You may have seen an outdoor sculpture, a firepit or a chimenea with a dark brown or orange coating and thought: ‘say, that’s rusted right through!’ But the chances are what you probably saw is the weather proof, wonder material itself: Corten steel (also known as COR-TEN steel).
Now the reason Corten steel looks rusted is because, well, technically it is, but not as you know it. Corten steel has a partially rusted surface, a thin layer of metal oxide that does not compromise the integrity of the metal itself (like normal rust would). This layer actually protects the metal itself from the elements and ensures it retains its strength and longevity without suffering the gradual corrosion that normal steel or iron is privy too. Iron oxide would continue to eat its way through the metal under normal circumstances, but the special alloy that makes up Corten steel allows it to form a thin layer on the surface without invading the core of the sheet.
What’s more, this protective layer is able to repair and regenerate itself, requiring very little maintenance. The dark brown or ochre-ish hue that makes Corten steel so recognizable is quickly becoming a style unto itself, with artists and engineers alike queuing up to take advantage of its bold color and weather proof properties for art and architectural purposes.
Most firepits and chimeneas are made out of metal, and increasingly Corten steel is the metal of choice. Not only because of its weather proof qualities and aesthetic edge, but because its anti-corrosive properties also make it more resistant to the gradual erosion of the fire. If you’ve ever owned a metal firepit or chimenea you’ll know how quickly a fire can eat its way through, within a year some of the thinner and cheaper models begin to show holes and other signs of decay. A high quality Corten steel outdoor appliance should give you warmth and light in your garden for years to come.
Here are our three favourite Corten steel outdoor appliances for your perusal, simply click the pictures to find out more: