Corten steel is the favorite of landscapers, as we already mentioned in our article “The different applications of steel in everyday life”. Since it is a weather-resistant steel and does not require maintenance. 

It was created in 1930, by an American company, U.S. Steel, who initially created wagons to transport coal by rail. How it was very well received, thanks to its benefits and great results, it began to be used for all types of outdoor projects.

In Spanish we have always used the name “Corten steel”. But the truth is that Actually his name is COR-TEN. And it refers to COR, corrosion resistance and Have, tensile strength. 


Main characteristics of Corten steel

By creating surface oxidation by chemical composition, steel creates a waterproof oxide layer, dark brown. And that prevents rust from entering the steel. Although this layer looks like rust, the truth is that it is a “controlled” corrosion, and it is stable. Therefore, it is not necessary to apply any other protector to the steel, such as paint or galvanic protection.

Corten steel characteristics


Uses of Corten steel

Corten steel is usually used more in construction and building industry and goods. And of course, in the Jardinería and landscaping, since they require materials for outdoor use. Thus, Corten steel has become an essential element for building planters, borders, retaining walls, etc. Or also for sculptures, fences, partitions... There are thousands of applications!

You may wonder: Why so much repercussion for a basically rusty metal? The response of landscapers is clear: for their hairsalon. Corten steel offers a rustic and contemporary finish to the garden. In addition, its rich earthy tones also give it a certain sensation of volume, an architectural touch, which is what architects, sculptors and landscapers like the most.

contemporary garden

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However, over time, the color of Corten steel varies depending on weather and lighting conditions. Did you know that this layer regenerates and protects the material for up to 600 years? For this reason, Corten steel has that much appreciated changing and worn appearance.

The best thing is that, with this steel, by offering that changing color feature, the garden will have a more unique and natural. In addition, it totally combines with other elements such as stone, wood or pine bark.

You can also make patterns cut into this steel, giving an artistic touch. 

Corten steel is here to stay, so what are you waiting for to add a contemporary style to your garden? You will like the result!


Advantages and disadvantages

All elements have advantages and disadvantages. But let's start with the advantages:

  • It is more resistant and stronger the longer it is exposed.
  • In addition, resists four times more than ordinary steel.
  • Completely corrosion resistant.
  • It requires very little maintenance.
  • Provides versatility and easy handling.
  • It is compatible with other elements, being 100% compatible with the use and mixture of vegetation and soil.


And now the disadvantages:

  • The welding points can be a weak point, so we have to be careful that there are no spaces where water accumulates.
  • You have to be careful in the first years, because rust can stainTo remove or reduce this stain, some Corten steel products are supplied with small feet or a stand, raising the product and avoiding direct contact with the floor material.
  • We must also take into account where we place this type of steel, the resistance that Corten steel has to corrosion is not so good in salt water or in very humid environments. 


How does Corten steel rust?

In case you didn't know, oxidation and corrosion are different factors, as we already explained in our article “Differences between oxidation and corrosion".

The oxidation process in Corten steel occurs depending on time and different climates, but the more humid it is, the faster this process will be.

There are also different types of oxidation in this type of steel: the natural and the decorative.


natural oxidation 

is the method easier and cheaper to achieve oxidation of Corten steel. We just have to leave it outdoors and wait for the rust to occur.

The steel will rust but over time, the protective layer that we mentioned before will stop the rust. The disadvantage of this process is time, since it can last up to 2 years, but if you live in very rainy areas, oxidation is accelerated.


Decorative oxidation

If you want to rust an interior element or a paved outdoor area, we recommend using oxidation. through chemicals

This process consists of: 

  • Clean the Corten steel sheet.
  • Activate oxidation with an acid.
  • Wait for the sheet metal to rust completely.
  • At the same time, stop oxidation with a stop bath.
  • And if you wish, finish with varnish.


And that's all. Tell us if you have Corten steel in your garden. We want to know your experience and opinions! We are sure that Corten steel is ideal and will give you a beautiful garden.