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Corten steel design in Melbourne - Metfab

Corten Steel vs Stainless Steel - The Ultimate Comparison

We all know what stainless steel is and often see it around us, from kitchen appliances to architectural structures. Its sleek appearance and corrosion resistance make it a popular choice for various applications. But what about Corten Steel?

Only some people know what Corten Steel is, but understanding its unique properties is essential not only for a metal fabricator but also for anyone.

Unlike stainless steel, Corten Steel is a distinct type of alloy designed to weather gracefully over time, offering structural strength and an aesthetic quality that sets it apart.

Table of Contents
    Corten steel in wall Melbourne - Metfab

    Corten Steels vs Stainless Steel - How Do They Differ?

    The difference between these two is distinctive; however, understanding their dissimilarity is key to making informed decisions in metal works projects.

    I remember speaking to a client looking for an alternative to stainless steel for their front yard landscaping project. They wanted a material that offered durability and contributed a unique aesthetic to enhance the overall appeal of their outdoor space. This led me to introduce them to the unique qualities of Corten Steel.

    Don't get me wrong; stainless steel is undoubtedly amazing. Its sleek appearance and corrosion resistance make it a top choice for various applications. However, when the client expressed the desire for something beyond the conventional, it opened up a fascinating conversation about the artistic and functional possibilities that Corten Steel could bring to their project.

    Let us help you differentiate the two:


    Corten steel, sometimes called weathering steel, is a class of steel alloys designed specifically to have a rust-like coat when exposed to the weather. This layer of rust gives the object a unique look and serves as a barrier to stop additional corrosion. Contrarily, stainless steel is an alloy with at least 10.5% chromium, forming a thin oxide layer of protection that resists corrosion.


    Corten Steel: 

    Corten Steel undergoes a fascinating transformation over time:

    • Forms a Protection Rust Layer: Corten Steel is rust-resistant, while ordinary steel corrodes. In addition to protecting the steel underlying, the rust layer gives the piece a unique visual appeal.
    • High Tensile Strength: Corten Steel finds use in structural applications because of its reputation for strength.
    • Weather-Resistant: It's perfect for outdoor structures because it can resist environmental exposure without deteriorating.

    Stainless Steel:

    Stainless Steel boasts properties that make it a versatile material:

    • Resistance to Corrosion and Stains: Stainless steel's high chromium concentration creates a barrier that keeps it extremely resistant to rust and discolouration.
    • Strength and Durability: Because of its durability, stainless steel can be used for various purposes.
    • Different Grades: Stainless steel is flexible enough to meet a wide range of requirements and comes in many grades, each with special qualities.

    Industry Uses

    Corten Steel:

    There are numerous industries where Corten Steel is used:

    • Structures in Architecture: Because of its distinctive look, it is frequently used in architectural projects to give structures more personality.
    • Container Ships and Bridges: Corten steel's strength makes it ideal for the severe environments that shipping containers and bridges encounter.
    • Garden edging and landscaping: Corten steel is popular for landscaping elements because of its weathering qualities.

    Stainless Steel:

    Stainless Steel is widely used across diverse industries:

    • Kitchen Appliances and Cookware: The hygiene and corrosion-resistant properties of Stainless Steel make it a staple in kitchens.
    • Construction and Architecture: Its aesthetic appeal and durability make Stainless Steel a preferred choice in construction and architectural projects.
    • Medical Equipment and Aerospace Applications: The high strength and corrosion resistance of Stainless Steel are critical in the medical and aerospace industries.


    Cost is a major factor in decision-making regarding metal fabrication projects. Knowing how much Corten and stainless steel will cost is important whether you're planning an outdoor construction or an architectural marvel. 

    Let's explore the financial factors to assist you in making wise decisions.

