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topic 16945, p2

Cor-tens in a Fountain . . .

1 2

A discussion started in 2002 but continuing through 2017.

May 28, 2009

Q. Has anyone tried - or know of - using Corten Steel as a planter in a fountain? Wondering if it will completely corrode, or it will retain its structural integrity. The architect is using Corten and we'd like to stick with the same material.

Barry Miller
Design Studio - Miami, Florida

. . . which one will the fountain bless

May 31, 2009

Q. Greetings,

I am a licensed contractor specializing in water feature design and construction. Currently I am writing an article about one of the three projects we have worked on using Cor-Ten.
Please be so kind to answer the following questions I have not been able to answer.
1. I have Cor-Ten as a metal alloy, is there a better way of describing it?
2. Is it a type or cousin of Stainless? is it welded like stainless?
3. We made a 40'x60' perimeter of 3/4" Cor-Ten and I want to include the weight in the article. What is the approximate weight of a Cubic foot of Cor-ten?

In cooperation,

Jim Wilder
pond and fountains - Santa Rosa, California

A. Hi Jim. You seem to be the absolute perfect person to answer the question immediately above yours.

1. Cor-ten is "almost" plain steel, just a little bit extra of some standard ingredients in steel making, totaling under 3%. The best description may be "weathering steel".
2. It's welded like steel but with proper rods, and there are warnings that the weld zone may not patina like the rest unless some special things are done. Stainless has much much more alloying ingredients; for example, 3xx series stainless steel is 18% chrome and 8% nickel -- at least 10x as much non-iron ingredients.
3. Like other steels, the approximate weight is .284 pounds per cubic inch.

Good luck with the article.


Ted Mooney, amadeya42.com
Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E.
Pine Beach, New Jersey

May 20, 2010 -- this entry appended to this thread by editor in lieu of spawning a duplicative thread

Q. I am an architect and have designed a fountain that has a rusted panel. We like the level of the rust in terms of a patina and want to keep at this level. If I apply oil to the surface should this suffice? If so, what type of oil should I use?

Edwin Folk
archtiect - Osaka, Japan

February 16, 2010

Q. I assume Corten has no fire rating? We want to use it as a facing on an external boundary wall situation which requires 30 minutes rating. Can it be mounted over a suitable rated board behind?

Dave Varney
architects - St Austell, Cornwall, England

June 2013

A. Hi Dave. Corten is essentially steel, just a couple of percent of alloying materials -- so whatever that means in terms of fire rating :-)


Ted Mooney, amadeya42.com
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Ted Mooney, P.E.
Pine Beach, New Jersey

July 30, 2011

Q. I have leased a building that has a large Corten fascia. The previous owner had large letters on the fascia. After removing the letters and wire brushing the surface, you can still see the out line of the letters. Is there a product to remove all the rust before applying new sign?

James DeGroff
- Palm Desert, California USA

Bonding stuff to Corten

June 10, 2013

Q. If I want to construct a sign of Corten and have some acrylic plastic mounted inside of the steel, what bonding agent would be correct and what preparation to the steel would be correct?

larry glickman
- Portland Oregon

3M Spray Adhesive #90

June 17, 2013

A. Hi Larry. Corten is essentially steel. There is little difference in composition. So I would suspect that soda or bead blasting is probably fine; you don't want to try to glue to rust.The right solvent for cleaning the plastic probably depends upon the type of plastic, but I think acetone would work if you don't overdo it (the acrylic may be soluble in acetone). There are lots of adhesives but I don't like to say one is better since any of them should be fine.


Ted Mooney, amadeya42.com
Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E.
Pine Beach, New Jersey

August 19, 2013

Q. Can you drill CorTen plates and I beams? What is the best bit? I know go slow and use oil but any other tips would be appreciated. Thank you.

Lee Ann Pantalone
- Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, USA

August 22, 2013

A. Hi Lee Ann. Corten is quite similar to plain old mild steel, so I don't think it work hardens, and any advice about machining mild steel probably applies to Corten. Yes, it's easily drilled and doesn't require exotic drill bits.


Ted Mooney, amadeya42.com
Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E.
Pine Beach, New Jersey

October 7, 2013

Q. I have Corten fencing around my home which is rusted and the look we want to keep. Have noticed we are getting marks on it..from bird droppings and cats paws, as well as oily markings from people who push the gate to open it.

