Weathering Steel in Architecture and Construction

weathering steel

If you take a walk around your city, you will likely see weathering steel being utilized in some form, be it architectural or structural. The patina formed from this metal gives a unique look and makes it a strong and useful material. 

This article will go over the applications and uses of weathering steel in architecture and construction and show its advantages in both.                                    

What is Weathering Steel?

Weathering steel, also called Corten steel, is an alloy steel that was developed in the 1930s in the US and is a trademark of the US Steel Corporation. It is known for its ability to chemically form a stable rust-like protective surface layer that is corrosion-proof.

The alloying elements in weathering steel, copper, chromium, and nickel help produce this rust layer. This layer is stable and adheres to the base metal, forming a protective barrier that prevents further moisture, oxygen, and pollutants from deteriorating the steel. Thus, you get a metal that sees a corrosion rate at a much lower level than what you would typically find on ordinary structural steel. 

Why is Weathering Steel Useful?

The usefulness of weathering steel due to its incredibly anti-corrosiveness cannot be understated. It is a significant reason why we see it becoming the most popular material in outdoor decor and construction today.

This steel is being integrated with new metallurgy methods along with being enhanced by the latest technology to date. A super steel material, weathering steel is a top-tier metal used worldwide on some of the most innovative and beautiful buildings, bridges, and homes. 

Weathering Steel in Architecture

Weathering steel is a durable metal that stands the test of time. Therefore you will see it used in many notable architectural designs around the world.

These landmarks include structures such as:

  • The John Deere World Headquarters – designed by architect Eero Saarinen in 1964
  • The U.S. Steel Tower – designed by Harrison, Abramovitz & Abbe in 1971
  • Odense University in Denmark – designed by Holscher and Vesterholt in the 1970s
  • The Australian Center for Contemporary Art in Melbourne – designed by Wood Marsh in 1998
  • Barclays Center Arena in New York – designed by SHoP Architects in 2012

These examples don’t even touch the surface of the notable residential projects that weathering steel has and continues to enhance with its look, longevity, and durability.

The look of weathering steel is used to juxtapose more traditional materials when it is used, thus enhancing the contemporary element even more while being able to blend into the most modern or rustic areas seamlessly. 

Although it is very durable, weathering steel does have its limitations which must be kept in mind when using it for architectural purposes. For example, sea salt can corrode areas of the metal left to collect water, so it is not optimal near beaches as the protective patina may not be able to stabilize itself.

Keeping its few limitations in mind, we find that weathering steel is a unique material that presents incredible effects when appropriately utilized. The designs are timeless and striking in any era they present themselves. 

Weathering Steel in Construction

You can find weathering steel in many types of commercial landscapes, such as retaining walls, fencing, awnings, ballads, pergolas, and landscape edging. Since retaining walls are used in commercial spaces quite frequently, weathering steel is a popular option for its practical application and where concrete does not work.

It is also used in modern construction as corrugated and profile panels are commonly constructed with the material. You will also find that the primary material most shipping containers are made of is weathering steel as well. 

Weathering steel is often used in the construction of bridges due to its low corrosion rate. Because the corrosion rate is so low, bridges fabricated from unpainted weathering steel can achieve up to 120 years of design life with only nominal maintenance. Therefore a well-designed and well-detailed weathering steel bridge in an appropriate environment can provide a low maintenance, economical solution that looks quite attractive.   

Get the Best Design and Construction Materials for Your Next Project 

MetalTech Global is the nation’s premier distributor and fabricator of coil, sheet, and finished architectural metals products. We envision that home and commercial construction will be committed to using durable and reusable products.

We envision that home and commercial construction will be committed to using only durable and reusable products. MetalTech Global can help your commitment be successful as durability, reusability, and sustainability is our area of expertise. We work with companies like elZinc America, VMZinc, Lorin Industries, and all major Copper mills to provide the highest quality architectural products in natural metals. 

Contact us today for information on architectural metals, coils, panels, metal fabrication and cutting, folding, and more. We look forward to being a part of your next successful project!