Corten steel or weather resistant is a steel made of different alloys such as copper (Cu), chromium (Cr), nickel molybdenum (Ni Mo) and phosphorus (P). This combination makes it possible to increase resistance to corrosion by forming a self-protective layer, the patina.
The copper enrichment in Corten allows the formation of an oxidation layer on the surface. Phosphorus improves the action of copper and causes regular oxidation. In addition, the phosphorus ensures the healing” of the oxide layer when scratches occur.
The formation of the protective layer is closely related to the conditions of condensation, evaporation and stagnation of water. A humid atmosphere, the proximity of the sea, can prevent the formation of an effective protective patina. These factors influencing the rate of oxidation also influence the colour and appearance of Corten steel
The colour of Corten steel is usually orange-brown. However, the colour and appearance of the patina can vary, depending on the climatic conditions and pollutants in the air. The colour is never homogenous.
Below is a nice illustration of a corten steel fence after placement and a few months afterwards.