COR-TEN in Context

cor-ten steel
Rust as Function and Style

We follow steel ⏤ its applications, strength, and advancements. Steel is, literally, the foundation of our business.

Naturally, we take pause whenever a new technology arrives, promising stronger and longer lasting formulas.

COR-TEN is one such innovation. U.S. Steel holds the trademark on the name, a combination of corrosion resistance and tensile strength. (Tensile strength is the point at which steel begins to warp.) The innovation here is in weathering, the chemical component that lets the steel retain its integrity while exhibiting the (natural) oxidation that we know as rust.

The difference is that COR-TEN steel’s rust is a layer designed as a kind of protective coating, leaving the underlying sections to retain strength. This is partly a cosmetic feature.

A number of architectural projects have folded COR-TEN into their designs. The Chicago Picasso sculpture, in the Chicago Loop’s Daley Plaza, uses it, as does Barclays Center in Brooklyn.

It’s rust as style. Not everyone’s taste, yet quite popular in some circles.

And yet (well, you knew that was coming), COR-TEN has some problems. Barclays Center, for example: by design the oxidation process is accelerated. And what people experienced with that rusting, among other elements, was discoloration of the sidewalks (called “bleeding” or “runoff”) around Barclays Center, the result of condensation from the steel dripping onto the concrete. This can also cause environmental problems, with metal runoff seeping into and affecting local waters.

Structurally, the situation also can be dire. Engineers employed COR-TEN in construction of The Omni Coliseum in Atlanta in 1972. The steel wouldn’t stop rusting, and that resulted in large holes. Structurally, it was compromised to the point of being a potential danger and disaster. Twenty-five years after its construction, they demolished the building.

Our focus is on structural integrity. No COR-TEN on our inventory. We evaluate and categorize each rental and used yard ramp you’ll find on our listing pages ⏤ from “New” through “Good” ⏤ and all pass the test of that structural integrity. Which is the only way we allow them to post on our site.

barclays center
Barclays Center Roofing
This week, our man McCoy Fields discovers a half-ramp, half-causeway. Something to do with pulling ships over mountains. And it’s all fascinating.

Click HERE to read all about it.