Corten fence

How can I get it to return to the rust in these areas?
Any advice would be greatly appreciated :)

Deborah Johns
- Melbourne, Australia

November 26, 2013

Q. Hi, I was wondering if it's possible to purchase corten rivets or screws for fixing corten?!
Cheers Grant.

Grant Jamieson
Owner Builder - Rye Victoria, Australia

April 17, 2014

A. For the person whose outside Corten sculpture is staining the concrete below...I would suggest that you go with the flow (of rust off the Corten)...and stain the concrete to a color as close to the Corten color as you can find...and then let the Corten be...as to sealing Corten...IMHO it defeats the purpose of the material...to create an oxidized layer that, supposedly, prevents further oxidation...speaking of which...how can it really prevent that if that rusty junk keeps flowing off? Isn't it, slowly, but continually oxidizing?...if you have to seal the Corten you are better off just painting "regular" steel

William McNally
- Madison, Wisconsin USA

April 11, 2014 -- this entry appended to this thread by editor in lieu of spawning a duplicative thread

Q. Hi, My name is Deanne and I am a Community Strategies Coordinator involved in heritage programs and projects for the region. One such project is the installation of heritage plaques throughout our community. we have installed 14 plaques in 2013 and noticed that many of them are not oxidizing uniformly. There appears to be rust stains along the bottom as well as rust 'runs' down the front of the steel.

16945-3 16945-4 16945-5

Is this a natural part of the transformation of the patina or is something else occurring that we need to take action on? I thank you in advance for any information or advice you may offer.

Deanne Lawrence
Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo - Fort McMurray, Alberta, Canada

April 2014

A. Hi Deanne. We appended your question to a thread which may answer it for you. Please see the 'Achieving even rusting' subheading; it suggests abrasive blasting. If you were to use soda blasting or dry ice blasting, it should be safe with little or no cleanup. Good luck.


Ted Mooney, amadeya42.com
Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E.
Pine Beach, New Jersey

April 22, 2014

A. The "pattern" of rusting is highly subject to environmental conditions. Blotches can come from spills of various sorts, vertical streaks from dripping water, etc. It's also generally not a totally uniform process.

If those are steel plates supporting those plaques, then what is shown in the photos is about what I'd expect after a year or two of sitting outside. You can take action if you don't like the way it looks, but if the question is just between "is this normal?" and "is something goofy happening?" I would go with "normal".

If those are stainless steel plates, you have a major problem and they should be cleaned up and passivated immediately.

ray kremer
Ray Kremer
Stellar Solutions, Inc.
supporting advertiser
McHenry, Illinois
stellar solutions banner

May 5, 2014

Q. I am considering using Corten as a garden wall between a hedge and an herbaceous border. Does anyone know if any of its properties can damage plants? Thank you.

Annie Rhodes
- Borders, Sotland

May 2014

A. Hi Annie. As an aside, to help people understand what Corten is about: although stainless steel would rust much less than plain steel, it is far more expensive, and it looks very different ... so it's impractical for a lot of applications.

But people have known for a long time that the rust on plain steel is hygroscopic, fluffy, and poorly adherent, which leads to continuing rust and corrosion. So the researchers at US Steel asked themselves whether it was possible to make some fairly small adjustments to the formulation which would be quite inexpensive and which would have little effect on the properties of the steel itself, but which would improve the adhesion of the surface rust and reduce its porosity in order to substantially slow down the rusting ... Corten or "weathering steel" is the tweak that they came up with.


Ted Mooney, amadeya42.com
Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E.
Pine Beach, New Jersey

May 5, 2014

thumbs up signThank you very much indeed Ted.

Annie Rhodes
- Borders Scotland

June 2, 2014

Q. I am looking to put up a small privacy wall 17' x 24"- what thickness of corten do I need to use? also can I just dig some footings and pour concrete with metal poles to weld to the back of the corten sheet or do I need to bury any of the metal.

Donna Castle
- Dallas, Texas USA

June 2014

A. Hi Donna. Your questions require an engineering design and are not easily dispatched -- which is not to say that experienced tradepersons can't play it by ear to a workable answer.

Although corrugated roofing panels of the thinnest gauge commercially available will be quite strong against bending, a moderate wind will exert a good force on something 17 foot long x 24 inches high. But if you put in 5 support posts, so the span is 4' 3", it will probably prove practical. The steel posts will last longer if set in concrete than if driven directly into the ground.


Ted Mooney, amadeya42.com
Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E.
Pine Beach, New Jersey

July 8, 2014

Q. Does Corten Steel or the rusting produce any OFF GASES?

Can the rust be toxic? I'm concerned about using it in a Sauna.

