Using Corten in your Barn Conversion

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What is Corten?

Corten is the general name for a material which forms a stable rust-like appearance after exposure to weather that was developed to be resistant to corrosion and to not need regular maintenance or painting. Many modern agricultural buildings are sheet metal clad and can be subject to significant amounts of rust. It provides character to the building and is a distinctive feature but due to the nature of rust, this needs to be stripped out in any conversions of a house. The rust-like appearance of the weathered Corten steel cladding provides a striking feature in barn conversions blending rust(ic) agricultural decay with modern design.

How does Corten Steel weather?


While other metals used in construction are designed to resist corrosion, Corten invites rust to form on its surface. The rust itself forms a film which covers the surface and forms a protective layer. It doesn’t need treating and you not need paint it, the rust provides its own protection and is own aesthetic. As a material it divides people but used well it can really add to your project. When it first arrives, it looks like a normal steel sheet, black and shiny. Once installed the rust will gradually take hold. It begins with a streaky yellow, which becomes orange and after a 10 years develops into a rich dark-brown purple colour.

How much does Corten cost?

Corten is around three times as expensive as ordinary steel plate but  looks identical when new. There is a validation process for ‘real’ Corten and it a good idea to ensure the product you or supplier is buying carries verification, as the finished look won’t reveal itself for a decade or two. at which point it might be difficult to ‘claim’. For anything over a 10-year lifespan expectation, Corten Steel offers much better value-for-money compared with other sheet metals. This is primarily due to the low maintenance costs.  Corten Steel does not need to be painted, unlike most other sheet metals. There are other sheet metals that do not need painting,  such as 304 / 316-grade Stainless Steels with a brushed or grained finish Corten but these are actually more expensive than Corten.  The actual unit price of Corten varies, but the key thing to check is that you are buying the authentic product.

Key Benefits

The Key Benefits of Corten Steel are:

  • Aesthetic.

  • Longevity

  • Low cost

  • Maintenance

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