel

Today’s Corten steel is similar but not the same. Still, it’s designed to develop that telltale rusty appearance that most associate with antique metalwork. In both residential and commercial design, it has multiple benefits.


The most obvious benefit of Corten steel is its appearance. Weathering steel can develop its rustic patina naturally within six months. However, the process can be accelerated with surface treatments. Once installed as sheets, plates, coils, pipes, or tubing, this material blends well with the surrounding landscape. It’s a beautiful accompaniment to weathered wood and lets you take full advantage of an outdoor space without scarring the landscape.


The rust that forms along the outer layer of weathered steel acts as a protectant to the metal that lies beneath. This top layer prevents rust and corrosion from reaching the layers below.


Areas of your sheds or outbuildings that use Corten steel will never need painting. From the first install throughout the product’s lifetime, weathering steel structures only improve over time with little to no maintenance required.

How To Use Weathering Steel

Uses for this unique building material are limited only by the imagination of the designer. Currently, it’s used to construct walls, roofs, support beams, and more. It’s used in the construction of commercial buildings such as warehouses and hangers. And it’s a popular material for application to residential buildings as well. As a homeowner, you may choose Corten steel to design your garden shed, tool shed, outdoor studio, or carport. Your building will weather beautifully as it ages until it appears to become one with the surrounding woods or landscape. And this is only one of the many benefits of Corten steel.

If you’re ready to begin the exterior building project of your dreams, Bunger Steel is ready to help. Since 1974, we’ve been a premier builder of steel buildings of all sizes and for all purposes. Let our experienced team of construction professionals help you with your next Corten steel project. Call today for more information.

Get a Quote

Thank you for your interest in Bunger Steel. Our staff is available to help answer your questions and guide you on the steps needed to proceed with a steel project. Complete the form with the required information to receive a free estimate from a sales representative.

To speak with a sales representative, call 1-800-3-BUNGER or email sales@bungersteel.com.

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