Cor-ten Architectural Siding

Cor-ten Architectural Siding Title & Map
Also known as “weathering steel” the trademarked product Cor-ten has become prominent in progressive architecture here in North America. Cor-ten was originally developed from a group of alloy steels which eliminate the need for finishing or painting. The product develops a thin skin of rust which actually protects the inner layers of steel from the elements. This skin continues to rust and weather over time and achieves different appearances depending on the environment, location and exposure. Cor-ten steel is available in many structural cross sections as well as plate and corrugated panels. Technical data on Cor-ten can be found here. Although Cor-ten has been used since the 1960’s in applications of structural necessity and high exposure it has only come to prominence in the architectural industry within the last decade. We’ve rounded up 16 residential projects in North America that use Cor-ten as an exterior skin – in some applications it is the actual envelope, in others it is applied as a rainscreen. Let us know about your favorite Cor-ten projects out there.

829 Greenwich in Manhattan by Matthew Baird Architects, 2005
The facade includes a 40 foot tall Cor-ten steel plate

829 Greenwhich in Manhattan by Matthew Baird Architects

Mad Park in Seattle by Vandeventer + Carlander, 2007
The Cor-ten panels clad the service functions of the house

Mad Park in Seattle by Vandeventer + Carlander

Montecito Residence in California by OSKA, 2007
The Cor-ten panels are also used for fire resistance

Montecito Residence in California by OSKA

Delta shelter in Mazama Washington by OSKA, 2007
10’ x 18’ Cor-ten “shutters” which can be rolled closed

Delta Shelter in Mazama Washington by OSKA

Weathering Steel House in North York, Ontario by Shim-Sutcliffe, 2000
Cor-ten sheets are used as cladding and Cor-ten structural members form a bridge across the water element

Weathering Steel House in North York, Ontario by Shim Sutcliffe

Weathering Steel House in North York, Ontario by Shim Sutcliffe

700 Palms Residence in Venice California by Steven Ehrlich Architects, 2005
700 Palms Residence in Venice California by Steven Ehrlich Architects

The Titan in San Diego by Jonathan Segal
The overall geometry keeps the Cor-ten panels to typical and conventional shapes and sizes

The Titan in San Diego by Jonathan Segal

The Prospect in San Diego by Jonathan Segal
While some of the structural steel is Cor-ten the exterior is said to be of typical steel just rusting away. There is a very nice blog post on this project here.

The Prospect in San Diego by Jonathan Segal

T-House in Wilton New York by Simon Ungers & Tom Kinslow, 1986
The Cor-ten envelope was prefabricated and shipped to the site in three pieces

T-House in Wilton New York by Simon Ungers & Tom Kinslow

Camano Island Cabin in Washington by Terry Hunziker & BUILD llc, 2004
The project uses flat Cor-ten sheets and corrugated Cor-ten panels
Camano Island Cabin, Washington by BUILD llc

Camano Island Cabin, Washington by BUILD llc

1603 Random Road in Lawrence Kansas by Studio 804, 2001
1603 Random Rd. Lawrence Kansas by Studio 804

Desert Nomad House in Tucson, Arizona by Rick Joy, 2005
Desert Nomad House in Tuscon Arizona by Rick Joy
[Photo by Mark Skalny]

Tubac House in Arizona by Rick Joy, 2001
Tubac House in Arizona by Rick Joy

Gazzano House in London by Amin Taha
Gazzano House in London by Amin Taha

Ten Broeck Cottage in Columbia County New York by Messana O’Rorke Architects
Ten Broeck Cottage in Columbia County New York by Messana O’Rorke Architects

Ocean Beach Residence in San Francisco by Aidlin Darling Design
Ocean Beach Residence in San Francisco by Aidlin Darling Design


33 Comments so far
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yes yes. it’s really nice stuff. i was just in san diego. the jonathan segal stuff isn’t weathering too well, the titan is leaching all over the place, staining everything in sight. v+c’s mad park is not one of the finer projects they’ve done, unfortunately.

a supplemental list from recent research for a side project…

archea assocaiti:

gigon_guyer, Kalkriese Archaeological Museum:

OMA, Guggenheim Hermitage:

sean godsell, st. andrews house:

hild und k, haltestelle Landshut:

h&dem, caixaforum:

carlos ferrater, jardin botanico:

thomas heatherwich, east beach cafe:

steven holl, planar house:

steven holl, school of art and arch. iowa univ:

jim jennings, soma house:

Sebastián Irarrázaval, la reserva:

tezuka architects, Matsunoyama Natural Science Museum:

la dallman architects, ravin house:

blankstudio, xeros residence:

richard bauer studio, meinel optical sciences:laboratory

sarah wigglesworth, cremorne riverside center:

and locally:bellan office on 1st ave S.:

hutchison & maul, dow metal shop:

place architects, diva:

Comment by mike

I think Cor-ten is an awesome product. I know several of the students I’ve gone to school with favor this product as well, having seen it specified on several projects. However, I think it also has a downside, depending on the environment it is used in. For example, I’d be interested in seeing the sidewalk and street adjacent to the 829 Greenwich building. This stuff stains really bad. And depending on who you ask, this can be a positive side effect or a negative one.

