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Corten Corten is weathering steel, best-known under the trademark COR-TEN steel and 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.

 "Weathering" means that due to their chemical compositions, these steels exhibit increased resistance to atmospheric corrosion compared to  other steels. This is because the steel forms a protective layer on its surface under the influence of the weather.

 The corrosion-retarding effect of the protective layer is produced by the particular distribution and concentration of alloying elements in it. The  layer protecting the surface develops and regenerates continuously when subjected to the influence of the weather. In other words, the steel is allowed to rust in order to form the 'protective' coating.