The Emergence of Corten Steel, Everywhere

Corten Steel History

The Emergence of Corten Steel, Everywhere

Back in 1933, the United States Steel Corporation (USS) patented atmospheric corrosion-resistant steel under the trade name Cor-Ten®. The name is a combination of its two main features: “cor-rosion resistance” and “ten-sile strength.” Cor-Ten® was and is still designed to be used where higher strength and longer life cycle material is desired. 

Corten steel in the railroad and shipping industry

In its early days, corten steel was used to construct hopper cars, passenger rail cars and shipping containers. Its strong, weather-resistant qualities were ideal for these applications. It wasn’t until the 1960s that architects began discovering ways to use corten steel. 

Weathering Steel Building

Corten steel in architecture

Architect Eero Saarinen was commissioned by William Hewitt, the President of John Deere, to design a distinctive building for their new headquarters in Illinois. Hewitt requested a down-to-earth, rustic and practical building that would reflect the company’s clients and their business as an agriculture equipment manufacturer. Corten steel was the obvious material choice, and John Deere’s headquarters still stands today flaunting a patina that is aged to perfection. 

Another notable architectural project using corten steel was for the inventor of the material. U.S. Steel constructed their office building to showcase the properties of corten steel to the architectural community. The construction of the U.S. Steel Tower in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania was completed in 1971, and today it stands 64 stories tall as a beacon in the Pittsburgh skyline. Just last month, the tower celebrated 50 years as Pittsburgh’s tallest building

As Cor-Ten® became more and more popular, producing mills began to develop their own atmospheric corrosion resistant steel. ASTM stepped in and created what are considered equivalent specifications to Cor-Ten® in most applications. Today, nearly a hundred years later, corten steel can be spotted around the world.  

Weathering Steel Skywalk

Corten steel everywhere

The corrosion-resistant and aesthetic benefits of weathering steel appeal to many, and weathering steels have increased in popularity since Central Steel Service was founded in 1981. Weathering steels are now used around the world to construct bridges, building facades, railcars, and transmission towers. They are also used in a variety of architectural applications, such as personal residences, sculptures, skywalks, fencing, roofing and siding. Just look around, and you are bound to see the natural beauty of the rusty, orange-brown patina. 

Weathering Steel Staircase

Central Steel Service’s History with Corten Steel

Central Steel Service was founded as a high-strength, corrosion-resistant steel distributor to its sister company Process Equipment. In our beginnings, we supplied Process Equipment with corrosion-resistant materials, primarily referred to as cor-ten. Process Equipment utilized the corrosion-resistant material for a variety of their industrial pollution control products as an enhancement to their product life cycles over the standard A36 grade used by most of their competitors. 

Weathering Steel Awning

During our 40 years of business, we have remained committed to our “niche” of supplying high strength and high strength weathering steel products. We even took a page out of U.S. Steel’s playbook and built our new office building to showcase several applications of corten steel. .

Today, we stock corten-equivalent, high strength, high strength weathering steel across all product categories to meet the needs of our customers. We understand that the unique applications requiring these specialty products require the utmost attention to quality and material traceability. By focusing our entire resources on supplying only these specialty products, we can give you complete confidence in your decision to allow us to service your steel requirements. 

Contact an experienced sales representative at Central Steel Service to learn more about our company and products.