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What is CORTEN Steel and why are shipping containers made from it?

13.06.2022 - Posted by Updated On 13.06.2022    

We all know that shipping containers are durable steel boxes, but you really considered why they're so durable, even long after they're no longer being used to carry cargo around the world?

Shipping containers are designed to be carried back and forth across the oceans carrying the things that make our everyday life more convenient; things like clothing and bedding, flat screen televisions and computers, and just about everything that you can find at the Dollar General Store.  While on the ocean containers are up against pounding wind and rain, the glare of the direct sun, and the occasional snow storm.  How do they do it? It's simple really; they're built with CORTEN steel and designed to withstand everything thrown at them.

What is CORTEN Steel?

COR-TEN, or Corten steel, is commonly referred to as weathering steel.  The name Corten is the trademarked name.  It may seem counterintuitive, but when exposed to the elements its chemical makeup allows for an early creation of light rust that adheres to the surface of the steel.

Corten still is typically used in bridges and towers, chimneys and rail cars, and even outdoor sculptures.

Corten Steel Use on a Shipping Container

When the factory builds a new shipping container it applies the first line of defence: a healthy coat of marine grade paint. This will protect the container for many years and as the container ages and is, without a doubt, banged around on a ship or truck and the paint begins to wear thin, the properties of the steel begin to form and provide the second layer of defense. Corten Steel Shipping Container

How to Protect your Shipping/Storage Container

If you are using a shipping container as a storage unit, or another purpose, and want to extend the life of your container there are a few simple things that you can do.  First, remember that Corten steel is not rust proof, it only can slow corrosion greatly, but not prevent it all together. Second, pay special attention to any horizontal area, pocket, or dent on your container.  If water is permitted to lie on any surface of the steel than the oxidation process will expedite. Lastly, pay attention to any welding seams and keep an extra coat of Rustoleum or other outdoor paint applied to them.  The paint will cover any small cracks and chips that you might not be able to see.

Buying a Corten Steel Shipping Container

While nearly every intermodal shipping container is made of Corten steel, many domestic trailers or storage trailers are made of aluminium or fiberglass.  All three are great materials, and each serves a different market.  If your project calls for a strong, secure, and rust resistant structure, a Corten steel shipping container is for you.  We recommend that before you get started you read "Container Inspection Tips for New Buyers", and "Storage Container Inspection Tips".  As always, if you have any questions during the process you're welcome to contact any of the sellers on or our staff directly.  Sellers can be contacted through any listing page, and can be contacted here.

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