I considering using Corten for my outdoor Sauna as a protective Heat shield to protect the walls beside my Wood burning stove. I like the simple look just want to ensure Corten does not produce any harmful gases or toxins.

Please kindly advise if you have any advice.


Christian Waddell
- North Vancouver, BC, Canada

July 2014

A. Hi Christian. Corten weathering steel is almost identical to regular steel. Tiny variations in the small amount of alloying metals help the rust be more adherent. There are no toxic off-gasses or corrosion products that I've ever heard of.


Ted Mooney, amadeya42.com
Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E.
Pine Beach, New Jersey

September 15, 2014

Q. I heard that if you Sandblast Corten Steel it encourages and speeds up the aging effects?

Where I live they have a "UBlast" facility and I've been considering Sandblasting to help encourage the orange to brown effect. Its only $35.00 to blast, I was considering this approach rather that using acids etc.

Do you believe this is a logical/good approach in terms of helping the Steel age faster. The Steel will be in a steamy Sauna the rest of its life.



Christian Waddell
- North Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

September 20, 2014

Q. I have an angled 2 story window that is 12 inches deep on the right side and 18 inches deep on the left side
I would like to have this window trimmed on both the front face and the sides in Corten steel.

What is the recommended thickness to maintain a flat plane while still being manageable for on-site bending and cutting?

Lastly, what is the recommended means for attaching the Corten to the structure - does it need baffles?

- Carlisle, Massachusetts USA

October 20, 2014

Q. Great thread, really enjoy the information. I recently installed a Corten fireplace surround and one of the work crews leaned up against the steel and left hand prints. A strong muriatic acid solution had already been applied and the surface was brushed with a wire brush to remove the flaking and hopefully the hand prints however, they are still very visible.


How do I remove the hand prints? Thanks!

Roger Andrews
- Dallas, Texas USA

October 25, 2014

Q. I was wondering if anyone knows if Corten steel can be extruded? I know it is possible to Hot extrude some steels - is this possible with Corten? - the profile looking to be extruded is large, flat, thick and simple. Unlike a detailed thin aluminium extrusion.

Stefan Posthuma
- Narrabundah, ACT, Australia

November 4, 2014

Q. We're looking at a "Corten" type weathering steel for a landscape edging application. Any advice on amadeya42 to the top so it is not sharp? My guess is that most commercial products that might powdercoat a color will have a naturally "dull" edge through the powdercoating. How do we create a safe edge without rolling the edge and lose that minimal look? I'm concerned if it is bordering a walkway that someone might step on it without shoes.


Scott Green
Landscaping - Los Angeles, California USA

November 17, 2014 -- this entry appended to this thread by editor in lieu of spawning a duplicative thread

Q. I'm a steel fabricator in Los Angeles, interested in creating a raised garden bed. I've seen 1/2" Cor Ten plate used for this, to build a box filled with soil.
What is a cost effective method to cut the 1/2" plate to preserve the weathering qualities of the steel?
Will flame cutting (laser, plasma, flame) require the cut edge to be ground to 'clean' steel?


Ed. note: Uh-oh. We're back up to six unanswered questions in a row :-(
If readers don't take the time to try to help the folks standing in line ahead of them before posting their own questions, this page will degenerate from helpful to just an endless string of unanswered questions :-)

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Sealant Bond to Corten Steel

February 11, 2015

Q. We need to apply a continuous sealant fillet along the top of a roof membrane termination bar on the side of a large roof top Corten steel planter. What preparation to the steel surface is necessary if any prior to applying a building silicone sealant to the steel to achieve long term adhesion?

Robert Trahan
Architect - Seattle Washington

Por-15 Glisten Clearcoat

March 20, 2015

Q. I have had very good luck sealing rusty surfaces - both Corten and ordinary mild steel with POR-15 clear. It leaves a slight gloss and touch of Amber, but is extremely durable and shows the natural iron oxide color very well.

It is quite pricey, however, and I'd love to hear about a more economical option.

Berkeley Choate
- Berkeley, California, USA

April 4, 2015

Q. Hi. Will the corten steel run-off contaminate the surrounding vegetation and waterbody if I used it as the material of a bridge?

Limay Foo
- Johor Bahru, Johor, Malaysia

April 2015

A. Hi Limay. Corten lasts longer than other steel because the rust is more stable and less prone to powdering off. Iron makes up 32% of the earth's crust, so a little of it washing off sounds pretty harmless to me.


pic of Ted Mooney
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
Pine Beach, New Jersey
Striving to live "Aloha"

Effect of plasma cutting on Cor-ten

December 7, 2015

Q. Hi
I want to cut letters out of Cor-Ten steel sheet using a plasma cutter. What effect if any, will that have on the "decorative rust" finish on the steel?

