See How Those Cool Rusty Planters Are Made

See How Those Cool Rusty Planters Are Made


(bass music) – Corten is a trademark name. It was developed in the early part of the 20th century as a structural steel. This is called weathering
steel, is kind of a general term for these alloy steels that are made for their corrosion resistance. (percussion music) – We recently did a
project, and we used a lot of Corten steel in that project. So, using the Corten in the planter boxes, which is where we had started, then we carried that material out through other elements in the project. I like Corten for a couple of reasons. One, is the thin profile. When you have a small space,
the Corten is nice to use for planter boxes, ’cause
you get more volume, basically, of planting, and the color. The juxtaposition of the green of the plants that are going into the beds and then the orange rusty
tone of the Corten, itself. The longevity is the other part of it So, a steel planter box is gonna last you a lot longer than a wood box. (rhythmic music) – Corten, as it oxidizes,
that rusting layer, actually, serves to protect the material. In other types of steel the rust doesn’t. When we get the material
its in large flat sheets. And, depending on the design details, we either take the sheets, cut them, to the size parts we need, weld them, we can mechanically fasten it, so, with hardware, screws, bolts, etc. And, it can also be formed, for instance, when we’re making planter boxes, there are different details we can do. – We tend to give two options, either the straight
edge, or a beveled edge. And, so, the beveled
edge is a rounded corner and that provides a different
structural stability to it, and it also ensures that you’re
not gonna scrape yourself on the edges of the planter. So, if you have kids, a beveled edge is gonna be a better option for you. (light music) We mostly make them bottomless. If you’re putting it onto a paved surface you might wanna put a bottom on it, so that you’re not seeing all the water and the soil coming out
of it, spilling out of it. Bottomless is better when
you are putting the box directly onto soil,
’cause that way, the roots of the plants aren’t confined in any way. I tend to like them to
be about 20 inches high. I would say a good width is three feet. The length can vary, with
the width of three feet you’re able to reach into
the middle of the bed, still, so, you can access all the plants. Corten does rust. – In the early stages
it can rub off on you, and it can also stain the
surrounding environment. As it ages, over time, that
rust layer becomes more stable, and there’s less opportunity
for it to be rubbing off. – Cost, if you look at
it over the life span, is probably gonna be roughly equivalent to another material that
you might use, like wood. – Making like a 30 inch, by
five foot, by two feet deep, box might cost between 1500 and 1800 dollars. There are fewer suppliers for it, so, it might be something that,
depending on where you live, you may have to have shipped
in from a long way away. – Most often, we weld and
prefabricate the planters here, in the shop, but, there
is the option, as well, of getting a kit of parts, where
you could bolt it together, on-site, and that’s something
that you might consider when you have difficult conditions in getting to your back yard, such as, a small entryway or steep stairs. I think a lot of people
like the look of Corten, and it’s something different from what people are used to seeing. – For us, it’s a really
versatile material. We look at it, basically,
without limitation. – Because of the natural
tone to it, or feel, it can work itself into
almost any environment. – I like the idea that we can
take this flat piece of steel and turn it into whatever we can imagine.

4 thoughts on “See How Those Cool Rusty Planters Are Made

  1. Interesting. I found this looking up "metal bin retaining walls" which I take it are made of Cor-Ten 🙂 Maybe that's why (if I remember right), when CT DOT install new retaining walls as they are now in Route 8 on some places, it looks all rusted when it's new.

  2. any info on what Welding rods are used to match the patina of the Corten steel? those boxes looked to be folded in a way to prevent any external welding, or is it? any info appreciated.

  3. If you don't sandblast Corten (A 606 is the generic version,) it will bleed until the mill scale has rusted away. It is also brittle, that is less ductile than ordinary mild steel. I have made statues cut out of 1/4 inch thick ordinary mild steel with a plasma cutter that have been sitting outside for 20 years in a wet climate, with no visible loss of material. I used Aristide Maillol's woodcuts as inspiration.

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