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Corten Weathering Steel Patina Process

 Apr 8, 2019    Outdoor Living Blog

Coronado Corten Steel Fire Pit

We love the natural, beautiful colors that are highlighted on our corten steel fire pits! Many of our patrons recognize that this seasoned look is special and striking, and an utter must have for their backyard living space! But many of them ask:

Exactly what is corten steel?

This metal is actually a high strength steel that is highly resistant to weathering, regardless of its appearance. In fact, COR-TEN™ has been a trademarked name since the 1930s and is used to represent weathered steel. It was originally developed to get rid of the need for painting. While its main use has been for railroad cars, architectural structures, and even ornate sculptures (such as London, England's Fulcrum by Richard Serra - 1987), this steel alloy is now used to create ornamental outdoor merchandise!

Is there a benefit to corten steel outdoor products?

  1. One of the pros of corten steel is that the surface doesn't need to be touched up with paint...ever! The layer of steel patina rust that gives the Corten steel it’s signature golden brown color actually protects the steel.
  2. Each product details its own uniqueness, with color highlights and variations that are aesthetically pleasing.
  3. Anti-corrosive. In fact, corten steel has a weather resistance that is 4 to 8 times greater than ordinary steel! 
  4. Withstands high temperatures. That’s why they make such great fire pits.
  5. Minimal upkeep. With no need to paint the steel or clean off the protective rust patina, products made of corten steel are practically maintenance free.

What type of patina can I expect to see on a corten steel fire pit?

The surface of each of our special corten steel fire pits is aged to look as though the product has been in the elements for about a month. Be advised that your new fire pit will have a "rust" layer of residue from the manufacturing process, so we recommend that you avoid touching or sitting on it in order to avoid blemishing the surface (or your clothes). This layer will disappear over a short period of time after it has been exposed to the outdoor elements.

By referencing the color chart below, you will see that the second color swatch shows what the surface will look like at 1.5 months - this is the approximate tone that our fire pits display.

Corten Steel Patina Process


As you can see, this specialty steel will continue to patina over time, aging to a beautiful dark mocha hue. Eventually, it will look more like metal instead of showing off the bright yellow or orange colors that it started with. If you choose to stop the patina process, you can do this quite easily! Simply apply a protective, clear-coat paint to the surface of your corten steel fire pit. This will also alleviate that "rust" layer of residue.

Is there anything else that can affect the corten steel patina process?

Remember, all outdoor products that go through this type of aging process will be affected by the environment you live in. The air quality and atmospheric conditions of marine areas, metropolitan locations, and arid or mountainous regions contribute differently to the appearance and time it takes for the patina to advance.

What is corten steel used for?

Popularly used in outdoor structures such as bridges, buildings, external paneling, fire features, and sculptures. It is not recommended for marine applications as the chlorine in the water is too corrosive and breaks through the protective patina layering.

Last updated on July 1st 2019.

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