Nella Stranieri
Forest Iron Works - Locust Valley, New York USA

June 29, 2016

Q. I had corten steel panels installed on my patio to serve as a privacy fence and a backdrop to a firepit. Our climate is 4 Seasons hot in the summer, cold in the winter. My contractor has left me on my own now to figure how to solve the problem.

The panels were sprayed with some sort of rust accelerant then sealed with penetrol. The surface has bubbled and blistered and have popped and now show a rusted finish underneath in small spots all over the panels, the finish is very erratic and not nice. Would like to know how to take it back to original and
finish it with some paint or some other finish.

Thank you, Karen

Karen Dickeson
- Wenatchee, Washington USA

August 30, 2016

Q. Good day,

I am currently a masters student at the University of Stellenbosch. I am working on a project and would like to know whether it would be possible to use corten steel in a stamping process? I would like to form shells for a tube.

Robert Laurie
- Stellenbosch, Western Cape, South Africa

August 2016

A. Hi Robert. Because weathering steel is similar to other steels (about 1/2% of chrome and copper added though), I don't see any reason it shouldn't be stampable.

By this point in your education, you probably realize that the best way to learn is by trying to teach! So, as a Masters' student working with Corten, please try to answer one of the many unanswered questions on this thread. Thanks!


pic of Ted Mooney
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
Pine Beach, New Jersey
Striving to live "Aloha"

Remove rub marks & handprints from Corten steel

September 18, 2016

Q. Hi - I saw a question asked on how to remove hand prints on rusted corten. I have a similar situation of rub marks that I want to remove. It looks "cloudy" with these rub marks next to the normal rusted steel patina affect. So what is the best way to remove rub marks / handprints so you get the nice rusted steel patina again?

Any suggestions would be great.

Not sure if oxalic acid might help as a way to remove marks, then rust again?

Andrew Robertson
- Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

November 8, 2016

Q. My question relates to the removal of fingerprints from corten steel, without starting the patination process. I have installed a corten sculpture in an art gallery in its unrusted state, not knowing if a potential buyer will want to display it indoors or outdoors. The fingerprints are unsightly, and spoil the clean effect of the work. How can I remove them? I have seen similar questions on this thread, but no answers.

Lizzie Horne
Sculptor - New south Wales, Australia

December 2, 2016

Q. Does anyone know where I can get Corten round head rivets or threaded bolt. There not a structural component just need for aesthetics, thanks

Mary Barrett
- Limerick Ireland

December 6, 2016

A. I am also looking at using bolts to join Corten and I don't think you can get these made of corten. So I am going to either paint the heads or get some that will rust. They won't last as long as corten but I think they will do the job. By the way I only live up the road from Limerick. What a coincidence!

Joe Griffin
- Mountshannon, Clare, Ireland

December 19, 2016

Q. I'm gathering information for welding Corten with a mig machine. There seems to be a split from standard welding wire to high alloy fillers. My sculptures are 3 feet more or less. I'm mostly concerned with color match. 14 gauge with one pass in what I`ll be doing, some 12 gauge.I`ld appreciate some input. Thank you, Ken

Ken Engelhard
metalsculpt - Pacifica, California, USA

March 30, 2017

Q. I have provided a number of Corten steel bollards to a public area. I got them from Spain. The rust is actually chipping / flaking off? Is this normal? I thought the idea was to get a patina finish rather than chipping?

rachel cowgill
lighting - manchester england

May 14, 2017

Q. Hi!

I am a student of architecture in Croatia and my current project in class is an art gallery which is lined with Corten. I was wondering if anybody would know something about using Corten as a walkable surface and if there is a way of protecting the material and the people who would walk over it?

Thank you in advance! :)

Kristina Gotvald
University of architecture, Split - Split, Croatia

May 2017
Weathering Steel

A. Hi Kristina. I'm certainly no expert on weathering steel, but it seems to be 97%+ iron, with about 2.5 to 3% combined manganese, copper, chrome, and nickel. In other words, it's not terribly different from hot rolled low carbon steel, just better at producing a stable corrosion product to slow the continued rusting.

Sheets of steel would not seem to me to be a good public walking surface, as they might be slick, although probably fine as some sort of perforated or expanded metal grating. But if you do a Google image search for "Corten as walking surface", I think you'll find many examples that you can further investigate. Good luck.


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Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
Pine Beach, New Jersey
Striving to live "Aloha"

Will Corten near roofline stain our siding?

