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Corten Steel?

Discussion in 'Hardscaping' started by bartic, Oct 13, 2009.

  1. bartic

    bartic LawnSite Member
    from Toronto
    Messages: 1

    Hey guys,
    I just started a new project here in Toronto and the homeowner hired their own designer which has been a pain in the butt. anyways..
    So the land arch spec'd 3 Corten Steal privacy screens staggered at 6', 7' and 5'. I've never worked with this stuff before. FYI Corten steel is that steel that naturally weathers, you see it a lot on park bridges and stuff. I've been reading a bit and it seems that as it weathers it drips rust water which i'm worried about staining the pavers. I've decided to fab some brackets to hold the steel plates (1/4" i think) away from the wood so as to not stain the wood posts. I was wondering if any of you guys had any suggestions to protect the pavers as the steel ages? I have heard of people using muriatic acid to age it faster but as i said i have no experience with Corten steel.

    Any thoughts?

  2. rlitman

    rlitman LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,747

    I would think your only option is to control runoff (or choose a paver color that minimizes rust stains).

    From Wikipedia's article on weathering steel:
    The U.S. Steel Tower in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania was constructed by U.S. Steel in part to showcase COR-TEN steel. The initial weathering of the material resulted in a discoloration of the surrounding city sidewalks, as well as other nearby buildings. A cleanup effort was orchestrated by the corporation once weathering was complete to undo this damage, but the sidewalks still have a decidedly rusty tinge. This problem has been reduced in newer formulations of weathering steel. Staining can be prevented if the structure can be detailed so that water does not drain from the steel onto concrete where stains would be visible.
  3. Woodland

    Woodland LawnSite Member
    from Maine
    Messages: 207

    Not to sound ignorant, but how does this differ from normal steel and what is its purpose???
  4. Lite4

    Lite4 LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,186

    Other than galvanized and stainless, doesn't all steel weather "naturally" outside. Meaning RUST.
  5. rlitman

    rlitman LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,747

    Rust and "weathering" isn't the same thing.

    Steel left outside will rust through, because the rust on the surface flakes and falls off, and doesn't really protect the metal underneath.

    Stainless resists corrosion, because the chromium in the alloy oxidizes first, creating a clear oxide layer on the surface, which protects the metal underneath from additional corrosion.

    Cor-ten is supposed to form a thin rust layer on the surface, that is solid enough to resist flaking off or pitting, and provides protection to the metal underneath.
  6. Woodland

    Woodland LawnSite Member
    from Maine
    Messages: 207

    I do recall hearing something about this stuff a while back, but recall it being toted as a good fit for larger, industrial applications where you were eliminating costly upkeep issues such as regular painting to prevent corrosion. I suppose there is an aesthetic consideration to be made, but I really don't see its merits in small scale use in a landscape setting. I think there are much more attractive ways to present steel structures or accents in the landscape than "rusted".

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