Make COR-TEN Steel patina in days

COR-TEN steel – sometimes written without the hyphen as corten steel is a group of steel alloys which were developed to eliminate the need for painting and form a stable rust-like appearance if exposed to the weather for several years. We show you how to make happen much faster.

Steps to make cor-ten steel patina

  1. Get your steel surface/planter ready and get your sprayer (we bought one for $12 at Lowes).
  2. Add 2 cups of hydrogen peroxide
  3. Add 2 tablespoons of vinegar
  4. Add 1/2 teaspoon of salt
  5. Then put on a cap and shake those ingredients all together.
  6. Pump the sprayer and spray evenly over the entire surface twice per day.


Each day you will notice more and more of a patina appearance, that means you’ve done it correctly!

Corten steel closeup

Cor-ten steel interesting facts


When corten steel is exposed to the atmosphere, it undergoes a chemical reaction known as oxidation. This process allows a layer of protective rust to form on the surface of the steel. Initially, the steel appears gray or dull, but over time, the rust layer develops into a rich reddish-brown color, giving it a distinctive and aesthetically appealing appearance.


Protective Barrier

The rust layer formed on corten steel acts as a protective barrier against further corrosion. Unlike ordinary steel, which continues to corrode and weaken over time, corten steel develops a stable patina that helps prevent deeper corrosion from occurring. This patina acts as a barrier, shielding the steel beneath from the damaging effects of moisture, oxygen, and other environmental factors.


Unique Aesthetic

The corten steel patina has gained popularity in architecture, landscape design, and outdoor art installations due to its unique and attractive appearance. The warm earthy tones and textured surface of the patina create a rustic, industrial, and natural feel, blending well with various surroundings.


Patina Development

The development of the corten steel patina is influenced by factors such as the climate, exposure to moisture, airflow, and the duration of exposure. The patina formation process typically takes several months to a few years, depending on the conditions. Initially, the steel may produce runoff that can stain adjacent surfaces, so it’s important to consider proper drainage during the early stages of the patina formation.


Low maintenance

Once the patina has fully developed, it serves as a protective layer, reducing the need for ongoing maintenance or painting. The steel can withstand outdoor conditions, including rain, snow, and even saltwater environments, without significant degradation.


contact Eichenlaub with questions:

(412) 767-4769