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Steel Container – Will It Be Rusty?

I am often asked my steel shipping container that I am going to store all my business stuff in – it wont be all rusty will it?

Shipping containers are made out of corten steel. Why, I am often asked, is corten steel so special? Why not just use ordinary steel instead?
Wikepedia defines corten steel as Weathering steel, best-known under the trademark COR-TEN steel, is a group of steel alloys which were developed to obviate the need for painting, and form a stable rust-like appearance if exposed to the weather for several years. What this actually means is that due to the chemical make-up of corten steel it has an increased resistance to weather corrosion. In short corten steel forms a protective surface layer that acts as a weather proof barrier. Very useful in a steel storage containers that is primarily designed to withstand salt water and the extreme conditions found at sea. Ideal for keeping your precious business stock safe from the weather!

But if the corten steel container is painted a weather proof layer does not have a chance to form. It is no more effective against the climate than normal unalloyed steel. So why do shipping lines bother to paint their containers? Apart from the obvious advertising benefits of having a ship stacked with boxes all carrying your logo, shipping containers do not stay pristine. The moving of the containers on and off ships does result in the steel storage containers getting knocked and the paintwork scraped leaving the steel exposed underneath. That is where the fact the containers are made of corten steel is an advantage, because, rather like putting a plaster on a cut, the corten steel starts to form its protective layer when exposed to the weather and prolongs the life of the steel shipping container. No need to repai

The rust proof qualities of corten steel are not only put to use in shipping but in other industries such as construction. Many buildings, such as the The U.S. Steel Tower in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania have been made out of corten steel. There is, of course, a crossover between shipping containers and construction which is largely due to the corten steel. Nowadays, shipping container conversions have become popular not only because of the green credentials of recycling an industrial product but because of the strong construction and weatherproofing that is inherent in the steel containers itself. There are numerous examples of projects that use shipping containers that our previous blogs have highlighted, but, at the risk of repeating myself, new readers only have to look at projects such as Container City or Riverside House to see what can be done. These are of course, container conversions on a large scale. The properties of shipping containers can also be utilised in smaller conversions such as offices, site accommodation and storage containers.

So next time you look at a second hand steel containers and see what appears to be a brown patina where the paint has scraped off, remember that it may not be rust at all, but the weatherproofing layer formed by the corten steel itself.

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