The others you have shown are great though. I’m a big fan of Rick Joy anyway and think the Cor-ten is more than appropriate for Arizona’s landscape. The aesthetic of the structure in the landscape is very similar to his rammed earth structures. I love the color of both.

Comment by spark

Phil of Kaplan Thompson Architects emailed with a very nice Cor-ten project located on an Island in Casco Bay just off the coast of Portland, Maine. Check it out here:

Comment by buildllc

Spark – that’s a very good point, Cor-ten continually stains the materials around it which, as you point out, can look really good or really bad. We’ve found that grass and earth are good products to install below Cor-ten.

Comment by buildllc

Mike – WOW! Phenomenal links. I think you work harder on this blog than we do! Love that Jim Jennings house.

Comment by buildllc

i’d start my own (blog) but there’s not enough time in the day! jim jennings is amazing. i visited his studio a few years ago, and was enthralled by the camera obscura on his front door

he’s also beastly with the beton.

Comment by mike

Here’s a cool one that uses corrugated panels as a cladding by architect Dustin Ehrlich:

Comment by Bob-o

found another interesting project in iceland.

at least, i think it’s corten…

Comment by mike

i was wondering if anyone knew of a good source where i could obtain corten. if you do it would really help. we are trying to use it on the interior and exterior of a building and are haveing trouble finding a good distributor.


Comment by sean

Sean – try Corrugated Metals Inc. out of Chicago:

Comment by Andrew

thank you! i also found another place too that was really helpful!

The A588 & A572 Steel Company
1470 50th Street North
Birmingham, AL 35212

Apparently a588 and a606 is the real name for “corten”

Comment by sean

try reclametal in colorado – recycled rusting steel in flat sheets or corrugated

Comment by martbern

andrew & kevin:
one of the girls over here was looking for some core ten images and stumbled onto your site- you guys are totally into everything!!!

see you gys soon,

BTW: thanks for the book!

Comment by carlyle

OK, I’m not an architect or in the building trades- just a homeowner who was thinking about using core-ten for siding in Eastern New York. I love the look of core-ten for my home, but whatever I use will be subject to extremes of heat and cold, as well as salt sea air, rain and snow, so I wanted to do some research.
Well, I just found this from the New York Dept. of Environmental Protection:
“In the 1980’s the [NYS] Department of Transportation initiated the use of A588 steel “rustic” guide rail. Unfortunately, through extensive field observation and inspection, NYS DOT has learned that this product deteriorates at an accelerated and unpredictable rate. This circumstance results in an unacceptable safety condition and therefore NYS DOT has discontinued the use of A588 steel guide rail. NYS DOT recently completed an intensive multi-year study to assess the rate of deterioration and look for suitable alternative “rustic” guide rail products that would satisfy aesthetic and safety concerns in a practical and affordable manner. No alternatives have been discovered that are brown, safe, practical and affordable. Therefore, most A588 steel guide rail will be replaced with grey galvanized guide rail.”
And then from the NY State Department of Transportation: “This Engineering Instruction announces the Department’s decision to cease using A588 (rustic, Corten, “self-oxidizing”, or “self-weathering”) steel for highway guide railing and barriers…A588 steel has not resisted corrosion as was initially expected when the product was first used for guide rail. Some localized moisture, salt, shade, and shelter conditions have resulted in A588 rail deteriorating significantly faster than at other locations. The Department has strived to replace deteriorated A588 rail when its deterioration becomes apparent, but it is often difficult to determine whether installed A588 rail is deteriorated and, if so, the degree of deterioration. To ensure that guide rail will function adequately over the long term, the Department has decided to eliminate the use of A588 steel for highway barrier systems.”
Apparently the deal is this:
NY tried to use A588 brown steel for guard rails in scenic mountain areas, but found out that it didn’t last as long as galvanized steel. Granted, this usage requires that the steel maintain enough strength to keep speeding cars from failing off cliffs- a little more wear and tear than one needs from siding, but it does make me dubious of the 80-year claim of Core-Ten manufactures. Likewise the key is that deterioration is hard to spot(the whole thing is rusty anyway, right?)
Therefore I think I’m going forego core-ten and keep looking for the right siding.