    Corten Steel:

    • Initial Cost: Compared to stainless steel, corten steel usually has an initial cost that is more affordable. This may be especially alluring for projects with strict financial restrictions or those seeking an affordable option without sacrificing aesthetics.
    • Long-Term Considerations: Even though Corten Steel could cost less upfront, it's important to consider the long-term. Over time, the material's low maintenance needs and long lifespan add to its cost-effectiveness. Intentional rusting also reduces ongoing costs by removing the requirement for protective coatings.
    • Costs of Installation: The high tensile strength of Corten Steel may affect the cost of manufacture and installation. On the other hand, its weathering qualities could balance the project's overall cost by offsetting finishes and coatings costs.

    Stainless Steel:

    • Initial Cost: Since stainless steel is prized for its superior quality, its initial cost is more than that of corten steel. The cost disparity may have a big role, particularly in large-scale projects or those with limited funding.
    • Long-Term Considerations: Stain steel's durability and anti-corrosion properties add to its long-term cost-effectiveness. Due to its minimal maintenance needs, costs will decrease over time. The material's longevity may also lessen the need for replacements or repairs.
    • Installation Costs: The versatility and ease of manufacture of stainless steel can simplify installation procedures. While the material, labour, and installation may cost more, time savings favour the project budget.


    Corten steel design for homes in Melbourne - Metfab

    Advantages and Disadvantages

    Corten Steel


    Unique Aesthetic Appeal

    Corten Steel's deliberate rusting process gives it a distinctive, worn look that changes with time. It stands out thanks to its unique style, which makes it a well-liked option for creative and outdoor projects.

    Weather Resistance

    Corten steel is weather-resistant by design. Its resistance to air corrosion ensures lifespan in various climates, making it appropriate for exterior installations and constructions.

    Minimal Maintenance Requirements

    Corten Steel needs very little maintenance. Over the material's lifetime, the protective rust layer reduces maintenance costs and ease of use by obviating the need for frequent coatings.

    High Tensile Strength

    Because of its high tensile strength, Corten Steel can be used in structural applications. Its strength adds to its toughness and endurance under demanding circumstances.


    Initial Rust Runoff

    Initial rust runoff may occur with Corten Steel, potentially causing neighbouring surfaces to get stained. Although this discharge gradually decreases, it should be considered, particularly for projects with strict cleanliness standards.

    Limited Color Options

    Compared to stainless steel, Corten steel has fewer colour possibilities. Although the changing rusting look is distinctive, projects with particular colour requirements must be accommodated.

    Stainless Steel


    Corrosion Resistance

    Stainless Steel's chromium content forms a protective oxide layer, providing exceptional corrosion resistance. This makes it ideal for applications where exposure to moisture or harsh environments is a concern.

    Sleek and Modern Appearance

    Stainless Steel's polished finish and sleek appearance contribute to a modern, sophisticated look. It is a timeless choice for projects that prioritise a clean aesthetic.

    Versatility in Grades

    Stainless Steel is available in various grades, each offering unique properties. This versatility allows for tailored solutions to meet specific project requirements.

    Low Maintenance

    Stainless Steel is low maintenance, requiring regular cleaning to maintain its appearance. Its corrosion resistance reduces the need for extensive upkeep, contributing to long-term cost-effectiveness.


    Higher Initial Cost

    Stainless Steel often comes with a higher initial cost compared to Corten Steel. This upfront expense can be a consideration for projects with budget constraints.
    Susceptibility to Scratching: In certain grades, Stainless Steel can be susceptible to showing scratches and marks. This might be a consideration in projects where maintaining a flawless appearance is crucial.



    Let's keep it real. Corten steel and stainless steel bring different vibes to building things, and choosing one is like picking the main character for your project.

    Corten Steel is about changing over time, with that cool rusted look and needing almost no touch-ups. It's good for outdoor art projects and adds character to buildings.

    Stainless Steel is the cool kid in modern design. It's sleek, shiny, and can handle whatever the weather throws. It's great for that polished and timeless look.

    So, when you're deciding between these two, it's about telling your story through your project. Whether you like the changing charm of Corten or the forever cool style of Stainless, your pick paints a picture for your space.

    Remember, it's not a battle between them; it's a choice. Each metal brings something special. So, as you plan your project, pick what feels right for your story. Please keep it simple and cool, and let your creation become a story that lasts.