August 21, 2017

Q. Hello All,

Can anyone tell me if corten, once it is rusted will bleed onto surfaces next to it? We built a house that has a band or strip of corten along the entire length of the house just under the roof. It's beautiful and I really like it. I did have some concern that it might get wet and then bleed down the painted siding of the house. The house is built under a canopy so it is largely protected, but we do get that terrible sideways rain here in east Texas and it can get wet. The builder assured me it will not run, but I am not sure I believe him. I do not believe this metal was pretreated with anything either.

Thank you for you help and advice.

Carran Manning
- Cayuga, Texas, USA

August 2017

A. Hi Carran. Life is complicated, and oftentimes we must take our best guess. I doubt that the many people on this page who are complaining of Corten staining are lying, but I'll bet also that your builder has some local and relevant experience with it.

Your town is well away from the ocean, thus minimizing the problem. Your painted siding is a relatively slick surface compared to porous concrete, and it will be exposed to that same "terrible sideways rain", helping to wash down any rust. My guess is that your builder is not talking through his hat, but has found that it is unlikely to be a serious staining problem for you in this particular aplication.


pic of Ted Mooney
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
Pine Beach, New Jersey
Striving to live "Aloha"

September 1, 2017 -- this entry appended to this thread by editor in lieu of spawning a duplicative thread

Q. Hello!

I am working on creating a new sign for my business. It is Corten steel back with stainless steel letters. I had a fabricator create everything for me, but I have to put it all together myself. The idea was for the stainless letters to sit atop the rusty steel back. (The letters will sit 1" out so as to look more 3D.) When I picked up the steel back it was not rusted and they wanted to charge me an extra $425 to do it, but told me it would rust up over time, but could 6 months or more. They then told me I could just give it a spray with muriatic acid and then come back a few hours later and it would be all rusted. Well I did this and it turned out very blotchy with large areas that are really dark brown, rather than a beautiful orangey rusted patina. I did wash it down the next day with water.


My question is if I just leave it at this point will the patina continue over time and maybe become a little more uniform and maybe get a lighter rust over these dark spots or will these dark brown areas stay like this forever unless I grind it all back down again and start fresh? The sign is 16' long and 32" tall, (It is in two pieces) so that would be a lot of grinding!

Cristi Mason-Rivera
- Mcminnville, Oregon

September 2017

A. Hi Cristi. The actual intent of Corten steel was simply to formulate a relatively inexpensive steel that is somewhat more resistant to deterioration than regular steel. Corten is a structural material, not a decorative finish, and it can be optimistic to expect stain-free appearance.

But the stains on your sign will probably not go away, and the most consistent results will probably be had by sandblasting the surface and then simply allowing it to rust. Good luck.


pic of Ted Mooney
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
Pine Beach, New Jersey
Striving to live "Aloha"

September 12, 2017

Q. I would like to know if using Corten steel in a fire pit design will negate the rust arresting properties of the metal.
I.e., is the price worth it to use Corten vs normal steel plate for fire pit construction.

3mm plate (stamped into a bowl shape)
max heat zone ~800 °C (around the water drainage hole in the center of the firepit bowl)

Alex Lototzky
- Balgach, SG, Switzerland

September 14, 2017

Q. We are in the process of building a contemporary style home using cement board for exterior and corten at the front entrance and around the back view windows. After reading these posts I am very concerned about the idea of corten. I love the look of it, any suggestions that will work in place of Corten and still give the "look"? Thank you.

Kimberli Byrne
- Auburn, Washington, USA

November 13, 2017

A. To the people questioning about streaking, mottled or inconsistent oxidizing patterns. It is in my opinion (whatever that's worth) that it is due to not blasting and/or solvent cleaning the raw plate surface before letting the surface oxide to form. During the sheet manufacturing (rolling at the mill) the surface layer may have inconsistent scale and/or oils on the surface. These of course, one would expect, need to be removed consistently to allow the climate (or any patina enhancer/accelerant)to effect the surface uniformly.

To those questioning about finger prints/hand prints etc. These of course are likely due to acids and oils from ones hands again interrupting a uniform condition on the surface. I doubt there is an easy answer other than blasting or otherwise etching the surface. If it is going to be touched, a protective coating of some type of oil or wax (as mentioned by others) should be applied.

Thanks everyone who has shared their experiences and problems with Corten weathering steel. I am currently researching the use of the material for a farm gate sign and some landscape pieces.

Shawn Dinel
- Niagara Falls, ON Canada span>

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