Comment by Trew

Trew – great information. Thanks for sharing the homework you’ve done with the rest of us. Definately keep us posted on what you decide on for your siding system. A galvanized rainscreen could look very sharp if designed correctly.

Comment by buildllc

Hi – this thread is amazing!!! Totally detailed research – excellent! I am in Scotland, UK, and am trying to detail a Cor-ten tower for a new-build house. I have found a local supplier of sheet weathering steel but they don’t give advice on fixing details, etc. Does anyone know of a good source of info. – preferably UK based ;-) – where I can get info. on the detailing side of things as opposed to the end result?!


Comment by Mhairi

Mhairi – you might take a look at the “in DETAIL” series of books by Birkhauser press. They just came out with a book on building skins. Some of their other books may also cover rainscreens such as “Single Family Houses” and “Cost Effective Building”.

Comment by buildllc

FYI: Rick Joy’s Tyler House in Tubac, AZ does not use Cor-ten steel siding. According to Rick Joy, in the desert climate the added expense of Cor-ten is not necessary. Standard carbon steel siding rusts on the surface but does not rust through.

Comment by BG

I’m interested in the application of cor-ten for the actual envelope of a residential house in Washington State. If anyone has any insight regarding how the panels are secured (to one another and to the house itself)-much in the spirit of the Camano Island Cabin featured above- I’d really appreciate any information.

Comment by Randy

Randy – the Cor-ten panels on the Camano project are attached to vertical runners behind with a blackened square drive wood screw. The Panels were pre-drilled in such a way that the screws could be flush mounted. The panels are not attached to each other – you’ll want to include a gap between panels for the expansion and contraction of the material.

Comment by buildllc

I’d like to add my house to your list. And yes I have an ego.

Here’s a link

In case the html doesn’t take –

Cor-ten House

Flickr has a Cor-ten group pool full of pictures.

Plenty of info and links

Comment by Bruce F

You can’t be very modern if you are still calling women “girls”! What century are you from?

Comment by Lee Johnson

fantastic blog! not sure how you find time to run a business and keep a blog this good going.

at any rate, i have a further question about fastening cor-ten to your building. you said you used blackened square drive wood screws. we’re looking at using some panels on a project in portland and are concerned with dissimilar metals….exactly what material is the fastener made of?

check out our project:

Comment by Darin

[…] could still make money.  Happily he did.  The next project like that I design will use this Cor-ten siding.  The cabin above was built by a local design-build firm Build LLC.  The patina that develops in […]

Pingback by Cor-ten steel siding for the contemporary home « The Hungry Architect

See the link below about weathering steel, with projects details at the bottom of the page:

Comment by Henri

What gage is commonly used for cor-ten siding?

Comment by IceNine

IceNine – I don’t think Cor-ten is used often enough to have standards but we typically use something between 11 gauge (1/8″) and 16 gauge (1/16″). An “oil-canning” affect is typically a concern with thinner gauges of any steel, including Cor-ten.

Comment by buildllc

Thanks for the advice!

Any thoughts on lapping the panels? Both horizontal and vertical joints, with some kind of sealant between panels at the vertical joints to form a closed rain screen?

Comment by IceNine

IceNine – we like rain screens because they allow the house to breathe a bit. We haven’t designed or built a “closed rain screen” and unfortunately don’t have any suggestions on that one.

Comment by buildllc

Do you have a suggestion for or experience dealing with the effects of Cor-ten bleeding when installed above windows.

Comment by Mattie

Mattie – although not preferable, Cor-ten inevitably ends up above windows from time to time. Regardless of the detailing the windows will most likely get stained over time. You can use aluminum windows with a bronze finish which hides the stains better. We also try and inset the windows as much as possible. Either way I’d give the homeowner a heads up so that it’s not an unpleasant surprise later.

Comment by buildllc

I’m considering using Corten as siding for the tiny house I am designing after seeing it on a Tumbleweed Popomo ( but having read up on it a bit more I have to admit I’m having doubts. I wonder if it would be possible to seal the surface one it has reached a desired patina to prevent it decaying any more?

Comment by Andy Hawkins

Andy – it’s not possible to seal the surface of cor-ten steel once the weathering process has begun.

Comment by buildllc

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